A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 9: “Mad City: The Executioner”

Of all the things Gotham wants me to believe, a man being pushed through a wall and crashing onto a car stories below, and still survive, is a huge stretch.  But with Symon telling Jim that who harmed him, all eyes are on Captain Nathaniel Barnes as the GCPD must now contend with one of its own.  This is “The Executioner.”

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The episode begins at GCPD, with Jim and Leslie discussing what happened to Symon at the party.  With the suspect pool wide open, Jim asks Leslie if Barnes talked to her at all. She did, around 9 pm, and Symon died around 10:30.  That’s as much as Jim is willing to discuss with Leslie, though.

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Now Bullock doesn’t want to believe that Barnes would be responsible for Symon’s death, even if Symon named him.  Plus, given Barnes’ squeaky clean record, Bullock believes that if Barnes did anything wrong, he would confess to his crime.  Plus, what would have been the motive?  Doesn’t make sense that a man with a spotless record would just lose his crap.

But Jim reminds Bullock that something has been off with Barnes as of late, not to mention how he almost beat Jervis Tetch to death and how he’s running point on the Paulie Pennies case.  True as that is, neither Jim nor Harvey want Barnes to be guilty.  As for Barnes himself, he’s at home.  Bullock heads to the crime scene to see if forensics can pull prints from the bathroom.

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We then cut to Barnes speaking to three men he is prepared to execute: one a sex trafficker, one involved with drugs, and the third a murderer.  Barnes was waiting for the proof needed before the men sneered at the law.  Tonight, Barnes is the law as he tries the men, finds them guilty, and sentences them to death.  With that, he kicks the stands from underneath the men and watches as the men strangle do death.

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Anyway, some unassuming antiquities dealer allows Ivy into his mansion.  Ivy takes interest in the man’s vault, which is where the man keeps his most precious acquisitions.  The two have just met, so not sure why the man would admit this.  Ivy tells the man all about her profession: she meets men who give her things.

In return, Ivy gives them nothing.  Her love is for the plants, which are more powerful than people imagine.  Ivy has been using the plants to make a perfume that she uses to put the man into a trance.  Ivy orders him to open the vault, which he does, and he’s rewarded by being knocked out.

She enters the vault and finds, among the items, a lovely necklace complete with a green gem.  However, when she leaves the vault, she runs right into the man, who is no match for a knee to the crotch as Ivy flees.

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Over at Penguin Manor, Oswald notes that Edward has been checking his watch nonstop, as he’s expecting a call from Isabella.  Then Ed receives an unexpected call from GCPD- he’s needed at the station, but not told why.  Ed wonders if something happened to Isabella, but Oswald doesn’t believe that to be the case.

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Well, in that case, let’s go to GCPD, where Ed sees Isabella’s body.  He learns that Isabella blew through a red light and crashed into a train, and officers believe she might have fallen asleep at the wheel.  Ed asks if Isabella suffered, but she didn’t.  Oswald offers anything that Ed needs, and with that, Ed embraces Oswald.

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Selina Kyle receives an unexpected visit from Ivy, who finally reveals that yes, she’s the same Ivy Pepper from before.  Just less Clare Foley and more Maggie Geha.

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Bullock gives Jim an update on forensics: tons of prints were found in the bathroom where Symon was attacked, and they put Barnes at the scene.  Bullock, still thinking that Barnes is innocent, suggests that Jim tell Barnes what Symon said.  That way, Barnes at least has a chance to defend himself.  Jim agrees.

Jim then goes into the captain’s office and looks over a few files when Barnes enters. Gordon’s excuse is that he was looking for the Paulie Pennies file since the cases might be related, so Barnes hands it over.  Jim claims that he doesn’t have any new information regarding Symon yet, but Barnes says that, based on witness statements, Symon was still alive when he fell.  And Jim was first on the scene.

However, Jim says that Symon was unable to identify the killer, even though one of the witnesses apparently saw Jim talking to Symon.  Either way, Barnes called a criminal investigator named Sugar, who works out of the East End and apparently admitted to the killing.

