“Spirit of the Goat” was better than previous episodes of Gotham. Rather than more foreshadowing of the upcoming war, the episode put Bullock in the spotlight as a murder investigation gives him memories to his earlier days when he went by the book.
The episode begins ten years in the past. A man stares down his reflection while telling himself that he’s the spirit of the goat. He then dons gloves and a black Luchador mask before heading out to abduct a young woman.
A police cruiser approaches an abandoned building and out step a younger Harvey Bullock and his then-partner, Detective Dix, played by Dan Hedaya. Dix isn’t keen on entering, but Bullock is dead set on capturing this Randall Milkie, who believes that he is the reincarnation of the goat. Three people have already died and Bullock does not want a fourth body on the GCPD’s hands. Dix reminds him of Gotham’s golden rule: there are no heroes. Makes sense.
The two enter and find a body, but the candles have barely melted. A noise under the floorboards grabs their attention. While Bullock heads down to find Mikey, Dix falls through the floor. Milkie bursts out and takes down Bullock, but Bullock fires several shots and downs Milkie.
We then cut to the present day where Bullock watches officers handle the body of a young woman suspended on the bridge. Nygma tries to tell Bullock about the riddle involving trying to get a wolf, a cabbage and a goat across a river, but Bullock isn’t in the mood. Or maybe he’s just bad at riddles. You decide. The body, identified as Amanda Hastings, has been left at the scene a little before 3 a.m. Bullock notes the similarity to the Goat’s original victim: he kills the first born. The exact same M.O. But Bullock solved this case, so it would have to be a copycat, right? Oh, where the hell is Boy Scout James Gordon?
He’s just trying to reconcile his differences with Barbara. She doesn’t want him to walk away from whatever he’s hiding. To Gordon, law and crime are so twisted and he may have gotten in too deep. He came to help, but Gotham City may need something else. Barbara wants to carry half of his load, though Gordon says it’s too dangerous.
Montoya and Allen- remember them?- canvass a waterfront because they need to find a lead. That and, I guess, they don’t have anything else to do. They question a nearby homeless man about whether a shooting took place. One did, he says, and he identifies Gordon as the shooter. Montoya is just overjoyed at this. They’ve finally got James Gordon. I’m curious as to whether the legal system in Gotham City would be as quick to believe the words of a homeless man as Allen and Montoya are.
Boy Scout James Gordon finally arrives at the bridge, just in time to get an earful from Bullock. Nygma will let the detectives know when he learns of the autopsy report, while Bullock and Gordon pay a visit to Ms. Hastings’ parents.
The parents: Robert, played by Brian O’Neill, and his wife, played by Andrea Sooch, are distraught. Bullock and Gordon ask if Amanda may have had any enemies, though Bullock can’t help but notice that Amanda’s father, Robert, keeps clenching his fist. They then speak with the therapist, Dr. Marks, played by Susan Misner, about the father’s delicate nature.
Nygma enters the records annex, where Ms. Kristen Kringle, played by Chelsea Spack, works among folders and shelves full of case information. Nygma tries to lay on his version of sweet talk and wants to reorganize the files, as well as find the information on The Goat murder files, but Kringle already has everything in perfect order.
Gordon and Bullock head to the last building Amanda Hastings went to. CSI found no sign of an intrusion.
Oswald Cobblepot heads home to his dear, sweet mother, who is just glad that he’s back with her and not involved with some hussy demon purse. No. Oswald just wanted respect, but he’s been to Hell and back in order to get it. Mom says that everyone else just envies him.
During the autopsy report, the medical examiner informs Bullock and Gordon that Amanda Hastings had been asphyxiated. Sounds accurate enough, but Bullock asks the examiner to look under the victim’s scalp for an incision and a penny. The examiner does just that and does indeed find a penny. Once again, this is just like Randall Milkie’s pattern. Ten years ago, Milkie sewed a penny to his victims. The problem is that the detail with the penny was never released to the public or press during the original case, so this can’t be a copycat. When Bullock relays this to his superior, Captain Essen tells Bullock and Gordon to pay Dix a visit.
Bruce and Alfred are also following the news on The Goat. Though Bruce isn’t all that worried about this, Alfred wants Bruce to leave town for awhile since Bruce is still a first born child. But Bruce has already his parents, so he figures there’s no one to take him from? Alfred is still right there, you prick.
Nygma has made adjustments Ms. Kringle’s system, much to her shock. She had everything organized the way she wanted. Not getting the desired effect he wanted, Nygma takes his folder and leaves. Edward Nygma: not a smooth talker or operator.
