‘Gotham’ 5×04 Review: ‘Ruin’

Well, that was quick!

“Ruin” brought us the long-awaited return of Jeremiah, but he didn’t get to stick around long. Selina succeeds in her quest for revenge.

But you know the drill. This is Gotham. Better check for a pulse!

“Ruin” mixes solid procedural with the insanity we expect from Gotham, along with some nods to previous versions of the Batman story. It mostly follows the search for the Haven bomber, and reminds us that nothing in Gotham is ever as it seems.

An Unlikely Alliance

The Haven bombing seems to bring out something human in two of Gotham’s villains, but in at least one case, appearances are deceiving. In the other? Well, that remains to be seen.

Penguin offers to help the GCPD track down the bomber, providing guns and ammo. He tells Jim he lost people in the bombing too. And for just a moment, you almost believe that he’s sincere. That’s how good Oswald Cobblepot is at manipulating people.

But once they catch their suspect (a still gloriously sassy Victor Zsasz), you see what Oswald’s really up to. He’s tapped into the anger of Haven’s surviving refugees and sees an opportunity to lure them away from Jim’s leadership. And how to do that? By throwing them some red meat, of course, with a kangaroo court, an automatic guilty verdict and an execution.

To my great relief, my favorite Gotham  henchman escapes the guillotine with some help from Jim and Harvey. But Zsasz can’t resist twisting the knife just a little before he leaves, saying, “This city will never be what you want it to be Jim. It’s always going to belong to the bad guys like me.”

Oh, Victor, just wait till you see what’s coming!

A Shifting Siren?

Barbara is the other villain affected by the Haven bombing. Before the explosion, she was ready to kill Penguin. In the minutes right after, she has him in her sights, with the perfect opportunity to take him out. But she lets the opportunity pass.

Something has changed in Barbara. Something about all the shock and devastation stayed her hand. No one would have blamed her for killing Penguin. Even Jim initially thinks Penguin is indirectly responsible, since he brought all those gangsters into Haven. But she lets Penguin live. Then she starts sharing tips with no price or strings attached. She says she’s just trying to protect her people. And then she offers — well, I don’t know if I can call it sympathy, exactly. But whatever it is, Jim takes it.

Beware, Jim. Sirens were known for leading sailors into shipwrecks.

Hello, Jeremiah. Goodbye, Jeremiah.

Jeremiah’s long-awaited return comes at an underground dig. He turns out to be the boss of that tunnel-digging gang we first met two episodes ago. Ecco brings him her latest group of “acolytes,” and updates him on all the Gotham goings-on in a dance that reminded me a bit of Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Kim Basinger’s Vicky Vale in the first Batman movie. It was a few minutes of glorious madness– but only a few.

Selina was trailing Ecco’s group. And Bruce and Alfred were trailing her. It doesn’t take long for all the henchmen to be eliminated, clearing the way for Selina to stab Jeremiah to death.

At least, so it seems as Bruce and Alfred carry the again-wounded Selina out. But Gotham baddies have a habit of returning from the dead. And Cameron Monaghan will be appearing in several more episodes of this final season.

The only question is whether he will be someone entirely new.

Unriddling The Riddler

Are we dealing with Ed Nygma? Or with the Riddler? Or some merger of both? We still can’t quite tell, and Ed doesn’t seem to know either. He wakes up after another night of sleepwalking, finding a cryptic message inked onto his hand. That message leads him to the GCPD, where Lucius catches him snooping through prison files. Lucius recruits him to investigate the explosion.

It’s fun to watch these two geniuses work together to determine that there was never really a bomb. Someone used a rocket propelled grenade to blow up a heating oil tank, sending a reaction through all the heating pipes in Haven. The same kind of RPG that brought down that Wayne Industries helicopter a few weeks ago.

But who did it?

We get our answer in the final few minutes, when Ed finally decrypts the message he’d left for himself. It leads him to the one person who saw the RPG being fired: an old woman in a wheelchair, who says Ed did it himself.

Or was it the Riddler?

Whichever it was, he pushes the old woman — with her wheelchair– out of her 12th-story window, in another salute to Batman movies past.

We have a who. What we still don’t know is why?

Other Notes

  • It looks like this is the last time we’ll see Anthony Carrigan as Victor Zsasz. But it was a good exit. Best scene? Zsasz sipping on a soda while bullets fly around him. I’m gonna miss this guy.
  • We got a little more Alfred this time. He sees what we already know is coming between Bruce and Selina. “One of these days you’re gonna realize you can’t save her from herself,” he tells Bruce. But until then, he’ll stick with Bruce in following her. I think Alfred is a BatCat shipper too.
  • Do I want to know where Penguin found a guillotine?
  • It feels like Riddler is working to soften Gotham up. First he launched a gang war against Penguin. Then he blows up Haven. But is he doing this for himself, or for someone still to come?
  • Who is Jim’s mysterious ally on the other end of the radio?
  • Where is Lee Thompkins?

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

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