When Last We Were in Gotham:
Oswald Cobblepot is rising in the ranks of Maroni’s men thanks to his faked robbery. He now runs Bamonte’s, the restaurant Maroni does his deals in. Fish Mooney has chosen someone to train to take her place while she plans to take Falcone’s position. The vote on what to do with the Arkham District was split, leading Mayor Aubrey James to alter the Wayne’s plans. The Arkham District will be mostly for waste disposal and Maroni is in control of Arkham Asylum’s future. Only a small portion of the district will be for affordable housing. This troubles young Bruce Wayne, but he can only stew in his mansion. Detective James Gordon would not reveal secrets about his job to Barbara Kean after she told him about her previous relationship with Renee Montoya, so she broke up with him.
Junior Morality Advisor
Bruce Wayne wants to get to the bottom of what happened with the Arkham vote. He believes his parents were good people, but clearly Wayne Enterprises gave land and/or shares to mobsters. He begins a conspiracy board. You know, whenever someone is trying to solve something and they put newspaper clippings and photographs on a board with pins and string? Conspiracy board. In a sense, Bruce is trying to do what Gordon wants to do on the police force: root out the corruption. Alfred doesn’t like this activity at first. He questions Bruce, “What if you never discovered who killed your mom and dad? What if you never get to wreak revenge?” Batman is sometimes seen as seeking revenge for what happened to him as a child, but it mostly bends toward vigilante justice. Bruce simply responds, “I don’t want revenge. I want to understand how it all works. How Gotham works.”
A man is busking on a stoop with a sign that says, “WHY LIE, I NEED MONEY FOR DRUGS.” Another man, with a mangled ear, comes by and drops drugs into his guitar case. I’d call that a pretty efficient system. The guitar man picks up the vial, which has an ominous symbol on it, and does as instructed. I kind of found it hard to believe he’d take a drug he didn’t know about just right out on the street, but I’ve never been a junkie. It gives him a real good high so he goes to steal some milk. He then steals an ATM. Yes, he just picks it up and carries it out. The drug, called Viper, makes him strong. Gordon gets involved when he and Bullock are eating burgers nearby. Bullock doesn’t want any part of it, but only because they’re homicide detectives. No one died, so it shouldn’t be in their jurisdiction. Gordon gets them on the case and when they eventually find the guy, he’s bugged out. He tries to throw the ATM at the detectives, until his bones collapse and he’s crushed by the money machine.
You’re My Secret Weapon
Throughout the episode, Fish Mooney is training Liza. She is learning a piece of opera and being trained on how to act in certain situations, like an acting exercise. Mooney then alludes to changing Liza’s appearance. Mooney also attends a meeting of the lieutenants under Falcone. Don Falcone understands some of the families are upset by the result of the Arkham vote. But he says neither he nor Maroni won. It was all good business. Nikolai disagrees. Who’s Nikolai? I don’t know either but now he’s a character. He has a stereotypical Eastern European accent and fights with Mooney. By the end of the episode, we find out they’re in bed together. Both literally and as duplicitous partners planning the takeover of Falcone’s empire. This seems like a late in the game decision, that Mooney needs another member of the mob to help her take control. But I really enjoyed the payoff with Liza. Falcone is having his usual sit-on-the-steps-and-feed-birds afternoon when a pretty lady walks by humming an aria. It’s Liza with a new look! But why? Falcone reveals that his mother used to sing him that song and stops just short of saying this young woman looks like her. They sit together and listen. Mooney couldn’t have scripted the encounter better. It’s no wonder she’s in charge of the Theater District.
The Viper Strikes, Twice
The mysterious drug man distributes his wares all over the poorer sections of Gotham. This overruns the police station with insane and strong criminals. Edward Nygma has been analyzing the drug. He doesn’t hide his enthusiasm while he tells Captain Essen and the detectives about how it works and what it does to the body. Somehow, Viper unlocks hidden DNA and eats away at your bones. Explains the milk binges and why the users collapse. Nygma is particularly thrilled when he witnessed a perp die right before him, a victim of the drug. Although a bit obvious, at least he isn’t a do-gooder until some strange incident makes him obsessed with question marks. He has always been a sucker for a puzzle, and he’s a bit enthralled by death and dismemberment. Somewhere down the line we’ll see what makes him do a full turn into criminal life.
