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Gotham - Pretty Hate Machine - Review

“Gotham” finally fires up the “Pretty Hate Machine” as characters collide and stories crescendo ahead of tomorrow’s finale.

Having picked up on her suicidal tone during their talk last week, Gordon smartly puts the pieces together and concludes that Leslie stole the virus so she could inject herself with it. But then, stupidly, he decides that he – the person Leslie hates most in the world – should go confront her by himself. When we (and Gordon) see her, we can tell Leslie is indeed infected because she’s wearing all black and rocking a ton of dark eye makeup (and sidebar – I guess the idea is that the weaponized version of the virus gifts its host with super strength and mental instability much faster than it did in its original form, with Barnes and with Mario). Unfortunately, what the virus has brought out in Leslie is Barbara’s personality from season two, as she goes on and on about being attracted to Gordon’s darkness, about Gordon always trying to deny that darkness, blah blah we’ve heard all this before blah. So Leslie’s big plan is to bring Gordon to the brink of death (by burying him alive, shuuuddder) so that he’ll choose to take the virus himself and, then, they’ll be able to be together the way they “were meant to be.” Morena Baccarin is clearly having a blast playing Leslie’s Dark Willow turn, but as I already noted, a lot of this plot plays like a repeat.

A quick aside before I continue – now that Leslie has been completely destroyed, the show really needs to introduce a female character on the side of good as all the others in the regular cast are baddies (or, in Selina’s case, more grey in nature). Maybe a retry with a recast Renee Montoya. Or bringing in Bruce’s cousin/future Batwoman Kate Kane could be fun. Because this nameless female officer who’s started popping up to deliver exposition to Gordon and Bullock isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Anyway, Leslie’s antics couldn’t come at a less convenient time. The shaman has completely taken control of the Court of Owls’ operations, a point he punctuates by having the ruling board slaughtered. The brainwashed Bruce is at his side, but is unable to give the kill order himself, hinting that the real Bruce is still in there somewhere. But when Dr. Strange delivers the virus bomb, the shaman insists that Bruce will be the one to detonate it and it looks like Bruce will be powerless to resist following this order. Not even the interference of Alfred – who stumbles across them while searching the Court’s safe houses with Bullock – makes a difference, and Alfred is horrified to see what has happened to his boy. The shaman and Bruce get away, but Strange is arrested (and sidebar – he has a front-row seat for Leslie’s swanning into the GCPD to announce her scheme and his reactions to her are hilarious). Off to search for Gordon, Bullock gives Alfred license to interrogate Strange (there was also an amusing bit earlier in the episode where Bullock suggested they just go ahead and give Alfred a badge already). A few dangles off the roof and Strange – ever motivated by self-survival – is ready to cut a deal.

These two separate story threads then get stitched together. Gordon figures out where the bomb has been planted – in the clock tower at the city’s train station – but, unable to communicate this information to Bullock, is forced to take the virus so he can escape his coffin and try and stop it himself. Now, I think it’s a little Mary Sue-ish that Gordon isn’t negatively affected by the virus, at least not so far, but whatever. Meanwhile, Alfred follows Strange’s tip to Wayne Enterprises and storms in to find Bruce with his hand on the detonator. But both good guys fail, as Leslie prevents Gordon from destroying the bomb and the shaman physically forces Bruce to activate it, even though he’s fatally shot by Alfred for his troubles (and sidebar – with his dying breath, the shaman tells Bruce to seek out “the Demon’s Head.” Batman fans know where this is going!). So as the episode ends, the bomb explodes, a red cloud filling the crowded station. Cliffhanger!

With Leslie and the shaman acting as the A-plot’s antagonists, the rest of the show’s villains are off in their own subplot. On one side of their brewing war, the Riddler convinces the Barbara/Tabitha/Butch triad that the Penguin will be gunning for them too and that they should work together (it’s also worth noting that the tension between Babs and Tabs is still rather thick). On the other, Oswald is furious that Mr. Freeze and Firefly have taken off (a.k.a. the show didn’t feel like paying them to be in this episode). Ping-ponging between the camps is Selina, who is first called in by Ivy to help Penguin, but then sells him out when she’s captured by Tabitha. But when both sides eventually end up in the same room for a showdown (and it’s actually really fun having all these characters sharing scenes en masse), who should strut in but Fish Mooney. She takes off with Oswald for reasons unknown, leaving the others flabbergasted. I’m guessing that, like last year, Fish is going to be the wild card going into the finale.

Now that I’ve taken apart the “Pretty Hate Machine,” I hope you come pick through the pieces of this week’s “Gotham” in the comments section.

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