A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 8: “Start to Finish”

Okay, time for the mid-season finale of Season Six of The Walking Dead.  Strap right in for this…oh, wait, it’s already over?  Ah.  Well, let’s jump right into it.

Start to Finish- Sam draws in his room

The episode begins with Sam leaving his completed dinner plate at the stairs before shutting himself back into his room and listening to, get this, a record player.  I’m more impressed with the fact that Sam actually has a record player than his drawing skills.  He’s also not paying attention to the steady stream of insects making their way into his room.  My guess is they’re drawn to the music, but it turns out they’re attracted to his food.

Start to Finish- Rick and Deanna deal with the walkers

Outside, the tower falls and brings down the walls of the Alexandria Safe Zone.  With that comes the slow, but steady stream of walkers making their way into the community.  Rick orders everyone back into their houses.  He and Deanna begin taking out as many walkers as they can before they also fall back.

Start to Finish- Maggie climbs ladder to escape walkers

Carol, while running, trips over some shells before continuing along with Morgan into one of the homes.  Everyone gives it their all and fires as many bullets as they can, but there are just too many walkers.  Maggie ends up scaling the ladder and climbing atop the wall to escape the swarm.  She eventually makes it up, anyway, all while keeping an eye on the balloons.

A timid Eugene hears someone call out on the radio.  Though the voice attracts walkers, Eugene manages to call out ‘Help’ just as Tara and Rosita drag him into one of the garages.  Oh, that’s where that came from.  Carl, Ron, Gabriel, and Michonne join Rick and Deanna.  They’re soon surrounded by walkers, but Jessie manages to take out a few.  They all head into her home to escape the swarm.

Start to Finish- Glenn makes a plan to get back into the Safe Zone

Back outside the walls, Enid and Glenn watch the invasion take place.  He formulates a plan to get in and tries to boost Enid’s spirits, as she figures this is how it happens.  It always happens, she says.  Glenn reminds her that people who care about them are both in there, including his pregnant wife.  Not sure why Glenn waited until now to mention that Maggie is pregnant, but he’s going in.  He won’t be a coward like Enid apparently is right now.

Start to Finish- Jessie tries to cheer up Sam

We return to Sam, as Jessie, Rick, and the others soon rush in.  She insists that he stay in his room and tell him to pretend.  He looks too damn shell-shocked to do much of anything, honestly.

Start to Finish- Morgan tries to examine Carol's wound

Morgan tries to examine Carol’s wound, but she insists that she’s fine.  She ranks him last on her trustworthy scale, but she never thought he was lying.  Well, that’s gotta count for something.  He insists that she wait in case the wound turns into something worse, so they’re forced to wait.

Start to Finish- Denise and the Alpha Wolf talk

Denise, meanwhile, sits with the Wolf, who doesn’t think that Morgan is coming back.  He wants to talk, but she remains silent.  She doesn’t want to be here, and thinks that he doesn’t either because of the things he’s done.  He disagrees.  He freed people, not killed them.  Morgan apparently wouldn’t let the leader go until he was certain he wouldn’t kill again.  His wound is from an infection from breaking into a car.

It’s not unfair or just.  Hell, nothing’s unfair anymore.  He’s done his part and the world will take care of the rest.  It won’t change.  Denise finally asks him to show her the wound, and he does.  An open gash on his stomach.  Denise tells him that he wasn’t born like this- he changed and can change again.  She takes out some supplies and prepares to go to work.

Start to Finish- Michonne patches up Deanna and finds a bite mark

Back at Jessie’s, Michonne is working on Deanna wound when it turns out that there’s a bite mark on her stomach.  I’d say ‘Well, shit,’ but Deanna beat me to it.  Rick tells Jessie that Deanna doesn’t have a lot of time left and knows how this happens.  She must, otherwise she wouldn’t be cracking jokes.  There’s enough food to last them for some time.  Rick hopes to eventually reach the armory and draw away the swarm with flares- just to get them somewhere from the community.

Michonne has been looking over Deanna’s plans and believes that they can work.  Deanna considers herself for working with her community to build a better future and that’s what she got.  She did just what she wanted right up to the end.  She asks what Michonne wants, and she wants this place to work.  Fine, but what does that mean for Michonne?  Michonne isn’t sure of that, but she better.

Start to Finish- Ron and Carl face off

Downstairs, Carl follows Ron to the garage and finds him upset that Enid may be dead.  Ron says it’s bullshit that Rick has a plan.  He’ll just get people killed because that’s who he is- a killer.  But then, so was Ron’s father.  To that, Ron has no immediate response.  He locks the door, but just as he reaches for his gun, Carl goes on the attack.  Ron breaks a window and draws walkers to the house.

Start to Finish- Blocking the door with the sofa

As the two fight, walkers break through the gate and approach the home.  Rick takes an axe to the door.  Ron and Carl escape the garage just as the walkers crash through and enter the garage.  While blocking the door with the couch, Carl tells Rick and Jessie a version of what happened while leaving out that Ron was an idiot.  The two go off while Rick and Jessie continue blocking the door.

Start to Finish- Carl demands that Ron hand over his gun

Upstairs, Carl draws his gun and demands that Ron hand over his gun.  Gotta say, Carl is a lot more patient towards Ron than that kid at the prison that he killed despite him surrendering.  Carl gets it: Rick killed Pete, but Pete was an asshole.  Again, Ron has no immediate response.

Start to Finish- Rick almost kills Deanna

All the noise is drawing more walkers.  Rick finds Deanna in Judith’s crib.  Thinking she’s a walker, he prepares to take the axe to her, but she’s still her.  She just wanted to see her one more time, but her legs had other ideas.  She tells Rick that her plans are now his.  Rick tells her that from now on, someone needs to be with Deanna and it can’t be Judith for obvious reasons.  Deanna has something written for Spencer from Maggie.  Rick promises to deliver it and to look after Spencer, just as he looks out for his people.

After all, guess what?  They’re all his people now.  That’s how it is.  Deanna didn’t run over to help because she thinks he’s a good man and father, or that he can grow one hell of a beard.  It’s because he’s one of them.

Start to Finish- Tara and Rosita talk

Eugene reads up on World History via lighter while Rosita and Tara wait it out.  Rosita wonders if this place is over, but Tara says that they all have to earn it, whether by waiting or fighting.  Rosita feels that Abraham may be dead, though Tara disagrees.  She didn’t see it.  You see?!  You gotta see it happen!  So what happens now?  They’re trapped.  Rosita plans to see what it’s like on the other side by shooting the lock, but Tara doesn’t want to waste a bullet.  Luckily, Eugene knows a thing or two about picking locks.

Start to Finish- Morgan checks downstairs

Carol takes a moment to rest her eyes while Morgan continues to keep watch.  Suddenly, the lights go off.  As Morgan checks around, Carol shoves him and heads off.

Start to Finish- Dragging the sofa to block the walkers

The walker herd bursts into Jessie’s house.  Michonne cuts down as many as she can until the group heads upstairs.  They manage to block the stairs with the ever faithful couch.  Rick, though, has a plan.

Denise’s alone time with the Wolf is interrupted by Carol, who orders Denise to get away and prepares to kill the Wolf.  However, Morgan enters soon after and stands in her away.

Start to Finish- Rick plans to use the walker insides to mask the group's scent

Rick drags in a walker and demands bedsheets.  They’re going to cover themselves with the scent of the walkers and move to the armory.  More are coming, so they don’t have much of a choice.  Anyone who stays is going to die, but Gabriel then asks about Deanna.  Rick and Michonne go back to hacking up guts.

Start to Finish- Morgan and Carol face off

Carol is in no mood to talk.  Morgan says that they’re no better if they kill.  Carol insists that the Wolves made her kill.  With life, Morgan says, there are possibilities.  He doesn’t think that Carol will kill him, as he won’t let her.

Start to Finish- Deanna's last conversation with Michonne

Michonne goes to a weary Deanna and learns what’s happening.  Everyone is going to have to leave.  Michonne offers to help, but Deanna turns her down.  She’s not ready yet, but she will be soon.  When she is, she’ll do it herself with her gun.  She then says something in Latin- I think- that translates to ‘Someday this pain will be useful to you.’  Deanna tells Michonne to leave, as she’s needed elsewhere.  Before leaving, Michonne thanks Deanna for believing.

Deanna tells Michonne that it’s up to her to figure out what she wants.  Oh, and give ‘em hell.

Start to Finish- Sam learns of the escape plan

The others cover themselves in walker guts just as Sam enters.  Jessie tells her son that they aren’t safe.  They need to look like the monsters in order to be safe.  If Sam is afraid, he should pretend that he’s brave.  Getting real tired of your shit, Sam.

Start to Finish- Morgan knocks the knife out of Carol's hand

Back to the standoff, Carol insists that she’ll kill Morgan to kill the Wolf.  The Wolf taunts Carol to do the deed since they’re all eventually going to die.  The two fight and Morgan actually manages to body slam Carol into submission, but then the Wolf knocks out Morgan before confronting Denise.

Rick and company are ready to head out.  Gabriel insists that he’ll not turn back, no matter what happens.

Start to Finish- Alpha Wolf holds Denise hostage as Tara, Eugene, and Rosita enter

Denise pleads for the Wolf to not kill anyone.  Instead, he could just let them die.  The Wolf takes Denise hostage just as Tara, Eugene, and Rosita conveniently enter.  They lower their guns and slide them over to the Wolf.  Eugene slides over his blade, too, even though the Wolf didn’t ask for it.  They insists that he doesn’t need Denise and that he won’t make it out there anyway.  Even still, the Wolf leaves with Denise in tow.

Start to Finish- Glenn and Enid spot Maggie

Right outside the gate, Glenn and Enid spot Maggie surrounded by walkers.

Start to Finish- Deanna's last stand

Just before Deanna can pull the trigger, she hears a noise.  She opens the door and kills as many walkers as she can before the rest approach.

Start to Finish- Rick and company on Jessie's porch, surrounded by walkers

Outside, the group joins hands and slowly begin to make their way down the stairs.  As they make their way, Sam calls out for his mother as the episode comes to a close.

Start to Finish- Walkers enter the Safe Zone

Well, that ended.  “Start to Finish” has a great start.  Not the stuff with Sam, though.  He’s just a messed up kid.  But that image of the tower falling through the walls and the sight of an endless stream of walkers entering the community that’s been able to stand for so long was a great sight.  “Start to Finish” throws you straight into the action with Rick, Deanna, and the others falling back to Jessie’s home, coupled with Maggie struggling to get atop the wall and end up in a position all too similar to Glenn in “Thank You.”

If the episode had the continuous energy of its introduction, I thought, then we’re in for an entertaining mid-season finale.  But as we spent more time waiting and waiting, it dawned on me that we weren’t going to get any sort of solid conclusion to the situations presented here.  Instead, they would be drawn out to a point as a way to tease us for what’s to come in the latter half of Season Six.  If that’s done right, then no problem, but this episode felt uneven in its execution.

The ongoing number of walkers entering Alexandria did make for great tension, I’ll admit.  This isn’t a scenario where there are only a few walkers you can dispatch of or make your way through.  We have scores of the roamers literally taking up space in the doorways of people’s homes, providing little to no exit and leaving you trapped in your home.  And should these walkers catch wind of you, you’re screwed.

All the peace and optimism that the Alexandria Safe Zone presented when Rick’s group first arrived is crumbling like the very walls themselves and it was a great image to see these people literally fight for their lives in a situation they couldn’t stop.  It was fine when Rick found just one walker inside the walls, but this is a different beast altogether.

Start to Finish- Deanna takes Rick's hand

In the face of so much danger, there’s little room to be optimistic at all and think about the future.  This is why we have a character like Deanna who, despite being a liability, refused to waiver in her belief that this community could become something great.  And up through her final moment, she still carried that belief.  Deanna opened her doors to these newcomers who may have come off as abrasive, but they have the survival instinct that the residents lack and Rick’s group will do what it takes to survive.

And Deanna realized that when she practically handed the reigns of the leadership over to Rick and, to a lesser extent, Michonne.  Not that Deanna couldn’t have kept leading the community, but she saw Rick’s potential, given everything he’s endured and his desire to keep order, no matter the consequences.  As we saw with allowing Pete to remain, Deanna strives to see the good and usefulness in people rather than exiling or killing a potential resource.  Only when pushed will she make the call to have someone killed, but she won’t cross that line until forced.

Start to Finish- Michonne and Deanna talk

While I’ve enjoyed the dynamic between Rick and Deanna, I enjoyed Deanna’s scenes with Michonne a bit more because we saw a more optimistic side to her.  Michonne was the one who pushed for the group to trust Aaron and head towards Alexandria.  She believes that people beyond Rick’s group have potential and wants that same future that Deanna envisioned.  What she doesn’t know yet is what she wants for herself, but she now has proper motivation to seek out what she desires.

And like Annie, Deanna refuses to just succumb and manages to at least take a few walkers down with her.  Oh, and Tovah Feldshuh was on Talking Dead, so there’s a death you can definitely confirm.

Start to Finish- Carl and Ron talk

Sticking with the situation at Jessie’s home, we got a taste of the confrontation between Ron and Carl, with Ron still holding resentment due to Enid and for Rick killing Pete.  The kid is living in his own world if he doesn’t realize how much of a threat Pete already posed to Jessie and the community through his abuse.  And it’s his own reckless actions that drew the walkers to Jessie’s house in the first place.

But this being Carl, he refused to take any chances and disarmed Ron the first chance I got, which I appreciate.  That and he rightly called out Ron’s father for being an asshole.

Start to Finish- Slowly moving through the crowd of walkers

With this group having to work against the clock, I appreciated the callback to Rick and Glenn’s plan of using the guts of walkers in order to mask your scent.  It makes sense.  Pending an unexpected rainstorm, this plan should work, but damn it if I didn’t feel the tension of the group standing on the porch and holding hands as they slowly made their way.  The slightest hint of something being off would not only alert the walkers, but cause some deaths as well, so there’s no question: there can be no fuck-ups here as they get one shot at this.  But then traumatized Sam may go and screw it up.

Start to Finish- Carol won't hesitate to kill Morgan

Now onto Carol and Morgan, as this situation didn’t have the amount of tension I had hoped it would.  Their philosophies clash.  I get that.  Carol believes in killing to survive, while Morgan believes everyone deserves a chance at redemption.  But like many situations where a villain has the hero cornered, but refuses to kill them, there’s a chance of escape and that’s just what happens here.  While Morgan’s case is understandable, he’s still putting the community at risk not just by having the Wolf captive, but by bringing in Denise to patch up his wounds.

