NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Gotham” are present in this review
With Secretary Walker’s plan for Gotham City now revealed, this week’s episode of Gotham begins on quite the intense note for Gordon! “13 Stitches” hits the ground running with Gordon desperately trying to escape the pursuing and mind-controlled Nygma, with Dorrance equally determined to hunt down and kill his former military buddy. Meanwhile, Selina also discovers that her infamy over supposedly killing Jeremiah has a cost, even if this happens to align with a slight problem that Penguin requires her help with.
Now that we know who the bad guys are, “13 Stitches” seemed like it was in a good position to keep cranking up the excitement. The episode ended up taking a bit of a different approach than expected however, with two separate heist-themed storylines taking the forefront, as Gordon brings a ragtag group of characters together to try and transmit evidence that Walker and Dorrance are corrupt, while Selina and Penguin have to try and chase down a thief known as ‘Magpie’. You may, but likely won’t, recognize Magpie as a rather obscure Batman foe from DC Comics lore, whose only real high-profile appearance in any DC media is as the Catwoman stand-in of short-lived cartoon series, Beware the Batman. Even so, it’s cool to see that Gotham is still finding various enemies of Batman to squeeze into the show’s handful of remaining episodes, even as the pre-determined cancellation axe hangs over it.
Disappointingly though, the Magpie storyline in this episode never truly feels that interesting. It starts with Magpie breaking into Penguin’s vault, somehow tracking another thief’s intel, and stealing an especially valuable diamond. Penguin becomes desperate to retrieve that diamond, despite still having plenty of riches in the vault, and enlists Selina to help him catch Magpie and get his diamond back. This is actually a decent idea on paper, since a Penguin/Selina team-up could serve as a fun callback to similar alliances in, say, 1992 movie, Batman Returns, but the show just doesn’t do anything with it here. All that happens is that Penguin and Selina are briefly trapped in Magpie’s lair, surrounded by explosive fake jewels, and Selina deduces that Penguin has a way to leave Gotham City, and needs to sell the diamond to do it. If Penguin having an exit strategy is true though, then why is he still hanging around? I guess the bottom line is that Selina bargains her way to finding passage to the mainland with Penguin though, setting up her own exit from Gotham City as well, even if this is doubly pointless when you recall that neither character is obviously going to be gone for good, if at all, considering that both Penguin and Catwoman are among the most frequent recurring members of Batman’s rogues gallery.
Fortunately, the heist-style storyline at the GCPD this week helps to somewhat make up for the waste of Magpie, who is unceremoniously killed off at the end of that subplot, meaning that she’ll never even encounter Batman in the Gotham universe. Lame. Anyway, after Gordon manages to fry the chip in Nygma’s brain, and Lucius manages to subsequently remove it with some impromptu brain surgery (as you do), Gordon, Lucius, Nygma, Bruce and Alfred put together a plan to take the evidence from the chip, and transmit it to the mainland. This comes together in a fun ensemble effort that involves Nygma distracting Delta Force, who have just taken over the GCPD precinct, with a bomb and a riddle, Bruce transmitting the chip with Lucius’ instructions, and Gordon taking on Dorrance on the grounds outside. Things get further complicated when Walker tracks down Lee and hands her over to Dorrance as well, with Lee having no idea where she’s been for the past several months!
Yes, as it turns out, Lee has been in some unknown location in Gotham City this whole time, and never made it out before the bridges blew. Lee suddenly being threatened with execution after Dorrance locks most of the citizens, and Bullock, in the GCPD’s cells does create a solid sense of urgency, culminating in a fairly brutal duel between Gordon and Dorrance… Which mostly takes place off-screen at first. Yes, that was a weirdly lame way to execute this integral part of the heist, even if we do get to see a hilarious showcase of Nygma’s part of the plan instead, which is accidentally foiled by Bullock a bit early, go figure. Bruce finds minimal resistance while this is all going on, but after taking out a few Delta Force soldiers, with some help from Alfred, Bruce does manage to successfully transmit the evidence to the mainland, just in time for Gordon to learn that the government was indeed on the verge of sending relief to Gotham City once they learned about Haven. The reason why Haven was destroyed is because Walker doesn’t want relief to come to Gotham City, on account of whatever her agenda for the city is.
We also get a surprisingly believable explanation (at least, by Gotham standards), for where Lee has been, since apparently both Lee and Nygma were salvaged by Walker after they stabbed each other during the Season Four finale. This means however that Lee actually has a chip in her head too! Gordon barely fends off Lee after Walker activates her kill order against Gordon, thankfully, right before Barbara comes in to announce that she’s pregnant with Gordon’s child (this is most likely Barbara Gordon, the future Batgirl), and right before Walker is revealed to be within Gotham City herself, finding Dorrance impaled on rebar after he loses his fight with Gordon. There’s a bit of a rushed, over-stuffed conclusion here, as you can see, since Walker puts the iconic Bane mask on Dorrance, then says she’s going to take him to see Hugo Strange, no doubt completing his transformation into one of Gotham City’s deadliest super-villains, and this is tossed into the same conclusion where Gordon learns that Barbara is pregnant, and Alfred gets kidnapped by Jeremiah. Jeremiah seems to be setting up the, “One bad day” angle that The Joker tormented Batman with in acclaimed graphic novella, Batman: The Killing Joke (even if it was Gordon subjected to the, “One bad day” there, not Alfred), but regardless, it looks like we’re finally going to get a proper climactic duel between Bruce and Jeremiah next week, and we’re really overdue for one now!
“13 Stitches” is clearly a bridging episode for Gotham, one entirely meant to lay the groundwork for more dramatic developments to come over the next several weeks, but it’s entertaining, if not all that exceptional. I do wish that Penguin and Selina had more to do in their subplot, and that Magpie wasn’t such a blatantly wasted Batman villain for the show, obscure as she is, but the heist at the Delta Force-controlled GCPD is pretty enjoyable for the most part, to compensate. It’s annoying that we don’t see half of the initial scrap between Gordon and Dorrance, but Gordon mortally injuring Dorrance, only to indirectly pave the way for his imminent transformation into Bane, should create an exciting threat for down the line. It’s also great to see that Nygma and Lee mortally injuring each other in the Season Four finale did end up tying into the current villains’ plans, even if one has to wonder how Secretary Walker isn’t arousing suspicion in the U.S. government right now, since she quite obviously should not be directly hanging out in the ruined Gotham City. With Jeremiah now ready to execute his last big act of pre-Batman insanity however, all eyes are probably going to be on Bruce next week, as the final step in creating the Clown Prince of Crime appears to be upon us soon!
- Funny, engaging heist storyline at the GCPD
- Dorrance finally being on the way to becoming Bane
- Gordon re-discovering Lee, only to learn Barbara is pregnant
- Magpie subplot with Penguin and Selina feels wasted
- Why is a chunk of Gordon's fight with Dorrance off-screen?