‘Gotham’ 4×13 Review: ‘A Beautiful Darkness’

“Gotham” Episode 4×13 “A Beautiful Darkness.” Source: FOX.

‘A Beautiful Darkness’ unfolds like one of Poison Ivy’s lethal supercharged plants, tendrils of madness spreading quickly across Gotham. Some alliances are strained or even fractured completely, others are formed, and some seem to be on the mend. The episode brings back the villains who couldn’t be squeezed into the midseason premiere, and gives us a thrilling peek at who Bruce Wayne will someday become.

“La Creme de la Crazy”

Let’s start at Arkham Asylum, where the one-time King of Gotham seems to have truly had his wings clipped. Sofia Falcone had warned Penguin not to try escaping or she would kill Martin, the little orphan boy with whom Oswald had somehow bonded. For Martin’s sake, Penguin drudges through his days at Arkham.

But that’s not good enough for Jerome, who is now in charge of Arkham (never mind what the official operators might think). He’s not interested in a domesticated Penguin. He wants the crazy Oswald who slits throats at the slightest provocation, and if he doesn’t get it he claims to be ready to hurt Penguin.

“Gotham” 4×13 “A Beautiful Darkness.”

Jerome’s prodding to get Penguin to “make me laugh” finally leads to a confrontation that is both mad and strangely comical – a mime face-off that ends with Penguin attacking Jerome. This is just what Jerome was looking for, to see that Penguin could still be a criminal. Jerome says he is plotting something spectacular, and he needs Penguin to pull it off.

Be afraid, Gotham!

Jerome doesn’t know Penguin has his own agenda. After a visit from Ed, he knows the Riddler is back – no matter how hard Ed is trying to keep him buried in his subconscious. Seeing Penguin’s excitement at that revelation, and remembering their history, I’m not sure whether he wants to kiss Ed when he sees him next, or kill him.

I suspect Penguin doesn’t know either.


“I’m here to speak for the plants.”

Gotham has been home to some formidable female villains. Add Poison Ivy to the roster. Peyton List’s new and botanically improved version is on a par with Fish Mooney in her ambition and ruthlessness.

She’s a little too ruthless for Selina’s tastes. Robbery is one thing, but murder is a step too far for the future Catwoman, who walks out after watching Ivy kill a man in front of his family.

That victim happens to be an employee of Wayne Enterprises, which Ivy is targeting for its production of plant-killing chemicals. (Please note – Ivy’s poison and her charm potion are all-natural.) Ivy’s quest takes her to Wayne Manor, where she first puts Bruce under the influence of that potion to question him about “Project M,” before poisoning him as punishment for his company’s “crimes.”

Ivy meant the poisoning to be cruel, giving Bruce a dose that would kill him slowly and painfully. But it also has an unintended consequence.

“Gotham” 4×13 “A Beautiful Darkness.”

Seeing the future

A drug-induced vision quest is a pretty common trope, and the quest here is not nearly as interesting as its final resolution. As the hallucinogenic poison spreads through Bruce’s system, he encounters re-imagined versions of foes and friends. Ra’s al Ghul makes an appearance – but it’s not really Ra’s. We see Selina, Penguin, a mustachioed Jim Gordon and more of Gotham’s players as Bruce stumbles through a vision of a party-boy life. The party ends when he is snatched up by “Special Agent Pennyworth,” a dream version of Alfred, who brings him back to where it all began: The alley where Bruce’s parents died.

The alley where Dream Bruce encounters a shadowy, cloaked figure standing above him, and tells him in a raspy voice, “This is where I was born.”

It’s a moment that gives longtime Batman fans a thrill, when young Bruce finally accepts the destiny ahead of him.

He also accepts that he cannot meet his destiny on his own, reaching out… finally… to Alfred.

I admit a sigh of relief at that. I’ve hated the rift between Bruce and Alfred< and I look forward to this relationship being repaired.

And I hope the same happens with Jim and Harvey soon.

Other observations

Jim Gordon and Selina Kyle made a pretty neat team, chasing down Ivy’s trail. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed seeing these two play off each other.

I also enjoyed the sequence in GCPD, with Jim’s officers under the influence of Ivy’s potion.

Sofia Falcone makes her return, still trying to pull Jim’s strings. He doesn’t buy her threats to reveal his involvement with the Pyg mess, so she finds another way to hurt him – by calling up her sister-in-law, Lee. Wait until Jim hears about this.

Ed’s visit to Penguin in Arkham was a delight, the two of them throwing insults at each other. “I wanted to see how miserable you are,” Ed taunts, and Penguin tells him, “I’m in an insane asylum but at least I’m not a moron.”

It’s been hinted in the press that Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome might not really be the future Joker. But then again, he might be – and I vote yes on that.

“Project M” turned out to be water from Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit, rather than the plant poison Ivy thought it was. But now that she’s got her hands on it, trouble is ahead.

Bruce’s hallucination included a lot of strange things – Ra’s cutting off his face, the shadowy figure from the alley dissolving into hundreds of bats. But possibly the strangest things were a tidy Harvey Bullock, and Jim Gordon with a mustache! (Sorry, Ben McKenzie!)

Gotham airs Thursday nights at 8/7 Central on FOX.

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