Start to Finish- Morgan and Carol about to fight

The fight between Morgan and Carol was short and I do wish it had gone on for longer.  But I’ll be damned, I did not expect Morgan to just up and body slam Carol the way that he did.  They’re tense allies, but this is definitely going to cause major friction between the two.  Especially now that the Wolf has gotten away with Denise, even though they probably won’t get far with that herd.

Plus, the walkers were a bigger threat.  If Carol had a problem with Morgan’s decision, that’s fine, but set that aside to deal with the more important priority.

Start to Finish- Rosita, Tara, and Eugene find Denise and the Wolf in the cell

Plus, Tara and Rosita had the advantage, so I don’t see why they didn’t just pop the Wolf in the leg or something.  He was already injured, so he’s not at full strength.  Maybe they weren’t sure what would happen to Denise, but had this been Rick or Carol, they would have pulled the trigger.  Here, there’s no excuse for just drawing this out for the sake of a standoff.  In this instance, I’d side with Carol.  Shoot first, ask questions later, especially when you know what this Wolf can and has done.  He certainly wasn’t going to change his tune because Morgan kept him alive.

Start to Finish- Eugene calls for help

Side-note, another time issue here.  So it was Eugene on the radio calling out to Daryl.  “Always Accountable,” from my approximation, picks up not long after the events of “First Time Again,” given how Rick headed back to the Safe Zone at the end of that one, while Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham continued along with the herd.  Based on how this reveal works, their episode goes through “JSS” and still plays alongside this one, given how we hear Eugene’s voice.  Just how long were these three on the road, anyway?

So while it sounds like I don’t have many issues, my gripe is that there was just a ton of waiting.  Given how “Heads Up” ended, it seemed like this would be a pretty action packed full of dread and tension about the residents’ fates.  Not that The Walking Dead needs action to be entertaining.

And we got that dread at the start, but only with Rick’s group did I get any sense of fear because the walkers kept on coming.  Even Maggie outrunning the walkers didn’t seem as it tense as it could have been because I never thought she was in any danger.  Also, I didn’t see the need for the scenes with Enid and Glenn because it just reinforced that they’re back, which we all knew.

But just when we were getting somewhere, the episode cut to black.  Something bad is bound to happen with Rick’s group going through that herd, but rather than give us that, we get a hard end.  While Beth’s death in “Coda” was telegraphed, it was still a big enough moment to keep you on board with the show to see how the group would deal with this now that they were reunited.  Plus, the reveal of Beth’s death to Maggie and the rest of the group was the final moment of the episode, so you’re left thinking ‘Where do we go from here?’

Here, we know the group is heading into the walker masses, but that’s all.  When we could have ended on a potentially great moment, the episode just stops.  So the ending isn’t as powerful as it could have been.  “Start to Finish” isn’t bad, but there are better mid-season finales.  The tension wasn’t maintained throughout and what little tension we got was sapped away with drawn out situations like dealing with the Wolf or Rosita and Tara talking about the future.  Again, the episode has a great opening and I just wish that excitement, for a situation as big as this, had been maintained.

Saviors

I suppose I should say a word about the little preview we got that, on Sunday night, anyway, you could only see by making it through the first commercial break of Into the Badlands.  So Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha have a direct confrontation with a group that we’ll come to know as The Saviors.  And our first official mention of a man named Negan.  Now, we’ll get more into them later, but I feel this would have been a much stronger way to end the episode.  Just have it as a post-credits scene instead of a separate scene you have to watch elsewhere.  That’d be a great way to get people’s attention and keep them invested.

A bit of a disappointment, but not a complete letdown.  We’ll pick up with The Walking Dead for the rest of Season Six in February.  See you then.

A Look at The Walking Dead #148: “No Turning Back”

The Walking Dead #148- Cover

As expected, the ending of issue #147 ended up being resolved very quickly in #148: “No Turning Back.”  Actually, a lot of this issue moved fast, which is typical for most issues of this series, but the thing is you always just want more from every issue, especially when you just get a taste from a storyline.

The Walking Dead #148- Carl, Andrea, and Lydia conflict resolved

Not so much with the first one, with the rather unnecessary conflict between Carl, Andrea, and Lydia being settled very fast.  Lydia ought to give these people more credit.  Sure, that’s my bias from knowing more about them than The Whisperers and we’ve seen people in this world grow paranoid in a short amount of time.  However, I think Carl and Lydia have earned each other’s trust by now.  Especially after the sex.  Does Andrea know about that?

Never mind.  One thing I did find a bit funny is we have Carl yet again pointing a gun at a friend instead of the newcomer.  First it was Michonne, and now Andrea is baffled that Carl would even point a gun in her direction.  Carl is bound to his family, yes, but damn it if he’s not tempted by the power of the pussy.

To be frank, ending on a cliffhanger in issue #147 wasn’t really needed, especially given how little time is spent with these three.  It’s not bad, but this issue could have been resolved in the previous issue and ended there.  That way, more time could have been spent on the other storylines.

The Walking Dead #148- Dwight contemplates his future

Like the brief time we spend with Dwight as he contemplates his future as leader of The Saviors.  We get all of two pages to what could be a very big decision regarding The Saviors.  Dwight is under a lot of pressure and this situation with The Whisperers hasn’t made things better.  This is building off of the conversation that Dwight had with Rick, but now we see him discuss with other Saviors.

I’d like to spend more time with what led Dwight to this decision outside of him saying that he’s not cut out for it anymore.  He did tell the rest of the Saviors to follow him, but now he claims that he’s of no use to anyone.  That and Debbie leaving him seem to have turned him into a mellow man.

The Walking Dead #148- Alpha to make sure she's not challenged

We’ve seen a softer side to Alpha before when she talked with Rick about how much she truly cares for Lydia.  While it’s nice to see a tender side, it’s important to remember that this is the person responsible for the murders of 12 people whose heads were put on pikes as a barrier.  Alpha may show emotions, but she does have an image to maintain.

I will say that it’s very stupid of this man to bring up the fact that Alpha could be challenged.  To say “You better make sure nobody else finds about this” made me shake my head.  Idiot, what do you think she’s going to do to you?  I get the feeling that others have given thought to challenging Alpha.  I’ve no way of proving that, but I do think it’d be interesting to explore more of the hierarchy structure within The Whisperers’ community.

The Walking Dead #148- Alpha orders a body to be taken for processing

Right now, Alpha can’t afford to be seen as weak or emotional, no matter how much she’s worried about Lydia.  And it speaks to how much influence and power she apparently has when the other Whisperer just accepts without question that Alpha was challenged, as is her story.

The Walking Dead #148- Meeting in Alexandria

The climax comes during the meeting in the Safe Zone.  It’s a tad repetitive, in my opinion, because we know the individual communities are outraged at these murders and want revenge.  More than that, they’re upset at Rick for not taking action.  Now that they know their one potential advantage is gone, the communities are at least unified in their hatred towards Rick and, possibly, Maggie, to an extent.

Again, these people haven’t seen what Rick saw when Alpha revealed that massive herd of roamers.  She has an army read to tear through them.  The Alexandria Safe Zone has already been rattled more than once and Rick isn’t about to jeopardize the progress the communities have made since the time skip.

The Walking Dead #148- Anger explodes

Charlie Adlard’s art is always very well done and this is no exception.  The artwork and facial expressions in the fight, when everyone’s emotions have exploded, were great and showed how the people just aren’t going to take this news sitting down.  They’ve already been told individually by Rick that there would be no sort of retaliation.  Putting this in a group setting just sets up a confrontation.

The Walking Dead #148- Rick takes charge

And yet, despite the craziness of it all, Rick reminds us why he’s in charge.  His threat to put the next person in the ground was a very good line and a great moment.

The Walking Dead #148- Rick turns to Negan for help

However, the surprise came at the end when Rick went to Negan for his help.  After being taunted by the man, having his leg broken, and despite his horror at the man’s cell being unlocked, Rick still would not kill Negan.  But now, with the ongoing threat with the Whisperers and disarray in the community, Rick is now turning to Negan for help.  For what?  To what extent?  No idea, but it’s a strong way to end the issue.  If Rick is coming to Negan of all people, having weighed his options and anticipating the reaction from the community, it seems that he’s left with no choice.

Given what we know Negan is capable of, there’s no way this can end well for Rick, but we shall see.

A Look at Fargo- Season 2, Episode 7: “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!”

Let’s talk about the future. Or, the present, rather.  Either way, put the guns aside for now so we can have a conversation.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Management meeting shooting

The episode begins with continuing escalation.  Three people meeting in an office meeting are killed by a pair of window washers, Gale Kitchen kills a man in a bar, and another is drowned in a toilet.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Gerhardt family funeral

On the farm, the Gerhardt family holds a funeral for Otto, who was apparently killed in the shooting last time.  Simone tosses Rye’s belt buckle into his open grave.  As Otto’s body is laid to rest, Simone and Floyd head back to the house.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear and Ricky, played by Ryan O'Nan, speak with Floyd and Simone

Bear arrives with an accomplice, Ricky, played by Ryan O’Nan, who has come out from Buffalo to lend a hand.  Simone sticks around, despite the adults wanting her to go inside.  Bear reports: they got five from management, but lost Roost and Seymour.  Two days have passed and no word from Hanzee.  As for Dodd, Bear couldn’t give a shit.  He thinks the family may need another hole.

They’re just men, Simone says.  It’s not like her father is the shark in that movie.  He just shits and sleeps.  For that, Floyd smacks her across the face for always looking for a fight. She thought Dodd was bad, but Simone is no different- they’re porcupines.  Simone responds by saying that this family deserves the ground.  Floyd immediately regrets hitting her, but Bear says that there’s not enough of them left to start telling the truth.  They watch as Simone drives off, which is perfect timing on her part.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ben Schmidt and Lou Solverson arrive for Floyd

Ben Schmidt and Lou Solverson arrive and need Floyd, not Bear, to come with them.  Floyd complies.  Charlie is in state penitentiary, awaiting trial.  As for his brother, Bear claims that Dodd found Jesus.  Of course.  Ricky informs Bear that a man has called with information regarding Dodd’s location.  Bear tells Ricky to take a message.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Chief Gibson, played by Terry Kinney, speaks with Hank, Lou, and Ben about Floyd

At the police station in Fargo, Ben’s superior, Chief Gibson, played by Terry Kinney, asks Lou, Ben, and Hank why Floyd Gerhardt is in holdup.  To be frank, Schmidt and Solverson are tired of playing clean-up.  Lou, Ben, and Hank want to ratchet up pressure on both sides and let them know that these killings aren’t going unnoticed.  As for the butcher, there’s an APB out on Ed and Peggy Blomquist, but neither has turned up yet.  Ah, so Hank didn’t check on her after all.

Times aren’t as bloodless as Gibson remembers from his dad’s days.  For example, Elliot Ness himself deputized his father ATF during prohibition.  Dad talked of Tommy-Gun bloodbaths and heads rolling in the road.  Though Gibson never thought he’d live to see days like that, here we are.  Can’t live in a world where people leave their front door unlocked anymore.  Seriously, did people do that way back when?

DId You Do This, No, You Did It- Gibson and Hank talk with Floyd about the escalating violence

So Hank and Gibson speak with Floyd, who has an elaborate setup for smoking a pipe.  Hank introduces himself to Floyd and speaks about the disagreement he had with both Dodd.  Hank decides to call that confrontation a draw.  After all, he got sucker-punched by the Indian before he could show his potential.  Sure.  Gibson is sorry about Otto, who was shot up in his own home by some Kansas City hosenscheisser.  Hank’s wife passed last summer, but the last thing she asked was did he smell toast.  The hell?

Hank then asks Floyd how far this will go.  Charlie is in jail, Dodd missing, husband missing.  It’s a question of how many ghosts you can live with for the rest of your life, but Floyd isn’t concerned.  Hank shot a man through the teeth in Vichy, France and he can still see his face.  Floyd maintains that the butcher from Luverne killed Rye, but Hank maintains that he’s known Ed all his life and knows that he doesn’t work for the mob.  If he’s working for Kansas City, Hank will cut off his own toe.

Gibson talks of a case where a kid stabbed his parents to death.  When he asked why, the kid couldn’t say.  It just came over him all of a sudden.  Stories used to be simpler, Floyd says.  Now you don’t know where it starts or ends.  The officers agree that this thing ends when Floyd says it’s over.

She says that her boys won’t stop because they’ve lost too much.  So the two ask Floyd to point them in the right direction- something actionable towards Kansas City and make this northern expansion unpalatable.  In essence, be a snitch.  Well, like Floyd says, it’s hard to be simple in times of complication.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Mike Milligan speaks with Hamish Broker

We then cut to Simone arriving at the Pearl Hotel.  Mike Milligan speaks with his superior, Hamish Broker, played by Adam Arkin, about the situation that Milligan apparently does not have under control.  It was one thing when Joe Bulo was killed, but Broker thinks more and more that Milligan isn’t, as Braverman said, smarter and more capable than the other darkies.  Mike asks for two days, but he gets two days instead.  If nothing comes of that, then the Undertaker pay a visit.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ben and Lou break up confrontation between Mike and Simone

When this call ends, a pissed Simone enters to chew Mike out for killing Otto instead of Dodd.  In response, Mike quotes rattles off a series of quotes.  If the goal is to kill your oppressors, what does it matter who goes first?  Simone is upset that she could have been killed.  This talk is interrupted when Lou and Ben storm in the room, with Lou ordering Ben to take Simone out with him.

Lou remains with Gale Kitchen and Mike Milligan.  On the elevator down, Simone tells Ben that she can handle herself.  Ben has been keeping an eye on Simone and the last place she should be is in a hotel room with those kinds of men.  But Simone puts the moves on Ben, asking him to not tell anyone.  He won’t, but she uses this chance to put him down.  She’s done lying down for men.  We will see about that.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear and Ricky find Simone at the hotel

As Simone heads to her car, Bear and Ricky pull up next to her.  Her shitty cover story is that she came to score some weed.  Bear tells her that it’s not safe for any of them around here.  Ah well, she can score weed elsewhere.  Though Simone has her car, Bear says that Ricky will drive it back while Simone rides with him.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Lou tells Mike to leave

Back in the hotel room, Lou tells Mike that he doesn’t have to necessarily leave, but just not be here.  Mike believes in Manifest Destiny, but here’s the thing- Lou has two pairs of shoes: one for summer and one for winter.  You’re not meant to have more than you can handle.  So this need for conquest and owning things that aren’t meant to be owned, like people and places- that’s a problem, not a solution.  Capitalism isn’t the problem, but greed and making this thing all or nothing.

In response, Mike talks about a factory man.  The boss thinks that the man is stealing from him, so every night, guards search his wheelbarrow.  Ben suggests patting down the man, and that’s what happens.  Hell, he’s stripped naked, but still nothing.  Ben thinks this means the man isn’t stealing, but Lou figures it out: he’s still stealing wheelbarrows.  The point is that sometimes the answer is so obvious, you can’t see it because you’re looking too hard.  He can’t leave because he’s the future, not the past.

