A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 20: “Under the Knife”

Continuing along from “Beasts of Prey,” Gordon and Bullock keep searching for the mysterious Ogre, who happens to find a new potential interest.  Please note, I said interest, not victim.  At least, not for the moment.

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina argue about Reggie's death

The episode begins with Bruce and Selina arguing about Selina pushing Reggie out the window.  They need to keep moving, though, as cops are at the scene.  Bruce is angry that Selina took it that far when Reggie told them what they needed to know.  True as that is, Selina reminds Bruce that Reggie would have told his boss and he did try to kill them.  That and he stabbed Alfred.  As far as Selina is concerned, she saved Bruce’s life because he didn’t have the guts to kill Reggie himself.

Selina then tells Bruce that it’s his job to find out what Bunderslaw’s next plan is, not hers.  But then Bruce reminds Selina that Bunderslaw could come after either of them.  The man has a safe in his office, as does every senior executive that works at Wayne Enterprises.  If Bunderslaw has any secrets, he’ll keep them in a convenient safe.  Oh, and it opens with a key.  I assume no one at Wayne Enterprises could be bothered to remember a combination.  If Bruce can find a way to get Selina close, she should be able to retrieve it.

Under the Knife- Nygma stabs watermelons

Nygma stabs watermelons.  Why?  Because Nygma wills it, I guess, but he’s actually doing some testing and finds that the punctures on the test subjects are consistent with those on the victim, indicating that the killer is right handed.  Gordon enters to know Thompkins’ whereabouts, but she already went home.

Under the Knife- Leslie finds a cat

We then cut to Thompkins’ bath interrupted by an unexpected guest.  She grabs a knife, readying herself for a surprise attack, but only finds a cat under her bed.

Under the Knife- Leslie talks with Gordon about the killings

Oh, and she accidentally clocks Gordon.  At least he decided to check in on her.  He briefs her about the case, The Ogre’s targets, and how Loeb intentionally gave him this investigation.  Bullock knows a cop, for example, who came home and found his wife’s throat had been cut.  Gordon can either give up and potentially let a killer go free or he can keep going and someone he loves could be hurt.  He won’t leave and Thompkins won’t leave Gotham, either.

Luckily, Jason may have found a new playmate in Barbara…

Under the Knife- Jason at Barbara's place

When the two head to Barbara’s place, she offers Jason a drink.  He’s surprised to learn that Barbara not only doesn’t have a boyfriend, but also that she’s not the cheating type.  Barbara is insulted by these accusations.  Quite frankly, is a bus hit her tomorrow, she doesn’t think that anyone would care.  Once Jason saw the real her, he would run screaming, just like everyone else.  This intrigues Jason.

Under the Knife- Penguin speaks with a hitman named Connor, played by Clark Carmichael

At the night club, Penguin speaks with a hitman named Connor, played by Clark Carmichael, whose crew is the best at gunning and knifing in the city, as illustrated with their hit on Councilman Klein.  Penguin is in need of some help with killing Don Maroni and his lieutenants.  Connor balks at the proposition since that’s playing with fire.  Plus, Penguin hasn’t gotten Falcone on board with this, despite claiming that he will soon.

Connor rejects the offer, so Penguin tempts him.  Does he like always being number two?  Falcone always enlists Victor Zsasz on every new contract, but if Connor presents him with the body of Falcone’s enemy, then that could all change.  Connor considers the offer.  The two will talk details tomorrow.

Under the Knife- Bullock introduces Gordon to Detective Ben Mueller, played by Laurence Mason

Bullock introduces Gordon to Detective Ben Mueller, played by Laurence Mason.  Eight years ago, Mueller investigated the murder of a woman named Julie Kemble: The Ogre’s first victim.  Mueller dropped the investigation and, since then, there have been 11 more murders.  The two figure that The Ogre’s pattern of killing the loved ones of cops that investigate him had to have started with Mueller, and it did.  Mueller still has a daughter, but each one of the victims was someone else’s daughter.  Valid point, I will give them that.

Something on Mueller’s old investigation notes had been scratched out.  He had been doing background on the dead girl when someone told him that she was a nurse for a private medical clinic uptown on Grant and 80th.

Under the Knife- Nygma finds Kringle and Officer Dougherty in the middle of something

Nygma enters the records annex and finds Kringle and Officer Dougherty in the middle of something.  Dougherty soon leaves and Nygma requests some forensic evidence from old murders, on Gordon’s request.  However, Nygma’s attention goes to the bruises on Kringle’s body.  He asks if Dougherty did it, but she tells him to keep out of it.

