Gotham S02E15 “Mad Grey Dawn” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Channel 5, Mondays, 10pm
Writer: Robert Hull
Director: Nick Copus
Essential Plot Points:
- MEANWHILE, AT THE GOTHAM MUSEUM OF ART! BECAUSE THAT NEVER ENDS BADLY!
- Ed places a very large statue of a grenade in the museum, retreats to a safe distance and then triggers the fuse attached to it. When everyone runs out (the bomb never actually explodes) he steals a particular painting and leaves a green question in its place.
- Detective Jerkface and Harv roll out, but on the way Barnes takes Jim to one side and tells him that an anonymous tip has named him as the prime suspect in Galavan’s murder. Jim’s poker face hasn’t got any better.
- It’s made worse by Ed wanting to talk to him about Kringle. He blows him off and heads out to the crime scene.
- MEANWHILE, AT CHATEAU DU BUTCH!
- Butch and Tabby are chilling by the fire when Penguin arrives. He tries to be friends and, while they point out he killed Tabby’s brother and chopped off Butch’s hand, Butch relents. He lets Penguin go, realising he’s a pathetic shell of his former self. But they have a little fun first…
- MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CRIME SCENE!
- Harv asks Jim what’s going on and Jim tells him. Harv, the second person in the episode to do it, all but says out loud he knows Jim killed Galavan and offers to help via a contact he has in internal affairs. Jim thanks him and agrees.
- They’re shown round the crime scene by the curator and realise that two other paintings were vandalised. The one that was stolen depicted an explosion at a railway station. The names of the other two artists translate to “Market” and “Street”.
- They deduce that the thief has planted a bomb at the train station on Market Street.
- MEANWHILE, AT THE SECOND STAGE OF THE PLAN!
- The GCPD arrives and evacuates the station. Gordon finds a locker with a green question mark spraypainted on it since he’s seen at least two movies about bomb disposal, he has a plan.
- The plan is to crowbar the door open and throw the bomb four feet into a gothic minaret.
- He may have slept through those movies.
- Nonetheless it works! Cautious yay!
- As the scene is cordoned off, Ed – who was there all along – pretends to arrives and gets Officer Pinkney to sign a form…
- Nearby, Harv takes Jim to one side and… well the news is not good. IA have named him as the primary suspect in Galavan’s murder.
- MEANWHILE, AT THE HARD KNOCK LIFE!
- IVY! Selina takes Bruce to see season one’s least-well-used character. She’s running botany for a gang selling magic mushrooms. They need money, so she’s slipped the gang some harmless psychotropics. They pass out, Bruce and Selina grab their big stash of money and are interrupted by Butch’s nephew, Sonny. Sonny is not happy. The gang, the mushrooms and the money are all his.
- MEANWHILE, BACK AT WHAT’S STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A GOOD SEASON OF DEXTER!
- Ed is playing with the crowbar Jim used at the station when Penguin comes in. He’s been tarred and feathered. He tries to bond with his old “room mate” but Ed’s having none of it. The life of crime is working out pretty well for him…
- MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE DARKEST VERSION OF OLIVER TWIST EVER!
- Selina tries to provoke Sonny. Sonny responds by attacking her and, when Bruce defends her, him. He beats the hell out of Bruce, who remembers the advice of Obi Wan Pennyworth, to beat a bigger guy by wearing him out.
- It’s good advice and he lets Sonny use him as a punchbag until Sonny makes a gag about his parents. Bruce then proceeds to go Gotham 3:16 on him and they run off with both the money and the mushrooms.
- MEANWHILE, AT THE PENGUIN’S INCREASINGLY TERRIBLE LIFE!
- Penguin visits his mother’s grave and is met by Elijah Van Dahl. The polite well-to-do man talks to Penguin about his mother and, before long, the two men realise they’re related. In fact, they are father and son. Elijah embraces his long-lost son and takes him home to meet his family. Penguin, happy at last, breaks down in relief, sobbing.