That being the case, Jim wants to go pick up this Sugar, but Barnes wants this kept private since the mob still has its pockets in some GCPD officers.  Instead, Barnes and Gordon will handle this themselves.  As the two leave, Jim tells Bullock that he’s headed to an old foundry on 133rd and 6th.

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Barnes hands Jim a shotgun as the two head off.  He tells Jim that he’s disappointed in him since, as lead detective, he didn’t get statements from people present at the murder scene.  Well, Barnes waives his right to counsel and lets Jim ask his questions.  He did see Symon at the party, but didn’t talk to him or see him go into the bathroom before he was attacked.  Barnes was in the bathroom, but before it was a crime scene.

For now, Barnes is in the clear.  He sees Gotham as a cesspool and wonders how cops can fix it.  And he figured that Jim of all people would find being a cop limiting as far as being able to work with the law.  Jim maintains that he cake back to the GCPD to do things right, like when Barnes told about drawing the line.

But Barnes says that their job foremost is to protect the citizens, even if it means bending the laws.  Jim says that crossing the line makes them no better than criminals, but Barnes counters asks if Jim sang that same tune when Theo Galavan died the first time.  The city is at a crossroads and good men must do what’s necessary to fight for it.  Jim then notes that Barnes has passed their stop, but no.  Turns out he meant to say 136th and 3rd.

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Because she doesn’t have many options, Selina brings Bruce to see the new and recast Ivy, who is busy eating all of Selina’s food.  Selina is upset that Ivy didn’t tell her she was alive, but in Ivy’s defense, she was too busy having fun taking stuff from guys now that she looks different.

As for what Ivy gives them, it depends.  Bruce concedes that Ivy does look nice because he has poor timing.  Ivy then reveals that she’s in trouble for stealing a necklace.  This irritates Selina, and though she’s in no position to argue about stealing, she at least doesn’t get caught.  The conversation comes to a halt when Bruce hears a sound.  Intruders are heading their way, but Bruce, Ivy, and Selina manage to flee.

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Barnes and Jim confront Sugar, played by Wade Mylius, to ask about where he was last night.  He’s unfamiliar with the name Symon and his alibi is that he was at the fights.  Barnes believes that Sugar is telling the truth and didn’t kill anyone, but he sure as hell isn’t innocent, so Barnes blasts him with the shotgun.  He then turns the gun on Gordon.

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Bruce, Ivy, and Selina continue their escape, with Ivy unsure about the masked men coming after her.  Bruce offers to just buy the necklace.  That way, Ivy gets paid and the necklace can be returned, so hopefully the men won’t have to harm her.  And Bruce is so confident in his plan that he meets all of Ivy’s proposed prices, but he ultimately decides on $5,000. That or Ivy can get out of this situation on her own.  Nicely done, Bruce.

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In the middle of posing for a painting, Oswald, speaks to a melancholy Nygma, who is drowning his sorrows in music.  Oswald knows what it’s like to lose someone and warns Ed that what he’s doing isn’t healthy.  In fact, Oswald finds it scare, so he tells Ed to heal by moving on with his life.

Ed concedes that Oswald is right, so he’ll go to where Isabella was taken from him and say his goodbye.  Oswald says that Isabella would want Ed to be happy, but nonetheless, Ed leaves.

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Barnes knows that Jim is thinking about why killed Symon and now Sugar.  Plus, he knows that Symon said something to Jim before he died.  So yes, Jim knows that Barnes killed Symon and Paulie Pennies.  Barnes calls himself the law and claims that he’s always been this way- he just needed something to unlock it, but he’s not sick.

In fact, he’s never felt better.  Jim finally realizes that Barnes is infected with Alice’s blood, so Barnes is innocent and just needs help.

But Barnes doesn’t see himself as insane.  Jim isn’t seeing the big picture: Barnes plans to frame him for Sugar’s murder.  Barnes deals in absolutes and believes Gotham needs people like him who have the courage to cross the line.  Barnes wants Jim to join him, and given how Jim shot Galavan, he’s in no position to take the moral high ground.  But Jim wishes he could undo that because of what he’s lost.

