Season 4, Episode 1: “Pax Penguina”
Directed by Danny Cannon
Written by John Stephens
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 Heroes Rise finale, “Heavydirtysoul” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Fear Reaper” – click here
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is gradually getting closer to his true self, Batman. He watches over Gotham’s streets, looking for victims of thieves and murderers. He confronts two men with guns, beating them down using all his training. One of them claims to have a “license,” which the young billionaire finds on him. It’s stamped with a little umbrella giving permissions for specific crimes.
In the dark, Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) is also keeping a watchful eye on Bruce.
A band covers Rick Astley at a wedding when a bunch of criminals hold the place up. They loot the guests. However, waiting nearby is Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan), who doesn’t like what he’s seeing. We hear more of the licenses, issued by Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Zsasz is there to make robbers are kicking up to the boss.
“No license, no crime.”
Speaking of Oswald, he’s ruling Gotham with an iron fist. He’s dropped violent crime, but he’s technically unionising it now, as well. Such is the irony of this seedy little city. There’s a new Mayor, a new police commissioner. Yet nothing’s changed much.
Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is adjusting to the new “Penguin–approved” system of licensing crime. As in, he isn’t dealing with that shit except to arrest motherfuckers like always. Most of the GCPD aren’t happy with him, either. Certainly Captain Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is going to have to do a bit of work to keep Jim in line, because they’re all forced to do what the new comish wants.
The criminals turned away by Zsasz are looking into Arkham Asylum for answers to their problems. They go to the warden, searching out Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan). They’ve got a plan to “give someone a little scare.” Oh, this is looking dark already. The men take Jonathan to find his father’s things, to cook up some “scare juice,” and they’ve got an ugly scarecrow to keep the lad focused. Thus, no need for any crime licenses when they can gas people, make away with money, whatever they wish. This puts Dt. Gordon hotter on the case, works for him there’s no license to stop his investigation. He’s already thinking of the Crane family.
Jim and Harvey go see Warden Reed (Damian Young), who bullshits them about Jonathan, of course. They want to see the young man. Eventually the warden gives up what he knows, leading the cops to one of the criminals. But Jim and Harvey get ambushed, the rest of the criminal gang escapes.
We’re privy to more ass kicking by Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), after a bunch of men try assaulting her in an alleyway. Helps that she’s got that new whip, she uses it incredibly well. No men are going to get a jump on her. Not to mention she’s being mentored a bit by Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas). They beat dudes up, they eat pizza. When they get home, Zsasz is waiting. He’s delivering the message about the licenses, as well as inviting them to “kiss the ring” at the opening of the Iceberg Lounge. The Cat wouldn’t mind working for Penguin, whereas Tabitha says fuck that.
Alfred (Sean Pertwee) isn’t so sure about Master Bruce’s methods. Bruce is concerned about the city, though, he doesn’t like the licenses Penguin is issuing. He stops by the GCPD to see Jim, they speak for a little. In addition, we get the first of many quick exits by Mr. Wayne as he vanishes behind Jim’s back when they’re conversation is at an end. Classic!
With the Iceberg Lounge about to open, Penguin speaks to the press of the “Pax Romana” and his own “Pax Penguina” relating himself to Caesar. He also shows them the centrepiece of his new club, the frozen Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) whom he claims had a disease of the brain. Perfect timing – Dt. Gordon pops by to call Oswald out in front of everybody, telling them about Crane’s fear toxin loose on the street.
“We all have our fears to face”
The GCPD are prepared, watching the Iceberg Lounge. Jim is sure the gang will be baited into going for Cobblepot there. Bullock’s not sold on the plan, even if his old partner is sure things will go as he anticipates. The detective gets a visit later in the locker room by his colleagues, they’re not pleased with him. Thus begins a new fist fight for ole Jim. Meanwhile, worse things are happening. Poor young Crane is locked away by the criminals in a closet with the terrifying scarecrow, and his fragile little mind isn’t going to bend much further before snapping.
Everyone is present for the opening at the lounge. Bruce gets closer to Oswald, figuring out more about the license. Selina and Tabitha are there to take up the crime boss on his deal. In the back, the gang of criminals with their fear toxin wait to spring their plot. Only to be surprised by Penguin and Zsasz. What’ll be the punishment? Something gruesome, one hopes.
He drags them out in front of everyone present, showing people what other criminals would have the city turned into if it weren’t for Penguin keeping Gotham safe from fear. When Bruce wants to get suited up Alfred urges: “There is time for masks, and there is a time for Bruce Wayne.” This prompts the young man to interrupt, confronting Oswald about what will happen to the criminals. None of that matters because Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) is fed up with her friend Penguin. She kills the lights in the lounge and the whole place goes insane. Ole Oz gets a blast of the fear toxin, seeing the Riddler emerge as a monstrous entity. Lucky for everybody, Jim and Harvey get there to arrest the gang of criminals.
That night, Bruce does get his suit on. He tracks down the man with the list of licenses, then he vanishes into the night again. He starts looking for criminals, when he winds up falling through a window right into their path. Likewise stumbling into the path of GCPD officers doing a bust.
Elsewhere, Jonathan has relinquished his identity. He is now just the Scarecrow, about to terrorise Gotham in his own horrific way.
Just a knockout of an opening episode for Season 4! So much good stuff going on. I’m a huge fan of the Scarecrow character, so it’s nice to see a return of that storyline, including Jonathan himself. Lots to look forward to in this season.
“The Fear Reaper” – a fitting title – comes next.