A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 8: “Mad City: Blood Rush”

You can lock the Mad Hatter in Arkham Asylum all you want, but you can’t get rid of his sister’s blood, which is still surging through Captain Barnes.  Now to see the captain take the law into his own hands.  This is “Blood Rush.”


The episode begins with a man, Paulie Pennies, played by Peter Patrikios, loading some items over a dead body into the back of his van.  As he prepares to leaves, he tries to avoid eye contact with Captain Barnes, who decides to tail Paulie.

Grabbing his gun, he investigates a nearby rundown building and confronts Paulie, who is in the middle of carving a body into pieces.  Paulie says that he’s just the cleaner and puts the bodies into acid.

Barnes, now enraged beyond thought, heads towards Paulie and unwilling to read the man his rights.  That would eat at him if he did.  Paulie’s defense is that he was hired by someone called The Toad, but Barnes still wants Paulie to suffer.  Up until now, he’s been able to control his rage, but it’s getting stronger.  Barnes is past the point of arresting as he charges at Paulie.


The next morning, Mario and Leslie talk about Carmine’s plan to throw them an engagement party.  Most of the city will be coming, and Leslie is fine with this.  She thinks Mario should be as proud of himself as his father is.  Leslie tells Mario that Jim is returning to the GCPD starting today.  She’s known this for a few days, but didn’t bring it up before.

Mario brings up that the two agreed about Jim not being part of their lives, but Leslie reminds him that if he trusts her, then nothing else matters.  But after what happened with Tetch, it’s all that’s been on Mario’s mind.


At GCPD, Jim returns to familiar territory as the police are hard at work locking up perps.  Harvey is ready to bring his partner on a call, but before the two leave, he gives Jim back his badge.  Good to be back indeed.


Nygma presents Isabella with a damn good looking breakfast.  She’s going away for two days, and Ed will miss her, even though she won’t be gone for long.  As for this Librarian’s conference, Isabella reads her schedule of events to Nygma.  But when she puts on her backup glasses, since she normally wears contacts, this strikes a chord in Nygma and causes his hands to tremble.  He quickly excuses himself.


In the bathroom, Nygma tells himself that it’s just a pair of glasses, but then he gets a blast from his past as Miss Kringle appears to him.  Kringle asks Nygma how long this can last until Ed does harms her, but Nygma is certain that won’t happen.  Kringle tells Ed to face up to the fact that he’s a killer.  It’s only a matter of time.


Bullock and Gordon arrive at the crime scene and find out about Paulie’s dealings.  The two find blood spattered all over the walls, along with Paulie’s head separated from his body.  The two decide to call Barnes.


We then cut to Arkham, as Barnes speaks to a giddy Jervis Tetch about how he can overcome Alice’s blood.  Jervis wants something in return, but he tells Barnes that the virus makes the darkest parts of a person come to life.  If Barnes admits these dark things, Tetch will tell Barnes everything that he knows.  Barnes speaks about his anger towards criminals, but Tetch sees violent, bloody rage.

As for whether there’s a cure, Jervis admits that there is, but that means giving in and letting Alice win.  Jervis asks Barnes if he’s heard any dark voices from deep within him, whispering until Barnes sees the world as it really is.  After that, there will be no more Barnes, but only Alice.  Jervis gets inside Barnes’ head, figuring that Barnes is trying to make up for his mistake.  Barnes maintains that he can, in fact, atone for his mistakes.


Back at GCPD, Jim catches up with Leslie, who figures that it was only a matter of time before Jim returned.  After all, it’s where Jim belongs.  Valerie is out of the hospital, but the two aren’t on good terms now.  Jim tells Leslie that he’s not trying to make this awkward.  Leslie tells Jim about the engagement party tonight and then tells Jim that she’s only done a preliminary examination on the two bodies.

One of the faces had been surgically removed.  As Jim leaves, Leslie tells him that she believes he made the right decision to return.


Bullock and Gordon speak with Barnes about the bodies and Leslie’s preliminary report.  The acid would have removed the identity, so why was the face removed?  Barnes tells the two that he’ll be taking point and wants the two to follow the physical evidence.

As Bullock leaves, Barnes tell Jim that he didn’t meant to bite off his head.  And he doesn’t want anyone hazing him.  Then Martinez enters and brings Barnes a file on The Toad.


Over at Penguin Manor, Nygma talks to a smiling Oswald about his love woes, but Oswald isn’t paying much attention.  Oswald finds it beautiful and sad that Nygma is willing to break up with Isabella to save her, and Nygma agrees.

If he hurt Isabella, he would never forgive himself.  But Nygma can’t break up with her- he needs Oswald to do it for him.  If so, Ed would be forever in his debt.  But Oswald must be gentle.  Dream on, Ed.