The past can no more become the future than the future can become the past.  Well, Lou has said his peace, but he asks Mike to not be offended if Lou doesn’t say hello before he shoots.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy finds Karl and Sonny in her home

Betsy Solverson, arriving home and finding some extra shoes, arms herself with a shotgun.  Holy shit, the Solversons do not fuck around.  But it turns out to just be Sonny and Karl, cooking breakfast.  Lou gave them a key and told them to look after Betsy and Molly while he’s away.

While Betsy doesn’t strike you as someone who needs looking after, Lou did ask Karl and Sonny to watch the house, so here they are.  Karl gets the sofa while Sonny will sleep on the floor, as it hurts Karl to sleep on his back if he’s on the floor.  Now Betsy can either argue or find out while Karl is called The Breakfast King of Loyola.  I, for one, would like to know who calls him that.

Side-note, I can’t help but laugh at Sonny’s instant reaction to Betsy or the fact that cancer-stricken Betsy is still good at moving with a gun.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear and Simone go for a drive

On the road, Simone asks if there’s been any word from Grandma, despite how tough Floyd is.  She maintains that she went to score weed, but Bear says nothing.  Eventually, he asks why Simone doesn’t ask about Charlie?  When she learns of his location, she wants to visit him.  Bear tells Simone to refer to Dodd as Dad, even though he’s done a lot of bad things to her.  Bear isn’t defending Dodd, but just telling Simone what he is.  So what is he to Bear?

Simone finally asks where the two are headed when Bear drives off the road and stops the truck.  She’s afraid of what may come next, but Bear forces her from the truck.  He finally says what Dodd is to him: a man who used his snake tongue to snatch his son from him.  As for Simone, Bear says that it doesn’t matter what she meant to do, but sleeping with the enemy is still treachery.  After the second war, the French would shave a lady’s head for bedding the Germans and ran her out of town.  That or worse.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear orders Simone to kneel

Bear continues to walk Simone through the forest.  She offers to help, saying that the Kansas City folk trust her, but Bear says that such isn’t their way.  The body count is on Simone, Bear says.  That goes for Otto’s death, too, but Simone won’t have that on her.  She counters that Floyd wanted to negotiate, but Dodd wouldn’t let her.  He’s a snake, just as Bear said.  Simone is just a victim.

Bear pulls out his gun and tells Simone to kneel.  As Simone pleads for her life, saying that they’re family, Bear tells her that none of them are family anymore.  Simone begs to be banished and run out of town instead, but Bear says that it’s already done.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear returns to the truck alone

He later returns to the truck alone and slams his cast on the hood over and over until it loosens off of his hand.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear rushes at Ricky

Back at the house, Ricky says that someone called Bear again with Dodd’s location.  Dodd rages at him, but Ricky told the caller that Bear was out.  He doesn’t say anything unless Bear tells him.  If this caller contacts him again, Bear wants Ricky to essentially tell him to piss off.  Ricky asks if Bear is being a bit cold, but when Bear come back to him, Ricky backs off, saying that this is none of his business.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy receives a call from Lou

At House Solverson, Betsy receives a call from Lou.  Betsy says that she doesn’t need looking after, but it’s all hands on deck and Lou tells her that she doesn’t know how bad it is out there.  Karl is drinking, Molly is short and likes Noreen, so things are well.  As for Betsy, she’s better in some and worse in others.

She can’t rest, though, after hearing how bad things are.  Lou tells Betsy to ask about John McCain’s thumb screws.  Apparently if McCain can survive five years in Viet Cong thumb screws, Betsy can beat cancer.  Hank soon joins as Betsy wishes for Lou to come home soon.

Hank reports that Floyd is ready to flip.  Things will change if she puts them in the game.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Floyd cooperates with the authorities

We cut to Floyd, who wants it on the record that this is a matter of last resort.  Also, she doesn’t want any of her children and grandchildren to be liable for any repercussions.  This is her war, after all.  They agree, so time for her to tell what she knows.

Kansas City runs most of their dope through an outfit called Legit Trucking out of Cincinnati.  Their material is hidden in the tires.  It’s also stored in two locations in town: a nail salon and auto repair shop on 1st- check the air pump inside.  Also, they may have weapons on the roof.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Mike learns that The Undertaker is on his way

As the officers head off, we cut to Gale bringing Mike yet another phone call.  The Undertaker is coming.  Mike Milligan is done.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Floyd is released from the station

Back at the Fargo Police Department, Floyd finds Bear and the Gerhardt clan waiting for her.  She instructs him to bring Hanzee in and find Dodd as well.  Lou believes that the officers just chose a side.

Word is now that an Indian shot up a bar while looking for a couple.  One trooper is dead and one is clinging to life.  Ben feels that it’s South Dakota’s problem.  If Hanzee is in pursuit, then Ed and Peggy can’t be too far.  And wherever Hanzee goes, Dodd is also there.  When Ben wants to hand this to his superiors, and reminding Lou that they just promised to give the Gerhardts a free pass, Lou rightly calls Ben a shit cop…even though he’s getting promoted next month.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy and Karl talk

Back at House Solverson, Betty tries to convince Karl that he’s just fine.  Apparently, Lou was supposed to marry Betsy’s sister, Lenore, but then there was Vietnam and Lou got enlisted.  Lenore wasn’t good at waiting, so Lou got the apparent dud instead.  If Karl built an ark, he’d take Lou and Betsy over him and Lenore any day.  Betsy then asks Karl if he’ll look after the family, but he says that she got the good pills…right?  The Xanadu.

No, Betsy is sure that she got the sugar pills.  If Lou needs to get married again, that’s okay, but not this one girl, Rhonda Knutson, whose eyes are too close together.  And Betsy shuts down Karl before he can talk about John McCain’s survival rate.  John McCain is a fighter pilot, while Betsy lives in a quiet Minnesota home.  There’s a difference.  Oh, and she tells Karl to stop drinking because it’ll kill him.  Karl responds with a warm hug.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy finds the symbols

We then stay with Betsy as she heads to Hank’s home and calls out for Snowball.  She looks over some family photos before calling out for Snowball again.  She soon enters a room filled with papers of symbols and drawings lined all over the walls.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ricky tells Floyd and Bear that Hanzee found Dodd

Bear and Floyd return to the Gerhardt home.  Floyd needs to apologize to Simone, but Bear says that she left in a hurry.  Rick once again has news for Bear.  There’ll be no secrets anymore, Floyd says, so time to talk.  Hanzee is on the phone with word that he found Dodd.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Mike and Gale kill the Undertaker and his associates

Mike Milligan waits in silent anticipation when he hears that the Undertaker is headed up.  He continues to get dressed as Undertaker and his…well, undertakers, board an elevator and head up.  They soon arrive in the room, where they’re promptly slaughtered by Gale and Mike Milligan.  Time to bag and drop them in the woods.  If the boss calls, then the cover story is that the Gerhardt family killed them.

Oh, but then the phone rings.  Mike eventually answers.  The man on the phone says that it’s Mike’s lucky day, as the caller has Dodd Gerhardt in the trunk of his car.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ed tells Mike Milligan that he has Dodd in his car

On the other end of the phone, Ed Blomquist, after delivering his message, drives off as the episode comes to a close.

The past two episodes have had a fair amount of action and tense situations in them with little room to breathe.  There were calmer moments, yes, but they dealt a lot with the escalating war.  This episode does as well, but in addition to the ongoing conflict between the Gerhardt family and Kansas City, it focused on characters looking towards the future and mapping out their lives well beyond their years.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Lou calls Ben a shit cop

Given that this season is a prequel to the previous one, we’re certain of at least one thing: Ben Schmidt, Lou and Molly Solverson are all expected to survive.  Everyone else is a big question mark.  And while that’s not the reason for this, the episode devoted time to characters wondering about what happens after the violence ends and the dust settles.  If you’re still standing, where do you go from there?  And what becomes of your family and friends?

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Hank talks about ghosts

It dealt with having to face potential ghosts in addition to the old ones faced on both sides, whether enemy or friend, as there’s inner conflict and turmoil between both Kansas City and the Gerhardt family.  The escalating violence continues to get worse and though there’s less of it here, that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a reminder that the losses on both sides will keep stacking high, and we haven’t even hit Sioux Falls yet.

So it’s not out of place for matriarch figures like Floyd and Betsy, or even someone like Bear, to take extra stock in the family by taking precautions and measures to ensure their family’s protection long after they’re out of the picture.  It shows that, despite the growing violence, they still do what they do for the sake of their families.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ben and Simone on the elevator

I think I may have enjoyed this episode a bit more than others because it gave attention to characters that we’ve seen, but not focused on for much time.  A lot of this season has dealt with Lou and Hank, Dodd, as well as Ed and Peggy, and while we’ve seen and heard from others outside of them, this is the episode that gave development to people like Floyd, Betsy, Mike Milligan, and even Karl after his major defense play last time.

Whether it’s on the show or film, Fargo has shown how the tiniest action can embroil you in a world of conflict.  But while people such as Jerry, Lester, or either Ed or Peggy manage to dig themselves deeper, someone like Floyd wants the buck to stop with her.  It makes sense: she made the call to go to war, Dodd acted impulsively, and now she’s lost her husband.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Floyd speaks with Hank and Chief Gibson

Sure, she hasn’t had to dirty her hands yet, from what we’ve seen, but she won’t have the burden of this conflict put onto her kids.  By the way, in my opinion, the scenes at the station may very well be some of Jean Smart’s finest acting thus far.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear walks Simone into the woods

The Gerhardt family is already fractured, though.  Bear catching Simone and then leading her into the woods was a tense moment as he threw her infidelity and betrayal in her face, and she absolutely deserved it.  With Dodd not around right now, Bear needs an outlet for his anger and for Charlie’s incarceration.  And he’s noticed Simone’s impudence.  That, coupled with finding her at the same hotel as Mike Milligan, sealed her fate.  It was a well done sequence of events.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Simone pleads for her life

However, the question remains whether Bear did the deed.  Television and film have taught me that unless you see and hear it happen, followed by a body, nine times out of 10, the person will live.

No Country for Old Men- Carla

Now there are exceptions.  Let’s draw upon another Coen Brothers’ work: No Country for Old Men.  We didn’t see whether Anton shot and killed Carla Jean, but given his code and how he checks his shoes upon exiting, it’s implied that he did indeed kill her.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear prepares to execute Simone

Here, though, it’s a little foggy, given how Bear has more of a heart than Dodd.  If there were any moment for him to show care for the family that’s falling apart in front of him, it would be here by letting Simone fend for herself.  It remains to be seen whether that was the case, but where would Simone go?  She jeopardized her familial ties and Mike won’t have much use of her going forward, so she’s lost on both sides.

Lou said something to Mike Milligan that stuck with me when thinking of Simone: you’re not meant to have more than you can handle.  That holds true for many of the characters, but Simone in particular because she meddled with forces she couldn’t control.  She wanted Dodd dead, but ended up losing Otto in the process.  She defied family, which earned her some slaps from both Dodd and Floyd, and the moment Bear caught her in the act, it was already over in Simone’s eyes.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Bear and Floyd talk outside the police station

Though the Gerhardt family chose war, they may not have expected to take on as much as they did.  They’re a simple family and Kansas City is a giant operation.  No matter how much they could fight back, things would get worse before getting better.  Losing Otto is a major sign of that.

While Otto hasn’t had much to do since his stroke, his presence is still felt and it’s a big loss for the family.  Like Joe Bulo’s death, I didn’t think Otto would die as soon as he did because he’s already in a weakened position and witnessed an attack already.  Killing him would just hasten his death, but this show manages to throw your expectations out the window with good writing.

From here, there can be no going back because too many people have been killed and that body count will continue to grow.  It’s as inevitable as Mike telling Lou that the northern expansion is inevitable because it’s the future.  Several times this season, characters have reflected on simpler times where people lived as good neighbors and could leave their doors unlocked.  Now we live in a world plagued by war, cancer, violence, and the Mickey Mouse Club.  There are no simpler times anymore.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Lou thinks that the police just chose a side in the war

It all comes down to expectations versus reality.  The authorities want the violence as a whole to stop, but can’t do that unless they get in deep with one side.  It’s less bloody than adding to the violence, but this does still mean that you’ve picked a side in an ongoing war.

Betsy may be more than capable of defending her household, but she doesn’t know everything that’s going on and these are dangerous people we’re talking, so it’s not too out of place for Lou to rally Karl and Sonny to aid in her defense.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy doesn't strike you as someone who needs looking after

I do want to talk about Betsy for a second.  Cristin Milioti might not appear as much as some of the other actors on the show, but damn it if she doesn’t sell her performance each scene she’s in.  This episode was no exception.  Betsy may be fighting a losing battle with cancer, but Milioti never makes her out to be weak and pathetic.  Quite the opposite.  She knows that she’s going to die soon, but she isn’t bothered because she knows that her family will be in safe hands.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy gives Karl instructions for the family after she dies

Here, Betsy isn’t taking on more than she can bear, but if the situation calls for it, she will.  And it’s not because she has something to prove.  She’s not making herself out to be John McCain because she’s just a simple Minnesota woman.  But like Floyd and even Simone to a point, she shatters the stereotype people have of women being completely helpless and clueless.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Karl hugs Betsy

Betsy’s story is one of tragedy, I feel.  She’s a dying woman in a world where there’s no discernable response to stemming the violence.  Despite having the sugar pills, despite her husband risking his life, despite knowing that she may not live long enough to see her daughter grow up, she’s taking advantage of the time she has left.  The scene between Betsy and Karl was a very warm moment made better by the way Milioti and Nick Offerman played off of each other.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Betsy packs heat

By the way, the fact that there’s a gun in the Solverson household makes me think that it will be used at some point.  That and the symbols Betsy found, I figure, may factor into the UFOs or bright lights we’ve seen.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Mike talks about a man

A bit on Mike, a man who I believe can make almost anything sound interesting.  He believes that it’s his destiny to help in conquering the Gerhardt family.  Like the women, Milligan is also out to shatter stereotypes that separate him from the rest of the other darkies.  Unlike Lou, Mike is more than willing to take on more than he can handle.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Killing the Undertaker

Who is The Undertaker?  It doesn’t matter.  The fact that Mike dispatched of him and his cohorts so easily shows that he’s as dangerous as we knew him to be, but also that he’ll respond to a desperate situation with violence.  While he sees Kansas City as the future, he sees himself as the one to make it happen.  He might not have started this war, but he’ll make damn sure that he finishes the job while he’s here.

