[This is a review of Gotham season 2, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Gotham continues to live up to its "Rise of the Villains" subtitle this week, as several future Batman villains take significant steps towards their respective destinies. In addition to the Firefly arc that began in last week's episode, fans of Edward Nygma's (Cory Michael Smith) slow burn descent into darkness were rewarded with a pivotal event. So let's start discussing this week's episode, titled "By Fire".
CAT AND FIREFLY STRIKE BACK
After killing one of the GCPD Strike Force officers, Bridgit Pike a.k.a. Firefly (Michelle Veintimilla) is laying low with Selina (Camren Bicondova), who offers to help her get some money to leave town. The two rob a human trafficking auction, but Bridgit's attempt to escape Gotham are thwarted when the Pike brothers intercept her first. Angry as hell, she suits up and burns both of them alive. Later, Selina is alarmed to hear that this newly empowered Bridgit intends to go after all the "pervs and bullies" in the city. Fearing for her friend's life, Selina tells Gordon (Ben McKenzie) where Bridgit is headed, and the confrontation between her and the GCPD results in Firefly going up in flames.
This storyline did a solid job of continuing to establish that, while she is clearly a delinquent, Selina still has some affection for those she cares about, nicely setting up the anti-heroine side of Catwoman's future. Moreover, the final scene reveal that Firefly did not die but instead is being sent to Indian Hill, a location mentioned in season 1 as a worthless piece of land. Now viewers know that it is, in fact, the site of some kind of bizarre experiments, perhaps even those that will lead to the creation of upcoming villains. The exact nature of those will likely turn out to be one of this season's biggest mysteries - one that could prove to have game-changing effects on the show.
GORDON IN THE MIDDLE
Enraged by the death of one of his colleagues, Gordon is on the warpath for answers, ultimately getting in trouble with Barnes for his methods. Once he sees footage of Selina and Bridgit's heist, he recognizes Selina, and thanks to Bullock's (Donal Logue) handy questioning of Ivy (Clare Foley), Gordon soon finds Selina and convinces her to let him help Bridgit, since she was forced into becoming the Pikes' arsonist. However, in apprehending Bridgit, she ends up catching fire and now appears to be near-death.
After the way her alliance with Gordon went south, it's unlikely that Selina will be as willing to trust the law again. This episode saw Gordon caught in the middle between his duty and the criminals he aims to protect, a running theme considering his on-again/off-again alliance with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Just as Selina is turning even further away from trusting authority figures, it's almost certain that Gordon's storyline will ultimately lead him to cut ties and rescind all favors and deals with the likes of Selina and Penguin. Even in Gotham, maintaining a foot in both worlds is easier said than done.
After Penguin viciously chopped off his hand last week, Butch (Drew Powell) swiftly earns the Galavans' trust, and Penguin presses him to find answers about where Theo (James Frain) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) are holding his mother. Now with a mallet on his hand-less arm, Butch begins snooping but is caught by Theo, who figures out that he is still working for Penguin and asks Tabitha to come in and assist. Later, Theo warns Bruce (David Mazouz) about "bad things" happening at Wayne Enterprises and offers his help, and Butch goes to Penguin with his mother's location.
Elsewhere, Edward and Kristen (Chelsea Spack) get closer and consummate their relationship, but when Kristen confesses that she's scared that Dougherty will return, Edward admits that he killed him to defend her. Freaked out and terrified at this revelation, Kristen attempts to leave, but Edward stops her, professing his love even as he accidentally strangles her to death.
Now that Edward's one true tie to humanity has been severed, it's simply a matter of time before his darker side -- better known as the voice in his head -- begins to take over, leading him closer to becoming the Riddler that fans know and love. Kristen's death was a heartbreaking scene, even if it wasn't exactly the most surprising way to wrap up her storyline. After all, viewers know Edward's fate, and with him well on the road to villainy, here's hoping that he becomes embroiled in the ongoing chess match between Penguin and the Galavans. For all we know, whatever Victor Szasz did to program Butch's loyalty for Penguin may have actually reached its end, with Butch leading Penguin into a trap.
What did you think of "By Fire"? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below.
Gotham returns with "Mommy's Little Monster" next Monday at 8pm on FOX.