A Look at Gotham- Season 2, Episode 8: “Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s the Night”

Tonight’s indeed the night…for this episode to be just okay.  The main storyline isn’t as engaging as the subplots.  I don’t know how Gotham managed that when the main plot involves psycho Barbara in a wedding dress and holding a shotgun.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara and Jim married in a dream sequence

The episode begins in church.  Barbara is decked in white for her big day as she approaches center stage with her husband-to-be, Jim Gordon.  The two rehearse their vows, but the Father is actually Penguin and the audience is filled with Arkham inmates.  And Barbara spits out a crow because this is Gotham.  But actually, Barbara is in the audience while Jim is wed to Leslie.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara receives a gift

So that was a dream.  Barbara finds a note, which reads that today is the day.  She then opens her big ass gift.

Tonight's the Night- Theo tells Tabitha about his plan for Bruce Wayne

Later, Tabitha checks on Theo.  Jim Gordon’s forces have accelerated his plan.  Theo still needs Wayne Enterprises and he’ll get it by offering the one thing Bruce wants most in the world.  Jim’s sudden death would upset Bruce, so Gordon needs to be occupied.  That’s where Barbara comes in.  She loves her present, and luckily, today is the day where she gets to kill Jim Gordon.

Tonight's the Night- Jim presents his evidence on Theo to Barnes

Gordon tells Barnes that Galavan is behind the recent string of attacks, but his sources are criminals.  Even if they are telling the truth, Barnes reminds Jim that he has no legal evidence.  If Jim wants to arrest Galavan, he needs some real proof.  Leslie agrees.  Theo is a well-known figure.  She warns him to not let this get personal.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara walks right into the GCPD

Oh, hey, there’s Barbara just waltzing into the GCPD yet again.

Tonight's the Night- Jim speaks with Barbara in interrogation

In interrogation, Barbara and Jim face off, with Jim in no mood for her games.  She taunts his righteous indignation and dares him to rough her up, but he doesn’t want to.  If Jim doesn’t, there are tons of fans who would like to, I’m sure.  Jim insists that he just wants to help and even calls Barbara a good woman…she’s just sick is all.  Nah, she’s just poorly written.

And then Barbara weeps, so Jim goes in for the smooch.  Barbara figures that this means Jim has feelings for him because she’s an idiot, I guess.  She agrees to talk, but at first, she has to show him a good surprise.  After that, she will tell him everything.  But looks like Jim’s time is up.  Barbara goes to the mirror- with Leslie, Bullock, and Barnes on the other side-

Jim wants to play along with Barbra’s game.  Bullock and Barnes see this as a trap, Leslie calls her mentally ill, and Jim agrees that Barbara needs help…tomorrow.  For now, he wants Barbara to think she’s in control.  After all, she’s their only link to Galavan.

Tonight's the Night- Nygma in the woods

Nygma goes for a good old country drive to the middle of the woods.  He removes a case and shovel from his car.

Tonight's the Night- Barnes goes over the plan if things with Barbara go south

GCPD and Strike Force lock and load.  Barnes and the team will be monitoring Gordon’s progress.  If things look like they’re going south, he’ll give the go-ahead.  Barnes figures that Jim is too emotionally invested.  Leslie figures that Barbara has sucked Jim back in because he and Barbara are sick.  Yeah, I can do without this petty drama.  When everyone is all set to go, Barbara directs Jim and Bullock downtown.

Tonight's the Night- Theo offers Bruce a way to save Wayne Enterprises

After a brief talk with Silver St. Cloud, Bruce meets with Theo Galavan.  If Bruce could have one dream, it would be to find the man who killed his parents.  When asked what he would do, Bruce responds that he would kill him.  Theo’s dream is to rid Gotham of crime and poverty.  But how?  He has plans, schemes, and ideas aplenty, but he needs Bruce’s help.  In return, Theo can help Bruce with his dream.

It’s a lie, the Wayne family name.  Theo has been investigating Wayne Enterprises and the things he found are just nightmarish and can’t continue.  It’s not about corruption, but saving innocent lives. Bruce pledges to end all of it, but Theo says that he can’t.  Wayne Enterprises has a board that will kill to protect its secrets.  No one is underestimating Bruce.

Bruce controls 51 percent of the voting shares.  If Bruce sells those, Theo will have the voting authority so he can start to clean up Gotham.  He can’t do this without Bruce’s help.  This is all that Bruce has left, but Theo isn’t just offering money, though.  Bruce wasn’t supposed to be present on the night that Thomas and Martha were killed.  He just happened to get there late.  Theo presents a gift: the name of the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, with additional information, documentation…all of this closure Theo can provide if Bruce just agrees to help.  And Theo needs an answer by the end of the day.

