Not a Legion of Doom, mind you, as cool as that would have been, but a “Legion of Horribles,” as Gotham heads closer to the Season Two finale. Hugo Strange resurrects an old friend of ours, Jim, Lucius, and Bruce plan to infiltrate Arkham, and Selina contends with the resurrected Firefly.
The episode begins with Firefly trying to torch Selina and doing a poor job at it. As Selina makes a slip out, Firefly believes Selina to be a sacrifice to the Goddess of Fire. It’s a blessing. Selina somehow manages to get the drop on Bridgit and knocks her out. Well, that was something.
Bruce waits on the roof for Selina, but Ivy meets him instead. She hasn’t seen Selina in some time, so Bruce figures that she must be in trouble. Is this the only reason that Ivy is here? Also, I swear that Clare Foley gets taller every time I see her.
At GCPD, Bullock addresses the press on Azrael’s attack at Wayne Manor and his subsequent death by explosion. Bullock is asked whether he can confirm Azrael was Theo Galavan, but he obviously can’t identify Galavan since he’s ashes now.
Jim tells Bullock to bring in Hugo Strange, but Bullock needs charges. After all, he’s in charge now and Hugo is smart. His hands are tied. Well, Jim’s hands are not. You know, because he’s not a cop. Bruce then waltzes into the GCPD and tells him that Hugo Strange has Selina.
A woman calls to report that Strange is losing control, meaning it’s time to gather the court.
Back at Arkham, Strange works on another subject. The revived man has no recollection of who he is, but his skin is now surprisingly stretchy. The octopod DNA provides the effects that Strange wanted.
This is the seventh subject awoken in the past 12 hours with no recollection of his past life. Strange is not worried, even if the project could be shut down. The dead now live, but their memories are gone. Strange prefers to give them personas, but his employers don’t care about that. He turns his attention to subject #13, and to my annoyance, it’s Fish Mooney.
At Wayne Manor, Alfred reminds Bruce that he forbade him from risking Selina’s life, but he did anyway. Bruce figures that Strange is still holding Selina, but Lucius Fox thinks that Strange would be holding her in his secret lab where he created Azrael.
Fox figures that the technology Strange uses to make these creatures involve plutonium isotones that mutate cell structure. He did something similar at Wayne Enterprises and might be able to find an entrance to said lab.
Bruce offers to go on a tour to slip in, and Lucius Fox agrees to go with him and watch his back. Jim will also go in case he needs to alert Bullock, but there’s no way Strange would let him in. Luckily, Fox might have a way.
Okay, work begins on Fish Mooney. Strange recommends a high voltage to her cortex, which is dangerous, but hey, she’s already dead.
Nygma, meanwhile, has a new roommate, Mr. Stirk, played by Kameron Omidian, who has been known to eat people. Peabody won’t help Nygma due to his escape, but then Nygma tells Peabody that GCPD know about monsters being made in the basement. He warns that Jim Gordon is coming, and if Strange wants to stop him, he’ll need Nygma’s help.
Bruce prepares to head out, telling Alfred that he doesn’t have a choice. But Alfred disagrees. He won’t stop Bruce from leaving. All he’s tried to do is protect him, but Bruce isn’t the same boy anymore. Alfred has to wonder what Thomas Wayne would do. Thomas took responsibilities for his actions, so Alfred won’t stop Bruce from doing the same thing. With that, Bruce leaves.
In no time at all, Fish Mooney is revived and has a new costume. Before Strange can conjure up a story for her, Fish, to his surprise, actually remembers her name. And she demands to know what the hell is going on. She tells Strange that it’s a mistake to keep her locked in, but Strange is just curious how she still has her memory. It could have something to do with her brain functions.
This is the first true reanimate, and Strange is willing to give Nygma a shot in regards to Jim Gordon. Peabody then gets a call: Bruce Wayne is at the front gate with a friend. Strange is looking forward to this.
Outside, he meets Lucius and Bruce, saying what happened to Thomas and Martha Wayne was a tragedy. Bruce wants to see how his parents’ money is being spent, so he’s here for a look-around. Bruce wants to speak with Strange alone, but Peabody will accompany Lucius around the facilities. Jim is in the trunk. Lucius tells him that he’ll mark anything strange that he spots.
Jim slips in with a uniform and an expired key card that clearly shows his face. Elsewhere, Peabody shows Lucius around Arkham, but he’s too busy searching for anything strange on his reader.
As the tour continues, Peabody spots Fox’s reader, though he says that it measures air quality. You’d think she would take it from him for extra measures, but no. And that’s when Fox’s reader goes haywire and he ends up in the corridor. He marks the wall and Peabody merely calls out for him instead of seeing what he’s doing.
