A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 20: “Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine”

You know, Jerome and the Court of Owls ought to get together to compare notes since they’ve got very similar plans as far as causing panic in Gotham City.

The episode begins with The Shaman addressing the ruling council of the Court that Judgment Day has come to the Court and Gotham City.  Three years ago, Thomas and Martha Wayne’s deaths is on the Court’s hands, even though Thomas threatened to expose the Court.  Then Bruce emerges and asks why Martha had to die.  The Shaman tells the Court that Bruce has come to pass judgment.

The Shaman is the Court’s leader, but he left the city for years at a time and decisions had to be made.  The council stands by its action, so the Shaman instructs Bruce to let blood avenge blood and give the order.  As such, Talons arrive and slit the throats of all sitting Court members.  Though Bruce hesitated, he promises not to next time.

GCPD arrive at the site soon after and find one member of the ruling council still alive. He tells the officers that Bruce Wayne and the leader ordered these murders.

At GCPD, Alfred believes that Bruce is being held against his will and would never be responsible for these murders.  It’s still suspicious why the leader would have his entire council executed, though.  And until the bomb is in GCPD’s possession, everyone has to assume the plan to detonate it is still in the works.

Maybe the leader is cleaning house, since every spot on the map has lead to dead bodies. But Alfred is more concerned with finding Bruce than finding the bomb, though Jim doesn’t know how Bruce fits into this.  Campos informs Jim and Harvey that officers parked at Leslie’s home have confirmed that she just arrived at home.  Since Lee stole the virus, Jim is suspicious that she injected herself.

Nygma informs a skeptical Barbara, Butch, and Tabitha that Oswald is alive.  The three also don’t buy that Nygma was trapped in a cage with him, either.  However, Tabitha’s backstabbing led to the answer of who controls Gotham: an organization called the Court of Owls.  Though Nygma doesn’t know what the Court wants, he believes that the Court isn’t interested in the underworld, but Barbara should at least worry about Penguin.

Butch considers this Nygma’s problem since he’s the one that shot Penguin, but hey, the three of them did conspire to help Nygma kill Oswald in the first place.  In Penguin’s eyes, they’re all guilty.  Nygma figures that Oswald is stowed away in some safe house, so no point in hitting his mansion.  Nygma ends this by mentioning that, oh yeah, Oswald has recruited an army of Hugo Strange’s monsters.  Ed, you usually start with that key detail.

Jim stops by Leslie’s place, where Leslie, doing her best Morticia Addams impersonation, tells him that she knows he suspected her of injecting herself with the virus.  She believes this is all her fault, but Jim argues that there’s hope for her.  Leslie admits that the virus brought out her love for Jim, despite his darkness, so maybe she likes his darkness.  The virus has allowed her to give into her deepest desires.

But there’s a problem: Jim has denied who he really is, but Leslie can help with that.  She tosses Jim across the room and tells him that she has a secret.

Back at the GCPD, Harvey and Alfred look over a mock-up of the map Lucius made of the Court’s black sites.  But perhaps the Court hasn’t marked all hideouts, as the Whisper Gang is the reason Alfred, Bruce, and Selina found the house with the owl.  If any members are still alive, they may be able to help find other sites.

With Bridgit and Victor Fries in the wind, Ivy and Penguin have brought in Selina to help find them in exchange for Penguin’s gratitude.  Fair trade, right?

When Selina leaves, Butch and Nygma barge in and hold Oswald and Ivy at gunpoint, but Nygma realizes something is wrong.  And that’s when Oswald hits a switch that seals the doors and windows, allowing the others to flee.  But Selina is taken out by Tabitha, who knew she would be on the roof.

Bruce tells The Shaman that despite achieving justice for his parents, he still feels failure since he didn’t give the order.  He’ll have another chance to prove himself, though.  In enters Hugo Strange, who is fascinated by how docile Bruce is.  He brings in the weapon as the Shaman explains that he took advantage of the Court for a greater purpose.  The man that the Shaman serves believes that Bruce has a great destiny.

The Shaman hands Bruce a detonator and explains that, when triggered, the virus will infect thousands with the virus, causing the city to tear itself apart.  Out of the ashes, a dark hero will rise.  Huh.  When the time comes, Bruce must press the button.  Bruce is ready to embrace his destiny and believes that Gotham must fall.

As Alfred and Harvey leave, Harvey calls Jim to let him know that they’ve got a possible lead on Bruce.  However, Jim is too busy being stuffed into the trunk of a car by Leslie.

So in no time at all, Harvey and Alfred arrive and overtake the Talons.  As Harvey stays with Strange, Alfred finds Bruce with the Shaman.  He refuses to lower his weapon, so Bruce stands in front of the gun and refuses to let Alfred hurt the Shaman.  After all, the burden of Bruce’s past has been lifted and he knows his true destiny: Gotham must fall by his hands.  With that, he and the Shaman leave.

