Season 4, Episode 4: “The Demon’s Head”
Directed by Kenneth Fink
Written by Ben McKenzie
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “They Who Hide Behind Masks” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Blade’s Path” – click here
Looking to have the embalmer’s knife appraised, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) go to see an appraiser, Dr. Niles Winthrop (Dakin Matthews), who’s got a curious grandson Alex Winthrop (Benjamin Stockham). The Winthrops have a look over the knife, from the Tomb of Belahsi. The young billionaire asks them to keep the knife a secret. He doesn’t want Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) causing them any trouble, of course.
Elsewhere, Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is trying to figure out the “perfect riddle.” He’s looking to take Gotham by storm again, to bring the Riddler back to his former glory. He hopes soon enough, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is going to die by his hand.
Naturally, it isn’t long before Dr. Winthrop discovers the knife’s connection to reincarnation, the Demon’s Head. He tells his grandson of the legend of Ra’s al Ghul, the immortal warlord bathed in the water of the Lazarus Pit. And Ra’s has arrived at the door of the doctor and his intellectual grandson. He wants the knife, he’ll kill to find it. The old doc is dispatched first, leaving Alex hiding away with the sacred item. Oh, man. More collateral damage in the battle over Gotham.
Dt. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is on the case, along with Dt. Harper (Kelcy Griffin) in the absence of Bullock for a little while. They find the logbook showing Bruce’s visit, which is exactly when the kid arrives finding the dead doctor. Bruce feels guilty for having brought the Winthrops into his troubles, he wants to “play detective,” though Gordon advises against it; too dangerous. The detective figures out Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) was likewise trying to buy the knife in question.
Speaking of, she’s meeting her man Ra’s, they’ve got bigger things happening. Such as the immortal man bringing along some new friends to help search for the knife, like Anubis (Anthony Rodriguez), a terrifying dog-man, and the Hunter (Owen Harn), an absolute beast of a man.
At his place, Cobblepot gets a visit from Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed). They talk about business in Gotham. She’s there to attend to charities. This concerns Penguin, he doesn’t want the old crime family weaseling back into things again. The little limping crime boss nurtures a “healthy paranoia.”
In her new digs, Barbara sits for a chat with Dt. Gordon about the knife, he asks where she was during the murder. Bruce came along, as well, he wants to confront her about Ra’s, warning she’s getting herself in over her head. Outside, the kid tells Jim about Ra’s, the true manipulator of Gotham, the Court of Owls, all of it.
Note: Great, brief little in-joke about the spelling of Mr. al Ghul’s name when Dt. Gordon phones in to the PD!
A rapping telegram arrives from a couple homeless guys to Penguin – from ole pal Ed! He wants to have a meet with Oswald. In lieu of torturing people for information, Penguin and Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) are going to try beating the Riddler at his own games. We’ll see how that turns out.
Bruce has discovered where the grandson Alex ran off to when his grandpa was murdered. He’s stashed away when Bruce and Jim find him. The detective offers to protect him, but he’s frantic. He hid the knife, just in case. The young billionaire takes Alex, while Jim faces down Anubis and the Hunter. But the two kids run into the villains, too. The whole scene turns into chaos, as Gordon loses track of Alex and Bruce. Later at the GCPD, Ra’s al Ghul turns up posing as an intellectual, surprising Jim. This sets off the detective’s alarms. Hiding together, Bruce and Alex try planning their next move, bonding over their fears; soon, the latter decides on taking the former to the knife.
Spinning bullshit, Ra’s talks to Jim about the knife. The man even talks about himself, without obviously saying it’s him – the immortal warlord who could not die. But Dt. Gordon brings up the boy, trying to goad the man into giving up too much. Regardless, they’re both good at playing these games. Eventually we see Alfred barge in, he even cracks Ra’s a good one in the jaw. They’re all amazed when, in the blink of an eye, the mysterious man vanishes into thin air.
There’s trouble for Sofia. She’s got mobsters at her door, wanting the Falcone family to rise again in Gotham City. These old gangsters don’t last long, not when Penguin and Zsasz get there to execute them. It was all a ploy by Oz, to flush out some of those Falcone-faithful men. Now, the crime boss can deal only with Sofia. Although I wouldn’t mark her down as without power, she is smart, cunning. Plus, she’s a Falcone.
Alex takes Bruce to the knife. He worries about “the legend” of the knife, that it may not be myth, it’s true. That’s right when they hear Anubis sniffing his way into the building with the Hunter. They hide, but the villains aren’t far from catching them both.
Trying to stay hidden, Bruce is attacked by Anubis, but Jim shows up to stop the two beasts. The detective goes toe-to-toe with them, as the young billionaire tries helping and gets near choked to death. Alex jumps in with the embalmer’s knife, slowing the Hunter down briefly. After more struggle, Jim downs the two villains. He’s pissed, though. He doesn’t understand the importance of the knife. They’re all thwarted when Ra’s appears with Alex at knife point. Bruce won’t hand it over, prompting Ra’s to cut the grandson’s throat in front of them.
They’ve sent Ra’s over to Blackgate. In the wake of these events, Bruce blames himself for what’s happened, even though Jim tells him that the immortal man is a mere “psychopath.” Ah, even before becoming full-fledged Batman, Bruce is already taking on the guilt of the actions of criminals.
At the Iceberg Lounge, Ed turns up, pissed that Penguin hasn’t showed up for their set meeting. He’s raging, when Oz pops out. “Your riddles suck,” the crime boss tells him. He gloats over seeing the Riddler reduced to being “not smart” like he was before. We see that Nygma needs to find revenge as his alter-ego, not Ed. Unfortunately, the green-suited villain is at the mercy of Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) again, about to be frozen. Except Penguin decides he wants his old friend to live knowing failure.
Ra’s is locked away at Blackgate, but surely walls are no match for a man of his magic.
Amazing stuff, very dark and complex things happening here. Love Ra’s al Ghul!
“The Blade’s Path” is next.