This week’s Gotham was packed with big moments, as Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) finally got the showdown that they’ve been building to since last season began. Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is still trying to bring the last criminals of Gotham under his wing, Jim (Ben McKenzie) is still opposing him as hard as he possibly can, and Sofia (Crystal Reed) is doing all kinds of quiet manipulation of them both.
While all that’s going on, there are some other criminals making changes this week. Barbara (Erin Richards) had to say goodbye to Ra’s, and Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) is still struggling with his new, unimpressive, brain power. In addition, two characters made shocking returns in ‘The Blade’s Path’. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) was revealed in the final moments of the episode (and is sure to make things very interesting in the rest of the season), but the biggest reveal of all was the return of Butch Gilzean/Cyrus Gold (Drew Powell)… as Solomon Grundy.
The Original Solomon
In the comics, Solomon Grundy isn’t specifically a Batman villain, but a character who has gone up against multiple heroes over the years (as well as other villains, from time to time). Originally a young boy by the name of Cyrus Gold, Grundy had a horrifying upbringing and terrible life. He was beaten and abused by his drunk father, and abandoned by his mother. His father even went so far as to bury him alive to remind him that he wasn’t ‘worth the dirt over him’. When his father was killed in an accident on the docks, Cyrus watched as another worked laughed and tossed the man into the water, leaving Cyrus entirely alone.
After that, Cyrus struggled on his own, but eventually rose to power in the underworld. He became a gangster, and sought revenge on all the people who had hurt him and his family over the years. He murdered plenty of people, dumping them all in the swamp, but was eventually brought down when a mob came after him for all his evil deed. Rather than be killed by someone else, Cyrus killed himself, and fell backwards into the swamp with his victims.
This should have been the end of Cyrus Gold, but the chemicals in the lake (and the mystic power of The Grey) resurrected the gangster into a hulking brute. Emerging from the lake, he killed the first people he met, and then headed into the city. He was incredibly strong, but had no memory of who he was and a much simpler mind. All he knew was the day he was born, and when he told this to a couple of homeless guys, he was told about the old rhyme of Solomon Grundy, and took the name for his own.
Grundy isn’t a villain who comes up with complex plots or who has any particular morality, but he is dangerous because of his rampages and utter lack of concern for the lives of others. Much of the time, he would like to simply be left alone, but he can also be motivated by self-preservation or vengeance. Super-strong and durable, Grundy cannot be truly killed, as he will always resurrect himself, and is one of the most physically powerful heroes in the DC universe. At times, he has also had the ability to revert to being Cyrus Gold, although he doesn’t have control over these transformations.
Who Is Butch Gilzean?
Butch Gilzean was revealed to be Cyrus Gold at the end of Gotham‘s third season – when he was also shot in the head by Barbara Kean. Before that, however, Butch was assumed to be nothing more than a common gangster, one of the dozens that live in Gotham city. Little is known of his early life, although it’s been established that he has never had it easy, and turned to a life of crime at a young age.
He started out working for Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith), but became a henchman for Penguin after being brainwashed into it. Later, he had his brainwashing reversed and teamed up with Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), falling in love with her. After a short attempt at ruling the underworld of Gotham himself, Butch went back to working for Penguin. Eventually, he left Penguin and went into hiding with Tabitha, working with both her and Barbara, before Barbara turned on him and shot him in the head.
The New Grundy
Now, Butch is back… which is impressive, given that he took a bullet to the brain. In ‘The Blade’s Path’, we see Butch hospitalized in a coma – and given that he is a vegetable, the hospital wants to get him out of their way to make room for other patients. Being Gotham, this means that the hospital workers go dump him in the swamp, laughing while they do it. Everyone who recognized the name Cyrus Gold knew what would happen next… and were not disappointed.
Butch rose from the swamp, grey-faced and white-haired, and beat up a bunch of hicks who were having a bonfire by the water. They were listening to a song version of the Solomon Grundy rhyme, so Butch decides that he must be Solomon Grundy (logical enough thinking for a swamp-monster, really), and heads into Gotham. There, he ends up meeting Riddler, and when he realizes that this funny little man in a green suit knows him, Grundy decides that they must be friends. At first, Riddler wants nothing to do with him, but on realizing that Grundy has no clue who he is, and is incredibly strong, Riddler decides that the two can team up – starting out by entering Grundy in underground boxing matches to raise some money.
Similarities And Differences
Like most of the Gotham characters, Solomon Grundy takes a lot from his comic counterpart, but puts a bit of a twist on the original. Physically, the two look very similar – hulking grey brutes. In the comics, this is a massive change from Cyrus Gold’s original appearance, although Grundy looks almost exactly like Butch (just with different coloring). They also seem to have similar abilities and weaknesses; neither knows who they are, both are super-strong and largely invulnerable. Butch/Grundy has also re-grown his hand, showing regenerative abilities.
The backstory has also seen a few changes, with much less emphasis placed on Butch’s early life, and he doesn’t kill himself before falling into the swamp. However, the scene where he is tossed in by sniggering hospital workers is a clear reference to the comic Cyrus watching a dockworker laugh as he tosses Gold Sr into the water after an accident. Butch’s new name comes from a song, rather than a conversation, as well, but this is a very minor difference. The biggest change from the comics is in the ‘how’ of Butch’s resurrection. It is waste from Indian Hill that allows for Butch’s change, whereas the comic Cyrus is connected to the mystic force known as The Grey (similar to the Swamp Thing’s connection to The Green).
Hog Day Afternoon
Now that Butch is back in Gotham, how are things going to change? At the moment, he seems happy to hang out with Riddler (his ‘friend’), but Riddler is clearly just using Solomon Grundy for his own ends. Their partnership is likely to come to an end when someone else from Butch’s past bumps into him – like Barbara, Tabitha, or Penguin. Of course, if Grundy forms a real attachment to Riddler, this could cause some interesting problems; should Grundy reject Tabitha, whom he loved, for Riddler, who tortured them, Tabitha is unlikely to be happy about it. For now, though, Grundy and Riddler are going to make an interesting partnership for the next few episodes.
Gotham continues next Thursday with ‘A Dark Knight: Hog Day Afternoon’ @8pm on FOX.
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