Oh, but Barnes isn’t ready to turn back.  He detests how criminals thumb their noses at the law and now he’s drawing a line in the sand.  As for Jim, he stands against Barnes. The two are interrupted by a man who arrives for Sugar, and this gives Jim the opportunity to dive through a glass window and run off, even though that dive probably should have killed him, but who am I to start talking about realism?

the-executioner-homeless-man-tells-ed-that-he-heard-a-woman-scream-before-reaching-the-tracks

As Ed stands at the train tracks where Isabella had her accident, he remembers that he’s only four blocks from Isabella’s apartment.  A nearby blind homeless man tells Nygma that he heard a woman screaming, but before the crash.  How odd indeed.

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Bruce, Ivy, and Selina arrive at the mansion and find the man now dead with an arrow through his eye.  Turns out he was killed by the same men that pursued them.  Bruce wonders why the necklace is so important, but Selina doesn’t give a damn.

She throws and shatters it, revealing a key inside.  Good thing she decided to throw it.  And this is where Ivy pieces together that Bruce and Selina are apparently a couple, though they give different answers as to whether that’s the case.  Bruce’s plan is to reconvene at Wayne Manor.

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Bullock returns to GCPD, where Alvarez explains that Jim apparently shot an unarmed citizen and tried to take out Barnes.  If Jim doesn’t come in quiet, things could go south for him.  Just then, Bullock gets a call from Jim, who tells him about Barnes being infected with Alice Tetch’s blood and how he just killed an unarmed man in front of him.

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So Bullock relays this information to Leslie, who believes that Bullock has to tell the GCPD, but he knows no one would believe him.  The medical examiner, though, that’s a different story.  Right now, Harvey needs Leslie to trust Jim because right now, the two of them are all he has.

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Continuing his investigation, Edward examines Isabella’s car and finds that her brake lines had been cut, so he wonders who is powerful enough to pay off the GCPD so they wouldn’t notice.

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Back to the chase, Barnes corners Jim and laments how the two of them would have made a great team.  Before Barnes can fire, GCPD arrive on the scene, fully aware of what Barnes has done.  With a momentary distraction, Jim tackles Barnes and a fight breaks out.  Jim manages to get his hands on a gun, but Barnes refuses to lower his weapon.

Instead, he orders Jim to stand down so he can escape.  If the cops want to hunt him, that’s fine, but he wants Jim to let him escape.  Barnes maintains that he’ll save the city and that he’s the same as Jim, but he has the guts to admit it.  Jim fires a shot and manages to put Barnes down for the moment, but leaves him alive.

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Ivy and Selina settle in at Wayne Manor.  Ivy hopes that she didn’t mess things up with Selina and Bruce, though Selina maintains that Bruce isn’t her boyfriend.  Funny, Selina.

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The assailants continue investigating Selina’s spot until one pulls apart a brick wall and finds newspaper clippings on the Wayne murders.

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Jim arrives at GCPD and tells Leslie that Barnes is alive.  It turns out that Leslie might have fabricated a blood test stating that Barnes had a psychosis-inducing virus.  Hey, at least justice prevailed.  Jim thanks Leslie for her help before she departs.

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When Ed returns to the manor, Oswald has a surprise for him.  See, he regrets not being compassionate enough for Ed, so he had the artist include Ed in Penguin’s portrait. But Ed has no time for sentimentality.  He knows that Isabella was murdered because who would actually fall asleep just four blocks from her apartment?

Oswald doesn’t want Ed to get so worked up, but Ed is on a roll.  Given that the brake lines were cut, Ed surmises that Isabella’s murderer was none other than…Butch in retaliation for exposing him as the leader of the Red Hood Gang.  Oswald swears that he will help Ed find Butch to make him pay for what he’s done.

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Now that the captain’s office is empty, Bullock feels that it’s cursed.  Well, between Essen and now Barnes, he’s not wrong.  He apologizes for doubting Jim, but Jim says that Bullock didn’t doubt him when it mattered.  And that’s what matters.  Jim eyes the captain’s chair with a sense of longing.  Almost as if it’s destiny calling him.

