Season 3, Episode 6: “Follow the White Rabbit”
Directed by Nathan Hope
Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Anything for You” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Red Queen” – click here
Ole Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) is causing further trouble in Gotham City. He takes a newly married couple on a scary limo ride. “We mustn‘t be late,” he tells them. Furthermore, he explains that they’re now relying on James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Oh, damn.
Things are well for the Mayor of Gotham. Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is happy to have found a friend in Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). But he’s in love with Ed, more than just a simple friend. It’s not hard to tell.
While everything else is going on, Jim is still sleeping with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung), enjoying her company. After she’s gone he gets an eerie visit from an albino-looking gentleman, White Rabbit (Kieran Mulcare). He’s led to a payphone, where the Mad Hatter himself calls. They talk about the former detective’s “fragile psyche,” and there’s a sad, tragic plan Mr. Tetch has enacted – Jim can save either the married couple, or a little boy down the street; only one, not both. The bounty hunter chooses to run for the boy. Then the hypnotised newlyweds take a headfirst plunge off the overpass.
Chief of Staff Nygma is getting things done, as usual. He plays the servant to his boss. However, there’s a clear energy between them. A sexy tension underlying their conversation. Penguin also wants to confess his true feelings, though he can’t manage to say them out loud. I love this queer angle to their relationship’s story; I say queer only because I don’t want to box Oswald in as solely a gay man, I’ll let him come out on his own.
When Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) and Dt. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are investigating the suicide scene, they come across the hypnotised White Rabbit. Meanwhile, Jim is tracking the Hatter down. He comes to a building where there are newspaper clippings all about Jim, his father, some photos of him with young Bruce Wayne. A phone rings nearby. Jervis asks him to look through a telescope at the window; THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS is printed on the side (another good Lewis Carroll reference). He sees the villain down on the street. This starts a contemptuous conversation, leading to the bounty hunter discovering the Hatter and his cronies are kidnapping Ms. Vale.
Over at the Sirens, Barbara (Erin Richards) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) get an angry visit from Gordon. He breaks a few things, fires of a gunshot, trying to pry information about Tetch out of his old flame, he knew things only Barb would know. Good job, girl. You’ve really done it now. Because Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) is also being kidnapped. Is this another either-or situation?
“You‘re two halves of Jim Gordon‘s heart”
What about Cpt. Barnes? He’s uncovering more effects of Alice’s blood, the infection is giving him near super strength, he all but crushes a chair in his hands before Harvey shows up. I have an idea of who he’s becoming, but don’t want to spoil anything yet in case I’m right.
Jim continually follows the Hatter. He’s left with hard choices, forced to play the man’s insane games while crippling himself morally. Except Jim says he’s done. Right as the GCPD and Barnes show up. So, Jervis makes the choices for him instead. More murder, just a path of corpses in this guy’s wake.
Mayor Penguin and Mr. Nygma go visiting schools. Oswald is intrigued by one lonely boy sitting away from the other kids. He gives the kid some advice on how to handle it if the others don’t like him. Simultaneously, he keeps struggling with his private feelings for Ed, suggesting they have dinner together later.
Locked up together, Lee and Valerie are stuck trying to find a way out of their predicament. As they do the conversation naturally turns to Jim, as well as Alice, her blood. At the GCPD, Barnes, Jim, and Bullock are pulling together any leads they can come up with, not coming up with much. Until Gordon goes for a chat with the White Rabbit, which sends him to Lee’s place; alongside none other than Mario Falcone (James Carpinello).
Jim goes on in for a “tea party” with Jervis and the women by himself. He sits at the table with them, having to relinquish his gun, too. The Hatter pours some tea. Only Jim agrees to have a sip, though. Afterwards, the madman tells a sad, fabricated story of him and his sister. In the meantime, Mario sneaks in through the basement where he grabs a gun tucked in a hiding place. That’s no good, seeing as how the Hatter already found the weapon, disarming it before Falcone and Gordon got there.
So, what does Jim do? He goes hard at the Hatter, telling the raw truth about Alice, what she told him about her brother. This drives Jervis crazy. But he doesn’t want to kill Jim, he wants to take everything from, to make him suffer.
Who will die? Only one, by choice? Or both, by not choosing?
Jim tells the Hatter to kill Lee. Instead, the Hatter shoots Valerie. Did the bounty hunter do that because he knew that’s what Tetch would do? Doesn’t matter, not with Ms. Vale bleeding out. The ambulance get there, though she’s in bad shape.
At dinner that night, Penguin is preparing to tell Ed of his love. Yet while choosing wine Ed runs into a woman named Isabella (Chelsea Spack) who reminds him of Ms. Kringle. Oh, my.
Lord, I love the Mad City storyline of the Mad Hatter. So, so good. So dark and weird and unsettling at times. Gotham doesn’t get enough credit, honestly. Many Batman purists probably can’t handle it. To me, it’s a fantastic prequel, in so many ways.
“Red Queen” comes next. Get ready.