WellZyn, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, is the prime target for where the drug was made. A spokewoman denies it, but recognizes the description of a man with a mangled ear. He was one of their employees, Stan Potolsky, but he was fired. Something about not feeling fulfilled working on shampoo and toothpaste formulas. The detectives do some digging and find out he was good friends with a philosophy professor down at Gotham University. The professor tells them Potolsky was troubled by moral quandaries working for WellZyn. Bullock asks, “WellZyn said he made shampoo, where are the dark moral corners in that?” The professor corrects them and explains Potolsky was working on a drug to make soldiers strong enough to tear a man apart with their bare hands. He then specifically says it was called Viper, and that a second, more stable, serum was made. That second serum is called Venom. That’s right, as in Bane’s Venom.
The professor then takes some Viper, attacks Bullock, and is shot by Gordon. As he is dying, he reveals Potolsky is going to make an attack on more affluent members of Gotham. Bullock and Gordon arrive at a charity event put on by Wayne Enterprises. Bruce and Alfred are here too, but Bruce is on a different mission. He wants to question board members about the mob ties. He meets with Miss Mathis, who Alfred describes as working closely with Thomas Wayne. She explains to Bruce that no board members are in attendance and denies Wayne Enterprises connection to Falcone. Potolsky appears on a nearby screen and tells the room they will pay for what they’ve done. Before the room can be gassed with Viper, everyone is evacuated and Gordon is on the roof talking him down.
Just Shoot Me
Gordon demands that Potolsky turn off the Viper gas filling the charity event. The criminal doesn’t make a move against Gordon, he just says he won’t do it. So, instead of just turning off the gas, Gordon tries to shoot it off. This actually sprays an obscene amount of Viper on Potolsky. I thought he was going to Bane-out at that very moment. He is actually just very high and walks off the rooftop. We hear a car crunch and the detectives look over the side with grimaces. I have a rule when it comes to bad guys deaths: If I don’t see the dead body, or the body being buried, I never believe they’re gone. So in my mind, Potolsky could come back. In this episode, there is no definitive mention of him dying.
The Penguin Who Would Be Emperor
Maroni wants to rob one of Falcone’s casinos. Frankie doesn’t like the plan, there isn’t enough gain in it for them. But Maroni really wants to stick it to Falcone. Oswald sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong and offers to help. Maroni asks his name again, and this time Oswald says, “Everyone here calls me Penguin, sir.” Maroni thinks the name suits him. Oswald then begins to tell his strange story of how he worked for Falcone until they wanted him dead. Maroni seems pleased, and then slams Oswald’s face on the table. First off, I don’t understand how Penguin is an obvious nickname for this weirdo. Sure, a pointed nose and dumb haircut make a slight resemblance, but not enough for me to just call him Penguin.
Frankie is sent to pick up Gordon because Penguin squawked. Maroni wants to hear Penguin’s story from Gordon, and if the two stories don’t match they will both die. Gordon is a stickler for the truth and doesn’t fudge it here. Maroni now thinks he has Gordon in his pocket, all because Penguin couldn’t keep his trap shut. The coda to this is the Penguin actually does help Maroni’s men rob the casino essentially proving his value again.
When the Viper-addled guitar player starts chugging the milk right in the convenience store, the clerk tells him he has to pay for that. The druggie replies, “Do not vex me, mortal.” The clerk comes at him with a bat saying, “Suit yourself, Zeus.” Whether it was on purpose or not, I’ll take this as a reference to a little known DC villain called Maxie Zeus who believed he was a reincarnation of the Greek god.
After Gordon shoots the professor, the professor cryptically says, “Those hypocrites, empty altruism won’t erase what they’ve done.” The old man dies and Bullock shouts at him, “What’s altruism!?” Gordon just gives him an exasperated look and says, “Charity.”
The detectives go to a warehouse Potolsky told them about and find it empty. Sitting in a car across the way is Miss Mathis, the Wayne Enterprises executive. She’s on the phone with someone discussing how the policemen aren’t a threat right now. We’re not sure who is on the other line, it could be Falcone or a mysterious new player. Neither Falcone or Maroni ordered the hit on the Waynes, so someone must be trying to start the war between them and come in afterwards to pick up the pieces. A future character in the series is Roman Sionis, a business man better known as Black Mask. My money is on him.
I rate this episode with Bane
Because he’s the villain Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.