Things continue to push forward in the final season of Gotham. The new refuge for Gotham’s homeless created by Lucious Fox and company is being called Haven and it looks good to everyone, even some of Penguin’s followers. This is news even listening to his personal choir sing his praises cannot assuage. Upon hearing this, Penguin decides to gather some men and pay Haven a visit. Before this can happen, he is set upon by the Street Demons who believe that it was Penguin who attacked their headquarters and leader last episode. Apparently the question why Penguin would be so obvious as to put his name to the scene of the crime didn’t occur to any of them. They did not get much time to reconsider as Penguin and his men killed most of them and captured a couple of the Street Demons to gather information.
Meanwhile, now that Salina has been restored to health by Ivy’s magic bean…I mean seed, she is now ready to seek some righteous retribution against Jeremiah. Bruce agrees to help her but only if “they do it right” and she agrees to return him to stand trial for his crimes and not kill him. Salina smiles at Bruce and kisses him telling him she had hoped she could count on him. The first trip they make is to visit with a new resident of Haven who tells them that it is rumored that Jeremiah has taken up residence in the Dark Zone along with his followers. When Salina and Bruce seem unconcerned by this, he warns them that Jeremiah is not the only person to fear in the Dark Zone, as it has become a place of Murder and Mayhem. He proves this by pulling back the blanket of his friend to reveal the word “Kill” carved over and over on his torso.
Back with Penguin, he comes down the stairs the next morning to the dulcet tones of his cleaning lady and…that’s about it as even more of his people have left for Haven. Not only has his top man and bookkeeper Penn gone over to Haven but so has his Gertrud Kapelput Memorial Choir. How are you supposed to know how important you are if you don’t have a choir singing your praises? Finally in a total straw that breaks the Cobblepot’s back, his beloved bulldog Ed has also been taken to Haven, apparently willingly. This changes things as now that most of his men have left him, he will need some muscle. He goes back to his captured Demons only to find that one of the two had already been, shall we say…dispatched. So he took the one remaining to recruit the Demons to take Haven.
Salina and Bruce make their way into the Dark Zone and just as their informant relayed to them, it didn’t take long for some of the local inhabitants to come out. First they sent out a man who was calling for help but in actuality was strapped to explosives and the results were as you might expect. That didn’t stop them from attacking the smoldering remains of the man before noticing Salina and Bruce. This scene was the beginning of the blossoming of Camren Bicondova as Salina. Her brush with death and subsequent healing has given her a new confidence and more that a little hostility which she puts in full display in her battle with Mutant Leader. Her reasoning for taking on Mutant Leader was pure “bad ass.” Bruce to Salina: “ What do you want to do?” Salina: “Easy. Pick the biggest school yard bully, and kick his teeth in.” Which she did, and then some. In fact, Bruce had to use his version of the “Bat grappling hook” to catch her arm to prevent her from doing further damage. Much to her consternation. However she did get the information where to find Jeremiah, which is what all she wanted in the first place.
Returning to Haven, Harvey tells Gordon that Penguin has broken through the perimeter and is heading to the compound. He then reminds Jim what he already knows, that they are low on ammo and short of help. At this point, his only help is to attempt to bluff his way through but sends Bullock to try to recruit help from the one source that Jim knows might be available. Soon the Penguin shows up in a face off with Jim and the GCPD. He tells Jim to give him back his people, and his dog. Jim reminded Oswald that anyone who comes to Haven come of their own free will. Oswald reminds him that he knows that they are short of ammo. He sends his men forward and Jim and his crew open fire, enough to make the Penguin’s crew question how much ammo Jim and his men have. Oswald however, is not convinced. To prove his contention, he tells a few of his men to go forward. Reluctantly, they move forward and are once again met with gunfire, but only for a short bit before their ammo indeed runs out. Knowing they were no longer in a position to bluff, Jim tells them to lay down their guns.
