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Gotham - By Fire - Review

“Gotham” burns brightly with “By Fire,” what I thought was the best episode of the show’s second season so far. The Firefly mini-arc smartly works as both a strong standalone arc and as part of the serialized story that’s been building.

Unlike most of the show’s villains, Bridgit Pike – hiding out at Selina’s while the cops scour the city for Firefly – is feeling remorseful about the death and destruction she caused. Selina suggests she split town and comes up with a scheme to raise the funds, claiming that she’s in it for the cash when it’s clear she cares about her old friend. The target is an underground club selling women as slaves. Bridgit is horrified (and clearly relates to their plight), but Selina implores her to worry about herself. For reasons I don’t understand, Selina removes the mask she’s wearing when they begin the robbery, which allows a security camera across the street to capture her face and for Gordon to identify her as Bridgit’s accomplice.

Before Gordon can catch up with the girls, though, the Pike brothers catch up with them and abduct their sister back. In a disturbing scene, they handcuff her to a radiator and chuck firecrackers at her, screaming at her for trying to ditch their family. It’s the final straw and a switch flips within Bridgit, who roasts them like marshmallows. “Cal flamed up good,” she relates to a horrified Selina, “but it was Joe who burned the brightest.”

Bridgit express her desire to punish “the pervs and the bullies” that hurt people like her and Selina and heads back to the underground club. Worried that she is going to get herself killed, Selina tips off Gordon. But Bridgit is too far gone and she seemingly allows herself to be consumed by flames than submit to the police. “I think she wanted it to end this way,” Gordon tries to gently tell a devastated Selina. Camren Bicondova gives a great performance in this sequence and, overall, this mini-arc was a strong showcase for her.

The manhunt for Firefly also puts the first cracks in the alliance between Gordon and Captain Barnes. Early on in the episode, Gordon is dismissive when his tried-and-true investigative method – beating up a suspect – is questioned by two of the Strike Force cops and then is flabbergasted when Barnes dresses him down for it. And later, when Gordon tries to plead Bridgit’s case to Barnes, he’s unaffected by the “boo hoos” behind her murder spree. It’ll be interesting to see how Gordon’s growing appreciation of Gotham’s shades of grey continue to clash with Barnes’ by-the-book attitude. I was also intrigued by Barnes’ mention of having “learned [that] the hard way” not to cross the line because I can’t help thinking, this being “Gotham,” he’s not as squeaky clean as he’s been presented so far.

Not too much of Bruce this week. We see him and Alfred continue his training with a boxing lesson, during which it’s exposited that the off-screen Lucius Fox is close to fixing Thomas Wayne’s computer (and sidebar – the show is doing a much better job using all its regulars this year, but six episodes in, Lucius has only been in one and Harvey Dent in zero). He also gets invited to dinner with the Galavans by Silver, where Theo needles an oblivious Bruce about his lack of a family and the corruption at Wayne Enterprises. The two threads humorously intersect when Bruce gets all, “Silver called?!?!” smiley and Alfred school him about losing his focus by socking him in the nose. Heh.

Finally, Edward Nygma is on cloud nine about his relationship with Kristen Kringle. But then he fatefully overhears a conversation she has with Leslie where Kristen worries a) about the “missing” Officer Dougherty coming after her and b) that Edward is keeping a secret from her. This sets the stage for Edward to misguidedly decide that appropriate pillow talk after sleeping with Kristen for the first time is to confess that he killed Dougherty. Aghast, Kristen makes the classic TV mistake of berating and provoking the person who’s just admitted to murder instead of sneaking out while he’s in the bathroom or something. Edward manages to grab her before she makes it through the door and, as he pleads his case to her, doesn’t notice that he’s choking the life out of her. And that’s the end of Kristen Kringle. Given how the show stretched out Edward’s crush, I’m surprised the show brought their romance to its inevitable conclusion so soon. Curious to see where Edward’s story goes from here (Leslie seems to have gotten chummy with Kristen, perhaps she starts asking questions when she disappears?).

But, to my surprise, the episode didn’t end with Edward’s despairing screams. We instead discover that Bridgit is alive, strapped to a gurney in some sort of medical facility. Its name? Indian Hill, a division of Wayne Enterprises. Ooooh! Interesting to see that plot point from last season loop around (located on the Arkham Asylum land, the Indian Hill parcel was bartered over by the different mob factions) and I can’t wait to learn more about this twist.

Now that I’ve burned through my thoughts on “By Fire”, be sure to share yours in the comments section.

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