Season 4, Episode 22: “No Man’s Land”
Directed by Nathan Hope
Written by John Stephens & Seth Boston
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 4 episode, “One Bad Day” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 5 premiere, “Year Zero” – click here
Selina (Camren Bicondova) is rushed into the emergency room, after being shot by Jeremiah (Cameron Monaghan), and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is tailing her. Speaking of the Joker, he’s down in a cell at the GCPD – the visuals are definitely a nod to Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight – surrounded by cops happy to see him behind bars; for now, at least. He was brought in by Alfred (Sean Pertwee).
Meanwhile, Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is dealing with things, and he’s taunting Jeremiah a little. But the Joker makes him aware there are “other bombs.” That’s going to put Gotham City at a whole new risk if he’s telling the truth. He asks to see Mr. Wayne in return for giving over the location of the bombs.
But, there’s always that Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) connection. There’s definitely going to be some nastiness. Sooner than later. And thus the undead leader of the League of Shadows begins the first bombing of a building in Gotham City. It just so happens to kill Mayor Burke (Larry Pine).
Elsewhere, Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong) is looking after Solomon Grundy (Drew Powell), trying to return him to being Butch again. This makes Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) happy, and of course Butch, as well. It won’t be an easy process. And not really a legal one, either. Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) is finally making good on his promise to his old pal. In the meantime, Tabitha runs off after hearing the news about Selina, wanting to murder the remaining Valeska brother.
At the GCPD, Cpt. Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) discover the army’s in town, martial law’s been declared by the governor. So, they start coordinating with Major Rodney Harlan (Malik Yoba). When Gordon gets a bit aggressive, he’s taken into custody by some soldiers, and under arrest. Although the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) turns up to save him. Er, not exactly save – because Ed scoops him up, whisking him away to the Narrows as a hostage. Oh, this is looking bad. Jim is put under a mechanical press, similar to the medieval/early modern torture where they pressed people to death. Pound after pound the metal squats him underneath its heft.
How’s he getting out of this one? Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) saves him. She comes to say she’s leaving the city, and she wants Ed to go with her. They leave, so Cpt. Gordon doesn’t get crushed to a bloody mess.
At the Sirens, Barbara (Erin Richards) is surprised by Ra’s, who turns up kicking the shit out of the League. The two old partners-in-crime/lovers chat. He’s always greasy, trying to pull people into his world and towards his needs, manipulating and whatever else is necessary. He’s trying to convince Barb she’s important. It’s working.
Bruce is taken by the military to see Jeremiah. It’s like a Silence of the Lambs, Clarice meets Hannibal moment, as the Joker stands upright, strapped into a gurney. His eerie way of talking calmly, in stark opposition to his brother Jerome, is supremely creepy fun to watch. It’s a different take than others we’ve seen, which I appreciate a lot. Always fun to watch an actor take on a well-known role with their own method(s).
And what does the meeting between these two bring? Bruce comes to see what’s behind it all. Jeremiah foresees the “dark island” needed for the true Bruce to emerge, the one Ra’s has told him of, and this has Bruce rightfully scared. Nevertheless, Jeremiah is able to escape from the GCPD, taking Bruce to see his new friend. This leaves things messy, because Alfred wants to protect the young man, which leads him to Barbara, and they’re both mixed up with Penguin. Quite the strange, ragtag team.
Up in a tall building, Bruce is brought to hang out with Jeremiah and Ra’s and the men of the League. They’re going to watch the city of Gotham fall. It’s all a way to bring out the Dark Knight, the one who Bruce is becoming. It’s as if Ra’s wants to speed up the process. In the midst of their hangout, Barb, Alfred, and friends arrive. They’re bringing the fight right to Ra’s, as Penguin and the others infiltrate the building with assorted weaponry. Between the chaos, Barb grabs Bruce’s hand, holding the fabled knife with him, and they stab Ra’s in the gut.
This is right on time for the explosions to rip across Gotham. The major bridges out of the city are detonated, blocking the place off like an island, indeed. Everything descends into a vicious cycle of terror. Gunshots and screams and car horns blare in the background.
Lee won’t leave the Narrows anymore, not after things have gone so bad. Mostly she was playing Ed the whole time, really. The Riddler’s pissed, preparing to knife his hopeful lover. Instead he gets a blade in the guts from the doc, anyway. She’s too smart to let him get the jump. Only he’s able to stab her, too. Before they have a possibly fatal smooch, each of them falling to the floor bleeding out.
We see one good thing for Tabitha – she finds that Dr. Strange has returned Butch to being himself again, no more Grundy. It’s a second lease on life, a chance to fall in love with Tabitha more and maybe do things different. Maybe. Not just that, Oz did right by him after so much wrong. BUT WAIT: Penguin uses this opportunity to shoot Butch dead. Holy shit. All a long game to get revenge for the death of his mother. He puts a bullet in Tabitha to boot. He doesn’t want to kill her quite yet, he has torturous plans to get maximum results for his revenge. Whoa.
“Gotham falls, we rise; together.”
The city crumbles. Selina may not walk again and Alfred goes with her to the hospital, whereas Bruce tells him he has to stay, to defend Gotham City and bring down Jeremiah, wherever he is out there in the chaotic madness. This is the true beginning of Batman, where we’re finally seeing his real form emerge, when it’s most necessary. At the same moment, Cpt. Gordon is refusing to abandon the city when the military and everyone else is pulling out. The villains are taking the place over, once and for all, from Freeze to Scarecrow, everyone else in between. Barb is commencing a “men–free zone” because she realises men are the reason Gotham’s in such an absolute state of disrepair. Get your life, girl!
In the streets, Bruce is looking for his enemy. He notices a signal in the sky, shining from the roof of the GCPD. The glass is cracked. You know what it looks like, don’t you pretend! This gives us the first of many meetings between Cpt. Gordon and Bruce on the roof, preparing for a hard night ahead. Because there are still terrifying, ugly things out there for them to fight.
“There are still good people out there. They need to know that we’re here, willing to fight.”
Loved this finale. Gave us lots of excitement, plus sets up what is going to be the apparent final season of Gotham. They say it’s going to be short, though I’m hoping we’ll get more. It’d be nice to have a full last season. Either way, we’re seeing the Batman really break out of Bruce, the Joker’s kicking around, lots of interesting things can come out of Dr. Strange again, plus Barb and Tabby are rocking the radical feminism. Bring on more next year!