A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 21: “Heroes Rise: Destiny Calling”

So it’s a race to save the city from itself and get a cure for the Alice Tetch virus on this two-part finale for the third season of Gotham.  Let’s start things off with “Destiny Rising.”

The episode begins at a bank as an elderly, infected woman demands her savings from her closed account.  As the virus continues to infect her, she ends up overpowering a guard and opens fire on the clerk.  It proves successful as she walks away with two bags of money as Gotham City is consumed by panic in the streets.

This extends to the GCPD, which has erupted into fighting.  In the break room, Jim struggles to regain his composure when Harvey arrives and asks not for his badge, but his gun.  A lot of cops have their eyes on Jim and are waiting for him to show the smallest sign of cracking, and with a gun, they’re paying even more attention.  Jim soon acquiesces and surrenders his gun.

As for Leslie, Jim figures that after she fled, she’s waiting for him to give into the virus. So Harvey implores Jim to prove Leslie wrong.

The two then join Alfred, who is watching from the other side of a room where Bruce is held in interrogation.  He hasn’t said anything yet, but Alfred is certain that not only is this the real Bruce, but just needs to remember who he is after being brainwashed.

Then Lucius, having looked through some papers, tells Jim and Harvey that Hugo Strange was working on both the virus and an antidote.  But then Harvey reveals to Jim that Alfred let Strange go in exchange for information.  Jim figures that a weasel like Strange would try to get as far away as possible.

As Jim heads off, Lucius informs Harvey that Strange’s virus is accelerated compared to Tetch’s, which is why people are reacting much faster.  As such, Lucius doesn’t think Jim can hold off for long.

As for Strange, he’s at a station and ready to flee after withdrawing some money, but ends up running into Fish Mooney, who tells him that the fun has just begun.

At the club, Nygma and Barbara watch the chaos consume the city.  Barbara believes this is the opportunity to consolidate power, but Nygma is just interested in killing Penguin. But he’s in cahoots with Fish, and even if Nygma finds her, he’ll need muscle.

This is where Barbara comes in, and she doesn’t like Nygma expecting her help, while he turns down returning the favor, especially when they have a lifetime opportunity in front of them.  She just wants Ed to use his brain to help her finally get Gotham under her thumb.  After that, she’ll help Ed pry Oswald away from Fish.  He at last agrees and gives her a day.

Back with Fish, who learns that Strange as weaponized the virus, which is good because she needs horror.  More than that, she needs more of the virus, even though Strange admits that he’s used it all.  Despite this, Fish demands that Strange make her an army to help her take over the city.  With that, they depart.

Not long after, Jim and Harvey arrive at the train station, where Jim receives a call from Leslie.  She’s checking in on him and rebuffs Jim’s insistence that she turn herself over to the police.  She feels that Jim is fighting the virus and still wants them to be together, but Jim wouldn’t want them together this way.  Leslie implores Jim to listen to the whispers, as they will soon will lead him to her.

She wonders if Jim really likes hurting people.  As Leslie heads off to have some fun, she promises Jim that they’ll catch up soon.  Jim continues to hear a voice call him a killer when Harvey informs him that someone spotted Strange.  He hands Jim a gun and tells him to only shoot Strange.

In no time at all, they find and corner Fish and Strange in a tunnel.  Strange looks in Jim’s eyes and sees that he’s infected, so Fish asks Jim what the infection feels like.  Right now, it’s taking all of Jim’s willpower to not kill Fish.  Fish asks Harvey if there’s a cure for the virus, and indeed, Strange is the only one who can stop this.  So of course Fish won’t hand over Strange.

Before Harvey can fire, his gun is shattered by a blast from Victor Fries’ freeze gun.  As Victor opens fire again, Jim leaps up, pulls open a pipe that releases a stream of water that, upon contact with the freeze blast, becomes a solid wall of ice.

Back at the GCPD, Bruce breaks his silent treatment when he tells Alfred to stop trying to get an emotional response out of him.  After all, his last memory is of Alfred killing the Shaman, even though Alfred still doesn’t think much of that man.  In fact, he calls the Shaman a liar, but Bruce wants to know how he lied.  After all, he took away Bruce’s pain, which is more than Alfred ever did.

But the Court of Owls doesn’t matter to Bruce.  They just paved the way for the one who is to come.  As for who that is, we’ll see.