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The episode comes to a close as Barnes, now incarcerated at Arkham Asylum, yells ‘Guilty’ over and over again.

It’s interesting that Gotham has given us a look at Jim’s psyche and examine his dark and tortured self for the past two seasons.  Though he’s been confronted on his wrongdoings, more recent with his vigilantism, what Jim had to contend with might as well have been a mirror image of him.

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Or rather, a harsher version of himself.  When Barnes entered the scene in Season Two, he pledged to sweep the city and GCPD clean of corruption.  He’s always been by the book and, as Bullock said, would give himself a ticket for even a minor offense.  He’s the idealist that Jim was in the first season, but with more authority and experience under his belt.

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But after being infected by Alice’s blood, Barnes becomes the sort of vigilante that Jim would be if he kept going down his dark path and continued to cross the line. I found this to be a nice way to draw parallels between the two and I kept wondering if Barnes would have snapped on Jim at all.  But despite his violent outbursts before, he managed to keep his rage in check.  Plus, Jim hasn’t killed anyone as of recent.

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Though I did like how Jim didn’t try to act high and mighty.  And truth be told, he couldn’t. Even putting aside him shooting and killing Galavan, he’s still been a bounty hunter that operates outside of the law and without a badge.

But Barnes has taken it a step further by deeming himself Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He shares Jim’s notion that Gotham City is a cesspool that needs to be drained, but he doesn’t stop at crossing the line once.  After spending so much time believing in the very system that has let Barnes down, he’s seeing things in a new light thanks to the effects of Alice’s blood.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim shoots Theo Galavan

And while Jim wishes he could take back killing Galavan, Barnes welcomes becoming a murderer if it means ridding Gotham of a few criminal elements.  So it’s like Jim is seeing the man he could have become if he didn’t stop with Galavan.  What if he had killed Fish Mooney? Or Jervis Tetch?  Or Valerie Vale for breaking up with him?

Okay, that last one wouldn’t have happened, but how much of a twist would that have been?

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Anyway, the kids return to the story with Ivy revealing her new self to Selina.  Roping Bruce in felt contrived at first, but he did ask Jim to look for her, and him being there provided a potential out for Ivy by paying her for the necklace.  That felt like a very Bruce Wayne thing to do, and it didn’t need a Bat-credit card.  Based on the masked men searching for the key, I wager this will tie into the Court of Owls.

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Then you’ve got Nygma looking into Isabella’s murder.  First off, how much of a waste did that end up being?  You bring back Chelsea Spack, give Ed a woman who seemed to genuinely love him, and then she dies due to Oswald’s jealousy.  It could have been anyone.  Why someone who looked so similar to Miss Kringle?

Anyway, in addition to being so analytical, Ed did work in forensics at the GCPD, so he knows a thing or two about crime scenes and piecing together a larger puzzle.  So I’m glad he knows that Isabella’s death was no accident, but him settling on Butch as the murderer felt like a forced way to keep him from figuring out the real culprit.

And Butch never even met Isabella.  As far as I know, he’s still holed up with Tabitha and Barbara, so even if he did somehow meet Isabella, under what circumstances would he learn that she had feelings for Ed?  This just makes Ed to look like a moron when he should be smart enough to realize that Oswald is hiding something from him.

That said, “The Executioner” had a good main story with Jim facing off with himself as Barnes came to embody what he once was when he chose to kill Theo Galavan for a greater good.  Hopefully with Jim wanting to learn from his mistakes, he avoids going back down that dark road.

The stuff with Bruce, Ivy, and Selina was fine, but felt more like setup and an excuse to have Ivy poke and prod Selina about her supposed ‘relationship’ with Bruce, and we didn’t need that, but hey, shows that while Ivy may be recast, she still acts like a kid at heart. As for Oswald and Ed, Nygma better start realizing that the person who murdered the woman he loved is right in front of him.

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