Tonight's the Night- Nygma's words to Miss Kringle are interrupted by a random hiker

Back on the road, Barbara continues directing Bullock and Gordon, who knows that this is a trap and how Galavan is using Barbara like a puppet.  Jim figures that once Galavan is done with her, she’ll die.

Nygma managed to dig one hell of a hole in no time at all for this proper burial.  He gives Miss Kringle a final goodbye and thanks her for making him whole.  In addition, he has one final riddle: I take you by night, by day take you back. None suffer to have me, but do from my lack.  What am I?  Anyway, Nygma’s moment is interrupted by a random traveler.  He gets too close to finding out what’s going on, so Nygma makes good use of his shovel.  It never hurts to improvise.

Tonight's the Night- Jim warns Barbara to not throw her life away on madness

Jim warns Barbara to not throw her life away on madness.  Barnes radios in to the two, letting them know that they’re being boxed in, based on where they’re headed.  Gordon wants to continue going forward, telling Barbara to save herself, but Barbara doesn’t have a life anymore.  Jim asked her to marry him and she booked a church, got a damn wedding dress- the whole fixings.  She loves Jim and thinks that deep down, he loves her too.

Tonight's the Night- Semi crashes into police cruiser

Then a truck hits the cruiser- presumably Bullock wasn’t paying attention- and a shootout commences.  Bullock is knocked out because the plot demands it and Barbara has escaped the cruiser.  Before Jim can shoot, he’s put to sleep by Tabitha.

Tonight's the Night- Barnes tells Bullock to go home

Back at GCPD, Barnes sets up a perimeter and orders a damaged Bullock to go home.

Tonight's the Night- Nygma plans to make the hole bigger

Back in the woods, Nygma figures that if he can’t make the hole bigger, he’ll make this random traveler smaller.  Problem is that someone has eaten Nygma’s sandwich, and we’re in the middle of a secluded forest.  Well, the hole is about to get crowded.

Tonight's the Night- Bruce tells Alfred about his meeting with Theo Galavan

In the not Bat-cave, Bruce has a question for Alfred and needs his honest word- the skills that Bruce needs to save the city, how long will it take?  Well, much more than a few years.  In the meantime, how many will die due to the crimes committed by Wayne Enterprises?  Bruce tells Alfred about his meeting with Theo and the proposal to sell his shares so Theo can clean up Gotham.

The identity of the shooter isn’t an exchange, it’s extortion.  There’s a line between extortion and negotiation, Alfred says.  If Theo can truly fix Wayne Enterprises, isn’t it Bruce’s moral duty to allow him to do so, if just for Thomas Wayne’s legacy?  Alfred counters that Wayne Enterprises is not Thomas and Martha’s legacy- it’s standing before him right now.  Bruce asks Alfred if it’s wrong for him to just want this all to be over.  Alfred, embracing the boy, says that he’s not.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara in a wedding dress and holding a shotgun

Jim awakens in church and strapped to a wheelchair.  And there’s Barbara in that damn wedding dress.  And a shotgun.  I can’t help but imagine that this scenario has played out in real life at least once.  Barbara strolls down memory lane to the time she and Jim first visited this church.  Jim insists that there is no us anymore.

She even managed to get the same priest, but different audience members.  Barbara was wise to Jim’s plan, of course, and now it’s time for him to die.  She says that he’s tired of hiding his true self, especially from Leslie.  Well, let’s prove it by bringing in Leslie.

Tonight's the Night- Bullock replays audio of Barbara talking about church

Bullock listens to some recorded audio and, after hearing Barbara talk about a church, tells Barnes that Barbara took Jim to the Gotham Cathedral to redo her wedding.  It’s thin evidence, Barnes says, and it really is, but Bullock is sure that he’s right.  Hey, if Jim can be right with one random hunch after another, so can Bullock.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara taunts Leslie and Jim

So Barbara wants Leslie to know just who Jim Gordon is.  She claims that Jim isn’t capable of being honest.  Jim counters that Barbara was never going to give up information about Galavan.  She admits that Mayor James is alive and well in a stashed house on China Docks.  Who put him there?  Barbara calls the current Jim Gordon an act that can dabble in darkness.

