“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
W.B. Yeats was talking about Europe after World War One when he penned that line in “The Second Coming,” but it certainly applies to the city of Gotham.
…Wait, what? You didn’t come here for an English lesson but for a Gotham review? Well, stick with me for just a tiny bit more of the former, because it’s connected to the latter.
“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
Anarchy is just another day in Gotham, true. But things seem to be falling apart even more than usual in “A Day In The Narrows.”
The Fall Of The Pax Penguina?
Let’s move from English class to history. Penguin compares his licensing of criminals and control of the crime world to the Pax Romana. But the Pax Romana didn’t last. Remember, “things fall apart,” and Gotham has always been a place where anarchy has been loosed, with nothing “mere” about it.
The Pax Penguina is taking a severe hit, but this time it’s not because of the machinations of Sofia Falcone. No, this time Penguin himself is doing the damage in his zeal to stop serial cop killer Professor Pyg from killing even more of the officers on the Penguin payroll. Penguin shows up at the GCPD with his own team of enforcers, led by a man who calls himself Headhunter and who is gleeful about playing a violent “bad cop” to Jim Gordon’s good cop.
Penguin’s eagerness to have his own people put an end to Professor Pyg leads to more police officers being killed, while Pyg gets away again. Penguin tries putting the blame for the failure onto Harvey Bullock, but that doesn’t go anywhere with the Gotham media, who instead crown Jim as a hero once more.
It’s a severe, self-inflicted wound to Penguin’s efforts to destroy the GCPD, leaving him looking like a fool. Penguin has never liked looking like a fool. Like any of us, it makes him mad. But as Headhunter learns very quickly, when Penguin gets mad, he gets homicidal.
He was an enjoyable character in his brief appearance, but no one measures up to Victor Szasz in the slightly loony evil sidekick department. Here’s hoping he finishes his visit with his “bubbie” and gets back to Gotham soon.
All Penguin’s gotten for his trouble is an apparent end to the crime licensing system. He might want to brush up on his history, especially the end of the Pax Romana.
Sirens’ Swan Song?
Another thing that seems to be falling apart as the episode begins: The partnership between Barbara, Tabitha and Selina. With the death of her backer, Ra’s al Ghul, Barbara says she has to close up the weapons shop. She’s paying off Tabitha and Selina, but Selina doesn’t want to be paid off. She believes the three of them can make it work, despite Barbara’s cynical advice that, “In this life, you’re on your own. Always.”
Now, Selina knows this better than Barbara. Selina was a kid living on the streets while Barbara was still living the lifestyle of the rich and famous just a few years ago. But Selina doesn’t call her on it; she still wants both her partners, Tabitha and Barbara.
So, Selina decides to go rob a motorcycle gang on her own, to get the money they need to keep the business running.
It doesn’t really go well, but Tabitha and Barbara both come to the rescue – separately, not together – before things can get really messy.
Barbara may talk the “you’re on your own” talk, but she isn’t walking the walk this time. This band isn’t breaking up yet, and I look forward to seeing what they get up to in the future. I’m hoping they meet up with Cherry (who was absent from this episode, along with Ed, Grundy and Lee), and expect some sparks when the latest incarnation of Poison Ivy shows up.
Speaking of “walking the walk,” I loved the shot of these three kickass women strutting out of the gang’s lair.
It’s great to have Selina back again, even if she isn’t getting to interact with Bruce. (More on him later; first, we have one more important fracture to deal with.)
A partnership in peril
Harvey Bullock has always been, well, a little bit shady. Just barely on the right side of the law, and a comic foil to the oh-so-serious Jim Gordon.
But under the Pax Penguina, he’s fallen over to the wrong side. Jim put those pieces together last week, and told Harvey to stop taking Penguin’s money. So this week, Harvey’s taking Penguin’s “assistance” and, worse, his directions.
Jim’s been willing to put up with a lot from his partner, and admits he is no angel himself. But this has the feeling of being a last straw. He’s furious with Harvey for legitimizing Penguin and for following Penguin’s orders right into a trap that kills more cops.
Harvey himself survives the experience, saved once again by Jim. He’s not physically wounded, but Harvey has a more serious burden to bear: while Jim is once again a hero, Harvey is “just a cop who shot a cop.”
We’re left with the question of whether this partnership can ever be mended.
Creating a billionaire brat
Bruce Wayne is also carrying a burden, over the killing of Ra’s al Ghul. But it’s not one of guilt; it’s one of anger. He’s been trying to deal with the aftermath of breaking his “no killing” vow by hiding out at Wayne Manor, but that’s not really working for him.
And he’s not really listening to Alfred, either.
Bruce is seething, and a stuffy Wayne Manor fundraiser is not where he wants to be in this episode. Instead, he escapes with a girl he used to know from school, and winds up partying the night away in a nightclub he happens to own. (That’s one way to get around the legal drinking age limit!)
— Gotham (@Gotham) November 3, 2017
Along the way, he gets the better of another old classmate who hasn’t yet outgrown his bullying ways, and starts making out with the girl, while downing copious amounts of alcohol.
The partying isn’t quite the anger outlet Alfred had been offering him before, and while it does help Bruce continue building the billionaire playboy reputation he’d started working on just a couple of episodes ago, this time it’s not done with intent. Bruce is out of control, and that could be very dangerous.
This plot thread does give Bruce one of the best lines of the night; when asked what he’s been up to he says, quite truthfully, that he’s been walking on rooftops and fighting crime. This version of Bruce hasn’t really been given many opportunities to be funny; it was a pleasant surprise to see even a small glimpse of the sardonic Batman humor we know from Kevin Conroy’s vocal performances, and I hope we’ll see more of it as the season progresses.
With all of these story lines in play in this episode, there simply wasn’t time to get over to Cherry’s Place. I look forward to that next week.
- Selina, welcome back! We missed you! Stick around for a while, ‘kay?
- Oswald, back to history class with you.
- Jim, remember that Harvey stood by you when you did bad things.
- Pyg-with-a-y is a fascinating, creepy villain.
Gotham airs Thursday nights at 8/7 Central.