At a retirement center, Bullock meets up with his old partner, who still refers to Bullock as Boy Detective. Well, at least he didn’t call him Boy Wonder. Dix and Bullock know that the records are sealed and neither of them talked. Dix believes that Milkie had a partner. Bullock doesn’t buy this conspiracy theory and heads off to talk with an orderly. Before Gordon can head off, Dix tells him to keep an eye on Bullock since he’s a loose cannon and wants to be a White Knight. Gordon just wonders if Dix is talking about the same Bullock.
The Goat makes his next move in the form of murdering a maid and abducting another young woman, Ember Copley, played by Beatrice Brigitte.
When Bullock investigates the scene, he calls Gordon and lets him know that the woman had plans to meet her parents at 9. Based on The Goat’s previous process of taking eight hours to murder his victims, the detectives don’t have much time. Gordon managed to retrieve a list of employees, but needs to narrow it down to anyone that would have access to both victims’ houses.
As Montoya leaves a court building, she’s confronted by Barbara, who says that Montoya has Gordon all wrong. Montoya is more concerned about Barbara getting killed for even being associated with Gordon. She advises her to leave because there’s now a warrant out for Gordon’s arrest.
With some help from Nygma, Bullock and Gordon narrow down the possible culprit to one Raymond Earl. The two detectives wind up at the same desolate theatre where Bullock supposedly once took down The Goat.
Inside, they spot The Goat and split up. Gordon nabs the girl while Bullock confronts The Goat. A fight breaks out and the two find themselves crashing down the stairs. Gordon eventually enters the fight and manages to subdue The Goat.
Because Selina Kyle still needs things to do, she slips into Wayne Manor while Master Bruce sleeps. Surprisingly, Wayne Manor doesn’t have any sort of security system, despite the children of Gotham’s one-percent being murdered. Selina doesn’t grope Bruce, but she does eye his crime web before swiping something and leaving.
Elsewhere, Oswald Cobblepot takes a bath. Mom is worried if her son is doing anything illegal, which he denies. She’s just concerned. Besides, there’s no one you can trust more than your mother. Good thing that Oswald found a police officer that he can trust.
Raymond Earl sits in interrogation while Bullock, Gordon and Captain Essen watch. Earl isn’t talking and something is still eating at Bullock. Earl and Milkie have the exact same MO’s, but the murders are 10 years apart and the two never met. What is it that changed these two men and how would Earl know the detail about the coin? And why would they both decide to become The Goat? It’s like something found them. It’s only when Bullock notices Earl fidgeting a certain way that he gets a hunch.
Barbara is packing when Gordon arrives. She lets him know that Allen and Montoya are onto him. She offers him the chance to come with her, but he won’t run away. He won’t have to, as Montoya and Allen are right there at the door to arrest him for the murder of Oswald Cobblepot.
Bullock heads back to speak not just with Robert, but also Dr. Marks. See, he knows that the Doctor has seen Robert a lot. What’s her angle? Hypnotism. Hypno-therapist, specifically. She’s worked pro-bono at some outpatient clinics for 12 years. Bullock asks about Raymond Earl since he’s a person of interest in the investigation. Robert Hastings kept clenching his fist, which led Bullock to do some research. If a patient has a compulsion to do something wrong, the hypnotist can put them under and introduce a physical moment like clenching a fist. The person does the motion instead of the impulse. For Raymond Earl and Randall Milkie- who Marks treated years ago- it’s possible that a hypnotist could turn them upside down and make their identities seem like a bad idea.
Marks is impressed, but Bullock isn’t done yet. He figures that she found a suitable borderline case like Randall Milkie and hypnotist the victim until they don’t know who they are, until Marks reprograms their identity. She did it as an act of therapy for Gotham. The city used to have hope, but the rich and powerful gunned it down in the street. Deep down, we all want to eat the rich. Just as Bullock goes to arrest Marks, she instructs Robert to attack Bullock. Though Marks attempts to make her escape, Bullock overpowers Robert long enough to shoot Marks in the leg.
And Bullock doesn’t get enough time celebrate because Montoya and Allen arrive to throw Gordon into a cage for the murder of Oswald Cobblepot. Gordon denies any murder and admits to lying, but then Bullock is arrested as an accomplice. Essen isn’t about to let MCU arrest two of her officers, but guess who shows up?
Oswald Cobblepot has returned. And needless to say that Bullock isn’t too happy with Gordon right now.
Now that was an effective cliffhanger. I’ll get to Oswald’s reveal later, but all in all, I quite enjoyed this episode for a number of reasons. As much as I enjoy the impending mob war, this episode benefitted from focusing mostly on its two main detectives. Much time last week went to the Maroni and Falcone camps, but here, most of the work is in the hands of Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue. Sure, the two don’t have as many scenes together as previous episodes, but for a show that’s about Gotham City, I appreciate the fact that we stuck with the detectives throughout most of it.