Leslie knows all there is to know about Jim, even how he got reinstated in the GCPD.  Everyone has done bad things, she says.  Despite all of Jim’s flaws, Leslie still loves him.  Barbara pulls out a blade and continues declaring her love for Jim.  More live than Leslie.  She’s going to prove it by carving Leslie’s face.

But there’s one more thing: Leslie wants to know where Barbara got her dress.  And that’s the distraction Jim needs to escape and grab Barbara’s shotgun.  Despite having her at gunpoint, Jim instead shoots Tabitha’s henchmen and gets one shot at Tabitha, who retreats.

Tonight's the Night- Jim faces off with Barbara

GCPD arrives while Barbara heads upstairs.  Jim confronts her, declaring that this is over.  She charges with her knife and she ends up out the window.  Jim grabs Barbara’s hand, telling her to hold on, but Barbara declares her love for Jim once again before letting go.  Bushes broke her fall, so she’s just in critical condition.  When this is all over, Leslie wants to talk.  Of course.

Tonight's the Night- GCPD finds Mayor James

Jim fills Barnes in on what Barbara said about Mayor James’ location.  They manage to find Mayor James with that same box around his head.

Tonight's the Night- Bruce refuses to sell his shares of Wayne Enterprises

With Alfred at his side this time, Bruce meets with Theo once again.  All Bruce has to do is sign and the file is his.  However, he changes his mind and can’t sell Wayne Enterprises for any price.

Tonight's the Night- GCPD declares Theo Galavan under arrest for the kidnap and torture of Mayor James

Then Jim enters and punches Theo Galavan- who tosses the files in the fire- before declaring him under arrest for the kidnapping and torture of Mayor Aubrey James.  Bruce yells to the burned files for an answer, but neither the papers nor the fire talk back.

Tonight's the Night- Nygma finds Penguin

We return to the woods, where Nygma finds a trailer.  And who is living inside?  One disheveled Penguin.

So “Tonight’s the Night” seemed like it was set up to be Barbara’s big night and the show sending her off on…some sort of note, because it’d be too much to assume she’d be sent out on a high note.  And yet the main storyline revolving around her leading Jim and Bullock on a goose chase just frustrated me.  And it’s strange- since Gotham decided to turn Barbara psychotic, she’s been a bit more engaging and interesting.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara in interrogation

But a lot of this episode just bored me.  During the interrogation sequence, for example, I just kept waiting for something to happen.  Something beyond some back and forth between Jim and Barbara that just felt manufactured to drum up some tension between Jim and Leslie.  Furthermore, the GCPD really must have one of the most lax security screenings ever because Barbara, yet again, waltzes into the department and get within viewing distance of the captain’s office without anyone apprehending her.

Arkham

That joke about Arkham Asylum having a revolving door policy in Batman mythos also applies to the GCPD.  It’s Gotham City, I know, but really, you just had a group of maniacs storm the department and kill some officers, your commissioner included.  Have better security protocol installed or something like that.

Tonight's the Night- Jim tells Barbara that she's being used by Galavan

But back to Barbara, who just wants to get back in Jim’s good graces.  While it’s interesting that she’s the one criminal that is able to get under Jim’s skin, I do at least have to ask why Jim isn’t better at resisting her.  He’s playing along with her little game, but it feels like he could have been a bit more careful.  The last time he confronted Barbara on his own, he got the hell beaten out of him.  Now, he endangered his, Bullock, and Leslie’s lives all because he still hoped to get through to Barbara.

Tonight's the Night- Jim in interrogation with Barbara

This paints Jim out to be a moron and makes him look incompetent to his superiors, not to mention driving a wedge between himself and Leslie.  She’s been willing to deal with Jim’s past and all the craziness in his life thus far and she doesn’t come off as the jealous type.  Hell, she’s moved her life and work from Arkham Asylum to the GCPD, so if anything, moving her life to accommodate her growing relationship with Jim shows that she’s committed, no matter the consequences that she’s been willing to face.

Tonight's the Night- Leslie says the dreaded four words, 'We need to talk'

I’d like to think she’s better written than just suddenly needing to talk with Jim due to petty jealousy.  This isn’t Selina Kyle we’re talking about, here.  Yes, Gotham has writing problems, but Leslie comes off as more competent and grounded than some of the show’s other female characters, with some exceptions like Essen.  Admittedly, Jim kissing Barbara in front of the others for the sake of getting information was a stupid move because she was still one step ahead of time, but I’d hope this isn’t what would drive the two apart.

