Continuing along with the Alice in Wonderland theme, the Mad Hatter and his Red Queen team up to send our very own Jim Gordon on a trip down the rabbit hole. This is “Red Queen.”
The episode begins with Jim sitting at Valerie’s bedside just as she awakens. She’s surprisingly light hearted for just getting shot. Jim never meant for her to get hurt, but Valerie says that he wanted to save Leslie. Jim knew that Jervis would shoot Valerie since he chose Leslie to die. And Valerie knows that Jim still loves Leslie, so the two of them are done. Valerie admits that Jervis was right- Jim is nothing but trouble.
Jervis speaks with a man about coming into contact with a blood based virus that takes weeks to manifest. The man presents Jervis with an accelerant, aptly named the Red Queen, that, when mixed with the blood, will cause the virus to hit fast. The Red Queen is a blend of psychotropic plants that puts users into loony bins. He explains the details, all which sound enticing to Jervis.
When the man asks what Jervis is planning, he gets a cloud full of Red Queen in the face. As the man freaks, Jervis tells him that he plans to plunge Gotham into insanity.
Isabella and Edward have cute, small talk, but before they can kiss, they get a morning paper. As it’s just past six, Isabella tells Ed that she’s enjoyed these past 12 hours and wants to meet again. And with that, Ed invites Isabella to the mayor’s mansion for dinner. With one last kiss, he bids her farewell.
At said mansion, a frantic Penguin is soon relieved when Edward returns. He’s less happy, however, when he learns that Ed not only found someone, but is in love.
Jervis and the Tweedle Brothers make their way into a morgue. Tetch tells the brothers that Jim Gordon wasn’t the only one responsible for Alice’s death. Gotham turned Alice against him, so Jervis wants to spread her legacy across the city. He then finds and pulls out Alice’s corpse.
Over at Wayne Manor, Alfred finds Bruce cooking up a bomb-ass dinner for his date with Selina, though Alfred is skeptical that she’ll show. Even still, Alfred is to make himself scarce if Selina arrives.
At the morgue, Bullock tells Barnes that Alice’s body is still viable since doctors kept her on ice. Once Tetch heats it up, he’ll have access to the virus. As far as who let Tetch in, there’s the question of a missing guard and unconscious lab tech.
Jim arrives, saying that the guard probably let Jervis in, and wants to help with the case, but Barnes has had enough of cutting Jim slack. Gordon isn’t a police officer anymore, and while he may want to help, Barnes won’t allow him to as long as he’s GCPD captain. With that, he orders Jim off the premises.
And Jim isn’t getting any backup from Bullock either, as Harvey warns him to avoid solving this case by himself. He actually agrees with Barnes: either Jim should be a cop or he shouldn’t. When Harvey asks what Jim is afraid of, Gordon takes offense to that. Keep that in mind because it will be very important for later.
Nygma preps Penguin for tonight’s Founders’ Dinner while Penguin tells him about the dinner’s history. Though Oswald would like Ed as his plus one, Nygma can’t go since he has dinner plans. While Penguin finds it odd that Isabella looks just like Miss Kringle, Ed believes that the universe is telling him that he has a second chance at love.
After Ed then tells Oswald that Isabella works at the Main Public Library, he heads off to pick up a few items for his date. Oswald, meanwhile, prepares to make a visit.
At GCPD, Lucius Fox tells Barnes about the second test on Alice’s blood: in addition to increased strength, the rats exhibited manic tendencies and violent rage. By the end of the study, all traces of their original demeanor had vanished. A cure could take years, but Barnes worries about what impact the virus could have if set free.
Jervis, meanwhile, drains Alice’s blood until he has enough ready to begin. He drops in the Red Queen and congratulates Alice on her best work.
Mario and Leslie talk about Jim’s decision to have Leslie killed when Jervis shot Valerie instead. Mario is naturally angry that his fiance was chosen to die, but Leslie wants to move past this. Mario, though, rightly reminds Leslie that Jim is the reason that she’s in danger.