- MEANWHILE, AT AN EPISODE OF AT HOME WITH LEE AND JIM WRITTEN BY HAROLD PINTER!
- It’s awkward silence night at the Thompkins’ place. Lee pushes on the bombing and Jim being in the frame for Galavan’s death comes up. Lee kicks off, entirely justifiably and Jim claims he can fix it.
- He absolutely can’t.
- And they both know it.
- Harv calls, giving Jim some good(ish) news. They found where the bomb was activated from. A payphone on Dewey Avenue. Desperate to get out, Jim agrees to go take a look.
- MEANWHILE, AT DEWEY AVENUE!
- Ed arrives at Officer Pinkney’s apartment and beats him to death with the crowbar.
- Jim arrives not long after, looking for the payphone. He notices the door next to it ajar and opens it to find Pinkney’s body. This is bad.
- When Barnes arrives at the scene too having received an anonymous tip things get much, much worse.
- MEANWHILE, BACK AT FAGIN’S PLACE!
- Bruce is MESSED UP. One eye is swollen shut, and he’s covered in cuts and bruises. Selina compliments him on his toughness and Bruce, in yet another example of why David Mazouz is the best part of this cast, explains why he could take it. He knew he couldn’t be broken. He felt peaceful. He felt reassured.
In the middle of being beaten up.
- MEANWHILE, BACK AT SOMEWHERE VERY DARK
- Barnes interrogates Gordon and Jim slowly realises just how screwed he is. Harv’s report was swapped out for one by Ed, Jim’s fingerprints were on the crowbar and he had no real explanation for being in the building.
- Especially as Pinkney was apparently the witness to Jim murdering Galavan (that’s another or Ed’s set-ups). With every avenue shut to him he asks for his union rep. Disgusted, Barnes arrests him and perpwalks him through the precinct to County Jail. On the way, Jim begs Harv to help. Nearby, Ed watches his plan pay off…
- MEANWHILE, FOUR WEEKS LATER
- Jim is found guilty and sentenced to 40 years. Nearby, Bruce and Selina bemoan his fate.
- Lee visits Jim in prison. He tells her to move on and that he won’t reply to any more messages from her. He tells her to go far away and forget about him, leaving a weeping Lee watching the father of her child be taken to prison for the rest of his life.
- Harv rides with Jim on his way to jail, and swears he’ll help him. Jim thanks him and is led away to a jail filled with men he put there.
- And in Arkham, Barbara Gordon wakes up…
Ed finally takes the spotlight and the result is glorious. After weeks of being a bumbling Tyler Durden-alike, his first actual supervillain outing is exactly what this show is at its best; Byzantine, ’60s-style scheming crossed with emotional weight.
Seeing Ed walk his colleagues through his trap is huge fun and the through-line of this art thief-cum-bomber makes perfect sense at this point in the show’s timeline. We’ve had the Maniax, Galavan, the fall of Fish Mooney and Penguin. Now someone else is seizing power and doing a remarkably good job of it. That’s because Ed has one goal – at least right now; end Jim Gordon as a threat.
And he succeeds.
This is the episode we’ve been waiting for since Jim executed Galavan and it doesn’t disappoint. Ed’s scheme is a big part of that but the rest is the acting. Gotham at its worst is a retirement home for terrible performances but on its best days you get this. There are so many good performances here, several from cast members who’ve frequently been saddled with terrible material. Michael Chiklis’ Captain Barnes is especially great; disgusted and ashamed at his one-time protégé and unable to see how he’s being played. Likewise, Morena Baccarin and Donal Logue are well served by the script and Ben Mackenzie clearly revelling in finally embracing Jim’s dark side.