In the Dark Zone, Salina and Bruce goes to where Mutant Leader sent them. The “Church of Jeremiah Velasquez.” They follow a group of followers, all dressed alike in white shirts and ties. The followers seat themselves and listen to a young lady wearing a mask who tells them that she knows that have come to see Jeremiah. But he only wants the most loyal followers and he needs proof of their faithfulness. She asks for volunteers and a number of them stand to show their willingness to prove themselves. She requests that they go upstairs so they may show Jeremiah they are worthy. The rest are dismissed. Bruce and Salina have been hidden, watching this transpire but Salina came out, saying that she also wanted to see Jeremiah. The masked woman said that Salina didn’t look like one of his followers. Salina answered that she had seen Jeremiah’s work close up and she would never forget it. She REALLY wanted to see him. She was motioned forward to follow the other volunteers. She bowed slightly to the masked woman and made her way up the stairs. The woman removes her mask and she revealed herself as Jeremiah’s bodyguard ECCO, but with a distinctive Harley Quinn flare. (In fact, I’ll just refer to her as Harley for now). Bruce, meanwhile, explored the area undetected, taking out some of the guards posted as he went. As he explored, he found a floor littered with the bodies of many of Jeremiah’s “followers” all shot in the head.
Back in Haven, Jim is locked in a cell and is told that most of the children will go back to work and so will many of the other people who were once under Jim’s protection. Oswald then promises to shoot Jim and leave him for dead the same way he did to him, which he thinks is fair, Among the people who were locked up was Oswald’s man Penn. Penguin wanted Penn for himself but he had not accounted for the Street Demons pursuit of power. They turned on him, shooting Penn in the bargain. They laid claim to his area, his ammo factory and his guns. He was then put in the same cell that Jim Gordon was being held. Jim couldn’t help but smile at the ironic turn of events.
Harvey, meanwhile arrives at the Sirens territory, looking for Barbara. He calls for her and she eventually comes out from behind him with a knife pointed at his neck. She reminds him that men are not allowed in Sirens territory. He tells her that Jim needs her help. She scoffs at that idea and wonders where Harvey would be right now if he didn’t follow Jim so blindly. He tells her he would probably be dead and repeats his request telling her that it was the Penguin he needed help with. “Penguin?!! You might have opened with that. Let’s move!”
Back in their cell, Jim is trying to cut the bindings around his wrist while Penguin keeps telling him it is all Jim’s fault this happened. Suddenly, the little boy who told Jim about the children being held and whom he rescued comes in the room, telling the Street Demons he knew of where a bottle of liquor was stashed. While they were looking for the hidden bottle, he slid a bottle opener toward Jim. Penguin placed his foot over it to hide it. They find the bottle and lead the boy back out of the room, unaware of what the boy did. Penguin told Jim he was going to free himself and let the Demons tear Haven apart. Jim reminded him that even if he gets back, did he think the other gangs would let him alone? They would go after him if they didn’t take them out here and now. Penguin thought for a moment and asked Jim how he proposed for them to pick the bottle opener up? They turned back to back to bend down to retrieve the opener.
Salina has made her way with the other followers. They are standing in an empty swimming pool with blood stains on the walls. In the center, they find a table with numerous pistols and enough ammo for one bullet per gun. They are instructed to pick up a gun, load it with the one bullet and arrange themselves in a circle with each pointing the gun at the head of the person in front of them. Salina appears reluctant at first but then smiles, loads her gun, spins the chamber and follow suit, pointing it at the person in front of her. Harley removes the table and moves to an upper level so she can watch their attempt to prove their loyalty to Jeremiah. She counts to three and as she counts, Salina’s hand starts to shake. Bruce is close by as Harley reaches three and gun shots ring out.
As the scene returns, there are several bodies on the floor, whose luck with the Jeremiah style Russian roulette wasn’t as fortuitous as it was for those who remained. That included Salina who had reached back to grasp the pistol aimed at her at the last-minute, even though it didn’t go off. Harley commented that she was disappointed considering how much “swagger” Salina portrayed. Salina responded she just wasn’t stupid enough to let herself get shot in the head for no reason. Harley tells those who survived that they had earned straight A’s and should go to be reborn….while she has a word with “curls.”