Jim soon arrives and tells Leslie that he can’t investigate Tetch anymore since Barnes took him off of the case. That’s never stopped Jim before, but Leslie wonders if there’s some truth to Bullock saying that Jim is refusing the badge because he’s afraid. It doesn’t help that Jim insists that he chose Leslie to die because he knew that Jervis would shoot Valerie.
Penguin stops by the library to brush up on the history of Gotham’s first family and tries to poison the well by telling Isabella that Edward was once in Arkham for murder. Well, at least Isabella, who Oswald notes looks just like Miss Kringle with her swan-like neck, was able to brighten Edward’s spirits. Isabella eventually provides Penguin with the text that he needed, but she’s left stunned.
Jim doesn’t get much time to wait by Valerie’s side as he soon spots Jervis in the hospital. He gives chase, with Jervis taunting him for round two of their game. Part one was the tea party, but now Jim and Gotham are up for round two. Jervis will dismantle Gotham from the top on down. Just when Jim may have him, Jervis blows the Red Queen in his face. Hope Jim enjoys the trip.
Sometime after this, we get a brief scene of the aforementioned Founders’ dinner, where Jervis Tetch bumps into Oswald. We’ll get back to that.
Jim, meanwhile, in his dreamlike state, finds himself greeted by his elevator operator: Barbara. Of course. He wants out, but like any hallucination, he has to ride out the trip. Whether Jim faces his inner demons is up to him.
He walks out and finds himself in the GCPD from Hell., where Bruce Wayne tells him that he doesn’t have much time. From there, he’s thrust into a war sequence, where Penguin talks backwards until he tells Jim to never leave his unit behind.
Bruce shows Jim the madness going on the floor of the GCPD: tons of dead officers and soldiers. Bruce raises his gun and fires, but as he goes to get the bullet from Jim’s stomach, he pulls out a pearl necklace instead.
Back in reality-land, Bullock and Barnes interrogate a guard, Sullivan, played by Julian Gavilanes. He’s a hard-ass and doesn’t cooperate, so Barnes flies into a rage and chokes the hell out of him. It’s a rage strong enough that Bullock, who usually plays bad cop, has to pull Barnes away from Sullivan. Barnes’ anger proved successful, though, as Sullivan admits that a man in a wrestling mask paid him for his key card and to take the day off.
As Barnes realizes that today is the 27th, this means that all of Gotham’s finest will be at the Founders’ dinner. Barnes instructs Bullock to put together a unit and not tell Gordon.
Back at the dinner, Jervis puts drops of his concoction into the many glasses of wine at the party.
We go back down the rabbit hole as Jim finds himself resuscitated by Nurse Barbara. Well, there are worse things. But Jim doesn’t like what he sees, and since he’s in control of what’s happening in his head, he changes Nurse Barbara to Nun Barbara.
So Jim arrives at home and is greeted by his two children and wife, Leslie. It’s a perfect, nuclear family ripped right out of the 1950s. Jim can’t believe it all. He’s so enraptured by it all that he can’t help but kiss Leslie. As the family eats, Jim tells them that he’s glad to be there. But then the lights begin to flicker and the family soon vanishes.
Jim again tries to escape, so he orders Barbara to open the gate. But this is where Barbara gets defiant, asking Jim that if he’s so desperate to have a perfect family, why is he playing Private Dick in his crappy apartment? If Jim wants to find hsi way home, he needs to play along, as it’s a long way to the basement.
Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred finds Bruce and his dinner waiting for Selina. Just when it seems like Selina won’t show, she does, saying stuff kept her from arriving on time. Bruce, thinking that Selina stood him up, is upset that she’s late since he made dinner. He tells her that if they’re gonna do this, they need to be honest. But hey, this thing is weird for both of them. Okay, do you two kids not know what show you’re on?
At the dinner, Penguin tells a partygoer, who turns out to be Kathryn, about how he sabotaged Edward’s chances for love. Kathryn, meanwhile, tells Oswald that she comes from one of Gotham’s oldest families and is part of a group that oversees everything in the city.