So Strange is in the care of Bridgit, Victor and Penguin, who chides Strange for abandoning Bridgit and Victor.  Strange notes how odd it is that Oswald would work for Fish, given that he tried to kill her.  Apparently, Fish forgave Oswald.  Sure.  Fish has evolved and has a vision for Gotham: a vision where freaks are in charge.  This virus is tearing the city apart, so the antidote is the most valuable thing in Gotham City.

But Strange knows that if he gives up the virus, he has no leverage, so he’s all up for torture.  Good, because Penguin plans to use the same device that Strange used to torture him at Arkham Asylum.  He straps it on and now Strange is ready to talk, and that’s fine with Oswald, but torture comes first.

Back in the tunnel, with Jim and Harvey unable to get a response from anyone at the precinct, Jim decides to start beating on the ice with his bare hands until it shatters.  As the two leave, Harvey continues to implore Jim to fight the virus.

Turns out the GCPD is about to have more problem.  Alvarez, who is told to alert the National Guard, is also infected and begins attacking other officers.

In interrogation, Alfred refuses to leave as he continues asking Bruce who is coming.  He tells Bruce to remember who he is, but Bruce knows that he has a destiny.  Alfred continues to doubt the Shaman’s promises.  Despite Bruce getting vengeance for his parents’ murder, Alfred says that’s not real- what’s real are the memories of Thomas and Martha.

Sure, Thomas and Martha are dead, but there is no love without pain.  It’s the same love that Alfred has for Bruce, as he’s willing to die for Bruce.  He begs Bruce to find that love again.  A conflicted Bruce begins to have a realization when Alfred heads out to deal with the commotion.

Alvarez is holding of the entire GCPD and engages Alfred in a fight.  Before Alvarez can open fire, he’s knocked out by Lucius.  But when Alfred returns to the interrogation room, Bruce is nowhere to be seen.

At the nightclub, Butch and Tabitha talk about the possibility of Fish taking care of Barbara, but Tabitha still isn’t ready to turn on Barbara yet.  Then Tabitha spots Leslie at the bar.  Turns out Leslie is here to speak with Barbara and isn’t about to put up with an errand boy like Butch.  When Butch lays a hand on her, he realizes she’s infected just as she overpowers him.

Tabitha is about to enter the fight, but again, Leslie is only interested in Barbara.  Not to mention that in Leslie’s mind, Tabitha is just Barbara’s sidekick.  She does leave a message for Barbara: next time she sees her, she’s dead.

Bruce walks through the thick of the chaos in the city while Alfred and Lucius tail him from a distance.  Alfred figures that they’ll find and kill this mysterious man who Bruce is seeking.

Strange leads Penguin, Fish, Bridgit, and Victor into a laboratory, where he has six vials of a concentrated cure.  Once diluted, there’s enough to cure every infected person in Gotham.  He hands it over to Fish, who tells Oswald that they will rule this city together.  However, Oswald still wants to kill Nygma.  Fish is confident that he and all who stand in their way will die.

Before the group can leave, a group of sword wielding assassins drop in and demand the cure.  They engage Victor and Bridgit in a fight that’s soon joined by Jim and Harvey. While infected, in the thick of the battle, Jim ends up plunging a blade into Fish, which causes her to drop the virus.  As Penguin holds his dying mentor, she tells him in her dying breath that Penguin must take the city or burn it to the ground.

An enraged Oswald is no match for an infected Jim, but he’s quickly knocked out by Harvey.  Strange tells Harvey that he can make more of the virus, but he’ll need one thing.  As GCPD arrive, Harvey orders everyone arrested.

Meanwhile, Tabitha, Butch, Nygma, and Barbara spring Jervis Tetch, and with Fish dead, according to Ed’s sources, Nygma knows that Strange will need Jervis for the antidote. Okay, how the hell did Nygma’s so-called ‘sources’ tell him of Fish’s death so quickly?

Whatever.  Bruce arrives at a door marked Yuyan and enters the building.  He uncovers a secret door inside a demon’s head and heads down a narrow stairway.  With Alfred still following a comfortable distance behind, Bruce finds himself surrounded by several hooded henchmen, who soon clear a path for him to continue.

He enters a room with a glowing, green body of water, but a voice tells him not to touch it.  The mysterious man enters and tells Bruce that the Shaman completed his task and Bruce has found the demon’s head.  This is, of course, the one and only Ra’s al Ghul, played by Alexander Siddig.  He asks why Bruce has come to him, as Bruce knows that Ra’s wants to use the Court.

