NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Gotham” are present in this review
Gotham is fully moving towards its latest climax as of Season Two’s penultimate episode this week, and that meant that there was no shortage of excitement at Arkham Asylum! With Selina now at the mercy of Bridget Pike, now fully lost in her Firefly persona, Bruce enacts a plan with Lucius Fox to break into Arkham, against Alfred’s wishes, and thus we have, “A Legion of Horribles”, a particularly strong episode of Gotham this week, especially as it reveals another unforeseen element behind Hugo Strange’s agenda.
Turns out that Hugo Strange has been experimenting at Indian Hill for the primary purpose of finding the secret to immortality, and this mission was spurred by none other than the Court of Owls! A very recent addition to Batman lore from DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, the Court of Owls has since become a big part of Gotham City’s mythology, being a secret society of manipulators and politicians that has heavily influenced the city since Colonial times. Tying them into Hugo Strange’s experiments is a pretty cool twist, especially since even Strange clearly fears them, though this is no doubt a tease for Season Three, and little else for now. It’s a bummer that we have to wait to see the Court of Owls fully come to prominence on the show, but at least their introduction already gives us something to look forward to this Fall!
Strange became more vulnerable in general during the first half of the episode, which was an interesting switch, and this was realized by him successfully reviving a dead Fish Mooney, with Jada Pinkett-Smith returning to her regular role from Season One in this episode! Unlike the other revived patients however, Fish has all of her memories and emotions fully intact, which gives Strange the breakthrough he needs to stave off the immortality-seeking Court of Owls. So far, not much is done with Fish beyond sticking her in a cell though, where she discovers some persuasive powers to get her a grilled cheese sandwich (it makes sense when you see it), and it’s disappointing that the show went to the trouble of bringing back Pinkett-Smith, only to stick her in a dark room. Maybe she’ll have more to do in next week’s season finale, but for now, Fish’s revival didn’t amount to a whole lot, sadly.
Despite that, there was an awesome sense of impending doom after Strange’s big breakthrough, which comes right as the various heroes begin closing in on him. Gordon uses Bruce’s plan of trying to tour Arkham to sneak in and help retrieve Selina Kyle, and Alfred puts Bullock and the GCPD on standby. When things inevitably go wrong, most of the GCPD forces, and presumably Alfred, head straight for the asylum, and probably into a major trap, which will no doubt be the backbone of next week’s season finale. The characters in general all seem to be backed into tight corners in fact, with Selina ironically being their last hope at escape, after she manages to convince Firefly, under the delusion that she’s a, “Fire goddess”, into being her servant. Maybe Fish will end up being a blessing in disguise, possibly setting her up to pop up every so often in Season Three, but I’d imagine that Selina would probably be most helpful in a hopeless situation like this.
What makes things fall apart so heavily is Bruce directly confronting Strange about killing his parents, and despite this possibly being a facepalm-worthy moment in the wrong hands, the scene was actually handled remarkably well. Strange’s genuine regret gave him a very grand, Machiavellian-style presence, as he legitimately begs Bruce not to force his hand. In Strange’s own twisted mind, he believes that he’s doing the right thing, and that’s one of the main reasons why he’s one of the best villains that this show has featured to date. Likewise, Bruce truly became his father’s son here, as he puts his money where his mouth is, and confidently tells Strange that he would rather die than betray his father’s memory. Bruce isn’t the child he was during Season One especially, and that came into focus in this moment more than it has all season, which is awesome!
Immortality and a resurrected Fish Mooney wasn’t the only breakthrough that Strange stumbled on in this episode either. Strange manages to perform another successful experiment on one Basil Karlo, whom Batman fans and DC enthusiasts would know as shapeshifting Gotham City menace, Clayface! It’s taken quite a while for Season Two to make good on its promise of including Clayface, but better late than never, I suppose. Anyway, Clayface’s introduction was also highly entertaining, especially when Strange uses experimental technology to morph Karlo’s malleable face into the identical likeness of a captured Jim Gordon! It looks like the show is setting up Gordon to take another fall in the public eye, which hopefully doesn’t end up being too tedious, though even if Clayface merely provides an obstacle for Bullock and his men next week, it looks to be an inspired use of the villain nonetheless.
With everyone staring down danger, as Gordon sees Clayface steal his likeness, Bruce and Lucius find themselves cornered in a deadly gas chamber by Nygma, and Alfred and Bullock prepare to lead the cops into a dangerous fight, Gotham is hotter than it’s been in a little while! That’s great, since, “A Legion of Horribles” nicely laid the groundwork for the season finale next week, especially with an even bigger threat than Strange starting to appear on the horizon. There’s more forces yet to come too, as Penguin will likely join the fray after he decides to trace Galavan’s revival back to its source, and maybe Barbara and Tabitha will even show up for some bad-natured fun as well. Season Two’s final episode is bound to be pretty crazy for our heroes, though perhaps it’s Strange that will most be paying the price for science.
- Great sense of impending doom with Strange and Arkham
- Bruce/Strange interactions
- The Court of Owls make a cool appearance
- Not much is done with Fish's revival yet