Harvey hauls Strange into holding before speaking with Alfred, who still can’t believe Bruce’s current state of mind.  Meanwhile, there’s no sign of Jim, but then Leslie enters the precinct and tells Harvey that Jim should be waking up right about now.

In fact, he’s been buried alive in a coffin.

Harvey orders the officers to stand down when they all point their guns at Leslie, who is fine with being infected.  She calls out the officers for putting Jim on a pedestal, but she’s going to free Jim and show everyone his true self.  She reveals that Jim is buried six feet underground in a coffin, but not dead.  Yet.  She then pulls out a radio and calls to Jim, who responds and confirms to Harvey that he is indeed buried alive.

But Leslie won’t reveal the location.  However, she’s left Jim a way out- Jim looks around the coffin until he discovers that Leslie has given him a vial with the virus- this is how Jim finds his darkness.  Jim refuses to inject himself, but it’s either that and live or suffocate.  Harvey pleads for Leslie to tell him where Jim is, but she just wants to see the look on everyone’s faces when Jim takes the virus.  He has an hour.

As Leslie heads to a cell, Harvey instructs the other officers on locating Bruce Wayne.  As luck would have it, Leslie’s cell is located right next to Hugo Strange.

So Selina has been brought to Barbara and the others and tells them that she’s not working for Penguin.  Nygma remembers that Selina is friends with Bridgit and realizes that Penguin’s friends have abandoned him.  As such, Nygma instructs Selina to lie to Penguin about knowing where the others are, but Selina needs cash to get out of town.

Also, Selina wants Ivy unharmed since hey, she’s stupid, but not a traitor.  Barbara has Butch and Tabitha leave so they don’t potentially betray her again.

Jim reveals to Harvey that the radios run on a shortwave frequency, so he can’t be too far. Lucius should be able to run a general fix. and realizes that Jim is Jackson Park.  Alfred asks if, with everything going on, Harvey looking for Jim is the best use of his time, but Harvey knows that Jim would do the same for him if the situation was reversed.

Besides, Alfred has a job to do as well, as Harvey wants Alfred to get his hands dirty by interrogating Hugo Strange for information.  Even still, Leslie taunts Harvey, saying that he’ll never be able to find Jim in time.

So Alfred holds Strange over the roof by his tie and demands to know about the location of Bruce and the bomb.  At first, Strange says nothing, as he figures Alfred will drop him either way.  But Alfred offers Strange’s freedom in exchange for Bruce, as the nearby fire escape leads to the street and Alfred won’t stop Strange, so Strange eventually reveals that the leader has taken Bruce to Wayne Enterprises to set off the bomb at 5 pm.

Bruce’s mind is no longer his own, but Alfred believes in Bruce’s strength.  However, as a man of his word, Strange can walk once he wakes up…which is when Alfred knocks him out.

At Wayne Enterprises, after the Shaman asks if Bruce is feeling conflicted, Bruce admits that he’s concerned with possibly failing.  The Shaman tells Bruce that everything he’s done has been to prepare him for this moment.  Afterward, he will bring Bruce to the one whose vision has singled out Bruce, as this mysterious figure is very eager to meet Bruce.

Harvey and the officers arrive at the park, though there’s far too much ground to cover. He tells Jim to take the virus just so he can survive, but Jim refuses to become a monster. Then Alfred calls and reveals that the bomb is set to go off at 5 pm.  Strange didn’t give a location, but Bruce and the Shaman are heading to Wayne Enterprises to watch the fallout.

The rooftop looks directly onto Union Station, so Harvey orders every unit to that location. But even with an evacuation, Jim figures that thousands will be infected.  That can be avoided if they find the bomb first, but it won’t just be out in the open.  Kathryn did say that Gotham will fall when the clock stops.  Clock.

With no other options, Jim injects himself with the virus and manages to break through the coffin.  The Bride from Kill Bill did it better.  Just saying.

As he hides out at the greenhouse with Ivy, Oswald talks of loyalty in people like Falcone, Maroni, and even Fish, horrible as they were.  And yet he has to do battle with people like Barbara and Nygma.  Ivy believes that plants are better than people because you can trust with them.  Despite not having monsters, Oswald won’t run.

So Selina apparently managed to find Bridgit, which is great news, but Oswald wonders why Selina would suddenly help him.  He realizes that this is a setup, and naive Ivy, having given her location, now realizes that Selina would help Barbara if she was offered money.  So, of course, Nygma, Barbara, Butch, and Tabitha stroll in like they’re about to start the hottest music video.

Meanwhile, Harvey finds the empty grave and realizes that Jim has taken the virus.  He orders the other officers to head to Union Station.  At the same time, Leslie escapes from her cell.