Barnes heads to a bar to find The Toad and when he doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, he starts laying waste to some of the bar patrons.  Finally, The Toad, played by Gerald Bunsen, speaks up and tells Barnes that he’s merely a middleman who hired Paulie.

He provides the name of a Dr. Maxwell Symon- a big time plastic surgeon with a solid business.  If you get into trouble and need a new face, the doctor can give it to you.  Barnes is still ready to kill The Toad, who reminds the captain that he’s supposed to be a cop.  True as that is, Barnes takes Toad off to bring him to this Dr. Simon.


So Penguin pays Isabella a visit just as she’s preparing to leave.  Straight to the point, he tells her it’s over between her and Nygma and she shouldn’t contact him anymore. Sounds simple, yeah?  Isabella is distraught, but Oswald wants to know what the two have in common.  After all, he doesn’t believe that Isabella is on Ed’s level.

That’s true, but Isabella won’t let Ed go.  The two love each other, which Isabella notes is rare.  She also sees that Oswald loves Nygma as much as she does, but she isn’t jealous.  She knows that Ed is afraid of hurting her like he did with Miss Kringle.  A furious Oswald demands that Isabella let Ed go, but she refuses.  With that, Oswald leaves.

And that’s how a love triangle starts, people.


So The Toad leads Barnes to Dr. Simon’s location, all from the comfort of a car trunk. Barnes heads upstairs and confronts Dr. Maxwell Symon, played by William Abadie, who is just about to operate on a frightened, gagged woman.  Maxwell accepts arrest, but Barnes looks around and sees various faces in jars.  He asks how many people Maxwell has killed, but that’s when Maxwell waives his right to an attorney.

The bloodlust gets to Barnes and he begins to hear the very voices Tetch spoke of earlier.  It drives him to rage and he points his gun at a defenseless Maxwell.


Lucius Fox speaks with Jim and Harvey about the amount of strength it would have taken to remove Paulie’s head from his body.  As for the bathtub victim, a puncture mark indicates that they were drugged prior to having their face removed.

Lucius will run a toxicology, but Bullock and Barnes note that Lucius is in Forensics, not the Medical Examiner’s office.  Leslie didn’t present this information because she’s already left for her engagement party.  Bullock wasn’t invited, but he’d much rather work with Jim anyway.


Then Barnes enters with Dr. Symon in tow.  Jim congratulates Barnes, who may be glad that he won the battle, but might have lost the war.  As far as who killed Paulie, and not John Doe, that killer is still out there.  With that, Barnes retreats to the captain’s room and places both his badge and gun on the desk.


At the engagement party, Mario addresses the crowd and agrees with his father that marrying Leslie was the best decision he could make.  After rattling off her positives, the two kiss.


Barbara, for whatever reason, is also at this party, as she is some guy’s plus one.  Leslie wants her gone, but Barbara wants to bury the hatchet.  Barbara just wanted to ask if Leslie misses the heat that comes from being with a tormented man like Jim.  No, Leslie doesn’t miss that darkness.  Barbara finds that sad, and with that, she leaves.

Seriously, was there a point of Barbara being here?


Barnes is also at this party, but he just came to congratulate Leslie on her happiness.  Leslie wants the captain to stay for at least one drink, and he can, but no work talk.


Of the materials in Symon’s lab, Lucius came across a particular anesthetic cocktail that was also found in the John Doe.  Bullock enters to tell Jim and Lucius that Symon walked because the victim refused to press charges.  In addition, a judge has ordered Symon’s immediate release.  It helps to have friends in Gotham, you know?


Back at the party, Carmine introduces himself to Barnes, who believes that Falcone belongs behind bars for running the city’s criminal underworld.  In Barnes’ eyes, no one is above the law.  Falcone doesn’t back away from what he’s done, as he’s done plenty of good for the city.

When Carmine leaves, Barnes calls Alvarez to tell Jim that he’s bringing in the man responsible for Paulie Pennies’ murder.  No backup, since he’s coming in of his own accord.  But that’s when Barnes spots Dr. Symon at the party.  One word rings out in Barnes’ head: guilty.


Nygma stops by Isabella’s place, having received her note.  She hasn’t left for her conference because there are more important things to attend to, like speaking about this potential breakup.

We don’t see Isabella until now, and that’s important because she comes out looking just like Miss Kringle.  Ed wants to leave, but Isabella slaps Ed and tells him to face his fears.  She grabs his hand and puts it around her neck, but Ed doesn’t squeeze.  He goes right in for the kiss.  Ed does at least want Isabella to keep the glasses on.


