You have to love the way Oswald makes entrances. First, he shows up at Barbara’s clock tower to say “hi” to his good friend, Jim, then he shows up at his mother’s place with “I’m alive!,” and at the end of this episode, he drops the bombshell on everyone by walking into police headquarters.
I love the ending cliffhanger. It feels like an homage to monthly comics, which often end on that kind of big revelation.
And, despite the presence of a serial murderer, Oswald still wins the creepy award this episode, for the disturbing bathtub scene with his mother, who seems like a weirder, more twisted version of Carol Kane’s Valerie from The Princess Bride. I half expected Miracle Max to show up as Oswald’s Dad and for them to start arguing about whether their son was pursuing the right career path or maybe where to get the best pastrami.
But while Oswald continues to amuse, the main plot this week, about a serial murderer call The Spirit of the Goat, offered Gordon and Bullock a chance to actually do some police work. Or, rather, Bullock does most of the work because he’s dealt with this kind of crazy before and it cost him his shiny optimism. “No heroes,” Bullock’s former partner, the cynical Dan Hedeya tells him, advice Bullock has already passed onto Gordon.
Gordon likes this glimpse into Bullock’s more competent and compassionate self. (Harvey is taking care of his wheelchair-bound former partner, including sending him porn magazines.) Bullock resents anyone knowing that, deep down, he might be a good cop but he proves his intelligence when he follows through on his instincts and catches the person truly responsible for the murders of Gotham’s elite: a deluded psychiatrist who sees her “conditioning” of her mentally ill patients into serial killers as some sort of statement against Gotham’s elite.
Dr. Marks can join a long list of crazy doctors in the Batman-mythos, starting with one Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn. Marks even poses a bit like Harley in a few scenes. I wonder if Marks is somehow related to everyone’s favorite animated psychopath. Or perhaps she’s to be treated by the even crazier (and less fun) Doctor Hugo Strange sometime in the future.
The Goat’s murders suggests the existence of a conspiracy concerning Gotham’s elite and could be a reference to the Court of Owls, a super-secret society in Gotham created recently by the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
There’s also a focus on Batman’s other future super villain, the Riddler, in this episode as Nygma tries and fails to ingratiate himself with one Kristine Kringle, who keeps the files. (Gotham not ever having heard of computers for this purpose.) Yes, Nygma was creepy but I felt bad for him, in a way. I wonder if the show is trying to tell us that he is autistic, given his social ineptness, his love of puzzles, and given his complete inability to understand that trying to help can make it worse. If so, I hope the show explores that idea down the line.
Along with Harley Quinn and the Court of Owls, I noticed a couple of other scenes reminiscent of the comics. The first is the ritual killing of the Goat’s victims, which reminded me strongly of a scene from Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier, in which Detective John Jones (Martian Manhunter) and Batman rescue a woman trussed up in a church as a ritual sacrifice. Then there are all the billowing curtains in the episode, from the opening kidnapping sequence to the ones in Wayne Mansion. Curtains always seem to billow around windows in Gotham and its citizens always tend to leave windows open too, like Alfred did in Wayne Manor. No wonder Selina became a thief. So easy.
While Bullock is doing actual crime-solving, despite the intrusion of all those billowing curtains, Gordon’s professional and personal life collide this issue as he’s arrested and charged in Oswald’s murder. I wish they’d give Barbara more to do than stand by her man but I love her insistence on taking “half the weight” of whatever he’s struggling with and her need to protect him.
What I don’t understand is Montoya’s and Allen’s shoddy police work. A pair of major crimes detectives is convinced that the word of a bum at the docks and the statement of underworld boss Fish Mooney is enough to arrest Gordon for murder? No. Let’s hope Oswald’s entrance puts an end to this ridiculous plot and gives Montoya and Allen a chance to do something helpful or, at least, smart.
Likely Barbara will stand by her now-proved innocent man. In any other show, I’d be worried that Barbara would be killed to add some more angst but, hopefully, Barbara’s future role as the mother of Batgirl prevents that.
Oswald will have fun manipulating everyone and trying to “help” his good, true friend Jim. It’s amusing that both Barbara and Oswald look to Jim as a paragon of virtue.
Bullock might keep on doing real work? I hope that means he’s redeemable.
And this show went a whole episode again without Oswald killing anyone. Pretty sure that’s not going to last.
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.