Strange wants to know Bruce’s real reason for coming to Arkham. He mentions Jim Gordon’s recent visit and how he acted on Bruce’s behalf. Bruce confirms that he’s kept in touch with Gordon since he left the GCPD. Strange figures that Bruce wants a reason or someone to blame for his parents’ death.
Strange sees a look of certainty in Bruce’s eyes that mirrors Thomas Wayne’s. Thomas, he says, believed in things. He had moral principles. But science and morals absolutes don’t go together. Thomas never listened to Hugo. Would Bruce trade his principles to have one more hour with his parents? Bruce figures this for an admission, but Strange admits that he was merely a friend of Thomas Wayne’s. He pleads for Bruce to turn back.
If he cares about his friends, he’ll turn back for their sake. Make the choice that Thomas Wayne did not. Meanwhile, even though Jim isn’t exactly keeping a look out for it, he somehow manages to spot the marking that Lucius made. He puts his ear to the door and listens.
Strange tells Bruce that the answer has been in front of him: Thomas Wayne’s actions are what got him killed. He knew what he was doing, but he did it anyway. Strange begs Bruce not to follow his path. Bruce does indeed want to have his parents, but Thomas fought and died for what he believed was right. If necessary, so will Bruce. Strange then calls for Bruce, Jim, and Lucius to be taken.
So Selina is using Bridgit’s flamethrower to try and burn her way out, but it’s not working. If she’s been doing it this entire time, shouldn’t the flamethrower have run out by now? Anyway, Selina is too busy to notice that Bridgit has awakened.
An inmate delivers food to Fish Mooney, who asks whether she’s on an island. She demands a grilled cheese sandwich and soon discovers that she’s got some sort of ability.
Bruce, Jim, and Lucius are now being held captive. Strange sees a lot of Thomas Wayne in Bruce. Peabody finds Bruce a threat, and then Strange’s superior calls: it’s the woman from earlier. She says that Strange lost sign of his mission when he sent sword-wielding men into Gotham or let Victor Fries loose, but Strange finds them to be mere missteps. He had to resort to any means to make humans stronger.
Physical regeneration has been a necessary part of bringing back the dead. Despite that, the woman says that Strange failed at his core objective: immortality involves retaining your mind. Strange happens to have done just that today. With time, he can repeat the process. Strange is ordered to find out what Bruce Wayne knows, move the projects upstate, and then destroy any evidence of Indian Hill.
The inmate does indeed deliver Fish her grilled cheese sandwich. The inmate doesn’t know why he did it- Fish just told him to do so. Fish doesn’t take the opportunity to walk out of her cell when the opportunity presents itself.
Selina is still burning away and makes about as much progress as she did before. Bridgit is back in another costume. The two face off and Selina tries to jog her memory. She talks about her mother and the penguins. Somehow, Selina manages to get through, but it’s not enough. Selina fires, but Bridgit’s suit withstands the flames.
So Selina surrenders and offers herself as Bridgit’s servant. After all, goddesses have servants. This is apparently part of the story that Strange never said. Bridgit falls for this because she’s an idiot.
Alfred stops by GCPD to tell Bullock that Jim and Bruce are still at Arkham. Bullock can send in a force, but as acting captain, he can do better. He assembles Strike Force and sends them on an all-out assault on Arkham.
Lucius is soon tossed into Bruce’s cell. Bruce apologizes for getting Fox involved, but Bruce doesn’t mind dying. Lucius tells Bruce that everyone involved chose to do so. As Bruce ponders Strange’s words about Thomas knowing what he did, Fox reminds Bruce that Thomas died in what he believed in doing. Nygma interrupts the conversation over the loudspeaker.
Nygma is to find out what Bruce and Lucius know, as well as who they told. If they don’t talk, poison gas will enter the room and the two will die in a painful fashion. Fox recognizes Nygma’s voice, but Ed doesn’t try to hide it. He gives the two five minutes to talk.
Jim, meanwhile, is brought before Strange. Even if others are coming to rescue Jim, Strange has a solution to the problem. Guards place a device over Jim’s head and pour a liquid into the top.
Jim’s helmet is removed and he is introduced to Basil, who just woke up this morning. Strange reminded Basil of his talent: he’s a chameleon. The world, Strange says, has moved on, but Gordon is living a normal life. The future belongs to Strange and his creations. The same helmet is placed on Basil’s face.
At the same time, Strike Force continues en route to Gotham. Bridgit burns with the help of her new slave, Fish admires her new abilities, and Basil’s transformation is complete. With one wig added, he’s now the spitting image of James Gordon.