But his help may come from an unlikely source.  His story about the man stealing wheelbarrows dealt with hiding in plain sight.  An answer is so obvious that you can’t see it because you’re looking too hard.  Everyone has spent their time trying to deal with the war between the Gerhardts and Kansas City.  We’ve talked about the Blomquists, but only heard of what they and Hanzee are up to in this episode.

Did You Do This, No, You Did It- Ed's ride

So while the Gerhardt family is looking for Dodd, the Kansas City coalition has the answer right in front of them from the very unsuspecting people that want no more to do with this whole mess.  Ed and Peggy appear to have Dodd in tow and are looking to get as far away from this as possible.  Obviously, with Hanzee on their trail, that isn’t going to last, but I thought this was a good way to close out the episode.  Though the question remains how Ed even got Mike Milligan’s phone number

“Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” was a very good episode.  We got more escalation, but we also saw attempts to slow the tide, even as the body count rises.  It balanced out tense situations like Simone and Bear’s walk in the woods with calmer moments, such as Betsy’s talk with Karl, and even light scenes with Lou calling Ben a shit cop.  It showed the steps people take to protect their loved ones to prevent them from having to fix someone else’s mess.  Through the betrayal and fractured bonds, protecting the family and legacy is still priority.

A Look at Gotham- Season 2, Episode 10: “Rise of the Villains: The Son of Gotham”

Time for The Son of Gotham, but not Gotham’s watchful silent protector.

The Son of Gotham- GCPD say farewell to Officer Parks

The episode begins with a man robbing a woman of her purse before he’s yanked by the power of off-screen hands.  Meanwhile, Jim, Barnes, and the rest of the GCPD mourns the loss of Officer Parks.  This may be one of the few times we’ve seen an officer laid to rest, and we’ve already lost the previous Commissioner.  Gotham’s finest and their priorities.

The Son of Gotham- Jim confronts Galavan

Jim then confronts Theo Galavan to let him know that he’ll be attending his hearing tomorrow.  It’s always important to watch the bad guy get put away, if Law and Order: SVU is any indication.  Anyway, Jim asks if Galavan knows the name of Catherine Parks.  He doesn’t.

The Son of Gotham- Jim talks to Leslie about Galavan

We follow Jim as he returns to Leslie’s, soaking wet, to talk more about Parks, who was just 23 years old.  Not on the force that long and she’s already in the ground because Jim didn’t do the only sensible thing.  Flamingo killed four cops and dared Gordon to pull the trigger, but he didn’t.  He had a choice, but Leslie says that he upheld the law instead of becoming a murder.  Parks and her family may not feel the same.

Jim then discusses his visit with Galavan.  He’s less than pleased that for all of Galavan’s murders, he still smiles while locked up.  But tomorrow, Aubrey James will testify that he’d been kidnapped and tortured by Theo Galavan.  As such, he’ll be put away for a long time.  Gordon isn’t convinced, as he didn’t see fear in Galavan’s eyes.  Despite this, Leslie thinks that he did well.  She beckons him to bed, but he refuses.

The Son of Gotham- Father Creole slits a man's throat

Our attempted thief awakens surrounded by Father Creel and other hooded men for the day of reckoning.  The blood of the nine will wash away the sin and Gotham shall be cleansed.  As the man is brought forward, Father Creel pulls out a knife and slits his throat.

The Son of Gotham- Selina and Bruce go over a plan to trick Silver St. Cloud

At school, Bruce and Selina have a plan for Silver St. Cloud.  Selina worries that Silver will see through Bruce since she’s a world class liar.  Even still, Bruce believes that there’s a chance to learn about his parents’ killer.  He’s managed to buy some time because he told Alfred that he has fencing practice after school.  Bruce Wayne apparently practiced fencing in his youth, according to Gotham.  Selina reminds Bruce that the best liars always tell the truth.

The Son of Gotham- Barnes tells Jim to lay off of Galavan

Over at GCPD, Jim barks orders for officers to provide evidence tying Galavan to the murders.  To Bullock’s disappointment, Barnes returns early, despite his injury, and gives Jim a case concerning a dead body down by the port.  Jim wants to stay on Galavan, but Barnes tells Jim that he’s back in the rotation.  He needs a few more days, but Barnes shoots him down.  Also, he still has time to lament Parks’ loss.  She deserved better.

Bullock then receives word from Father Mike regarding the symbol found at the penthouse in the previous episode: apparently it’s from something called the Order of St. Dumas, which used to have an abbey downtown.  The same abbey that the mayor’s office tried to purchase last week.  It’s now a Chinese slap-slap joint, in Bullock’s words.  Despite being told to lay off, Jim decides to pursue this.  He and Bullock head off to get lucky.

The Son of Gotham- Hoods at the bath house

We then cut to a bathhouse where the hooded figures appear with blades at the ready.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce and Silver talk

Bruce tells Silver about Theo’s offer to give the name of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s killer in exchange for selling Bruce’s shares in Wayne Enterprises. .  Due to Theo’s arrest, his assets have been frozen.  Bruce offers to pay for Theo’s defense in exchange for the name.  He doesn’t care what the people are saying about Theo.  His parents were killed due to Thomas investigating Wayne Enterprises.  He tried investigating last season and someone then tried to kill Alfred.

Either he find out what happened to his company or he’s dead.  Silver feels that Theo will be freed, but if the name comes from her, Bruce will know it’s real.  He whispers something to Silver that we don’t hear.  When Silver asks if he meant that, he responds with a kiss.  And since this was whispered, we know it will come up later.  Count on it.

The Son of Gotham- Van watches Bruce

Also, two men watch Bruce from afar in their van.  This would seem more cliché had they been parked in an ice cream truck.

The Son of Gotham- Jim confronts hooded figure escaping from massage parlor

Jim and Bullock arrive at the massage parlor just as women and men flee, some covered in blood.  While Bullock helps the ladies out, Jim fights with a hooded man who Jim manages to stab, but the man remains unharmed.  Jim pursues the man back outside and the attacker drops his knife.  The day of reckoning is at hand, the man says, and Gotham shall be cleansed by the blood of the nine.  Just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.  He then walks backward into traffic and is struck by a truck.

The Son of Gotham- Jim reports to Barnes about the Order of St. Dumas

Later, Jim reports to Barnes.  The women said they saw at least six monks.  He figures that such monks must be a part of this same order of St. Dumas.  These people believe in purification through pain.  They were big in the old days of Gotham, but then vanished about 100 years ago.  Barnes orders Jim to give his evidence to Alvarez, as Barnes already gave him a case.  The woman attacked was a man who was pulled off by a man dressed like a monk.

If Galavan is connected, there’s no telling what he stands to gain.  Right now, Jim needs to find a monk and get him to talk.  This is a line of dialogue on Gotham.  It’s no coincidence that this is happening just as Galavan is about to stand trial, and Barnes still wants Jim to show up to hear James’ testimony.

The Son of Gotham- Van approaches Bruce

Silver leaves a message for Bruce, stating that Theo apparently agreed to the terms and gave a name that Silver can only provide in person.  But as Bruce goes to the curb, the van approaches, revealing a bound and gagged Silver St. Cloud.  No screaming, or the girl dies.  Bruce enters.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned here.  Keep that in mind.

The Son of Gotham- Leslie examines a body while Jim and Bullock go over reports of more deaths

Leslie examines the body.  The thick scars on his palms came from repeated, self-inflicted cuts.  According to Father Mike, the leaders cut themselves and mark the followers with the blood, like a blessing.  Bullock enters with information about two more bodies from the past three days.

Seven down and two to go.  How has no one seen these monks until now?  Well, not everyone keeps an eye out for monks dragging bodies across town.  The woman attacked said that the monk vanished with her attacker, but the alley was a dead end.  This must mean the sewers.  You know what this means.  Yup, more sewer adventures.  Well, at least Jim isn’t tricked down here by Selina this time.  He and Bullock investigate underground.

The Son of Gotham- Leslie speaks with Nygma about Miss Kringle

Back at GCPD, Leslie interrupts Nygma’s phone call to request a toxicology report.  She also asks if he was just talking with Miss Kringle, but Nygma claims that it was his plumber.  It also turns out that Kringle lied about being sick, as people believed.  She left town with Daugherty, despite his abusive nature.  Love is strange, am I right?  The phone rings and Nygma feigns sorrow to get Leslie to leave.  It works.  He answers the phone and Penguin asks about the spicy mustard, which he soon finds.  Well, that was a phone call.

The Son of Gotham- Tommy Flanagan holds Bruce and Silver hostage

Now Bruce and Silver are bound, and the men aren’t taking kindly to Bruce’s threats.  Holding them hostage is a character going by The Knife, played by Tommy Flanagan from Sons of Anarchy.  I’m just gonna call him that going forward.  Bruce and Silver are well outside of the city, so no one can hear them scream.  Like in space or something.

Whenever Bruce talks, Tommy Flanagan hits him, so he should keep quiet.  Flanagan heard that Bruce is thinking of selling his company to Theo Galavan.  That’s not good, but not why Flanagan is here.  Someone has been digging into the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but who?

Flanagan know it was Theo’s uncle, so he’s here to learn whatever Galavan told Bruce.  Apparently nothing.  Bruce gets another strike for that.  There are billions at stake here.  Flanagan pulls out a blade and says that he’ll pull one of them into the back, where he’ll start cutting off fingers.  He’s had practice and knows that everyone eventually talks.  Unless they want to wear mittens, someone should talk.

One last time: what does Theo Galavan know?  Silver spills that she didn’t know anything.  She just needed to stall for time.  As Bruce is pulled away, the man tells him that he needs better taste in women.  Indeed.

The Son of Gotham- Jim and Bullock find a body

Just when you think Gotham’s shown her last jewel, she reveals herself like a flower.  This is Bullock’s best metaphor as he and Jim continue lower into the sewers.  Upon hearing a noise, they head further down and find a ritual setup.  Bullock recognizes the body as a muscle for hire.  The finger painting on the man’s forehead matches what the victim at the port had.

A man emerges from behind and Bullock manages to overpower him, all while praying to keep the ceiling from collapsing.  Prayer is powerful.  This man needs an ambulance, but while Bullock goes off to make a call, the man talks of the day of reckoning.

The Son of Gotham- Silver realizes she's been played

Tommy Flanagan reemerges with a newfound respect for boy billionaires.  Think of that what you will.  But Bruce didn’t know anything.  Flanagan didn’t kill him, but the rest is up to Silver.  She maintains that Theo told her nothing and apologizes for her actions, but she soon coughs up the name M. Malone, which Theo told her earlier.

Also, turns out the whole thing was a ruse by Bruce and Selina.  You see, Selina broke into Silver’s apartment and learned about her being sent to distract Bruce.  However, the name Silver said apparently wasn’t real.  Yes, Bruce is right about Theo Galavan, but when he finds out what happened to Silver, she’ll die.  Bruce is more upset that Silver pretended to be his friend.  The things Bruce said to Silver- she believed him.  That was the point.  Silver says that he can’t do this, as it isn’t him.  But that’s just what she thinks, and she’s wrong.

I’d like to believe that Bruce would flip on Selina again or Selina herself is this resourceful, but I don’t, so let’s move on.

The Son of Gotham- Jim speaks with one of the followers

Back in the sewers, Jim pours a drink to the now blindfolded follower while pretending to be a member of the Order.  The man says that he completed his task, so all that remains is the son.  When the man asks for his brother’s blessing, Jim grabs a knife, slashes his palm, and drains it atop the man’s forehead.  The man states that the son of Gotham shall die and the city will be cleansed.  A medic arrives and interrupts the immersion, but Jim heads off to see Barnes.

The Son of Gotham- Alfred confronts Tabitha

Alfred, on a search for Bruce, enters Galavan’s quarters and expects to find him with Silver, but finds Tabitha instead.  He threatens to return of something bad happens to Bruce, but this whole conversation is boring.  Let’s have them fight.  Alfred manages to put up a decent fight, but Tabitha manages to stab him.  Alfred soon heads out and escapes via the most convenient garbage truck.  Well, he falls in after Tabitha gets in one well timed stab throw, but still, convenient garbage truck is convenient.

The Son of Gotham- James testifies

At trial, James is questioned by Harvey Dent because it’s Harvey Dent.  Jim, meanwhile, reports to Bullock about his findings, when James suddenly says that Theo Galavan did not kidnap and torture him.  It was, in fact, Oswald Cobblepot, who hates Theo Galavan enough to have tried to kill him multiple times.  The defense moves that the trial be dismissed and Galavan released at once.  I do not believe the system works this way or, at least, this fast.  Though James is under oath, he reiterates that Oswald Cobblepot made him lie.

In light of this testimony and absence of other evidence, the judge orders Theo Galavan released.  Theo takes a moment to say a few words: he harbors no ill word towards Jim Gordon and the GCPD.  They did their jobs.  Theo asks Jim if they can move forward to fix this city, but Jim responds with a punch to the face.  Now that’s not going to do Jim any favors with the press.  He’s hauled out by two officers who aren’t there to arrest him, but tase him.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce tells Selina that he's unsure about his next move

Bruce and Selina arrive at Wayne Manor.  Thinking that Alfred is out looking for him, Bruce thanks Selina for her help.  So what now?  Bruce hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.  Selina asks what Bruce whispered.  He said that he never met anyone like her- he trusted her with his life.  He felt tied to her in a way that he can’t explain, but wouldn’t ever change.  The best liars always tell the truth.  This was true, but it was not about Silver.  Selina decides that she’ll take one of Bruce’s cars to take to the city.  She says that it’s good for Bruce to change, but don’t change too much.

Well, I’ll give Gotham this: they didn’t try to force Bruce and Selina to kiss.

The Son of Gotham- Gabe tells Penguin that Galavan has been let go

Nygma and Penguin talk, with Nygma telling Oswald to get rid of Kringle’s glasses.  This should be a fairly simple task, but then Gabe arrives to tell Penguin that Galavan has been let go.  Penguin demands to know where he is now.

The Son of Gotham- Theo speaks with Jim

We then cut to Theo speaking with a restrained Jim Gordon.  What a difference a day makes.  Theo has a small window of time, but he knows that Jim has questions.  The Order of St. Dumas has protected Galavan’s family for years- a light in a dark world.  Also, Theo Galavan is a mask.  His name is Dumas and the family built the city out of nothing, but they were erased.  It’s not about revenge, but atonement.

The ground Gotham is built on is poisoned by the wrong done to Theo’s forefathers and he intends to fix that.  It’s insane- guy in robes, chanting prophesies, and blood sacrifice- it sound so….not outside the realm of possibility for this show, really.  And not all the victims are random.  Like the Son of Gotham.  Theo orders Jim released so he can have his best shot.  Jim responds in kind, but Theo easily overtakes him like he’s nothing.  He leaves Jim to be killed, and to make it quick.