Jim and Harvey arrive at the party to arrest Dr. Symon, who, according to Mario, is a favorite among Gotham’s women.  Harvey goes off to look while Mario speaks with Jim about the decision for Jervis to shoot Leslie.  He wants Jim to admit that he still loves Leslie.

Mario will do whatever it takes to protect Leslie, but Jim wants Mario to drop the jealousy because it’s weak.  Mario responds with a punch, and for Leslie, Jim gives Leslie that one.


Barnes finds Dr. Symon and files into a rage as he begins attacking him again.  The enraged captain tells Symon that he’s seeing clearly for the first time- he put his trust in the system for years and held back from doing what he wanted, but now he’s seen the truth.  Not just Simon, but Gotham City itself is guilty.

And Barnes isn’t about to keep following the law.  He’s Judge, Jury, and Executioner, and with that, he forces Dr. Symon through a wall.  Simon falls down many stories until he crashes into a car.


Meanwhile, Ed returns and tells Oswald that everything is fine between him and Isabella, who showed Ed that he was worried over nothing.  Penguin is happy for Ed.  Sure.  With that, Ed retires for the night.  Once Ed leaves, Penguin tells Gabe that Isabella underestimated him.  Gabe, with a pair of pliers, tells Penguin that the job is done.

Conveniently, Isabella is driving and is heading right towards a railroad crossing.  And guess whose brakes have been cut…


Back at the party, Bullock tells Jim that Symon was nowhere to be seen.  Then Barnes comes down and tells Jim that the lead on the person who killed Paulie turned out to be a dead end.  In addition, Barnes informs Jim that that things are about to change in Gotham, starting with the two of them cleaning the city.  As Jim leaves, Barnes watches the partygoers as a voice repeats that they’re all guilty.


But downstairs, Jim finds Symon, who not only still alive, but weak enough to tell Jim that Barnes is the one who injured him.

It’s interesting how even though the Mad Hatter is locked away at Arkham Asylum, his presence is still felt through the effects that Alice’s blood are continuing to have on Barnes.  It’s a good way, I feel, to still have Jervis be around, even in a limited role, just to taunt Barnes as he goes through his personal hell.


And the show easily could have had Jervis present throughout by having Barnes revisit him, but that wasn’t necessary since he tried to solve this problem on his own.  And Barnes has been a pretty proactive guy, so it makes sense that he’d make an attempt to temper the rage, even if he’s failing at it.

Strike Force- Barnes addresses GCPD

You would think, given how transparent Barnes has been since his introduction and wanting to air out any secrets in the GCPD, that he would tell someone about his condition.  Hell, he doesn’t even have to tell other officers like Jim or Harvey- he could just tell Leslie or Lucius Fox, but there’s no guarantee that they would have kept quiet.


And given how concerned Barnes has been about the results of the blood tests, I thought at least Lucius would be suspicious of the captain’s behavior.  That could all come later, since Harvey did note that Barnes wasn’t using his cane at one point, so between all of that and Symon telling Jim what Barnes did to him, the GCPD will soon be turning their attention towards their captain.


That said, it’s unfortunate that, in a past life, Michael Chiklis played Ben Grimm and not Bruce Banner, because given how Barnes is having episodes of being filled by blind rage, this was a perfect opportunity for an Incredible Hulk joke, even if it was an indirect nod. Hey, Arrow referenced Age of Ultron, so surely Gotham can reference a character.


If I wanted to dig deeper, I would wonder if Barnes’ anger is, as Jervis predicted, him seeing the world as it really is.  He came into Gotham to clean up the GCPD, and while he made a good first start, it’s been difficult to eliminate all corruption from the city.


Could this be his frustration at how much filth pollutes the system?  That could be me looking too far into it and Gotham isn’t really asking me to find something meaningful behind character actions.


Anyway, although we don’t get to spend much time with Jim getting back into the swing of things at the GCPD, I always enjoy Jim’s conversations and interactions with Bullock, who seemed more than happy to have his partner back.  Though, like Jim, I can do without the petty drama between him, Leslie, and Mario.


There’s already enough love triangle nonsense going on between Ed, Oswald, and Isabella.  She just got introduced, and given how she’s head over heels for Nygma, I doubt she met her end at being hit by a train off-screen.

Not only is that too easy, it would further the cliche by having Oswald’s move enrage Ed and further divide the two.  Like Oswald’s plan to tell Isabella about the bad things Ed has done, this plan has the potential to backfire.

So “Blood Rush” gave us an enraged, all-powerful Barnes who is ready to clean Gotham City from top to bottom, but since Jim and others in the GCPD are aware of how the recent changes in Barnes’ demeanor, they’re sure to turn their sights on him.  Jervis Tetch may be in Arkham, but his plan to taint the city with Alice’s blood lives on in the new Judge, Jury, and Executioner Captain Barnes.

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