Said group has had its eye on Oswald for some time. Before Penguin can learn more about Kathryn, she tells him that they will contact him when the time is right.
The patrons sit down for the feast when Jervis and the Tweedle Brothers enter to hijack the dinner. He addresses the crowd and tells them that, as the heads of Gotham, their heads will roll. But first, they should toast to good health. And if they don’t drink the wine, they die. Must be some damn good wine. Before the group can drink, GCPD enters. Barnes overpowers Jervis, who realizes that Alice’s blood is inside of Barnes.
At the final stop in Dreamland, Barbara warns Jim to not be afraid. Jim asks if Barbara ever wishes to be who she used to be, but she asks if that’s what he ever wants. I know that I don’t. Barbara then provides Jim with a key.
Jim spots a man emptying red dust from his pockets. This man, turns out, is Jim’s father, played by Michael Park. He takes the key and tells his son to get in the car so the two won’t be late.
At the same time, Mario and a nurse find Jim’s body. He calls out to Jim, while back in the vision, Jim’s father apologizes for not being around and asks if Jim wants to talk. Jim reminisces about how others looked up to his father. When Jim was a kid, he didn’t get the hype since Dad went to work, then came home and cared for the family.
But as Jim got older, he understood. Dad wasn’t just a great district attorney- he never brought his work drama home with him. Because of that Jim wanted to be just like him, but he feels that he’s the opposite since he destroys everyone and everything around him.
Dad doesn’t dwell on the darkness inside of him. Jim is trying to do that, Dad says that his son is hiding behind self-righteous, lone-wolf nonsense. Jim says that the badge holds expectations and he doesn’t see himself as a hero that can meet those expectations.
But Dad says that a hero values protecting others against protecting himself and isn’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. Dad wasn’t always that man, but he still tried. Jim, though, doesn’t know if he can be that man, but he can if he follows the Gordon code. If Jim wants to find his way back, the answer is in the ring. With that, it’s time for Dad to go.
Jim finally awakens from his dream down the rabbit hole. Mario calls Jim lucky, as he would have died if he was lost for another minute. As Mario heads off, Jim spot a Band-Aid on his neck. I suspect we’ll come back to that.
Nygma confirms to Isabella he did indeed kill his girlfriend, but it was an accident- not out of malice. But Isabella isn’t angry. She’s read up on Ed and still chose to meet him. It’s not logical, but neither is love. Isabella has spent her life living inside books and none of the men she’s dated compare romances in literature, though the ones she named ended in tragedy.
Ed is the first man to measure up to Isabella’s standards. She’s afraid of him, sure, but still loves him. The two kiss just as Oswald conveniently enters to witness it. A flabbergasted Penguin then excuses himself off for the night.
Back at his apartment, Jim fetches a box and locates the ring his father mentioned. He finds a Latin inscription etched into it: Dum spiramus tuebimur, which translates to “While we breathe, we shall defend.”
At GCPD, Barnes looks over his Last Will and Testament when Gordon arrives. He informs Jim that Jervis and the Tweedle Brothers are now in Arkham Asylum. Jim tells Barnes that he wants to rejoin the GCPD. He made a promise to someone when he was younger and wants to keep that pledge. Barnes is glad, saying that the GCPD needs him here. With that, Detective James Gordon officially returns to the GCPD.
Kathryn tells with a man in shadow that even though Penguin is mayor, her gut says once a criminal, always a criminal. In the meantime, Kathryn is to keep an eye on him, as judgment is coming for everyone. And what’s the man wearing? A very familiar looking ring…
You know how Bruce Wayne is the one with the tortured past who goes through many mental games with his rogues’ gallery, some of whom want to drive him as crazy as them? That’s the case here with Gotham as Jim Gordon goes through the equivalent of a Scarecrow nightmare sequence from any of the Arkham games.