The Son of Gotham- Penguin and Gabe save Jim

Given that this is Gotham and Theo is another villain that won’t actually watch the good guy die, we know that Jim won’t die.  Instead of the officers just shooting Jim in the head, they decide to beat him, giving Gabe and Penguin a chance to save his ass.  Luckily, Gabe had people following Galavan. Yup, lucky indeed.  Oswald demands to know where Galavan is.

The Son of Gotham- Theo confronts Bruce Wayne

Theo, in no time at all, makes his way to Wayne Manor for Bruce Wayne’s life.  Which we already knew, but I suppose this is what some call a cliffhanger.  Not really an effective one, even.  Whatever.  Episode over.

So…what did we learn today?  That everything building up to “The Son of Gotham” was more interesting than what we got?  That’s what I glimpsed.

Okay “The Son of Gotham” wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find anything with the monks as memorable as what we got before them, unless you count Jim’s line about wanting to get a monk to talk.  I mean, that’s the equivalent of Stryker telling Wolverine that he’ll make him indestructible, but first, he’ll have to destroy him.

The Son of Gotham- Theo talks about his plans for Gotham

Let’s start with that.  Galavan’s plan has been building to this: freeing the inmates from Arkham, putting himself in a position of power, trying to get Bruce to sell his shares in the company- all to culminate with the arrival of the Order.  They managed to keep the GCPD plenty busy with plenty of action, I’ll give them that.  The Order may not be the greatest threat, but at least they’re proactive in what they do.

The Son of Gotham- Order of St. Dumas

And again, like Eduardo Flamingo, The Order of St. Dumas is such an odd pick that I could see it on Gotham, but I wish they came off as a more menacing threat, like if they’d been working behind the scenes in the series all along- not just since the introduction of Theo Galavan.  But given how we’ve known before that his plan was to kill Bruce Wayne, his big reveal to master Bruce didn’t carry any weight.  Nor did we get any explanation of how Theo got to Wayne Manor as fast as he did.  Plot teleportation it is, then.

The Son of Gotham- Theo has come for Bruce's body

Oh, and was it just a coincidence that Bruce happened to be at Wayne Manor when Theo decided to drop by unannounced?  We’re not told he’d been keeping tabs on him like Gabe somehow managed to do to him, and I doubt he had time to meet with Tabitha after beating Gordon, so what would make him think to look here when he did?  Had Bruce not returned yet, maybe Galavan would have just sat around and practiced his dramatic reveal.

I know I’m not saying much about The Order, despite the amount of bodies they dropped, but it paled in comparison to something like the Maniax wreaking havoc in the city.  It also doesn’t help that Jim and Bullock learn what we as an audience already know, so this feels like chartered territory.

The Son of Gotham- Parks is laid to rest

Side-note, why are we paying so much attention to Parks’ death?  She’d only been introduced one episode prior and didn’t have enough time to have any major significance to the plot or make an impact other than for Gordon to once again wrestle with his conscience.  Hell, Strike Force didn’t get this kind of going away ceremony and they were built up to be the next big thing for the GCPD.  One step further, we never even saw Essen’s burial, so why is Parks afforded this kind of treatment?

The Son of Gotham- Bruce and Selina get Silver

It is so strange that I find anything with Selina Kyle to be the best part of the episode, but her team-up with Bruce held my attention a bit more because it serviced Bruce’s character arc.  He’s not a master manipulator and doesn’t possess the level of deception that Alfred said he lacked.  But Selina is a schemer and was suspicious about Silver from the start, so this sort of half-assed plan that usually falls apart in movies ended up having a payoff this week.

The Son of Gotham- Silver and Selina face off

Gotham already requires suspension of disbelief, but this would require that Silver was essentially willing to die if she didn’t give up information.  Bruce and Selina would have to assume that Silver is gullible enough to fall for this ruse when there’s no way a boy as valuable as Bruce Wayne would be killed in some seedy location outside of town.  And what if Silver didn’t really know anything?  Was Bruce willing to risk her life on Selina’s hunch?

Granted, we don’t know much about Silver to figure out how clever she may be, so I’ll chalk it up to convenience.  But this kind of huge gamble and sneaky planning does fit with Bruce Wayne’s character, even if he didn’t concoct it on his own.  While I detested the Bruce and Selina scenes in the first season, this one I didn’t mind as much since Bruce is still desperate for information and Selina just had a bone to pick with Silver.  Thankfully, Gotham avoided an awkward and forced love triangle.  For now.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce tells Selina what he told Silver

My hope is that Bruce keeps up this idea of wearing a mask and being sneaky to learn information, which he may do as Malone, if Batman lore is any indication.  Also, does this mean the show is ruling out Joe Chill?

The Son of Gotham- Selina is Selina

Side-note, can we get a bead on just what Selina’s arc is supposed to be this season?  If it’s her pining for and watching Bruce from a distance, it’s a retread of what she did for a chunk of the first season.  It was established in the season premiere that she worked for Penguin, but aside from bringing Butch to the Pike family, she hasn’t done much.  I guess it’s a good thing Bruce decided to trust her, given that she previously lied about seeing the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne.

“The Son of Gotham” is, like most episodes, mixed to me.  The main storyline wasn’t as intersting as the stuff with Bruce, Selina, and Silver, the brief bits we got with Penguin and Nygma, and Alfred’s fight with Tabitha.  Theo Galavan, through the power of instantaneous movement, is a free man and already set to make his move on Bruce Wayne.  Will the young boy die?  Well, probably not, so let’s see how Gotham tries to play out this false tension.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 7: “Heads Up”

So what were you all worried about?  Dumpsters are incredibly easy to dive under.  No plot contrivances whatsoever.

Heads Up- Glenn crawls under the dumpster

The episode begins with a recap of Glenn and Nicholas falling into that walker horde as we see walkers rip Nicholas apart.  Glenn, as expected, manages to escape.  How?  Crawling under that damn dumpster, but still having walkers claw at him from every side.  Night falls as the herd begins to thin, but Glenn continues to wait it out.

Heads Up- Glenn survives the walker herd

The next morning, Glenn, the luckiest man in the world, crawls from beneath the dumpster.  The flare gun is busted, but he’s still got a gun.  Up atop one of the buildings, Enid tosses down a bottle of water, but Glenn misses.  They’re not the best at aiming, you know?  Glenn climbs into the building, enters a room with tons of valuables, and calls after Enid to find out why she’s out here.  She just directs him to another bottle of water- one that she didn’t have to throw.

Enid still won’t answer Glenn, but he wants to know what happened in Alexandria, judging from the gunfire and other sounds.  What happened is what always happened, Enid says.  People die.  She eventually tells Glenn that the air horn sound came from people, not walkers.  Glenn asks if his wife is okay.  To that, he gets no response.

Heads Up- Enid flees from Glenn

So Glenn begins looking for Enid, but she’s on the move and rushes off.  Glenn, having no real regard for noise, leaves the building and rushes after her.

Heads Up- Rick tells Morgan that they need to talk, later

Back in Alexandria, Rick inspects the walls while Morgan trains nearby.  Rick tells Morgan that the two need to talk…but later.  I mean, they could talk right now.  Going back to the wall, Rick finds a trail of blood- similar to the one Deanna walked by not long ago.

Heads Up- Rick and Maggie talk atop the wall

He then joins Maggie atop the wall, as she refuses to leave.  This is the direction that Glenn would come from, so she’ll continue to wait for him.  When you go out, it’s never easy.  There’s always a fight and Glenn has come back from harder things.  Hell, so will Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham.  Maybe it’s time to figure out how to draw out the walkers.  There’s enough food and the walls will hold.  Rick is ready to do this right- clear the area so the others can walk right in when they return.  Maggie tells Rick that Judith is starting to look like Lori.  That made her happy.

Heads Up- Glenn finds the note to Betsy

Glenn, meanwhile, finds a walker- I’m guessing David- and next to it, a note to Betsy, who is also dead.  So there’s that.

Heads Up- Rick and Carl teach Ron how to shoot

Gabriel puts up signs about an upcoming prayer circle, but Rick soon takes down the signs.  I guess Rick isn’t a fan of prayer, but luckily, Gabriel has plenty of signs.  Anyway, Carl and Rick are about to teach Ron a thing or two about shooting.  If someone is in front of you with a gun, your body will tense.  You won’t have time to think- you’ll just want to pull the trigger, but you’ll miss and then you’re dead.

You have to bring the gun up to your eye, then be strong enough to wait for the moment.  Rick helps Ron with his positioning- your finger is only on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot.  Ron is to keep the gun Rick gives him to get a feel for it.  With things how they are, the walls are strong enough to hold the walkers in one spot.  Ron is super eager to try out this piece.  Hell, he even suggests targets- never mind that you can waste bullets and attract walkers with the sound.  Idiot.

Heads Up- Morgan speaks with Denise

Morgan speaks with Denise, even though he’s not here to be checked in.  He claims that he’s fine, which is pretty much code for saying that you’re not.  Anyway, this moment is here just to take up space until Rick decides that it’s time to talk.

Heads Up- Morgan talks with Rick, Carol, and Michonne

So the two talk…well, the four talk, as they’re joined by Carol and Michonne.  Rick tells Morgan that he tried to cut off the herd with the RV back in the woods, when he got intercepted by five people with the W’s on their foreheads.  Carol mentioned that Morgan wouldn’t kill any of them, and he doesn’t deny it.  He wouldn’t want to kill five people he didn’t want to kill, even if they burned people alive.  Morgan asks why Rick didn’t kill him after King County.  After all, Morgan was nuts back then.

Rick’s response is that he knew Morgan, but even then, Morgan was unhinged.  Consider the potential chain of events: if Rick had killed Morgan, then Morgan wouldn’t have been able to rescue Aaron and Daryl.  If things happened that way, maybe those Wolves wouldn’t have found the community.  Morgan doesn’t know what’s right anymore.

He wanted to kill those Wolves and knows that he can help out, but he also knows that people can change.  All life is precious.  That idea brought him back and kept him going.  Michonne doesn’t think it could be that easy, and Morgan has thought of letting that idea go, but he hasn’t.

Things aren’t as simple as four words, Michonne says.  Rick asks Morgan if he can make it going forward without getting blood on his hands.  To be frank, Morgan doesn’t know.

Heads Up- Deanna gives Rick and Michonne some Alexandria expansion plans

As the walker herd remains out the doors, Rick talks with Michonne about drawing away walkers and setting up watch points.  Their people will go, but the people of Alexandria?  Not yet.  Everyone hasn’t had a chance to catch their breath.  Michonne reminds Rick that they’re in here together and catching their breath now.  Anything else is just excuses.  Deanna comes to Rick with plans for the expansion.  Rick has other things on his mind, but one way or another, Deanna sees a future for this community.

Heads Up- Rosita teaches Eugene and others how to use a machete

Now it’s Rosita’s time to take charge as she instructs the residents on how to use a machete.  Eugene is here as well, but he’s off in his own world.  Plus, he’s a novice and there are people around him with open toed shoes.  That may be one of my favorite Eugene lines yet.  He’s afraid of dying, but Rosita says that dying is easy.

The people dying around him is hard because he keeps living, knowing that they’re gone and he’s still there.  She then says that he should be afraid of living, because he’d have to life with the fact that he let people down.  Eugene leaves.

Heads Up- Enid points a gun at Glenn

Back outside the Safe Zone, Glenn finally catches up with Enid in a restaurant.  He wants to take her home and then asks why she gave him water.  He needed it, she claims.  She refuses to join, but Glenn refuses to leave her behind.  When Glenn tries to grab her arm and force along, Enid responds to bad touch with a gun.

Glenn demands the gun, but Enid tells him to turn around and walk away.  He calls her bluff and soon takes the gun because Glenn is awesome that way.  Half the herd broke off and is headed towards Alexandria, so it’s up to Enid to lead the way back home.  The two move along and reach a marker indicated by three green balloons.

Heads Up- Enid and Glenn find the green balloons

Glenn directs her to the helium tank and asks Enid who she stayed with back home.  She lived in Olivia’s place, but she was on her own.  That’s just what happens.  She rejects Glenn’s notion that she’s scared, but he lectures anyway.  She acts brave, even when she’s scared.  Soon enough, Enid reminds Glenn that they don’t have to talk

Heads Up- Tobin tells Rick to not give up on the Alexandria residents

Back at the Safe Zone, Rick gets to work on the wall when he’s joined by Tobin, who thinks that a brace could be built on the wall.  Rick says it doesn’t mean anything unless the wall stays up.  Tobin tells Rick that he scared the hell out of everyone when he first arrived with his beard, mannerisms, and demeanor.  Things moved slow in Alexandria, but then they moved fast.  Too fast, even, but Tobin asks Rick to not give up on the community.

Heads Up- Ron steals some casings

Ron draws Olivia into the pantry with a distraction that he uses to grab some casings.  Well, we saw them, so they’ll most definitely be used.

Heads Up- Glenn and Enid arrive outside the Safe Zone

Glenn and Enid soon reach the outskirts of the Safe Zone with no clear path inside, as walkers roam every single open spot.  Enid retreats, asking Glenn what the point even is.  The world is trying to die.  People are supposed to just let it.  Glenn disagrees.  You don’t let the world die- and Glenn sure as hell won’t let her.  This isn’t for Maggie anymore.  The walls and houses are still up, and they can find out the rest later.

Heads Up- Spencer's stupid idea

Back inside the walls, Rick and Tobin spot Ron Spencer scaling a rope outside of the zone.  This is a stupid idea, as the rope begins to buckle under pressure.  It doesn’t completely fall through at first, but it soon gives and Spencer falls.  While others fire at the walkers, Rick, Tobin, and Morgan pull Spencer back up atop the wall.

Heads Up- Rick blasts Spencer for his stupid idea

Rick blasts Tara for almost dying once for these people, so don’t let it happen again.  Tara responds with the finger.  Okay, I might not be a big fan of Tara, but that was kind of funny.  Spencer says that he wanted to get to a car to draw away some of the walkers, even if he wasn’t fully prepared for that.

Then Rick tells Spencer that his ass can’t be saved all the time.  Next time, Spencer should come to Rick with that kind of idea, but Spencer, in a small moment I can’t help but admire, asks Rick if he would have even listened to him.  That is a good point.

Heads Up- Morgan speaks with Denise again

Back to the infirmary, where Morgan joins Denise.  He actually enters the infirmary this time.  Denise has created cheat sheets to help.  Morgan has faith.  He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to, and she should, too.  Morgan needs to address a wound, but he doesn’t know if it’s infected.  He didn’t come in earlier because he didn’t want to get her involved in something.  More to the point, this isn’t his wound.

