Season 5, Episode 8: “Nothing’s Shocking”
Directed by Kenneth Fink
Written by Seth Boston
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Ace Chemicals” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Trial of Jim Gordon” – click here
Things go on as usual at the Siren’s Club. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) gets a visit from a couple old detectives giving her tips in exchange for free drinks. The old guys meet with a face from Dt. Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) past, Dt. Dix (Dan Hedaya). Dix proceeds to knife his pals before slipping off into the night. He makes mention of something they “did to that girl” years ago. Doesn’t sound nice— it does sound an awful lot like Gotham.
At the hospital, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) talk to a young woman who lived in a shelter. She tells them of rumours about something beneath the building. This puts the young Dark Knight on the case.
At the Siren’s, Dt. Bullock and Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) show up to investigate the murders. Immediately this unsettles them, given Bullock was partners with Dix, and last time either of them saw the guy he was in a wheelchair. While they have their professional troubles, Jim’s also attempting to convince Barb to “start anew” and become a better person before Gotham’s reconnected to the mainland, and prior to them having a child. Judgemental on his part? Somewhat. The expectant parents are on two sides of a coin, each existing behind a definite line of cop and criminal. But are they? Gordon might have a badge but he’s done questionable things to protect the city he loves.
Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) are having a tough time getting their shit together, worrying about potential intruders into their stronghold and arguing with each other. Mr. Penn (Andrew Sellon) comes through the door, somehow not dead. Strange, no? He says someone wouldn’t let him come back: Mr. Scarface. Whoa! Big time late in the game reference to a character from the Batman stories. Gotta love the fact Gotham‘s writers keep bringing in these great pieces of the comics, even if it’s the final season. Really widens the tapestry of the series. We’ll see more of Penn’s transformation into the Ventriloquist. A wonderful use of this relatively obscure character.
Cpt. Gordon and Dt. Bullock go see Dix in his wheelchair, much frailer than we saw him at the Siren’s. Is there a second Dix wandering around? Is it related to Professor Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong)? So many questions. Then the second Dix knocks on the door. Bullock manages to grab a skin mask off his face before the man runs off. SERIOUSLY— W? T? F? More delightfully macabre questions than answers. Is Clayface to blame?
Jim’s searching for info on the Victoria Cartwright, from Dix and Bullock’s past. The woman killed her husband. She was convicted after her daughter Jane testified against her. Jane supposedly was sent to Arkham Asylum and died there. This leads Jim to go to the old Cartwright place, finding creepy photos with faces scratched out. Someone’s hiding in the house wearing a doll’s mask. Someone who can change themselves by laying hands on a person. Cpt. Gordon takes them in for questioning at the precinct. Is she Jane? Yes. Except not really— Dr. Strange got his hands on her after she was taken from Arkham. What did Bullock and the other cops do that’s sent Jane on a revenge rampage? Harvey privately blames Dix, then strangles the old man to death. Jesus!
At times the series takes on wonderful horror-like qualities. This episode’s no exception. Bruce and Alfred are in the shelter’s basement following a trail of blood and body parts towards a door, behind which is a sinister red glow. They go through and begin to lose light. A man runs out of the darkness fleeing something behind him that growls hungrily. A man-sized creature attacks, dragging the man back. Alfred goes toe-to-toe with the mutated man. He and Bruce assume the toxins from the river have driven him insane.
Penn’s dissociative identity disorder has caused him to put all his resentful aggression towards Oswald into Mr. Scarface. The wooden Al Capone demands the key to the “treasure room.” He wants payback for Penguin’s treatment of Penn. This doesn’t exactly go against what Ed believes about his reluctant buddy Oz. But it prompts him to try and make a deal with the dummy, giving them time to solve their tricky situation. It doesn’t end well for Penn. This time he’s officially dead.
Shit goes sideways at the GCPD. Bullock plays Dix’s murder off like it was Jane. Then Jane takes on Barb’s appearance letting her escape. Harvey goes to the old house where he finds her, apologising for his part in what happened to her. She pulls a gun hoping to go suicide-by-cop. He wants her to remove the mask, so she does. Sadly, he’s ultimately forced to shoot her before she kills him. In the aftermath, Harvey tells Jim how he pushed Jane to testify against her mother, resulting in the girl’s tortured life. He’s a great character because he doesn’t hide his flaws, admitting to the damage he did before as a dirty cop and trying to find redemption. It’s compelling to watch him try buying back his soul and, sometimes, failing.
“There are better ways to find absolution”
Great episode! One of Father Gore’s favourites of the season. Nice to see a character like Bullock get some attention before the series closes out, seeing as how he’s been alongside Jim for the entire run of the show. Next is “The Trial of Jim Gordon” and it’s directed by none other than our lady, Erin Richards.