As we’re bearing down on the Gotham midseason finale, we’ve got more Professor Pyg. That’s the important thing. But we also get Penguin vs. Barbara, just like the old days. Sofia keeps on stirring the pot, Lee deals with stuff, and we get one of this show’s best fakeouts to date. Also Zsasz has a rocket launcher. It’s pretty great. Time for “Things That Go Boom”!
We open in Arkham Asylum, which is always. There are quick shots of people who are maybe meant to be Tetch and Jerome, but not definitively. Anyway, this big guy is talking about how it’s his day to pick the music, and then Professor Pyg just takes off the record and puts on “Ave Maria”. The big guy gets mad and tells him to turn it off. Pyg backtalks him and the guy punches him in the face. We get a weird shot of Pyg’s distorted mug and he actually has to push his cheek back into place. It’s weird and for a second made me thing he’d changed places with Clayface.
He gets up, pushes everything back, and says he paid a fortune to look this good. The guy charges, so Pyg breaks his record and stabs him in the guy with half and slits his throat with the other and calmly goes back to listening to “Ave Maria”.
Cut to Lucius’ office, where he’s showing Gordon X-rays of Pyg’s skull. He has titanium plates under his skin that “radically change his appearance”. Also, he’s got scar tissue indicating further surgeries. Gordon thinks that’s weird since he’s such a glory hound. He asks Lucius if he can reconstruct his original face from the X-rays and this is going in a whole new direction.
Harper greets Gordon at the GCPD and she lets him know Sofia is waiting in his office. She’s there because she hasn’t heard from him and she knows he’s worried about Penguin finding out that she made him captain but it’s no big deal because she already told him. Gordon is not excited about that last bit of news. She’s going to get rid of Penguin and then they can be together, and Gordon’s not sure that’s a great idea.
Lee hosts a Narrows town meeting, which is sort of like the ones on Parks and Recreation only with more threats of stabbing and also Solomon Grundy is ready to kill anybody who gets out of line. Once it wraps up, Ed asks her again about fixing him and then a guy comes in to say that a crimeboss named Sampson beat him up and is trying to move on her territory. Riddler recommends sending Grundy after him, but she wants to take care of it herself.
Sofia arrives at the orphanage where Penguin is waiting for her. With Zsasz. That’s always a sign that it’s not going to go well. Also Zsasz is back! Penguin tells her that he knows about her and Gordon – their romantic relationship, specifically. She says Martin was mistaken, but Oswald is convinced it’s a plot against him. Sofia admits she manipulated him, and Penguin tears up because he’s not good with betrayal. He wants to know the full extent of her plan and he’s going to torture her until he gets his answers. Penguin introduces her to “the Dentist”, and this is going to be upsetting.
Gordon arrives at Arkham to talk to Pyg. He wants to know who Pyg is and then punches him so the guy has to push his face into place again. Gordon tries to taunt him, telling him compared to Penguin, Fish Mooney, and Jerome, he’s a second-class villain and everybody’s already forgotten him. And now he’s going to leave and never think about him again, but as Gordon leaves, Pyg yells at him in his real voice, a Southern accent, saying Gordon’s never going to forget him.
Lee and Riddler head out to meet Sampson, a big guy who’s heating a full meal in the middle of the street. There’s a tablecloth and everything. Lee offers him a cut of fight night proceeds, but he says he’s going to take it all. And then he coughs up some blood. Lee says there’s a case of Narrows Lung going around and it can kill you without treatment. She’ll provide medicals services if he’ll back off. He’s not buying it, so she and Ed start to leave. He asks for 30% of fight night and she just asks him to come by the clinic.
“Narrows Lung” might be my new go-to for when I’m sick. For years it was “the Clench”, which came from a 1995 storyline in the comics, but maybe it’s time to rotate it out.
The Dentist has Sofia strapped down and is getting his tools ready. She plays the “don’t you know who I am” card and, well, her father killed his brother. He knows. So she rattles off the names of his wife and kids and also his address, and lets it be known that if anything happens to her, his family dies. She’s ready to take Penguin down and if her people don’t hear from her, they’ll kill his family. He asks a guard to tighten her restraints and then puts his drill through that guy’s head and lets her go. She gets out to her car to find the driver is dead. Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina walk up and grab her.
Sofia wakes up tied to a chair and that’s how characters on this show wake up approximately half the time. Barbara introduces everybody and explains that they want her to get them out of trouble with Penguin, and Sofia explains that he just tried to have her killed so maybe let her go and she’ll deal with him. Barbara isn’t sure whether she’s telling the truth but figures either way Penguin will make a deal if they offer to turn her over. Hey, something Sofia didn’t plan for!
Penguin talks to Martin about how one day the city can he his, but Martin interrupts with a note that he lied – Sofia wanted him to tell Penguin about her and Gordon and he’s back to being manipulated again because he can’t figure out what she wants. Zsasz shows up to say Barbara has Sofia and she’s on the phone. They work out a deal and Penguin sends Zsasz to go get her. This will clearly work out well.