Heads Up- Carol asks Jessie to watch Judith

As Morgan and Denise head out, Carol follows from a distance.  She also brings Judith because people would do that with a baby.  Anyway, she returns to ask Jessie to watch Judith.  Sam calls out to her and asks if you can’t live with it.  He asks if the people who came into the community are monsters and if his father turned into one of them.  Carol’s response?  The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing.

Heads Up- Carol speaks with Sam about killing to not become a monster

It’s brief, but there’s a bit of hesitation on Carol’s face after she says that, as if even she can’t believe she said those words to Sam.  But hey, I suppose it’s a good thing Jessie didn’t hear any of that.  Carol then confronts Morgan and demands to know who the hell he has in the cell.

Heads Up- Deanna comes to thank Rick

As Michonne goes over Deanna’s plans and Ron stalks Carl, Tara asks Rick and Tobin if he’s seen Denise.  He hasn’t, but he then apologizes for what he said.  He meant that Tara didn’t have to protect him.  After all, she could have died.  Yes, but she wasn’t thinking about that.  She did it because that they’re stuck with each other.  Deanna joins out of nowhere to thank them both for saving Spencer.  She’s here to thank him.

But Rick says that Spencer’s move was stupid.  He tried, but Rick could have done that if there was a chance.  When the walkers were going for him, it made a gap.  Rick could have run out, gotten to a car, and Spencer would be dead.  But he didn’t do that because wanted to save Spencer.  Deanna doesn’t buy that.

Heads Up- Tower falls

Then everyone spots some green balloons flying into the sky.  Maggie knows that it’s Glenn, but before everyone can celebrate or speculate, the top of the watchtower finally crumbles, taking a big chunk of the wall down with it.  Well, not like anyone had a chance to check it.

Heading into the mid-season finale, “Heads Up” was set up for things to come.  There’s nothing wrong with setup, but in this instance, it worked for and against the episode.  The good is that it allowed for some breathing room as the community continues to regroup after the Wolves’ surprise attack.

Heads Up- Rick and Tobin talk

It allowed for some slower character moments with Rick and company not just training the residents of Alexandria to defend themselves, but also warm to their methods.  They acknowledge that while these newcomers may be a bit extreme, their methods do work and there’s a reason they’ve survived as long as they did.

Though I still question why Rick is having some of these conversations now as opposed to when he first returned to Alexandria, at least the show is addressing some questions lingering over from “Now.”

Heads Up- Rick shows Ron how to aim

The downside is that much of what we explore is already chartered territory.  Whether it’s talk of killing to survive, killing or be killed, trust between the two parties, and how weak the Alexandria residents are, we’ve gone through much of this already.  In all fairness, we do at least get scenes of Rick’s group training the residents, whether it’s Rick and Carl teaching Ron how to shoot, or Rosita showing others how to use blades.

Heads Up- Rosita reams out Eugene

Why Rosita is the machete expert I don’t know since we’ve mostly seen her use guns, but I’m not complaining.  It does put her in a leadership position and gives her character something to do.  Though she came off as a tad cold to Eugene, it did feel necessary.  After everything he’s been through, before and after the Safe Zone, he should be less fearful by now.

The Alexandria Safe Zone is not a united community.  It may be a long time before everyone sees on one accord, but right now, if they’re to survive, they need to move forward as a group or they’ll continue to be killed off, one by one.  Sounds simple since that’s what some of the residents want, but Rick still sees this as his group versus the residents.

Heads Up- Rick isn't about to open up to the Alexandria residents

He and his have spent months out in the wilderness, fighting against the elements.  They know what it’s like to think and fight under pressure, even when the odds are against them.  So Rick isn’t about to start opening his circle to them because he still sees them as weak.  Thus far, they’ve proven him right, but some are willing to adapt for the sake of survival.

Heads Up- Tobin tells Rick that things used to be slow in the community

What Tobin said about Rick’s first impression makes sense from the perspective of the Alexandria residents.  He comes in with his grisly beard and menacing look- people will fear him.  But despite that, the residents are open to his ideas.  It’s not what these survivors are used to, but if it will keep them alive and give them a better chance at living, they’ll try.

Heads Up- Michonne disagrees with Rick

It seems like the people, both the original residents and Rick’s group, are here to remind Rick when he’s being out of line, pessimistic, or just acting like an asshole.

Heads Up- Tara gives Rick the bird

That includes when Michonne and Deanna believing that the community has a future, Morgan maintaining his humanity in the face of so much death, or Tara giving him the finger- which might be the most noteworthy thing she’s done so far.

Heads Up- Tara tells Rick that they're stuck with each other

Tara isn’t that interesting of a character in my mind since I don’t think the show knows what to do with her yet, but her flipping off Rick felt like a very character driven moment.  You wouldn’t get that from someone like Daryl or Carol, but Tara, spunky as she is? I could see her giving the bird.  The AMC censors allow it.

Heads Up- Spencer asks if Rick would have listened to his idea

The people understand Rick and his methods, but if Michonne’s insistence to trust Aaron last season was any indication, it’s that he’s not so big and powerful that he can’t be called out on his bullshit.  Spencer even correctly points out that even if he’d told Rick all about his reckless plan, Rick wouldn’t have accepted it.  Even if Spencer’s plan was ridiculous and ill-thought-out.

Heads Up- Rick tells Spencer to bring him his ideas

From my observation, Rick this episode looks to be focused more on putting out smaller fires to prevent larger ones, even if he’s not sure of the outcome.  He questions Morgan’s reluctance to kill, but Carol is the one to notice he’s housing a Wolf.  He teaches Ron to shoot, despite the boy’s tension with Carl.

And he tells Deanna all about his half-assed plan to escape Alexandria to reach a car, even when there’s no way he could have been sure of the outcome.  He’s planning five steps ahead for scenarios he can’t anticipate, which makes him quick on his fate, but also very foolish.

Heads Up- Rick about to rip down Gabriel's prayer circle fliers

Also, kind of an asshole, since he went and ripped down Gabriel’s prayer circle fliers, but then Gabriel does sort of have that coming, given his past remarks about the group.

Heads Up- Morgan doesn't know what's right anymore

I’m quite surprised the talk with Morgan was as civil as it ended up being, given how his actions could have gotten Rick killed.  Like Michonne or Daryl, Morgan knows enough about Rick that he’s not afraid to question or challenge him.  He won’t kill anymore, but even he’s struggling to hold onto Eastman’s philosophy in the face of so much carnage.  I don’t think Rick would exile Morgan since a. that’s not his call to make, and b. he knows what good Morgan can bring to the group, even if he’s not a killer.

It still feels like we’re missing a scene or two with Rick explaining how he escaped the RV generally unscathed or how Morgan returned to Alexandria before him and the others.  It’s not a huge issue, but if the show has been willing to put off these two talking, why not address these other points?

Heads Up- Glenn can't catch

I don’t really have much to say about Glenn since his quest to reunite with Maggie is one we’ve already seen before when the two were separated when the prison fell.  His survival is one many expected, despite the fake-out and the fact that actors generally appear on Talking Dead after their character dies, as was the case with Emily Kinney.

So yeah, Glenn lives, but I can’t even call this a clever or well done fake-out because I’m questioning how or why the walkers eventually left him alone or how it only took until daytime for that massive swarm to disperse.  They were on both sides of the fence and they saw two bodies, so is the dumpster that much of a barrier?  Also, I’ve never tried to slip under a dumpster to escape a herd of walkers.  Last time I did, all I got for it were glass shards scraping my back and fingers trying to claw at my skin.

Glenn is a lucky man, as we’ve seen time and time again, but he wasn’t exactly invisible.  And walkers aren’t one to just focus on one person when dealing with a group.  So either this is a lazy contrivance or these walkers read the script and decided that it wasn’t Glenn’s time to die.  Either way you slice it, it’s flimsy.  Again, if a main character dies, it’s usually seen by someone else, and given Maggie’s optimism, the show wouldn’t just let Glenn die and not have anyone else find out about it.

Heads Up- Glenn reminds Enid that she pointed a gun at him, so he's not an asshole

As for his adventures with Enid, it gave him a chance to show some of his optimism to another character down in the dumps.  People have speculated that Enid could have been a spy for the Wolves.  I honestly never saw the connection or cared either way since Enid isn’t that noteworthy of a character right now, but it looks like she’s just a lonely girl that feeds on pessimism.  The perfect candidate for the ever-optimistic Glenn.  And I did chuckle at him throwing the ‘asshole’ line back at Enid when she’s the one who pointed the gun at him.

That said, I did enjoy Maggie’s reaction upon seeing the balloons and believing it to be Glenn.  Sure, it was him, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been Enid, Nicholas, or Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, too.

But we’re coming up on the mid-season finale.  Up until now, while the Alexandria Safe Zone isn’t impenetrable, it has managed to hold and keep out swarms of roamers.  But with the tower collapsing and the walls now wide open, shit is about to get real very fast.  “Heads Up” wasn’t a bad episode, but it didn’t tell us what we already knew about some of these characters.

The reveal of Glenn being alive wasn’t as impactful as it could have been since there’d be little reason to kill him off in that way.  In addition, the situations at Alexandria, while compelling, went through motions we’ve already explored.  We did cover new ground, though: Carol is onto Morgan’s secret, Ron has his targets set on Carl, Tara makes proper use of her middle finger, and the community looked ready for a brief respite.  Not anymore.

A Look at Fargo- Season 2, Episode 6: “Rhinoceros”

No time to relax yet.  We may have had a few firefights last week, but things continue to escalate here.  This is “Rhinoceros.”

Rhinoceros- Betsy and Noreen waiting at the sheriff's department for Lou and Ed

The episode begins at the Blomquist household.  Ed is hauled off in cuffs while Peggy maintains his innocence.  Ed says nothing on the drive to the sheriff’s department.  When he and Lou arrive, they Betsy and Noreen waiting.  She was worried about the fire, after all.  There’s no need for Noreen to be there, so Lou tells Betsy to take her home.

Meanwhile, Charlie Gerhardt is released from holding so he can have his one phone call.  He’s given five minutes.

Rhinoceros- Bear talks with Otto

At the Gerhardt farm, Bear talks with Otto about Elron, the oldest Gerhardt brother, who died in the Korean War.  There’s a picture in the hall of Otto with the kids at the lake.  What would he have done since he was the oldest?

Rhinoceros- Dodd tells Simone all about a whore's life

Soon, a truck pulls up and Dodd arrives.  Bear heads in just as Simone tells him that Charlie is on the phone.  Dodd has words for his daughter: he knows that she has no respect for anything, but does she know what a whore’s life is.  He wants to look out for her and has expert advice on a whore’s life is: five good years, five bad years, and then some half-dick sweat stain grinds you out like a goddamn spent cigarette.

Rhinoceros- Dodd tells Bear that he's getting the belt

Bear, having learned about Charlie’s incarceration, rushes out and begins to beat the hell out of Dodd.  He punches him over and over again until Hanzee holds a gun to him.  Dodd brings up how much Charlie talked about he was ready.  Dodd says that it’s time for Bear to get the belt.  Bear can have the strap or the buckle.  Bear chooses the buckle.  But Floyd rushes out.  She’s having none of this bullshit today and says that Dodd will split the family apart with his actions.  Well, that was conveniently timed.

As the Gerhardt clan prepares to head out, Floyd demands that Bear find Charlie while Dodd is instructed to find and kill this butcher, who is not make it through the night.

Rhinoceros- Simone calls Mike Milligan

Inside, Simone makes a call to Mike Milligan, who learns that most of the family left the farm maybe half an hour ago.  A whole army of them went, almost.  She’s upset that her father called her a whore which, while Mike figures is technically true, Simone figures that it’s her body and she can do with she wants with it.  Yay for women’s rights, I guess.  Simone tells Mike that the Gerhardts are headed for Luverne.  Not only that, she tells Mike that she wants him to kill her father.

Milligan asks Simone if she has any last message for her father.  She does: kiss my grits.  As the syndicate heads out, Mike recalls and recites Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.  He continues his tale as he, Gale Kitchen, and other associates head off to take care of business.

Rhinoceros- Hank speaks with Peggy about the recent murders

Back at House Blomquist, Hank learns that Peggy likes her house and magazines in a certain way.  She has to stay up with the latest trends, which is why she keeps the beauty magazines.  There’s more to life than Minnesota, apparently.  She knows there are questions, but she has a seminar to attend in Sioux Falls.  Hank, though, has five deaths on his hands and Ed is in jail, so Peggy shouldn’t count on getting there early.

This wasn’t attempted robbery, Hank says.  These men came to kill him.  And Hank isn’t trying to be dramatic.  He brings up the 15 dead in Fargo due to this war.  Peggy calls her and Ed just bystanders trying to actualize.  These are modern times, she says.  She can be more than a mother.  Hank senses that Peggy is touched by this, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Peggy just has dreams.  Hank reiterates that someone tried to kill her husband and succeeded in burning down the shop.

Peggy’s response?  Life’s a journey.  The one thing you don’t do is stay in one place.  Maybe she and Ed will go to California.  Before Peggy makes plans, Hank tells her that a forensics team is coming to check the car for blood.  You’d be surprised at what could be found on the atomic level, even in the 1970s.  Peggy says that they need permission, but they got it since Peggy sold the car to Sonny, who is technically now the owner.

Now flustered, Peggy tries to intervene, but Hank demands to know what happened the night she hit Rye Gerhardt.

Rhinoceros- Lou gives Ed more warnings

Lou and Ed face off in interrogation.  He gave Ed and Peggy the chance to confess.  Ed says that he’s just trying to protect their family.  Yeah, but there’s still a meat cleaver in a man’s head and this war may have started when Ed or Peggy hit Rye Gerhardt.  Ed can’t stop thinking about Noreen’s book about the guy who pushes a rock up a hill.  Every night, it rolls back down, but he doesn’t stop.  Each day, he starts pushing all over again.

What Ed’s saying is that whatever’s thrown at him, he’ll take it and make sure to protect what’s his.  But Lou says that these men won’t rest until Ed and Peggy are dead.  Right now, Ed asks for his lawyer.  He’s seen shows like Ironside.  This is too important to make a mistake, so he wants a good lawyer.  If the lawyer says so, then he’ll talk.

Rhinoceros- Percy Bluth, played by Joe Cobden, informs Karl that Ed Blomquist needs his services

Karl and Sonny talk at a bar.  Well, Karl talks, anyway, about plumbers.  A cop named Percy Bluth, played by Joe Cobden, tells Karl that Ed Blomquist requested his services.  Someone needs the services of the best lawyer in town.  Also the only lawyer in town.  Karl has had a few drinks, but he’s ready to run circles around the Rock County sheriff’s department, even though Lou is only a state cop.  Shut up, Sonny.