Ra’s has been alive for many years and is thought be a demon, but for all his years and travels, there’s one thing he’s never found: a true heir.  Ra’s needs to know if Bruce is ready, and he is.  But Bruce failed to release the virus.  He would have if he had not been distracted.  This is why Ra’s will give Bruce another chance to complete his journey.

That’s when Alfred is brought into the room.  Ra’s takes out a sword, calls Alfred a part of Bruce’s past, and tells Bruce to embrace his future by killing Alfred.  But Alfred tells Bruce that Ra’s is wrong- his true destiny is to be Bruce Wayne.  And one day, Bruce will remember how much Alfred loves him.  He brings up the memory of Thomas and Martha bringing Bruce home for the first time and asking Alfred to take care of Bruce.

When young Bruce looked up, Alfred knew that he would do anything for Bruce.  So if this is what Bruce must do, then Alfred accepts his death.  And that’s when Bruce plunges his sword right through Alfred as the first part of this two-parter comes to a close.

Even though this is a two-part finale and it’d be easier to sum up some thoughts in the second installment, there are a few things worth mentioning here leading into the second half.

While I still wonder just how many people were infected, because it seems like the entire city has erupted into a war zone, I do appreciate that we at least get to see more of the calamity.  When Jerome killed the power and encouraged Gotham’s citizens to kill, we heard, but didn’t see much of the impact of his words.  With a few exceptions, it all happened off-screen.

Here, from the transition shots looking more grim and seeing more mayhem throughout Gotham, the city feels more dangerous as we see average citizens thrust into the fray. These civilized people aren’t eating each other yet, but they’re pretty damn close and I’m glad we as an audience get to see the disarray.  Really gives the finale a sense of urgency.

Indeed, much of this felt like a race against time.  With the virus widespread, Jim and Harvey need to find a cure while Jim battles within himself, the criminals are still warring against each other, and Alfred must try his hardest to break Bruce out of his trance.  All playing out at about the same time.  These are the kinds of high stakes you want from a season finale and Gotham did a decent job at balancing the various plots.

The fast paced moments involving the mob or the GCPD were complimented by slower scenes with Alfred and Bruce or Butch and Tabitha.  However, there are moments when the show moved too fast for its own good to the point that things didn’t make sense.  For example, how does Nygma figure out that Fish died when it happened in the very previous scene?

Were it a day later, I’d understand word spreading, but we’re talking about the very next scene and he’s already aware that Fish is dead.  I’m sure word spreads fast in the criminal underworld, but that was a hard one to swallow.

Sticking with Fish for a moment, so Jada Pinkett Smith comes back to Gotham long enough just to die.  Again.  What looks to be for real this time.  Why bring her back to begin with if she won’t do anything substantial?  She sprung Penguin and found Strange, but aside from freeing Oswald, she didn’t do much that he and Ivy couldn’t have done themselves.

Furthermore, I echo Strange questioning why Oswald would even work with Fish.  He tried to kill her.  Plus, he’s got Bridgit and Victor on his side.  Even with her forgiving him, what’s Fish got that he would need?  Very little, so I can’t understand why he would cooperate with her.

Sure, it’s a heartfelt moment when she dies in his arms, given how their relationship began, and it looks like Fish has accepted her death this time, but in a world where Hugo Strange is able to resurrect the dead and now that this show has introduced the Lazarus Pit, what really are the odds of a character staying dead?

Unless they’re immortal, which is my awful transition to our newly introduced Demon Head.  I’ll speak about Ra’s here because he’s not in much of the second part outside of the opening, but Alexander Siddig makes a strong impression as Ra’s al Ghul.  There’s not much to go off of, but we know that there’s an air of mystery to this man who has apparently lived for many years.

Well, I say ‘apparently,’ but the Lazarus Pit is right there, so there’s your explanation for his immortality.  He has aspects of the comic Ra’s down and I’m glad that he’s not overused here despite Bruce’s journey leading to this confrontation.  We get enough of a tease to entice us to learn more about this man going into the next season.  And I hope that he’s used sparingly and not the overall villain of Season Four.

On its own, “Destiny Rising” is a pretty good episode, but not without its flaws.  As for everything else: Jim’s infection, the breakdown between Barbara, Butch, and Tabitha, Oswald and Nygma’s continuing war, Alfred’s continued attempts to break through to Bruce…all continue on in the second half, so I’ll save my thoughts for all of that and more in “Heavydirtysoul.”

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