This is a tragedy, a story that can only ever end one way and everyone involved is at the top of their game. Cory Michael Smith in particular is on top form as the newly calculating, even malicious Ed. The Riddler is a very easy Batman villain to get wrong. A few more episodes like this and Smith could end up as defining a take on the role as Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin. There, again, subtle, sweet acting is the order of the day and his scenes with Paul Reubens are honestly poignant. Especially as this is Gotham; nothing good lasts and Penguin’s days of retirement are most certainly coming to a middle.
But again it’s David Mazouz who impresses the most. His monologue about how he felt during the fight with Sonny is a definitive Batman moment and a perfectly placed justification for Bruce’s actions. He doesn’t just fight crime for the city. He does it to exert bloody, two-fisted control over his own life. It’s a simple, horrible realisation and Mazouz drives it home with very ounce of force he has.
There are still problems, but this is a show that’s really breaking stride. The serialised format helps immensely, the cast are on great form and the chickens are all coming home to roost. Jim may be in serious trouble but Gotham continues to improve.
- “Lies, huh? Tell me the truth again?” Captain Barnes is the first to basically tell Jim he sucks. He is not the last.
- “HELLO?!” Butch’s perfectly timed reminder of the hand he “lost” in service to Penguin.
- “What kind of art thief would take time to defile such masterpieces?”
“An ignorant one?” Good job, Harv.
- “While it was happening, it was like nothing else existed. Everything I’ve been struggling with – emptiness and confusion – it just vanished. For the first time… in a long time… I knew I was going to be okay. I knew that whatever Sonny did to me I could take it. That he couldn’t break me. No one can.” This is the best moment of the episode. Mazouz, again, showing us the core of dreadful quiet at the heart of this horribly damaged boy.
- “Is this a dream?”
“It’s not a dream my boy, you’re home.” It’s clearly going to end very badly but this, and Penguin sobbing as his dad welcomed him home was un-ironically very sweet.
- “Pinkney was one of us! He deserves that! I DESERVE THAT!” Some excellent Barnes material this episode. Especially the disgust he feels at Jim’s increasingly desperate tactics.
- “This isn’t right. This can’t be right.”
“Tell me something that is.” Except, of course, it is right. Which makes it much, much worse.
- “HOW CAN YOU NOT BE WITH US?!” Again, Morena Baccarin is a vital part of the best elements of the show. This scene is some of the best work she and Ben Mackenzie have done to date.
- Ed’s plan is wonderful. Intricate but not overthought, complex but not perfect. Very much the plan of a supervillain in training.
- We love that Gotham’s ludicrously pointy architecture saves the day with the bomb.
- We actually really liked that everyone had figured out Detective Jerkface had killed Galavan. Jim is the worst liar ever for starters. But Harv’s total lack of surprise and the fact Barnes is more disgusted at Jim apparently murdering Pinkney is a really nice touch.
- Butch! Looking good, buddy! Love the new hand!
- Ed’s scheme is actually really well done. It’s a ridiculous Heath Robinson affair with way too many working parts but that’s Ed. The payoff – and the fact that even as the trap closes Jim can’t see who’s behind it – is especially great.
- Jim crowbars the locker with the bomb in it open. Because obviously he was sleeping through the DON’T POKE BOMBS class at Police Academy.
- The show wanders right up to “HA! SONNY’S STUPID BECAUSE HE’S FAT!” but never quite gets there. It still gets WAY the hell too close though.
- The drug dealer sleeping with a cookie tin full of money is, shall we say, a touch on the nose.
And The Random:
- Paul Reubens! Best-known as PeeWee Herman, beloved and deeply odd TV character of the 1980s and 1990s, Reubens has had a memorable recent run on The Blacklist. He’ll always be the hammiest vampire ever in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer to us though. Oh and he’s played Penguin’s dad once before – in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992).
- Paul Pilcz, who plays Sonny, has previously appeared in Mildred Burke and Boardwalk Empire, where he played William Wilson.
- Shot of the week is Ed’s magnificent Adam West-ian enormous bomb.
Review by Alasdair Stuart