[This is a review of Gotham season 3, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
After last week's Mad Hatter-heavy episode, Gotham takes a break from Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to focus on the ongoing drama surrounding Penguin's (Robin Lord Taylor) appointment to the office of mayor. It's a story that has emerged as one of the most pivotal for this first half of season 3, but despite this focus, the creative team behind the show still manage to sneak in some surprises. The return of the Red Hood gang -- which hasn't been seen in action since season 1 -- could even pave the way for Jerome's return. Most notably, Butch (Drew Powell) finally gets a chance to prove why he's actually among the most under-appreciated villains on Gotham.
This episode also marked a significant step for Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova), as the former finally reveals his true feelings. It's a moment that has been a long time coming for the two friends (and future enemies). It also provided an opportunity to check in on the search for Ivy (Maggie Geha), whose storyline has been put on hold for the past couple of weeks. In short, 'Anything for You' is a particularly tightly crafted episode and perhaps the best one Gotham has brought us so far this season. So much to discuss. Let's get to it.
UNDER THE RED HOOD
Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Penguin's friendship was one of the greatest developments to come out of season 2, and so far this year, the writers are doing a fantastic job following up on that promise. With Nygma deeply entrenched in Penguin's mayoral administration, we got some amazing scenes of the murderous psychopath returning to GCPD with a new sense of power. The reactions he received from his former co-workers (and especially Lee (Morena Baccarin)!) gve the show and Nygma's character in particular a much-needed dramatic boost. So often the GCPD is where the show slips from being one of over-the-top comic book insanity to a blander police procedural. Nygma's shift in power has re-energized that dynamic. After all, he is perhaps the smartest character on the show and not one anyone should want to see in a position of any authority.
Speaking of Nygma's intelligence, did anyone really think that Nygma was ready (at least at this stage) to betray Penguin? He's devious and manipulative, yes, but the future Riddler knows better than to jeopardize his newfound position. Alas, poor Butch fell all too easily for Nygma's scheme to discredit him in the eyes of Penguin. The rivalry between these two is so much fun to watch, and now that it appears Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) is off to rescue Butch, Gotham's many villains could be shifting their alliances once again. This storyline also marked the return of the Red Hood gang for the first time. Longtime fans may know that the Joker's comic book backstory has dovetailed with that particular gang. So perhaps Gotham is gearing itself up for Jerome to reappear as part of the revamped Red Hood gang, finally giving fans a character who is more blatantly destined to become the Joker. In any case, the re-emergence of the Red Hoods is a step in the right direction.
YOUNG LOVE RISES
Gordon (Ben McKenzie) may be front and center on Gotham, but the show continues to do a solid job -- especially since last season -- in keeping in mind that the city's future hinges on Bruce Wayne. Considering how Gordon's storylines tend to hit similar beats again and again, it's refreshing when we get some hints at Bruce taking another step or two towards becoming the Dark Knight. This episode we got a few little touches like that. First, Gordon briefly commented on Bruce's detective skills, and then later, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Bruce discuss the importance of "fake smiles and mingling," a disguise that will prove invaluable for Master B once he begins donning a cape and cowl.
Then, of course, we got some long-overdue development on the unspoken pseudo-romance between Bruce and Selina. Seeing as these two are destined to have an incredibly contentious relationship as both allies and enemies, it's fun watching them realize that they do have mutual feelings for each other. Thanks to her encounter with emo Bruce in last week's episode, Selina chooses not to emotionally shut out Bruce. That's real progress for her as a character, and his assertion that "we're the same" is a sentiment that rings true with the dichotomy of their future alter-egos, one that was also pointed out in Batman Returns. As the duo continues to explore this aspect, hopefully the show will resist the urge to backpedal and keep these two characters moving forward. At least the revelation of grown-up Ivy -- who made a brief appearance here but didn't reveal herself because it's "too much fun" -- will give Bruce and Selina something they can face together. The questions remains if Selina's old friend will drag her further into the dark side.
With the Mad Hatter storyline taking a break this week, we instead get some follow-up investigation on Alice Tetch's blood. Naturally, Barnes (Michael Chiklis) -- who was infected in the closing moments of last week's episode -- wants to know how he will be affected. By episode's end, he has apparently healed from his injuries late last season and can walk without his crutches, apparently feeling stronger than ever. Barnes' injury was actually a rare case in which Gotham stuck with the consequences of a character's deadly encounter. So it's particularly cool to see that this event was used to fuel a subsequent storyline.
At this point, it's unclear if these effects will persist within Barnes' system, or if he will end up going insane like that rat in the GCPD lab study. Either way, the writers look like they're finally giving Barnes something to do other than bellow at Gordon and scold Bullock (Donal Logue) for ignoring his orders. Chiklis is too good an actor to be sidelined with a marginal part forever. Here's hoping that whatever Gotham has in mind for the Mad Hatter storyline keeps Barnes involved throughout. Speaking of Tetch himself, it looks like yet another villain is on the warpath for Gordon. Next week should be an interesting one for the future police commissioner.
Gotham continues next Monday with 'Follow the White Rabbit' at 8pm on FOX.