More than that, this episode had some actual detective work in it. Nothing mind-blowing or even that complex, but the little things: Gordon going out of his way to get a list of employees instead of just figuring it out on a hunch, Bullock reading up on hypnotism after noticing Robert Hastings clenching his fist, how he remembered the detail about the penny and incision, and Nygma used to help them narrow down potential suspects instead of just appearing to speak in riddles. Again, this is very simple work and I still wish Gotham placed more focus on the detective aspect of the show, but this was refreshing compared to Gordon’s random guesses.
Now I’ll get to Gordon in a second, but I think taking the spotlight off of him for an episode gave us a chance to get to know Harvey a lot better. We’ve seen him as a cynical bad-cop type who would kick back and watch Gotham’s criminal element tear itself apart. He has no problem using force or abusing his authority in order to get perps to talk and he’s more willing to accept Gordon as a partner after he believes Gordon murdered Oswald Cobblepot on Don Falcone’s orders.
But when we flash back to Bullock’s early days, we see glimpses of a man who believed in upholding the law. While the parallelism was far from subtle, we saw Bullock then behaving as Gordon is now. His drive to stop The Goat came from his failure to stop him before he murdered his latest victim. He was an optimist, while his partner believed that Gotham City had no heroes. It’s interesting to see that Bullock wasn’t always a hardened cop, but I do hope we see more of what led him down this darker path. I can’t imagine him making such a sharp turn after dealing with one particular criminal.
I did enjoy learning that, despite Bullock’s rough and tough personality, we still see shades of a good man. I did like the scene where Gordon learns that Bullock has been paying for Dix’s care and makes sure that he still gets magazines to read, no matter how dirty. That was a nice moment.
But neither The Goat nor Dr. Marks are that interesting, either. We don’t learn much about why The Goat has a ritual setup. Dr. Marks, like The Balloonman and Potolsky, is another person who has it out for Gotham’s one-percent. I think the audience knows at this point that many people in Gotham City do not like the upper class. It would be nice to get some different and more interesting ways to terrorize the city.
Or terrorize your coworkers, as Edward Nygma unintentionally does this week. If he’s got the hots for Kringle, he has an awful way of showing affection. And if it’s meant to be awkward, their scenes succeeded on that front. I can’t say I was a fan of Nygma’s interactions with Kringle, but I did appreciate his level of involvement with the actual investigation, as he didn’t just show up to deliver the riddle of the week and flash creepy smiles. Oh, and his coffee mug has a question mark on it. Do you get it?
And speaking of smiles, I guess Gordon and Barbara have reconciled their differences? Yay? It’s strange how we’re to accept this has been handled off-screen when Gordon made it very clear that he would choose his work over Barbara. But at least they don’t appear to fully be back together- just mending broken bridges. It still seems soon, given how Barbara accepted that Gordon would not let her in. This relationship still isn’t all that interesting to me, partially because we haven’t had a chance to learn much about Barbara. If she’s not with Gordon, she’s clashing with Montoya.
Now here’s my awful transition onto Montoya and Allen. These two must not have much to do since they’ve been on Gordon’s case since and made little progress. You’d think they would be reassigned by now. So they take the word of a homeless man who might not have even been a witness to the murder, accept him identifying Gordon just through a picture- never mind a line-up- don’t ask any follow-up questions, don’t get a more credible witness and in no time at all, they have a warrant? What hell, Gotham City? How long would it take when you get credible testimonies? I chalk this up to lazy writing just to set up Montoya and Allen to arrest Gordon, leading to the ending confrontation.
Actually, on that scene, Bullock seemed to be much more willing to cover Gordon’s back if it meant preserving his reputation as a bad cop, that and he had no idea that Gordon lied about killing Oswald. I loved the buildup to Oswald’s appearance and Bullock’s immediate rage at learning that his partner was still a goody two-shoes.
Oswald himself doesn’t get much to do this week, but it seems like he’s ready to be his own man instead of being Maroni’s flunky. A shame. He just got that promotion, too. But if Oswald hadn’t opened his mouth to Maroni about who he really was and what he knew, he wouldn’t be at this point right now as he prepares to climb the crime mob ladder.
My only complaint: the scenes with Bruce and Alfred weren’t needed. We already know Bruce is still working on his crime web. Sort of a dick move for him to claim there’s no one to take him from, though. And Selina Kyle was just there. Hey, I guess the writers need to still think of things for her to do, but hopefully the item she swiped turns out to be important later.
“Spirit of the Goat” was a good episode. It minimized the cast, gave Harvey some well-needed background and had a well-executed stinger with Oswald’s public declaration that he is, in fact, alive. So Gordon didn’t do as the mob or his partner wanted, Montoya and Allen’s witch hunt has ended and there’s still an oncoming war. Gordon may no longer be arrested, but his troubles have just started.