And I liked it, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s redundant at this point for Gotham to give us another look at Jim’s tortured life and we don’t make any real progress with the trip until after the perfect family sequence, but at the same time, I like when Gotham embraces how off-the-wall it can be. Nothing here was as memorable as the sequences from “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” or “The Scarecrow,” but it was decent enough.
From a visual standpoint, sights like Bruce wearing a mask, the GCPD covered in dead bodies, and Penguin speaking backwards during wartime made for some nice sights and I’m glad that Gotham is making good use of The Mad Hatter as a way to torture Jim, even if he seems like a blend of The Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, and the Joker. Hell, the Red Queen may as well be a stand-in for the Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
Not to mention, it gave Barbara something to do other than sip drinks, grin, and have small talk with Tabitha. If someone is going to try and drive Jim mad besides Jervis, Barbara is a good choice since, again, she’s become much more interesting since the show threw its hands up and decided to make her crazy.
And I appreciate that she remained in the elevator, as it would have been, I feel, a tad annoying to have her follow Jim around from sequence to sequence. If that had been the case, what would have been the point of making her the elevator operator? But it wasn’t, and I’m glad she was kept to a minimum, so we didn’t only have to see her sitting in her bar once again.
Jim’s last two sequences spoke to what he wants in life, but he’s conflicted on how to get there. He loves Valerie, but he’s still pining for Leslie, as Valerie realizes. But his self-righteousness and drive not only keep him from being happy, but hurt the people around him.
As Jim’s conversation with his father further proved, his heart is in the right place, but his head isn’t. Unlike his father, Jim always brought his work drama home with him, even in the first season. He’s been pushing himself to be this hero, but he’s made major mistakes, some that have cost him his job and credibility.
And while we’ve yet to learn much about Jim’s past, it makes sense that, given his father’s own life, he would try to emulate him. And even though Jim is now a cop again, I wager that this won’t be the last of his trials. He still has demons to face and Jervis Tetch, though locked in Arkham, will no doubt torment him again. Hell, here’s a plot twist: Jervis Tetch is both Mad Hatter and the Joker. What about that?
Okay, maybe not, but I wonder why, like last time, Jervis didn’t lure Jim out to somewhere secluded and then blast him with the Red Queen there. GCPD had their hands full just looking for Jervis, and Barnes didn’t want Jim in the loop, so had Jim not been in the hospital, he might have died. Just a thought.
As for Jim’s love life, it appears that he and Valerie are done, but I expect her to still be present in his life since, hey, she is still a journalist and there’s plenty to cover in Gotham City. What the show does with Jim and Leslie I’m not sure since Leslie looks to want to focus on her engagement. There could still be a spark between them, but right now, their future is up in the air.
Same goes for Penguin now that Isabella has popped up in Nygma’s life. It is convenient for Isabella to accept Ed, despite his flaws, and while I would like Nygma to have some happiness, Isabella’s willingness to go along with Ed does give me pause, I’ll admit. There could be something sinister or hidden about Isabella, but for now, at least Ed has a companion who likes him for who he is.
That leaves Penguin out in the cold after he played himself by trying to sabotage Nygma and Isabella. Even though he knows that he can’t ruin their love, I’m sure he won’t just let this go. But right now, the three are in an all too convenient love triangle.
As for Bruce and Selina, while I think the previous episode was stronger because it didn’t involve anything from them, I’m glad that they only appeared in two very short scenes. Though admittedly, we could have done without the scene of Bruce preparing dinner.
The two are taking this relationship slow, and I’m fine with that. It’s a bit meta of them to point out how weird this relationship is, considering very little of their bond or, for that matter, anything in Gotham can be considered normal. Hey, if the show is going to go full out crazy and ridiculous at times, at least it acknowledges that in the writing.
“Red Queen” was a fun trip down the rabbit hole as Gotham explored Jim’s psyche and allowed him to have a good heart-to-heart with his father. And while Jim is back at GCPD, his journey is far from done. Plus, the shadowy man talking to Kathryn- surely I’m not the only one who thinks that Jim’s father may be involved with the Court of Owls, right?