Rhinoceros- Hank asks why Peggy didn't go to the authorities or get help after hitting Rye Gerhardt

Hank has a question for Peggy: why didn’t she drive to the hospital or wave down a passing motorist to call the cops after she hit Rye?  Peggy wonders if this is a test.  It’s like decisions you make in a dream.  If it was her, she wouldn’t look back if she had to run.  In addition, this home is Ed’s, not hers.  Peggy buy all these magazines because she’s living in a museum of the past.

Rhinoceros- Dodd confronts Hank and demands Ed Blomquist

The conversation is interrupted by approaching vehicles.  Hank heads out and finds several vehicles waiting.  He tells Peggy to hide and not come out, no matter what she hears.  Dodd Gerhardt comes out with the cattle prod and asks for Ed, who is already gone since Lou took him to the station.  That’s a well-guarded and impenetrable station, Hank says.  Dodd thinks that Ed is inside, but no, he’s not there.

The rest of Dodd’s backup leave their cars and approach.  Now Hank is woefully outgunned, but before a shootout can commence, Hanzee, who snuck in the back, comes from behind and knocks Hank out with the butt of his gun.

Rhinoceros- Dodd searches for Peggy

Dodd and some men enter the Blomquist home and find stacks and stacks of magazines in the basement.  No one appears to be here, but they search anyway.  A crash breaks the concentration, causing Dodd to shoot one of the other men- and knock over a ton of magazines in the process- and he soon finds the other one knocked out on the ground.  He worms between two tight shelves, gun at the ready, but finds no one.

Rhinoceros- Peggy turns the prod on Dodd

But then here comes Peggy, who turns the cattle prod on Dodd.

Rhinoceros- Floyd asks Simone if she's with the family

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Floyd needs to talk with Simone about something: is she with the family?  She doesn’t get to pick and choose.  Simone says that she is, but she sure doesn’t sound too confident, you know.  Floyd tells her that everyone has a role to play.  Take her example and be a leader, because this is their time.  There’s no such thing as men’s work and women’s work anymore.

Rhinoceros- Kansas City brings the fire fight to the Gerhardt family

This confidence booster is interrupted by gunfire.  The Kansas City syndicate has arrived.

Rhinoceros- Karl gives Ed some form of legal counsel

Karl finally arrives at the department for his lawyer duties.  He’s ready to fight for the rights of free men.  He continues to rant about rights as if an audience is listening, but Lou tells him that he only has 30 minutes.  He finally meets face to face with Ed and doesn’t want to hear what happened.  He will ask G or NG?  Ed, as the client, will shake his head in the affirmative for the letter that best describes his state.  But then Ed does not respond to either.  Whatever his status, Karl promises to help Ed to his last breath.

So he’s done with 26 minutes to spare.  Lou worries that Karl is driving home, but no, Sonny is taking care of that.

But as he goes out, he finds several men with guns greeting him.  The Jackboots are indeed upon them.  Lou orders Deputy Bluth to lock the back door.  Denise, played by Anna Cummer, is to tell HQ that they need every man available yesterday.  Oh, and don’t call the sheriff since he may not be able to answer.

Rhinoceros- Lou confronts Bear Gerhardt

Lou speaks with Bear, who he remembers from his brief visit to the Gerhardt home.  Lou is confident that backup will come eventually, and no matter what happens, reinforcements will keep coming.  Charlie is still being held on charges of attempted murder.  Lou knows that Bear has designs on Ed.  This thing doesn’t work in Westerns and it won’t here.  There are enough guns to hold off the Gerhardt until morning.  Bear gives Lou five minutes.

Back inside, Lou learns from Officer Garfield that the doors are locked, but they should be barricaded.  Also, destroy the lights.  Lou needs Karl’s help since he can probably talk sense into Bear.  Who better than the son’s lawyer?  Yeah, Karl now represents Charlie instead of Ed.  Not sure how that works.

Meanwhile, Hanzee heads around back and has a clear shot at Ed.  Lou tells Ed that he’s being helped outside, so he’s temporarily released.  Elsewhere in the jail, Karl comes face to face with Charlie Gerhardt.

Rhinoceros- Hank awakens and learns of the situation at the department

As Hank slowly comes to life, he hears a transmission on his radio and finally responds.  He learns that there’s a mob ready at the department.  Though reinforcements are 45 minutes away, Hank needs Lou to hold tight.  He can’t go dying without him or he’d never hear the end of it at dinner.

Rhinoceros- Karl negotiates with Bear

The Gerhardt clan decides to go in just as Karl comes out, declaring that he’s an ally.  He introduces himself as Charlie’s lawyer.  If he’s going to die, he wants one last smoke.  Karl tells the men that the highest powers are ready to meet his demands.  Charlie is being processed right now.  As the lawyer, Karl advises that Bear is making this worse.  Since Charlie is 17, he’ll get a reduced sentence.

Though a witness puts him at a crime scene with a gun, Charlie’s shot missed.  At most, he could get attempted murder.  The max sentence is 10, but he’d be out in five for good behavior.  But if he’s taken out now, he’ll be a wanted fugitive for the rest of his life.  The way out?  Fall back and Bear take his men with him, and Karl will make sure that Charlie stays clean.  That works, but Bear wants the butcher instead.  If that happens, Charlie will be linked as an accomplice.

The best option is a fast retreat.  After a tense moment, Bear falls back.

Rhinoceros- Lou and Ed meet up with Hank

As for Ed, he and Lou hopped out of a window and evaded capture.  Ed is still in Lou’s custody as the two make their way through the woods.  Ed is worried about Peggy, but there’s no time to think about that.  Lou spots a police cruiser and flags it down- Hank has arrived.  Ed runs off, but Hank advises against Lou chasing him.

Rhinoceros- Hanzee pursues Ed

As Lou and Hank head off, Hanzee soon emerges from the forest and begins walking in Ed’s direction.

Rhinoceros- Karl knows a lot of words

Oh, and stick around.  Karl knows a lot of words.

If “The Gift of the Magi” was about escalation, then “Rhinoceros” certainly wasn’t about fallout.  In fact, given how close this episode immediately followed the events of the previous one, this almost plays out like one big episode of shootouts, standoffs, and tense situations throughout as the war continues.

Rhinoceros- Peggy asks if Hank is testing her

Peggy told Hank that she and Ed are just bystanders in this crazy war.  If this is all a test, like she thought about Hank questioning her, then they’ve failed.  A bystander’s smallest action can lead to something huge or transformative.  That’s why we often give so much praise to a random bystander if they happen to, out of complete selflessness, help a person in need.  They took a risk on an unknown situation because they felt the need to help- not because they wanted credit.

Rhinoceros- Ed talks about Noreen's book

Here, though, Ed and Peggy may have started as bystanders not intending to cause any harm, but instead of doing the right thing and either confessing to their crimes early or getting help, they’ve inadvertently escalated an already tense Gerhardt family and kicked off the battle with the Kansas City syndicate.  And going by Lou’s words from Season One, we’ve yet to see the extent of battle since we haven’t approached Sioux Falls yet

So if Ed and Peggy are in a test right now, they’ve failed.  Both have dreams of the future: Ed wanted to buy the shop and settle down with a family, while Peggy aspires to make more of herself.  Again, those are dreams, but in reality, the walls are closing in for both because they’re linked to this conflict.

In a continuing struggle for control, neither has any in regards to the war.  Peggy figured she could divert suspicion by having the car refurbished, while Ed hoped that getting rid of Rye’s body and fighting off his attackers would clear him of any guilt.  But all this has done is draw more attention because they tried to cover their tracks and became even more involved.

Rhinoceros- Peggy attacks Dodd

While Ed and Peggy aren’t the smartest knives in the drawer, they don’t just roll over and accept fate.  We’ve seen Ed fight go against the Gerhardt family already both in the premiere and last week in the butcher shop, but now Peggy gets her time to shine when she gets the drop on Dodd, of all people.  Going back again to what Floyd said, it’s dangerous to underestimate a woman’s true strength just by her appearance.

Sure, Peggy may duck and dodge all of Hank’s questions without giving a direct answer, but at least she doesn’t fold and the show doesn’t paint her as a helpless housewife.

Rhinoceros- Hank faces off with Dodd while Hanzee sneaks into the Blomquist home

But sticking with the Blomquist standoff, I have to wonder whether Hank checked in on Peggy after he woke up.  It’d be easy to assume that he did, but she’s still linked to the escalation or, at the very least, hitting Rye.  There’s plenty good reason to at least keep a watchful eye on her, but as far as I can tell, she’s left on her own.  Maybe he was more focused on the immediate threat of aiding Lou once he learned of the situation at the department, but I wish we’d at least gotten a scene of him following up with or checking in on Peggy.

Minor stuff, but it’s something I couldn’t help but notice.  But anyway, most of this episode dealt with the continuing escalation that we got with the shootout last week.  The Gerhardt family, feeling that they’ve gotten the jump on Kansas City, decides to take some time for themselves and help their own by finding Charlie.

Rhinoceros- Floyd tells Dodd to knock off his bullshit

But with Dodd continuing his perceived dominance over Bear and the others, in addition to Simone’s betrayals, the family is splintering.  Joe Bulo previously asked Floyd if her sons would abide by her command.  While Dodd isn’t out of control yet, he’s still doing and saying things that muck up Floyd’s plans.  And despite Floyd’s warnings to stop the bullshit, now Dodd has gone and gotten himself beaten by Peggy.

Rhinoceros- Floyd speaks with Simone

It also seems like Floyd is doing her best to protect Simone from harm.  Though I’ve no way of proving it, I get the inkling that Floyd might be onto the fact that Simone is double-crossing the family.  Maybe it’s because of how she talks to her differently than the boys or when she asks if Simone is with the family.  Floyd is a very smart woman, so I would not be surprised if she’s even the tiniest bit suspicious.  Of course, Floyd won’t have time to consider that now that Kansas City has brought the fight to her.

Rhinoceros- Mike asks Simone where the Gerhardt family is headed now

And even with Simone confiding in Mike Milligan, she did not see this coming because she still wants to trust Milligan.  What makes the use of split-screen is that it gives some characters the impression that things are going along just well, but we as audience know that a situation is about to further escalate.  It helps maintain the tension because it lulls some characters into a false sense of security, all while reminding us that things are only going to get worse.

Rhinoceros- Lou is calm in the face of danger

Such is the situation at the police department.  Patrick Wilson continues to impress as Lou Solverson and he shows how he can go from calm and collected to stern and serious.  He’s given Ed and Peggy an opportunity to come clean, but they turned it down, so he sees no reason to play nice anymore.  While Hank may be a bit more passive in his approach, Lou is done with games not just because Ed and Peggy have been jerking him around, but because the shit is going to stop coming their way.

Rhinoceros- Lou tells Ed that the violence won't rest until Ed and Peggy are dead

Just as Molly told Lester one season ago, Lou knows that Ed and Peggy’s attackers won’t stop until they’re killed.  He’s fed up with them, but he’s not above refusing to give them advice that he knows they’ll need.  He’s still sworn to protect and serve, so even if Ed still killed a man with a meat cleaver, Lou won’t turn him over to the Gerhardt or he’d just be part of the problem.

Rhinoceros- Lou faces off with Bear Gerhardt

And he refuses to show any sign of weakness, despite being outnumbered and outgunned by men who could kill him at any time.  It’s funny: before all this, I’m guessing that Lou never dreamed he’d find himself in a Mexican standoff with a crime family, and despite that, he remains as composed as ever and can figure his way out of a tense situation, same as Peggy did.

Rhinoceros- Karl stands tall against Bear Gerhardt

The real star had to be Karl Weathers, though.  Nick Offerman has appeared here and there this season, but this was his time to shine as a strict advocate of justice.  Whether his drunken ramblings, his coded talk with Ed, or the fact that he stared down the Gerhardt family and managed to talk them down with pure reason and logic, Karl played a huge role in helping save the day.

Rhinoceros- Bear considers his options for Charlie's sake

His negotiation with Bear is, for my money, one of the highlights of the season thus far.  And it helps that Bear cares that much about his son that he’s willing to forego violence just to see him safe.

“Rhinoceros” built on and continued the tense standoffs in “The Gift of the Magi” and managed to balance them with slower, calming moments.  It advanced the war with Kansas City bringing the guns to the Gerhardt family, who were on the cusp of being in a firefight with the police.  With the Gerhardt home now riddled with bullets and Hanzee on Ed’s trail, we’re still far from out of the woods.

Oh, and that ending cover of Man of Constant Sorrow?  Fantastic.

A Look at Gotham- Season 2, Episode 9: “Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow”

And now Gotham introduces Eduardo Flamingo.  Because why not, at this rate.  While the main storyline isn’t anywhere near as mundane as last week’s situation with Barbara, it’s still not as interesting as some of the other plots.  Well, the stuff with Ed and Penguin, anyway.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jessica orders a High Smith Royale

The episode begins with Jessica entering a bar and ordering a High Smith Royale, no ice, per her instructions.  She hands the bartender a wad of cash and he, in turn, opens a door to a hidden room that leads to a casino.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jessica meets with Michelle Gomez and asks for help in killing Gordon

Jessica speaks with a woman, played by Michelle Gomez, about needing help to have someone killed.  Personal vendettas and cops cost extra since there are always complications, but Jessica is willing to pay.  Once the job is accepted, the job apparently gets done.  Jessica slides over a photo of Jim Gordon.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Gordon checks in on Barbara

We then cut to Jim Gordon, who listens to a doctor discuss Barbara’s condition.  No word yet on when she’ll awaken.  Jim elects to not ride with her to the medical wing at Arkham.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma prepares to give Penguin a needle

Penguin awakens with Nygma in his face.  He soon sticks him with a syringe.  There’s a big night ahead.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim and Leslie talk about Barbara and that damn kiss

At GCPD, Leslie gives Jim his phone and asks why he left early in the morning.  It’s not because she snored.  Jim is glad that Galavan is arrested, but he thinks that he still needs to pay.  He tells Barbara that he’s meeting with Barnes at Galavan’s penthouse for evidence.  Jim then stupidly mentions that he also went to the hospital to check on Barbara.

And now to talk about that kiss.  Leslie says that it’s not jealousy.  I think it’s actually petty drama, but anyway, she calls Barbara the devil.  Jim counters that he had to play along, but Leslie says that Jim often gives into his dark side and that’s a problem.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Bruce and Alfred clash over whether Silver St. Cloud gets to stay

Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce has a chat with Silver St. Cloud, who is concerned about her uncle.  Bruce apparently doesn’t believe the things said about Theo, but he does need Silver’s help.  Before Bruce can ask about the offer, in enters Alfred.  In light of recent events and against Bruce’s desires, Alfred wants Silver gone.  Silver doesn’t want to cause trouble and decides to leave, but not before slipping Bruce a hotel key.