Lucius has a sketch of Pyg’s original face, and it’s a pretty good job. Usually you get something either super vague or they clearly traced the actor’s head shot. This one looks pretty realistic but not overly specific. Good job, prop guys! Gordon tells him to get that sketch out to precincts across the country and start in the South.
Lee explains to Riddler that there’s no such thing as Narrows Lung and Sampson probably just has bronchitis. But they get to the clinic and find it’s been trashed by Sampson, and still Lee isn’t going to send Grundy to rip his arms off.
Sofia tries to strike a deal with Barbara, who isn’t interested. Selina recommends listening to her offer because Zsasz is out front with a rocket launcher. HEE! He blows the whole place up and the women barely make it out through the back.
Sofia bursts into Gordon’s office and tells him everything. Well, she leaves out the parts with Barbara and only speaks in broad strokes. She tells him to take the fight to Penguin and Gordon finally realizes she’s been trying to start a war to clear the path for her take over the underworld.
Penguin exiles Martin back to the orphanage as Zsasz comes back to report he blew everything up. He says they’re going to get to some serious crime just as Gordon walks in. Gordon says they’re going to have to work together to stop her and man, it feels like old times again. I love when Oswald and Gordon have a common enemy. But in this case, Gordon says he’s going to put Sofia on a train out of town and just needs Penguin to not get involved. If he interferes, it’s going to be very bad for Oswald. And once she’s gone, no more licenses. This is a bad deal for Penguin but he really wants Sofia gone so he accepts.
Ed and Lee returns to see Sampson, who’s having a good laugh at her expense. She says she wants him gone by the end of the day. He refuses so she makes him an offer – get out, and she’ll give him the antidote to the poison she slipped in his drink. As he starts to choke, he takes the deal. Good move!
Sofia doesn’t take Gordon’s plan well and tries to change his mind with the power of making out. He handcuffs her and hands her off to Harper for an escort to the train station. Zsasz reports to Penguin that she’s on the train and asks about Martin. Penguin decides to apologize to the kid but Martin is gone, leaving behind a drawing that says “kidnapped”. Sure enough, Barbara and the crew have Martin in custody.
Zsasz somehow gets onto the train and knocks out Harper, demanding to know where Martin is. She says he’s alive for now and Penguin has to meet her under the Crown Point Bridge in one hour if he’d like him to stay that way.
Penguin, Zsasz, and a couple of toughs meet Barbara, Sofia, Tabitha, and Selina. Penguin tries to taunt her over not being good enough for her father. (“I myself can’t relate of course, because my parents loved me without condition.”) Sofia threatens to kill Martin and Penguin caves. She hands over Martin and Penguin apologizes to him then sends him to wait in the car.
Once he gets in the car, Penguin admits that his heart is his greatest weakness but he won’t let Martin be used as a pawn again. And then…. HE BLOWS UP THE CAR!
Admit it, you did not see that coming. And neither did Sofia. Zsasz opens fire on them, sending the women running.
Ed mopes around, complaining to Lee that he’s not meant to be a sidekick. Lee decides to be honest and says she’s not trying to cure him because there’s nothing wrong. He was dopey from the ice at first, but all the tests check out. His problem is psychological. But she still wants him to be Ed and not the Riddler. She can be friends with Ed, but not the Riddler.
Sofia and the crew return to her home and they are none too happy with her leadership. Barbara announces that they’re going their own way but Sofia assures them they’re going to win the war.
Zsasz goes to see Penguin, bringing Martin with him. Wait, what? Penguin compliments him for playing his role and we see that he left the car through a hatch before the explosion. Zsasz will take him to a safe location, but he can never return. Penguin chokes back tears and assures the kid that he’s protecting him and then Martin hugs him and Robin Lord Taylor sells this moment so perfectly. Zsasz is just bored and irritated. He says he should finish off Sofia and somebody else can handle the kid, but Penguin says he’s trusting Martin to his top man (which was a nice validation for Zsasz, I thought) and he has something else planned for Sofia.
Lucius reports to Gordon that a precinct “down south” recognized the sketch of Pyg as Lazlo Valentin. He’s wanted for a string of murders ten years ago, but back then his victims weren’t cops and there was no Pyg persona. Also, he escaped custody.
Cut to Arkham, where a guard investigates a weird scraping sound coming from Pyg’s cell. He can’t see him so he opens the cell door and then a noose drops. Pyg strangles the guard.
Ed is haunted by images of the Riddler in the mirror. Gordon gets to Pyg’s cell just in time to find a dead guard and no Pyg.
Midseason finale next week, and it’s going to get wild. Professor Pyg’s on the loose, Penguin and Sofia continue their war, Bruce is still being a dick and….. guys? Jerome is back.
–I’ll try to do some more commentary during the winter break, but I just want to say that I love what they’re doing with Pyg right now. He has a one-sentence backstory in the comics, so the plastic surgery and the accent and the change in his M.O. are all new ideas for him and I have no idea where it’s going. They made me wait for Professor Pyg but dammit, they delivered.