As they faced off, Harley explained that Jeremiah wanted to share the gift of facing death, like his brother Jerome had given him. Salina suggested that if she wanted to do that SHE should play the game she makes others play. Harley pulled back her hair and showed a scar behind her head. She HAD played the game and the bullet is still in her head “bouncing around.” She has faced death and so wanted Salina to do so too, calling her by name. Harley told her that they know all about Bruce, his wants…his desires. He didn’t want to embrace their beliefs, perhaps Salina will, she says as she points her gun in Salina’s face. Salina stared her down and told her: “The one thing I learned from my time with Jeremiah, I HATE having a gun in my face,” she hissed with a catlike sneer. And the fight began.
It started out as an even match but Salina’s fierceness won out as she disarmed Harley and pointed the gun at her head, asking where Jeremiah was. At that moment, Bruce came into view and told Salina to lower the gun. She refused and when Bruce called to her again, she was distracted enough that Harley pulled out a knife, slicing her leg and escaping behind a drop down door. Salina bellowed in frustration as Bruce came to her, grasped her and told her she was hurt. Salina told him if he knew what was good for him, he would let her go. As he tried to reach for her she quickly pulled out a set of handcuffs and secured him to the gate. “I have tried it your way, now I’m going to do it my way,” she said as she left him.
Back in Haven, the Demons are assessing a GCPD cop’s ability to fight when Jim comes out with a gun and tells them to surrender or he’ll shoot them. Their leader says that Jim is bluffing again and is about to test his theory when the Penguin shows up and shoots him down. Gordon then tells the rest of his boys to come out, now all fully armed with Penguins guns. The gang surrenders and the crowd enters extolling the name of Penguin, Penguin! Penguin!! much to his delight.
Later Jim addresses the members of Haven who are complaining that he was supposed to protect them from events like that. He told them he knew it was a hard day and he couldn’t promise there wouldn’t be more of them. But they survived and that should give them hope. The little boy who helped him came out in support of Jim. After he set the crowd back to work, he thanked the boy and gave him his badge, saying he would need a good deputy to help him look after the place. Then, he went out to talk to Penguin who was waiting outside. He told him he did the right thing today and he was free to go. At that moment, Harvey and Barbara showed up, with Barbara ready to kill Penguin. Jim stepped between them and told her she could have him outside the green zone but he wouldn’t let her kill him here. She told Jim to move or her first bullet would be his. He refused but before she could make good on her threat, the Haven facility went up in a fiery explosion, knocking Jim, Barbara, Penguin, and Harvey back from its intensity as the episode ended.
This was the best episode so far of the new season. Another chance to see the gold that is the interaction between Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin and Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon, and the coming out party for Camren Bicondova as Salina. She lit up the screen as the feline badass with not one but two fight scenes and some juicy dialogue to work with. It also brought back Jeremiah’s bodyguard ECCO, (Francesca Root-Dodson) but in a costume that screamed Harley Quinn. She certainly had the Harley crazy vibe, but I guess a loose bullet bouncing around in your head would do that. “Bing! Bing!” It will be interesting to see those two square off again.
Robin Lord Taylor was his usual manic self and his acceptance of Jim at the end of this episode brought up memories of championship “wrassling.” It doesn’t matter if you shot me, stole my dog, and my personal choir. All that is forgotten….we’re “tag-team partners” now. It appears all you need to get along in Gotham is a short memory.
The ending of this was unexpected (as it should have been) and opens up a lot of doors. Jim has already proven he has no reluctance anymore to shoot someone in the head when necessary. I wonder what the death and injuries of a whole bunch of people who were under his protection will do? Stay tuned.
Anytime you can beat Robin Lord Taylor you are doing something and that is what Bicondova did as Salina. Amazing how coming back from paralysis can light a fire under your ass. 2nd runner-up is Root-Dodson as ECCO/Harley.
Grade: A+ Keep up the good work Gotham.
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I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.