This extends to the church confrontation, where Barbara made it seem like she had an ace up her sleeve with having Leslie as a hostage.  That ended up not paying off because instead of just killing her outright, she decided to taunt Leslie instead.  If Barbara was so dead set on being with Jim again, why not hit him where it hurts by killing Leslie?  Jim wasn’t exactly in a position to stop her.

Tonight's the Night- Jim points a gun at Barbara

Same goes with Jim not taking a shot at Barbara.  He’s got to know that, from what I can see, she’s beyond saving at this point.  If he didn’t want to kill her, at least just take her down.  Shoot her in the leg, incapacitate her, something other than stand around and talk.  But no, he’d rather take out Tabitha’s goons on instinct and just let Barbara ramble.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara hangs onto Jim

This episode felt like it was building up to Barbara’s goodbye.  Hell, the only thing missing was for her to yell out ‘Sometimes I just kill myself’ before she let Jim go.  It wouldn’t have been the most interesting death, but hey, the show would have closed the book on Barbara and we could move on from there.

Tonight's the Night- Barbara is somehow still alive

But then she didn’t die.  And bushes broke her fall off screen?  What the hell, Gotham?  That’s a major copout, considering how much the show had been building this up as a big moment.  So all this buildup for what seemed like Barbara’s exit and the show decides to keep her around even more just because it can, or it just doesn’t know what to do with her.  Where does her character even go from here?  She’s already toyed with Jim more than once and was on the verge of killing Leslie.  She took the GCPD on a wild goose chase, held Jim and Leslie hostage, was responsible for a shootout…what more is there for her character?

Tonight's the Night- Finding Mayor James

And what did Jim get out of this?  Information about Mayor James’ location.  Okay, I’ll give you that, but that just felt like a gimme because he needed a minor win after causing such a headache for the GCPD.  Oh, and arresting Galavan, despite the powerful position that he’s in right now.

Tonight's the Night- Theo tells Bruce that he needs his help in order to rebuild Gotham City

Actually, I’ll use this as a point to transition onto the more interesting storyline of the episode: Theo’s potential deal with Bruce over Wayne Enterprises.  And Bruce had every reason to trust that Theo could and would help him fix the company’s reputation.  Where Theo’s plan fell apart was the fact that he withheld the information about the shooter that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne.  It felt like he wanted to force Bruce into a difficult scenario.

But Bruce already seemed to warm to Galavan.  Had Theo just given it to him from the start, chances are that Bruce would have been more willing to hand over his shares of the company.  The cards were in his hands and there was no way to know whether Theo had real information.  Yet, that makes me question why he would throw the envelope into the fire if he didn’t have anything valuable for Bruce.

Tonight's the Night- Alfred hugs Bruce

I quite enjoyed the conversation with Bruce and Alfred, as Alfred was in the right to point that Bruce himself was now the Wayne legacy.  The future of his family and corporation was now in his hands and it’s suspicious that a newcomer like Galavan would try to force Bruce’s hand just because he may have information about his parents’ killer.  Mazouz and Pertwee were great in their scenes together, as Bruce felt weighed down by a near impossible decision.  Alfred was there to comfort Bruce, who wanted to speed up his training just so he could save his company, the city, and find justice in a city that has let him down.

Tonight's the Night- Bruce almost signs over Wayne Enterprises

At the end of the day, Bruce accepted reason over desire and decided to maintain his family’s legacy.  All of this was strong character development for Bruce and much more engaging than anything involving Selina or Silver St. Cloud.  Though with Bruce turning down Theo’s offer, I’m curious to see how, if at all, this will affect his relationship with Silver.

Tonight's the Night- Nygma's last riddle to Miss Kringle

The only remaining thread is Nygma’s storyline.  At least there’s some natural progression to his arc, now that he’s one with his other half and still coming up with riddles for himself.  I’m interested to see what will become of him finding a bad-looking Penguin.

“Tonight’s the Night” was uneven.  The side story with Bruce and Theo was very strong as we watched Bruce grapple with the decision of how to handle his family’s legacy for the sake of learning about the man who killed his parents.  The downside to the episode was the main story itself, as Barbara’s plan, while fun at times, ended up being a dud when the show took the easy way out and let her live after so much buildup to what looked like her final moment.  In addition, we got some petty drama between Leslie and Jim, as well as Barnes going along with Bullock’s hunch even though it was just that– a hunch!  Haven’t we had enough of those on Gotham already?

Now will Barbara reform after this?  Who knows?  All I know is that after all of this, we’re still stuck with her.

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