Gotham – Rise of the Villains, Episode 19: “Azrael”

Fox’s Gotham
Season 2, Episode 19: “Azrael”
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Written by Jim Barnes & Ken Woodruff

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Pinewood” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Unleashed” – click here
IMG_0209Theo Galavan (James Frain) resurrected has become Azrael. He yells at the “heathens” and the other sinners. He talks to himself, hearing voices, one he labels as sister. He’s come back “mad as a Hatter” and stronger than any normal human being. Looks like Azrael is repeating snippets of The Will and Order of St. Dumas, the sacred text of those “12th century crusading knights” from which his family descended. His brain, reanimated, is all mixed up. Not so sure Hugo Strange (BD Wong) is interested in curing him, though.
That’s when the Director of Arkham receives a visit from Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), working privately outside of the GCPD. Jim wants to talk about Karen Jennings, asking questions concerning Pinewood Farms, Thomas Wayne, all that. The Director claims Wayne kept everyone in the dark, playing ignorant, innocent. Hugo doesn’t mince words, either. He makes clear he has no obligation to answer any questions. But Jim inadvertently gets what he’s looking for, tricking the Philosopher at his own psychological games.
What are things like at Arkham? Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is fitting in just fine with all the crazies. Manipulating them like he tries with everybody else. He’s plotting, trying to figure out the puzzle of the asylum to get himself out. He’s keeping an eye on things, eavesdropping on Strange and Ms. Peabody (Tonya Pinkins), offering assistance with Gordon. Nygma shows the director how useful he could be to him.
IMG_0210Down in the depths of Indian Hill, Hugo visits Theo, no matter the danger. The reanimated man is quite violent. The Director refuses any help. Rather, he uses the story of Azrael – “the redeemed one” – from the St. Dumas book to give him identity as Azrael himself. This is likewise the beginning of Indian Hill’s grand purpose, of giving their reanimated monsters new identities with which to greet the world. Setting up more reanimations I’m hoping to see; coughJeromecough.
Bruce (David Mazouz) is getting the information on Strange from Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue). Also, the kid is hearing about the difficulties. Time’s passed, there is little to no evidence. Justice isn’t always easy, or fast. This doesn’t make Bruce happy, he wants justice no matter what the cost outside “bureaucracy and red tape.” Jim advises the young billionaire: “You need to be better.” He can’t go down the same road as the detective.
Sneaking around after getting into the halls, Nygma is looking to find out what Strange is hiding. Meanwhile, Azrael is being given some competition. They need to test out his skills. So, they use big Helzinger (Stink Fisher) for practise, goading Theo into his new identity more and more. And this brings us to Azrael’s first task as the “Angel of Death“: kill James Gordon.
IMG_0211Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) doesn’t believe any of what Jim tells him when they meet later. The cap won’t have any of that shit, about monsters and Strange’s experiments. At the same time, they’re introduced to Azrael in his elaborate costume, wielding the Sword of Sin, given him to by Hugo. The villain is there to kill Gordon. The two cops draw on him, but I’m not so sure that’s going to do anything significant. Thus begins a brutal fight. The detective is nearly cleaved in half when the GCPD bust in. Azrael makes it out of there, climbing the walls to freedom.
What’s Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) been doing? Well, his father’s place is just nasty, what with Grace’s dead body wasting away at the dinner table. Seems Oswald is just, y’know, hanging out, and letting the place go to filth.
We’re witnessing a bit of dissociation on Azrael’s part. He still has vague memories of his real life as Theo. Barnes and the Strike Force, the rest of the GCPD are ready to drag the city looking for him. Except Jim, he’s being kept in lockup, the cap knows he helped Karen get out of Blackgate.
Love that we’re seeing Strange pick out stories for all the various personas of Gotham supervillains we know. We even get a tiny peak at his interest in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, foreshadowing that we’ll hopefully see the Mad Hatter crop up at some point.
IMG_0212And at the GCPD, the lights go out. Very supsicious. Both Barnes and Gordon are prepared for anything other than electrical troubles. Just as Azrael comes crashing through the windows. All hell breaks loose, officers are cut, slashed, stabbed. Gunfire does nothing against the knight’s suit. At least they let Jim out of his cell, though he’s almost immediately taken out by Azrael.
Nothing can down the knight. Even when Barnes puts almost a full clip into the guy, nothing. The cap tries luring Azrael up to the roof, while Jim looks for better firepower. When Barnes fights with him he knocks the mask off, discovering the truth of Theo being alive once more, and he also winds up getting stabbed in the gut. Jim arrives up top to see it all, along with a combat shotgun. He fires it into Azrael until the guy takes a tumble over the side of the GCPD, smashing into a coroner truck. The news captures presumed dead Mayor Galavan limping away from the scene.
Azrael: “Come to me, and I will show you the way to hell.”
Gordon: “I know the way
Barnes is in critical condition, rushed to the hospital. When Bullock arrives he hears all the news about Galavan. But what about Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) at home with Butch (Drew Powell) and Barbara (Erin Richards)? Will her brother come knocking eventually? She sees him on the Gotham News, though. Just like Penguin, too. Oh, man. This is looking to get interesting now.
Over at Arkham, Nygma stumbles down into Indian Hill after his search, discovering all the insanity far below the ground. On the streets, Azrael is still loose, roaming Gotham.

Fantastic, again! This series is way better than I initially gave it credit for during Season 1. I’m amazed, at every turn. I’ve been a lifelong comics fan in regards to Batman, so what’s nice to see is a different take on the characters, particularly being before the emergence of Batman in Gotham City. So much uniqueness in the writing here. Brilliant. If only the DC films could take some direction from these stories.
“Unleashed” is the following chapter.

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