Bruce tells Alfred that he had no right, but Alfred disagrees.  He thinks that Bruce expected to learn more about his parents’ killer.  Alfred doesn’t think that there was anything in the envelope.  Bruce figures that Theo wouldn’t gamble so much, so there had to be something valuable.  Getting information, Alfred says, requires a level of deception that Bruce does not possess yet.  Even still, Bruce insists that it’s worth the risk.  Alfred puts his foot down: no more pursuing Theo Galavan or Silver St. Cloud.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Gordon and Piano Man ride up the elevator

As Jim heads up the elevator, he’s joined by a man who is heading to level 56 on a house call.  Tough stuff, but both he and Jim love what they do.  The man then offers Jim a caramel candy.  When Jim refuses, the man pulls out a piano wire and begins to choke Gordon.  This is why you don’t turn down caramel candy.

Upstairs, meanwhile, as officers take photos of the crime scene, Barnes wonders where the hell Gordon is.  He’s just too busy fighting on the elevator.  After a struggle, Jim manages to overtake the man.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim brings Piano Man up to Galavan's penthouse

He brings the man with him and tells Barnes that the man tried to kill him.  And this was no random attack.  He then pulls out the man’s cell phone and answers.  It’s Michelle Gomez, who does not respond when she hears labored breathing.  Instead, she interrupts a game of craps and offers the players a large sum if Jim Gordon does not see the sun rise again.  Considering the sun rarely rises in Gotham, I don’t think that’s hard.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma offers Penguin a glass of water

Nygma delivers Penguin a glass of water, admitting that he drugged him for his own benefit.  The two recount their first encounter, with Nygma explaining that he works in forensics.  He threw away Penguin’s clothes, by the way, since they reeked.  In Penguin’s condition, Nygma says that he won’t get far, so he needs to take time and recover.  Even still, Oswald turns down the water.  He asks what Nygma wants.

Ed has been going through a change as of recent- he’s started murdering people.  A funny little thing, that is and it’s thrilling for him to say out loud.  Only three so far, one was his girlfriend.  Penguin thinks that he’s next, but Ed has no ill intent towards him.  He needs advice.  These murders changed him.  And like the butterfly, he’s realized that he cannot be a caterpillar once again.  Nygma brought Penguin here for guidance on this new path.

Now it’s Oswald’s time to laugh.  He struggles out of bed and heads to the window to lament his ruined empire.  After all, he’s a wanted man with no friends and his mother is dead because of his weakness.  This path leads to nothing but destruction and pain.  Wanted or not, Penguin is leaving.  He gets as far as a few steps before collapsing.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes catches Jim holding Piano Man out of a window

Back at Galavan’s tower, Jim punches the assassin awake and demands to know who sent him.  Jim takes some extreme measures and holds the man out the window just as Barnes enters and orders Jim to stand down.  He won’t tolerate that kind of crap.  He asks if Jim losing it, reminding him if the recent incident with Barbara has messed with his head.

An officer alerts the two to a group heading their way and taking out security cameras.  The man says that if the first doesn’t succeed, keep sending more.  Only one person is making it out alive.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Preparing for the assault

Mr. Piano Man is cuffed to the stairs.  Barnes calls for backup and tells forensics man Cortez, played by Danny Berisha, to cut off the lights.  Jim gives Officer Parks, played by Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, her orders as well, but above all, stay calm.  The officers prepare for someone to come through the doors, only for someone to come down the stairs and slit Cortez’s throats.  Well, he’ll be missed.

Then the door is blown open as assassins open fire.  Parks manages to kill one, with Barnes and Jim managing to take down the others.  Piano Wire Man takes Parks hostage, but then Jim puts one bullet between the man’s eyes.  Glasses tend to look like bullseyes, you know.

Even after all of this, Jim refuses to leave.  This place is their best bet for evidence against Galavan.  If they leave now, the evidence could be destroyed.  Barnes counters that Jim is looking for fight.  Their situation is rather bleak now, with a civilian is dead and Parks scared of her mind.  Barnes tells Jim that they need to escape.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes stabbed

But then Jim notices something in the wall- a monk’s cassock.  The hell is that about?  One man springs to life and tries to stab Jim, but Barnes takes the wound instead.  The blade ends up tearing an artery- if Barnes stands, he’ll bleed out in no time.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma brings Penguin one of Galavan's henchmen to kill

Penguin awakens to a new surprise- a masked man who goes by Mr. Leonard.  Apparently Oswald was talking about Galavan killing his mother.  Leonard worked for Galavan before Jim Gordon had him arrested.  It’s not as good of news as Penguin would have wanted, but Nygma presents this man as a gift to kill.  After all, it’d be some retribution for the death of Penguin’s mother.  Nygma gives Penguin a knife.

As Oswald contemplates his decision, he drops the knife and tells Nygma that he’s done.  He needs some rest and then he’s leaving Gotham forever.  With that, he crawls back into bed.  Nygma, meanwhile, wheels the man away.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Eduardo Flamingo, played by Raul Castillo, receives a call from Michelle Gomez

Meanwhile in somewhere, we’re introduced to Eduardo Flamingo, played by Raul Castillo, who is in the middle of torturing someone when he receives a phone call Michelle Gomez.  She’s in a pinch and wants to hire Flamingo, even though his membership was revoked.  She tells him that the target is Jim Gordon and promises to make it worth his while.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes tells Jim about the line

Jim offers Barnes some liquid courage while the two wait for EMT.  Time for the two to talk about what’s going on with Jim.  In the church that day, Barbara accused Jim of having a monster inside of him and Leslie agrees.  There was a moment when Jim had a gun trained on Barbara.  Had Galavan’s men not entered, he’s not sure what he would have done.  He nearly crossed a line.

The line?  Barnes knows all about the line.  Way back when he was stationed in the desert on his third tour, he and his crew found three insurgents.  The team caught fire and was separated during a sandstorm, leaving Barnes alone with one of the prisoners- a kid.  He was bound, but Barnes put the gun in the kid’s mouth just to threaten the kid and show who’s in charge.  But then he just pulled the trigger and blew off the kid’s head.  That kid woke Barnes up every night until he made peace and realized that he’s just a man.  At the right moment, a man might do anything.  There is no line- just the law.  That’s what separates them from the animals.

Well, that was a speech.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Alfred has Silver St. Cloud's key

Bruce comes to Alfred to say that he’s right.  Pursuing Galavan on his own is too risky.  Best course of action is to inform Jim Gordon.  Alfred calls that common sense at last.  Bruce, meanwhile, prepares to head to bed, but Alfred also says that he sent off the taxi.  He then presents Silver St. Cloud’s hotel key.  Bruce declares to never stop.  Neither will Alfred.  Okay, this did get a chuckle out of me.  Alfred, you sneaky bastard.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma tries again to build Penguin up

Penguin awakens to the sound of music- Nygma is playing on the piano before presenting a riddle: I can bring tears to your eyes and resurrect the dead. I form in an instant and last a lifetime.  What am I?  A memory.  Penguin was humming this song, so Nygma figures that the song holds a memory.  Every night when Oswald was young, his mother would sing that song.  She would also tell young Oswald that he shouldn’t listen to the other children.  He’s handsome, clever, and would grow up to be a great man.  Memories are all that Penguin have, and now they’re like daggers in his heart.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Penguin holds a knife to Nygma's throat

Not all bad.  Nygma has Miss Kringle’s glasses.  He doesn’t feel sadness, but gratitude.  But Penguin doesn’t care to know why.  Nygma continues- they are better off unencumbered.  Penguin said it himself: his mother is dead because of his weakness.  What he needs to realize is that his weakness was his mother.  Penguin takes a knife to Nygma’s neck, declaring that he has nothing left.

A man with nothing that he loves, Nygma says, is a man that cannot be bargained or betrayed.  He answers to no one but himself.  That is the man that Nygma sees before him- a free man.  Oswald lowers the knife.

GCPD arrives downstairs to help Jim and Barnes, but they come under fire.  Edward Flamingo introduces himself, as if his name means something.  He’s coming up soon, but he wants to feast on Jim’s friends first.  Jim will go down to meet him, despite the fact that Flamingo killed four cops.  Barnes refuses to let Gordon go down by himself, but Jim counters that Flamingo is after him and no one else.  Jim heads for the elevator while Parks stays with Barnes.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim fights Flamingo

On the way down, ignoring a call from Leslie, Jim finds the bodies of the other officers.  He’s ambushed from behind as Flamingo trips him up with a chain.  The two fight, with Jim eventually managing to get an advantage over Flamingo.  He punches him over and over again, but Flamingo just laughs.  So Jim keeps on punching him and eventually sticks his gun in Flamingo’s mouth.

His finger on the trigger, he contemplates his decision, but refuses to kill Flamingo.  Instead, he reads Flamingo his rights.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma still has Galavan's henchman

Penguin, meanwhile, asks what happened to Galavan’s lackey.  Nygma reveals that he has the man stuffed in a closet.  A party isn’t a party without entertainment, Gertrude always said, so Nygma wheels out the man.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Selina comes to warn Bruce about Silver St. Cloud

To my irritation, Selina Kyle is inside Wayne Manor and here to save Bruce from Silver.  She has proof that Silver is bad and asks if he’s interested.  Since Bruce doesn’t respond, I assume that means he is.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Officer Parks dies

At GCPD, as Flamingo is brought into holding, he feigns poor health, but then takes a bite out of crime- I mean, out of Parks’ neck and doesn’t let go.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim and Leslie learn that Flamingo killed Officer Parks

Leslie, meanwhile, stitches up Jim, who tells her that he’s afraid about almost crossing a line.  He then asks Leslie why the hell she’s with him, but she’s got no clue.  She wants to know the truth from now on- always.  It’s a promise.  Leslie answers Jim’s phone and receives a call from Alvarez, who shares that Flamingo killed Parks before he could be put in lockup.  Should I care?

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Theo speaks with Tabitha

Jessica talks with Theo, who wanted her to do nothing about Jim Gordon until she received orders.  This is about Barbara, she says, so she’s let Barbara get into her head.  Theo counters that everything is ready.  Bruce Wayne will die and the city will be theirs.  All they’ve worked for will soon belong to them.  If Jessica endangers that again, Theo promises to cut her throat.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Dumb cop questions men in robes

On the docks, Father Creole meets with other hooded men.  A lone officer asks the men for ID, but because he’s an idiot and this is Gotham, the officer is stabbed by every single hooded figure as the group makes its way into the city.

As we continue along with this “Rise of the Villains” arc, if there’s anything I can commend Gotham with this season, it’s for continually building character arcs.  Some arcs aren’t as good or well-written as others, but I appreciate this more serialized approach allows the events of one episode to play right into the other.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Leslie says that Jim finds way to give into his dark side

That’s where we are right now with Gordon’s arc as we deal with the fallout from Barbara’s…well, fall.  Gordon is still considering what she said about his dark side and now both Leslie and Barnes confront him on that.  As is often the case in Batman lore, there’s a line that separates the good from the bad.  Once you cross that line, you’re no different from the very criminals you’re trying to apprehend.

The law may not always lead to the results that you want, but it’s better than going down a dark path of no return.  I realize that I’m giving a basic description of what separates the likes of Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, and their future allies from the rogues.  It goes much deeper than that, but it’s something that Gotham has attempted to emphasize through Jim’s struggles to do the right thing in a corrupt city.

The Scarecrow- Penguin offers to help Jim again

The problem is that Jim has already been down this path of wavering between doing the right and wrong thing.  Hell, this season started with him going to Penguin for a favor, again, which resulted in him killing a man.  No mention of that, by the way, but I’m guessing if he admitted that, he wouldn’t be allowed to walk out of the GCPD.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes tells his story about when he crossed the line

So while Gotham takes us to familiar territory with Jim wanting to step over that line and doesn’t tell us much new, this allows the show to add some development to Barnes.  Since his introduction, he’s been a stern, no-nonsense kind of boss who has been quick to weed out corrupt cops.  But until now, we haven’t dealt with why he has this edge.  His reveal that he killed a prisoner of war showed why he’s so against crossing the line.

He knows Gordon’s desire to cross a line and play bad cop, but he also knows the long term damage that can have on an individual.  Again, crossing the line may give you some temporary satisfaction, but you’ve still got blood on your hands and it makes you no different from the very criminals you want to stop.

As far as the episode itself, it was fine.  The firefight inside Galavan’s penthouse moved at a reasonable pace and the action was decent, but we lost yet another individual in the line of duty.  For as much as Barnes and Gordon pushed to organize this crop of recruits for Strike Force, they’re still unprepared.  I’d like to feel something for Parks’ death, especially when she’s identified by name, but it’s hard for me to be invested in a character when they’re introduced and then killed in the same episode.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Flamingo bites Officer Parks

Gruesome sight, I’ll admit, to Flamingo to take a literal bite out of her as she bled out, but I’m curious why none of the officers thought to shoot Flamingo instead of trying to wrest or beat him off of Parks.  But hey, Jim learns the price of trying to do the right thing can still hurt others around him.  After all, he didn’t shoot and kill Barbara, so we’re all stuck with her.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Flamingo about to bite Parks

Why Eduardo Flamingo?  I don’t know.  A man who likes to eat the faces of his victims is the sort of wackiness I’ve come to expect from Gotham, and yet no pink motorcycle.  It probably would have stood out too much, being pink and all.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Alfred tells Silver St. Cloud to go home, Bruce objects

The Bruce and Alfred stuff was fine, but not as effective as the previous episode.  Bruce seems committed to finding out more about Theo, but at the same time, he did agree to Alfred’s terms and conditions regarding their partnership, so at least Alfred didn’t waver.  But now the show has given a reason for Selina to come back into the fold.  Terrific.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma and Penguin

Nygma’s finally having his storyline intersect with another character that’s not Miss Kringle, and I’m glad it’s Penguin.  This builds off of their brief encounter from the first season, but helps to build them both.  No longer the king of Gotham, Penguin desires to leave the city, as the death of his mother has left him a broken man.  He even tries to warn Nygma that the dark path he’s walking leads to nothing but pain.

While that may be true, Nygma finds it all too intoxicating right now to care.  He’s on top right now and has a new sense of purpose that comes from murdering.  Like Penguin, Nygma can be very calculating in his approach at times, but this being Edward Nygma, he’s more quizzical as well.  I’m glad that if anyone was going to bring Penguin out of his funk, it’s Nygma, as he’s the one to remind Penguin that this loss can make him stronger.  Here’s hoping that it does.

“A Bitter Pill to Swallow” felt familiar with Gordon wanting to cross a line, but while that didn’t tell us much new about him, it at least allowed for some character development for Barnes.  Again, like “Tonight’s the Night,” the main plot wasn’t the most interesting part of the episode.  That, for me, went to the Nygma and Penguin plot.  Well, maybe these hooded figures will liven things a bit.

Oh, and no Bullock this week.  Where was he?