Nygma orders Oswald to call him The Riddler before he dies, but Oswald refuses since saying such a name would be torture itself, so Nygma opts for a slow, painful death.  A noise gets their attention and in enters Fish Mooney, who comes to let the gang know that things are going well for her now.  She takes Oswald with her and leaves.  Not even Ivy gets to go with her.

While Jim arrives at Union Station and heads for the clock, the Shaman tells Bruce to press the trigger so Gotham can fall and he shall rise.  Alfred arrives at the right moment and pleads with Bruce to not press the trigger, as there’s no coming back if he does.

The Shaman doesn’t believe that Alfred would really shoot Bruce.  He presses the button instead just as Alfred shoots him.  As the Shaman dies, he tells Bruce to find the Yuyan building and seek out the Demon’s Head.  Bruce then charges at and attacks Alfred just as GCPD arrives to hold Bruce back.

Leslie manages to get the drop on Jim as the bomb activates and the virus begins to spread throughout Gotham City.

Right.  I suppose you could call this the penultimate episode since Gotham’s third season finale is a two-parter, so like any show, the stakes have to be raised as we head into the end of the season.  Credit where it’s due, the show does end on a cliffhanger, albeit a very familiar and recent one, that leaves things up in the air as to what state Gotham City will be in when this season comes to a close.

And part of that involves what happens to Leslie.  Now that she’s infected, the show could go either way and cure or kill her.  Either way, from this one episode, Leslie’s already more interesting than she’s been for the second half of this season.  Between Barbara and Leslie, the key to making a dull female character on Gotham interesting is to make them off-the-wall crazy.  Or infected by a virus.

She’s still obsessing over Jim but, like Barnes, has more clarity, even though that involves forcing Jim into an impossible situation.  It’s not novel, but it’s more than what Leslie has had to do as of recent. She’s pulling a Joker by wanting to turn Jim into his darker self so people can see the real him.  Why no one popped her in the kneecap and just let her stroll around the GCPD is anyone’s guess, though.

Side-note, I sense a connection: Leslie buries Jim in a coffin.  Ryan Reynolds starred in Buried, where he spent all of that film buried alive.  Reynolds also starred in Deadpool with Morena Baccarin, who is currently on Gotham.  Coincidence?  Someone call Jeph Loeb so he can say it’s all connected.

Speculation aside, I did enjoy how much of a race against the clock this was for the GCPD.  For one, they don’t win by episode’s end.  Bruce hasn’t converted back, Jim took the virus, and a section of the city is infected.  However, the Shaman said that thousands will be infected, which is less than the entire city when Jerome turned out the lights and encouraged people to kill, so how is this any worse?

But I did enjoy seeing the lengths Harvey would go to save Jim.  If there’s anything that’s shined since this show’s start, it’s been the chemistry between Donal Logue and Ben McKenzie, and this episode shows that as Harvey grows increasingly desperate to find Jim to the point that he would encourage Jim to take the virus if it meant he would survive, even at the cost of his sanity.

That’s not an easy decision to make, more so when Harvey also has to deal with Bruce Wayne’s abduction and locating the bomb on top of making sure Jim is safe.  But Bullock doesn’t crack under pressure and is showing why he’s doing such a good job as acting Captain.  Busy as this episode was, I appreciated these moments with Bullock and it makes me hope he remains Captain for the foreseeable future.

Plus, he’s allowing Alfred to stay involved since Lucius seems to have hit his high point with thwarting Nygma.  But yes, we see more of Alfred’s devotion to Bruce when he interrogates Strange and shoots the Shaman just to get closer to Bruce.  Forget about Bruce’s destiny.  Alfred is the true future Batman in this universe.

Though I’m certain Bruce’s mind will revert by the season finale.  For now, he’s on a path that will no lead him to Ra’s al Ghul.  That said, now that Bruce has put his parents’ death behind him and abandoned all emotions, I wouldn’t have minded spending more time with him in this state.  But now that the virus is active, perhaps he’ll see the error of his ways. One can hope, but he’ll no doubt embrace the destiny angle.

The war between the villains has taken an interesting turn with Fish Mooney back in the picture.  And while I’m not looking forward to seeing Jada Pinkett Smith chew more scenery, having Fish here is an interesting X factor in this war.  Will she ally with Penguin, Barbara, or just be in this for herself?  After all, she’s got a reputation in the city, so she has just as much of a reason to get involved.

I liked Oswald’s brief bit to Ivy about loyalty because I wager it’s a sign of what’s to come in the finale.  Barbara already doesn’t trust Tabitha who, with Butch, seem fed up with Barbara at this point.  And besides Bridgit and Ivy, Selina has no stake in this, so she can play either side because that’s how Selina Kyle rolls.  And now that Barbara knows the Court isn’t interested in the underworld, she can focus on the oncoming war.

“Pretty Hate Machine” felt familiar with another incident that will cause Gotham’s citizens to go mad, but with Jim infected, Bruce still under the Shaman’s influence, and the villains heading to war with another, it should make for an explosive finale.

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