Under the Knife- Bruce tells Alfred that he plans to attend the Wayne Enterprises Charity Ball

Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, Bruce tells Alfred that he plans to attend the Wayne Enterprises Charity Ball.  All the senior management will be there, so it would be good for people to see that a Wayne is still at the head of the company.  Bruce then asks Alfred if he ever had to kill people while in the army and whether it was necessary.  Alfred responds that, sometimes, it was.

Alfred intends to attend the ball as well, but Bruce tells him to stay home so he can continue his recovery.  After all, there will be hundreds of people there and Alfred won’t let Bruce walk into the vipers’ nest alone.  Luckily, Bruce won’t be alone, as he’s invited Selina Kyle.  Huh.  Alfred figures that Bruce is a young man and Selina is a very pretty young girl.  Bruce makes it clear that it’s not like that, but doubles back when he realizes that the alternative would mean admitting why he’s inviting Selina in the first place.  Alfred will at least wait in the car if Bruce needs anything.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock meet with Dr. Darren Cushman, played by Michael McCormick

At the aforementioned medical clinic, Gordon and Bullock meet with Dr. Darren Cushman, played by Michael McCormick.  Dr. Cushman is familiar with Julie Kemble, but she had only just started working there before her murder.  She’d been recommended by a patient, and Cushman won’t give up the name due to confidentiality.  Looks like the detectives are gonna need a warrant.

Under the Knife- Car rushes toward Gordon and Bullock

As the two head out, though, Gordon spots a car in an alley- the same car that was in front of the precinct.  The driver turns on the car and rushes toward two, but they manage to evade it.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock tell Captain Essen what happened

Back at GCPD, they inform Essen about what happened.  She wants them to be completely sure that this is the guy they want.  Though Gordon didn’t see his face, he’s sure that it’s the same man.  An officer informs Gordon that he has an urgent call, which turns out to be Jason.  No point in tracing this call, though, as Jason won’t be long.  Gordon gives Jason one chance to turn himself in, but Jason mocks the positive press that Gordon has been receiving as the “rising star of the GCPD.”  If Gordon stays the course, Jason will kill someone that he loves.  This is Gordon’s only warning.

Gordon isn’t deterred.  Since Jason is used to intimidating cops, the officers have to show that they’re not afraid of him.  And how?

Under the Knife- Gordon holds a press conference about The Ogre killings

With a very public press conference with Jim calling out The Ogre’s killings.  GCPD will be providing the names and photos of all of the victims.  If anyone has information, Gordon asks them to please call.

Under the Knife- Selina receives gifts from Bruce

So Selina and Barbara learn that they’ll both be attending the Wayne charity ball.  As they both realize this, Selina receives a delivery of many dresses and items she can use to transform herself for this occasion.  I honestly don’t know why Bruce is sending Selina so much when he knows that she isn’t that kind of girl.

Good news for Bullock and Gordon: they receive their warrant from Judge Harkness.  The recommendation for Kemble came from a Miss Constance van Groot.  Van Groot, as it turns out, is one of Gotham’s oldest families.

Under the Knife- Penguin finds Maroni sweet talking his mother

Over at the night club, Penguin has good news that Connor and his crew are on board, but Butch has some bad news: Maroni and his crew are at the club right now and Maroni himself is sweet-talking with Penguin’s mom.  Though Penguin tries to break this up, Maroni has Oswald take a seat instead.

Bruce goes to Barbara’s and picks up Selina, who looks like an actual doll.  Surprisingly, her hair remained unchanged.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock cut down Jacob Skolimski, played by Daniel Davis

Gordon and Bullock check out the van Groot mansion and find a man trying to hang himself.  The detectives cut him down before he expires.  Gordon remains with him and Bullock checks upstairs, but he makes a grim discovery and calls out to Jim.

Under the Knife- Miss Constance van Groot's decomposed body

He arrives and finds the decomposed body of Miss Constance van Groot.

under the Knife- Bullock and Gordon talk to Jacob

The man’s name is Jacob Skolimski, played by Daniel Davis.  Though he isn’t talking, Gordon and Bullock figure that he was Constance van Groot’s butler.  If he tried to kill himself, that must mean he knew the detectives were close, so he must be in touch with his son.  According to Alvarez, though, there’s nothing in the system on the son.  The two have to make Jacob talk.

But he won’t.  He claims to not know anything about his son committing these murders.  His son made one mistake, but nothing after that.

