It’s the season’s penultimate episode of Gotham. The Ogre has Barbara, Penguin’s ready to move against Maroni, Ed Nygma killed a guy, Fish Mooney has a helicopter and a bullet in her gut, Bruce Wayne is in full boy detective mode, and Gordon’s running himself ragged. It’s time for “The Anvil or the Hammer”!

It’s morning and Barbara is still in the Ogre’s apartment. Apparently they focused on the “bondage” aspect of his secret room and not the “bladed weapons” part and then spent the night in the bone zone. Barbara’s ready to clear out, but the murderer has a whole day planned. Hee! She’s just ready to go after a one-night stand so he explains that he had intended to kill her but now he thinks she might be the one. Man, the Ogre just puts his cards on the table. She tries to run away but can’t get the door open. Oh, this is not going to end well.

Opening credits! Was that the shortest cold open ever? I think it was!

Over in the precinct, Gordon takes comfort in the fact that they haven’t found Barbara’s body yet. It’s the little things. He’s been pushing himself too hard, not eating or sleeping. Lesie (sigh, “Lee”) tries to talk him into a break, but he blames himself for every aspect of the Ogre case. He especially feels guilty for the fact that he didn’t even think about her until now, which, yeah. Not cool, Jim. Bullock brings in an informant who’s been bragging about knowing the Ogre but first we’re going to check in on Nygma.

Nygma brings two big suitcases full of Dougherty to work, which seems like a miscalculation. But he says “no body, no crime” and then sets to work in the forensics lab. Back in interrogation, the guy tries to get the detectives to pay him for his info. Gordon’s not in the mood and he gets the info the hard way. We learn that the Ogre is a regular at a traveling brothel called Foxglove. Harvey’s aware of the place – it’s very extreme and very hard to find. Gordon suggests Penguin as their in. Back at his apartment, the Ogre has Barbara bound and gagged.

Stately Wayne Manor! Alfred brings Bruce a small envelope that a messenger just dropped off, then has to leave to go identify Reggie’s body. Poor Bruce is trying to comfort Alfred but he’s all torn up and it’s weird to see him keeping this secret. Once Alfred leaves, Bruce opens the envelope – Selina sent him the copy of Bunderslaw’s key.

Over in the bar Penguin bought a couple of weeks back, Butch plants a handgun under the bar and an Uzi behind the jukebox. Back at Oswald’s, Gordon shows up which of course just makes his day. Gordon asks about Foxglove, but Penguin actually hesitates because this relationship is starting to feel one-sided. Gordon offers him another favor, but Penguin stalls so Gordon grabs him by the collar and points his gun at Butch. Penguin finally agrees to get him an invite, but he’ll owe him big time.

Bruce takes a tour of Wayne Enterprises then breaks away to use the bathroom. He pulls the fire alarm and makes his way to Bunderslaw’s office. Gordon gives Harvey the Foxglove ticket with the plan that he’ll get in, find a reason to bust them, and then use that as leverage for info.

More Ogre. He removes the gag and lets Barbara out of the manacles, going on about how she’s definitely the one. She slaps him and says Jim will find her. Ogre’s not super into hearing that name. He gives her some water and then shows her the pictures of everybody’s he killed on the way to finding her. She collapses – I thought she fainted at first, but I think the point is that he drugged her.

Bruce opens Bunderslaw’s safe and it appears to be empty. Then Bunderslaw walks in – he knew they lifted his key and he’s been expecting this. He offers Bruce a cookie, which is hilarious to me. Bunderslaw admits that he hired Reggie but didn’t intend to hurt anyone. See, Bruce needs “the talk”. The Waynes traditionally have to have certain facts of life explained to them, and he think Bruce needs that talk now. He comes right out and says that they break all kinds of laws. Bruce’s father couldn’t change that and his grandfather couldn’t change that. Bunderslaw says Bruce can live a blessed life if he backs off and then Lucius Fox walks in.

Yes! Young Lucius Fox! Played by Chris Chalk from Homeland and a couple of episodes of Justified. Lucius walks Bruce to the elevator and when he has him alone, tells him that he knew Thomas well, He was a good man and “a true stoic. He kept his best self hidden”. Bruce is left to ponder that, but it looks like he’s got another ally at least.

In the lab, Nygma is disposing of the body. Kristen interrupts the acid bath to pick up some files. She sees some body parts, but not enough to identify them and Ed writes it off as a sheet metal accident. Then she asks if he’s seen Dougherty, and he admits nothing.

Penguin meets with Connor for last minute instructions before the Maroni hit. He also explains that one of Maroni’s triggerman, Tommy Bones, has been released from prison and they’re going to that bar to celebrate. Then we cut to Foxglove. It looks fairly decadent but not extreme by Gotham City standards. It gets worse the farther Harvey goes, and then he reaches the stage. We don’t see what’s happening, but we hear a woman laughing, a man screaming, spanking, something that sounds like a chainsaw, and maybe the grunt of a pig. Bravo to whoever put that together, because it’s exactly the right amount of upsetting. Bullock makes it about five seconds before he shuts the whole place down. He’s horrified and it’s hilarious.

Let’s keep it creepy and check in with the Ogre. Barbara wakes up crying and he snuggles her, which is the grossest thing. He promises he won’t kill her, but she has to tell him who to kill instead. Oh, man. I’ve never seen this before and it’s really compelling. She finally whispers something to him.

Gordon and Bullock start questioning perverts, and finally a masked hostess named Sally recognizes the sketch. She takes off her mask to reveal a nasty scar. She was the Ogre’s first victim – he abducted her, cut her up, and let her go. Sally gives them enough information to figure out his building. She asks Gordon to kill him, not arrest him. Gordon agrees.