As we approach the season finale, there’s a lot for Gotham to wrap up before the second season ends. All the buildup we’ve had on Indian Hill and the introduction to Hugo Strange have created some confounding situations for the protagonists, which is fine and can make for some great drama. But it’s all about execution.
And “A Legion of Horribles” tries to accomplish a lot, but I’m not as invested in everything as I should be. And this being the second to last episode, it doesn’t make me feel that we’re heading for an explosive finale. Much of that has to do with the sloppiness of Strange’s plan. If he’d been craftier and smarter, I might have reason to think his plans would work without any hiccups.
But as many have indicated, sending out Azrael, Penguin, Barbara, and Victor Fries ended up drawing more suspicion to him. He tells the Court of Owls woman that he needed to resort to any means to beef up his experiments, but why did he need to send them out? Particularly someone like Fries, who hadn’t been gone that long from the public light. Again, spend time perfecting the work and then risk sending out the subjects.
And even then, his work still hasn’t lined up with what the Court of Owls wants because they’re more interested in full regeneration. For what reason, we don’t know yet, but at least the Court called him out on his missteps and faulty planning.
Though I liked Bruce’s conversation with Strange. It affirmed Bruce’s desire to do the right thing and stick to his principles, no matter how much he’d love to see his parents again. Much like that one line he’ll refuse to cross when he dons the cowl, Bruce won’t compromise his morals just because it would be convenient or easy for him.
See, little moments like this are what I like in Gotham, and I find this much preferable to Bruce looking up at Azrael scaling the walls and getting inspiration for his future superhero costume. Plus, despite being at a disadvantage, Bruce didn’t falter. He pressed Strange for the truth and while Strange didn’t pull the trigger, he still feels that Thomas Wayne set himself up for murder. In addition, he feared Bruce would go down the same path.
Whether this was an attempt to manipulate Bruce or if he had genuine sorrow at losing a friend in Thomas Wayne, this scene is an example of where I find Strange at his best: sly, calculating, and always planning a few steps ahead.
To the point that he has Lucius, Bruce, and Jim captured because, let’s be honest, that was a terrible plan. If Peabody had paid a bit more attention or was more suspicious, Lucius wouldn’t have been able to make that marking. And Jim just waltzes right into Arkham with an ID that has his picture, when the people in Arkham have to know that Gordon has been to the asylum before. Nothing about this idea was good.
Know what isn’t that good of an idea? Resurrecting Fish Mooney. So Jada Pinkett Smith has returned to Gotham for the time being. Given how polarizing Fish’s character was, I can’t fathom who thought Fish needed to return, if not just to have Strange resurrect a past antagonist. If anything, what we get out of it is that there are instances where Strange’s resurrections will have their memory intact.
So this is going to have a major impact not just on Strange’s work, but how the Court of Owls proceeds, since they were willing to pull the plug. In the meantime, it’s Fish Mooney. She’s still chewing scenery, but now she’s got the power to command people to do what she wants by touching them.
Think Kilgrave on Jessica Jones, but without the mind control through speech, the menace, the David Tennant…you know what, never mind.
And Fish doesn’t interact with anyone that she knows, so if you aren’t familiar with Fish Mooney from Season One, this won’t even mean much. She’d just be another resurrection. And that’s really all I have to say about Fish.
How the show managed to drag out Selina’s fiery bout with Bridgit, I have no idea. It tries to have some emotional impact by having Bridgit remember pieces of her past. So again, not everyone resurrected comes back with a fresh slate.
I’m not a television writer, but I feel that this should be more of an emotional struggle for both Selina and Bridgit. Instead, Selina just feels like a trapped cat that’s looking for an easy way out. Instead, we get Selina spending most of her time trying to burn her way out of Arkham. When that fails, she surrenders and Bridgit accepts Selina wanting to be her servant. She was so hardwired into Strange’s story, but she falls for this ruse?
Also, we get more of Bullock in charge at the GCPD, which I still like because it’s a change of pace from his usual tactics. And I like the continuation of having the Strike Force at the GCPD. Granted, now we don’t know any of the members after Barnes made such a big deal of introducing them into the department, but hey, at least the group still exists.
And then we get Clayface, who perfects his Gordon impersonation in no time and even has a wig that Strange happened to have ready. Jim isn’t that dimensional of a guy if he can be impersonated with almost no effort.
With the season finale approaching, “A Legion of Horribles” puts a lot into one episode, but not everything lands well. Everyone is converging on Arkham Asylum, and with Fish’s resurrection, Hugo Strange eager to continue his work while shutting down Indian Hill in the process, and Bruce and Lucius trapped in Nygma’s game, it should make for a good, strong finale.
The key word being should. Will it? I have no idea.