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina talk about Reggie's death again

At the charity ball, Bruce and Selina dance.  Bruce wants to talk about what happened last night with Reggie and how it can never happen again.  Even if Selina says that he doesn’t have the guts, and even if Bruce wanted to kill Reggie, he admits that there is a line that he won’t cross.  Selina, however, would, if given a second chance, and she wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.  The two eventually spot Bunderslaw.

Under the Knife- Nygma confronts Officer Dougherty with a riddle about love

Nygma confronts Officer Dougherty with a riddle: I can start a war or end one.  I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless.  I might be snared with a glance, but no force can compel me to stay.  What am I?

The answer is love.  And Miss Kringle has given her love to him, but Dougherty hurts her in return.  However, Dougherty reminds Nygma that some women need a firm hand, maybe double for someone like Kringle.  Nygma hasn’t been with a woman, so not like he can relate, either.  Though Nygma says that he won’t let Dougherty hurt Kringle, he’s not in a position to do anything yet.

Under the Knife- Jacob talks about his son

Jacob starts talking to the detectives.  Miss van Groot kept herself sealed off from the world, but she doted on Jacob’s son and treated him as her own.  With the mother out of the picture, he started thinking that he was van Groot’s secret son.  Jacob tried to tell his son that this wasn’t true, but he’d already conjured up this fantasy and Miss van Groot kept leading him.  Ten years ago, the son confronts her, demands she acknowledge him, and that he be included in her will.  She laughed it off as a big joke, which led the son to kill her.

He called his father to let him know that the police would be coming, but Jacob still hasn’t seen his son since the day he killed Miss van Groot.  When the detectives tell Jacob that his son has been seducing and killing women for almost a decade, he laughs.  You ever hear of a face only a mother could love?  Jacob shows the detectives two pictures.  This could mean that the detectives have been chasing the wrong person the entire time.

Under the Knife- Jim goes back to Dr. Cushman

Jim goes back to Dr. Cushman, who is shown a photo of the man.  Though he doesn’t have to talk, Gordon just asks him to nod if he ever operated on this man.  He did.

Under the Knife- Jason's original face

Oh, and that’s the face.  Sheesh.  Maybe this guy should have been Harvey Dent, but then he’d technically already be Two-Face.

Under the Knife- Maroni talks to Gertrude about Oswald's darker side

Over at the nightclub, just as things are starting to wrap up, Maroni has a question for Gertrude: is she pretending that her son is only a nightclub owner or is she really that stupid?  Maroni tells Gertrude all about her cold-blooded psychopath of a son who has killed before and is now playing his own mother for a fool.  Penguin tries to downplay this, but Maroni’s tactics work and Gertrude passes out.  His job accomplished, Maroni leaves.

Under the Knife- Barbara and Jason dance

At the ball, Barbara and Jason dance.  He’s not on the list, but he did make a generous $10,000 donation.  If Barbara didn’t show up, though, he’d have just made a generous donation…and be short $10,000.  But he feels a connection to Barbara, as someone once told him that one would ever love him.  He knows what it’s like to be one person on the inside and have the world see another.  Jason lived like that and it almost destroyed him.  Who he is now is a product of his own creation.  He can bring that same life out in Barbara, who is tired of hiding.

Under the Knife- Bruce introduces himself Sid Bunderslaw, played by Michael Potts

Bruce introduces himself Sid Bunderslaw, played by Michael Potts, who is the Director of Physical Operations at Wayne Enterprises, which is a dull position, in his words.  Bruce keeps Sid talking while giving Selina enough time to swipe Sid’s keys, check his box, and return them just as Sid leaves.  Side-note, hey, another alumni from The Wire.

Under the Knife- Nygma stabs Dougherty

Outside Miss Kringle’s home, Nygma confronts Dougherty.  He tells the officer to leave Kringle alone and that he needs to leave Gotham tonight.  When that doesn’t work, Nygma stabs Dougherty over and over and over again.  The light flashes are a bit much.

Under the Knife- Gertrude wants to know the truth about Oswald

All right, then.  Oswald makes some tea.  He tries to blow off Maroni’s talk as nonsense, but it’s too deep in his mother’s head to just go away now.  Gertrude is no country bumpkin with hay in her brains.  That’s a funny sentence.  She wants to know if her son has done things he shouldn’t.  Is he really a murderer?  Oswald is simply a nightclub owner.  As Gertrude goes to rest, Oswald answers the door.  A man delivers flowers, courtesy of Maroni, but Oswald gives the delivery man a message to give Maroni: he’s a dead man.

Under the Knife- Penguin kills the messenger

But no.  Oswald would rather deliver the message himself.