Connor and another guy walk into Maroni’s party. He says he’s there for a gift from Falcone. Also, he’s like him to know that Falcone says it wasn’t easy to decide to kill him. They go for the guns, but neither one fires. Maroni and his guys gun them both down and Maroni vows to come after Falcone.

Back at Oswald’s, it’s once again Insane Live Music Night. Penguin tells Butch that he removed the firing pins ahead of time. The real goal was to start a war between Maroni and Falcone. He’s tired of being under Falcone’s thumb and wants to pit then against one another.

Nygma talks to the skull of Dougherty and decides to write Kristen a letter that will help her make better choices in the future. Then he puts the skull in a sack and smashes it with a hammer. He’s put way too much thought into this.

Gordon and Bullock reach the Ogre’s apartment but nobody’s there. They find the torture room, though. Bullock warns Gordon to prepare for the worst. They may not be able to save her. The Ogre’s phone rings. Gordon picks up, and it’s the Ogre. Gordon triggered an alarm and now the Ogre’s going to taunt him. He promises that Barbara is “safe as milk”, which is kind of a great phrase. Based on the background sounds in the call, they work out that he was crossing a bridge, and the train whistle tells them which bridge. They were headed upstate, and Gordon knows that’s where Barbara’s parents live. Sure enough, they turn up in the mansion. The Keans beg for mercy and Barbara watches blankly while the Ogre attacks.

Gordon and Bullock arrive at Kean Manor. Gordon finds the mutilated bodies of Barbara’s parents and sometimes I’m astonished that this is an 8:00 show. He finds Barbara who seems totally out of it. The Ogre sneaks up on Harvey and knocks him down a spiral staircase. Classy! Then he attacks Gordon, and it’s a brawl. Finally, the Ogre breaks away and puts his knife to Barbara’s throat. Gordon has his gun drawn, but the Ogre won’t release her. Then Bullock walks up behind the Ogre and shoots him in the head. As he falls, he drags his knife across Barbara’s throat. She’s bleeding but doesn’t seem to be dying. Gordon rushes to her side.

And now we’re back to stately Wayne Manor. Bruce asks Alfred about yesterday, and he’s still taking it really hard. Then Bruce comes clean and tells him how Reggie died. Bruce also tells him about Bunderslaw and the stolen key and everything else. Alfred hates Bunderslaw so much.

Gordon returns to the precinct to genuine applause. He apologizes to Leslie for the last few days and says that he’d still protect her first if he had to do it again. Kristen gets a typed letter, purportedly from Dougherty, telling her to move on and maybe he’ll let her know when he gets back. Ed’s totally there to support her, as you’d expect. And then we see that the first letter of each line of the note spells out “Nygma”, which is a pretty awesome Riddler move.

Bruce tries to figure out what his father’s secret was. Falcone gets a box from Maroni containing Connor’s head. That doesn’t immediately make sense to him, but then there’s a montage of Maroni and company attacking Falcone’s men all over the city. And then we’re back at the GCPD where Essen announces that there’s a full on mob war in the streets.

TO BE CONTINUED!

–Oh, this was great. They’re doing a lot of stuff for which there’s no precedent, so I don’t even have a roadmap anymore. As a new character, the Ogre’s fate was up in the air. Barbara is a continuity glitch who could end up anywhere. Bunderslaw is new, so I have no idea what to expect from him. They’ve even eased up on any real references to Batman lore in the last few weeks (other than bringing in Lucius Fox), so it really feels like I’m seeing untold stories from Gotham’s past rather than seeing an alternate take on the characters.

It’s weird that Fish Mooney dropped out entirely for two weeks right at the end of the season, but these episodes have been packed. You can’t really squeeze in two minutes of Fish and advance her story at all. She’s back in full force for the finale, though. I’ll be patient!

I’m so impressed at what they did with Barbara in these last couple of episodes. I didn’t see any of this coming, and I feel like it worked better because of how underwritten she’d been up to this point. I actually hope this isn’t the end for her, because I want to see where she goes now. Once again, kudos to Erin Richards for bringing it. She had a lot of crazy swings over the last couple of weeks and she really sold it.

My favorite versions of Riddler aren’t especially violent, but the increasingly unhinged Nygma is so much fun to watch. I loved the bit where he hid his name in the letter, too. The Riddler’s clues can be an irritating gimmick (and I say this as a guy who loves the Riddler) when not executed correctly, and I think Gotham did a good job with it. I think there’s a tendency to write him as a guy who wants to be caught, but to me, it’s more that the riddles are how he keeps it interesting. Here, he committed the perfect crime and it’s so much more satisfying because he left a clue that nobody will ever find. That’s a Riddler I can get behind.

I suspect I’ll have more to say about Penguin and the war next week, but I should have figured out his plan and I absolutely didn’t. It was one of those reveals that was surprising and then obvious in retrospect.

Loved bringing Lucius Fox into the fold. He’s cast more in the Nolan mold of the secret tech guy rather than the traditional finance guy, but let’s be honest. The world knows Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and they’d be crazy not to go with that characterization. I also like the way they emphasized that Wayne Enterprises has been around for generations. It lets the corruption be an ongoing thing rather than a failing on the part of Thomas or any other particular Wayne. (I can’t even tell you how fascinated I am by Wayne genealogy. I can trace Bruce Wayne’s lineage back so much farther than my own.)

And my interest is piqued as to what Thomas was keeping hidden. The trailer indicates that we’re going to see some sort of proto-Batcave, and I have absolutely no idea how they’re going to pull that off.

I am so geeked for this finale, you have no idea.

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One Response to The Gotham Gazette, Episode 21 – “The Anvil or the Hammer”

  1. Robert Matthew Baumann says:

    What acid was used to dispose of Tom Dougherty’s body?

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