Under the Knife- Essen, Gordon, and Bullock learn the name of the killer is Jason Skolimski

The detectives learn the name of their killer is Jason Skolimski, but there’s neither a Jason Skolimski nor a Jason von Groot in the system.  After being rejected, Jason went and got himself a new face.  Essen and Bullock press Gordon to see if Jason said anything key on the phone that they may have missed.

It hits Gordon: Jason talked about the press’ discussion of the GCPD’s rising star.  The article included a photo of him at a charity gala, but Gordon wasn’t alone in that picture.

Under the Knife- Gordon shows Selina the crappy sketch

So he heads to Barbara’s and finds Selina there.  Though she’s not a fan of the crappy sketch Gordon presents, she confirms that this is the man that she last saw with Barbara.  And where is Barbara?

Under the Knife- Barbara in Jason's play room

At Jason’s place with his many toys.

So we’re at the second installment of The Ogre storyline and we do get some plot progression, at the very least.  Gordon, being the upstanding officer that he is, won’t buckle in the face of Jason’s threat or show any hesitation since Commissioner Loeb shoved this case on him.  Credit where it’s due, that is consistent with his character, as he wants to stay true to his promise of cleaning up Gotham City.

And even if that means putting his loved ones in harm’s way, Gordon won’t turn a blind eye to a serial killer because he’d be no different than the other officers who ignored The Ogre’s murders.

Under the Knife- Barbara considers Jason's approach to life

Let’s talk The Ogre for a second, though.  Well, more like The Ogre and Barbara.  It’s no secret that a number of fans dislike Barbara and I understand why, but if I can give the show any credit, this may be the most interesting she’s been in awhile, if at all.  Jason originally planned to kill her because he thought that she had a connection to Jim Gordon.  When she said they were broken up and that she wasn’t the cheating type- I guess she’s blocking out Montoya for now- Jason got a look at Barbara’s pity and self-doubt.

Under the Knife- Barbara talks about how no one would miss her if she was hit by a bus

She talks of how no one would miss her if she died the next day- which I think doubles as a statement on viewer’s criticism of her character- and how the true her would scare away others.  Rather than wanting to kill Barbara, Jason sees a lot of himself in her.  There’s some mutual interest because they know what it’s like to face rejection.  In that, Jason hopes he can bring out a new side of Barbara, the same way he’s done for himself.  At the very least, there’s someone out there who is similar to Barbara and I can sort of accept this a lot more than I can accept the idea that Jim and Barbara were once a couple.

I’m not sure I accept the idea that Barbara would let Selina stay at her place to the point that she calls her a roommate, though.  Also, where the hell was Ivy?  I mean, she wasn’t even mentioned, but we know that Selina and Ivy both made their way into Barbara’s home.  The fact that neither of them brought her up confused me.

Under the Knife- Bruce talks about Selina crossing a line with murder

And while I can believe that Selina is more willing to kill than Bruce, I’m not fully sold on this idea of Selina being a cold hearted killer with no remorse at such a young age.  Also, I think it’s way too early for Bruce to start talking about his no-killing code.  The kid hasn’t even fallen into a cave and seen a bat yet.  We’ve already seen him develop an interest in vigilantes, which I still think is too soon, but give it some time before he starts getting into the philosophy he’ll stick to in his later years.  It’s also a random point to bring it up.  He saw his parents murdered before him, so why not make his no-killing vow right there?

Batman Returns- Bruce and Selina dance

Dark Knight Rises- Bruce and Selina dance

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina dance again

Also, I think this is the third time I’ve seen Bruce and Selina dance at a ball.  At least they weren’t wearing masks.

Under the Knife- Maroni sweet talking Gertrude

Given how this is a pre-Batman universe, it’s safe to assume that neither Maroni nor Penguin will die.  However, it’s very clever of Maroni to get under Penguin’s skin by getting at his mother.  Gertrude may be Oswald’s number, but Maroni knows more about Penguin’s intimate and violent activities, so this is a good way to potentially drive a wedge between the two of them.

Under the Knife- Nygma laughs after stabbing Dougherty

As for Nygma, we’re watching his slow unraveling.  It doesn’t appear he’s gone off the deep end yet, but we’ve known since the beginning that this man has a dark side to him.  I do hope he’s smart about what to do with the body and evidence, though.  After all, he does work in forensics.

So here’s to “Under the Knife” making Barbara a tad bit interesting.  No Fish Mooney this week, which was a plus, and the villain stuff with Nygma, as well as Penguin and Maroni, wasn’t too bad.  Nothing extraordinary, but a step above last week’s episode.

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