NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Gotham” are present in this review
It seemed inevitable that Captain Barnes would one day have to fall, and it seems that day has come. This week’s episode of Gotham, “Blood Rush” had Alice Tetch’s infected blood fully taking its toll on the GCPD’s captain, as he finally starts giving in to his growing urges to punish the guilty, with extreme prejudice.
At the start of the episode, Barnes finds an underworld cleaner, one that he quite literally pulls apart after finding him preparing to dissolve a body. This puts him on the tense path of having to mask his crime from the other GCPD officers, including Gordon, who has just taken back his badge and returned to the force, fortunately reviving his fantastic rapport with Bullock as the two work cases once again. At the same time, Barnes begins to battle his demons, as his sub-conscious desires come to the forefront, and we learn in brutal fashion that Barnes isn’t so much about law and order as he is making sure the guilty end up paying for their crimes, in a big way.
The Barnes storyline was easily the highlight of the episode, as we start to see the inevitable tragedy of the character’s hardline convictions unfolding. As much as Barnes tries to fight against his growing dark side, it’s easy to feel like that will eventually be a losing battle. Gordon must ascend to the rank of the GCPD’s commissioner, after all, so we knew that Barnes had to go eventually. Seeing Barnes go this way though feels especially impactful, as, rather than dying a hero, Barnes is slowly becoming another villain, nicely echoing some of the fallen figures of Gotham City’s lawmakers that eventually became some of the city’s most vicious criminals. Harvey Dent/Two-Face definitely comes to mind there, and in the case of this show, even Edward Nygma sort of fits that bill.
Nygma got a sizable subplot this week too, continuing to build on his growing whirlwind relationship with Isabella, though this storyline was a bit faultier than the main Barnes plot. The idea of Penguin being jealous of Isabella, and Isabella starting to catch on to Nygma’s demons about murdering Kristen Kringle is kind of interesting, but the way that the storyline was executed felt kind of shaky. Nygma trying to get Penguin to break up with Isabella for him feels excessively juvenile, even for him, and is a transparent recipe for trouble. Isabella even catches on immediately that Penguin is in love with Nygma himself, making one wonder why Nygma seems to have either forgotten or never caught on to that fact, if it’s that obvious.
The way that this storyline ended also felt very strange and rushed. Isabella decides to dress up like Kristen Kringle to prove that Nygma won’t hurt her, after she doesn’t accept Nygma’s second-hand break-up, and when Nygma decides to take her back, Penguin responds by cutting her brake line. This seemingly has Isabella colliding with a train and dying, though her fate is left somewhat ambiguous, since there’s a cutaway to another scene, right as a crashing noise is heard. Like I said, if this is Isabella being killed off, it’s very rushed, since it felt like there could have been a more satisfying way to draw out this storyline a bit more. Moreover, I get that there’s probably not much evidence to tie Penguin to the crime, but really, he’s the mayor now! Why would he risk it either way? Even for someone in love, killing an innocent woman when in such a high public position, especially in a crime of passion, is an extremely stupid thing to do, even by the standards of Gotham City. It will be especially annoying if this is indeed the reason why Penguin inevitably loses his position as mayor eventually.
Speaking of petty jealousy, we also got it from Mario Falcone’s end this week, as he and Leslie get an engagement dinner thrown for them by Carmine Falcone, which Gordon and Bullock eventually crash after tracking their current case. Mario taking Gordon aside and acting incredibly insecure for literally no reason, when Leslie has given him no indication whatsoever that she has any romantic interest in Gordon anymore, when Gordon is on-duty no less, feels really childish and ill-advised. It’s even worse when Mario punches out Gordon! When Gordon walks out of that room with a black eye at Mario Falcone’s own engagement party, is that seriously going to be something that’s good for Mario’s reputation? Is it really in any way worth it? Gordon’s exactly right when he says that Mario is just being a jealous idiot with no justification. I don’t know what it was about Gotham this week, but it’s not like this show to start subtly acting like a teen soap of all things.
Fortunately, things still ended on a great note, as Barnes arrests a twisted plastic surgeon that removes faces and transplants them for those looking to avoid the watchful eye of the law. I don’t know if this is a precursor for Batman villain, Hush, who is also a plastic surgeon with a panache for removing and replacing faces, but either way, it was a nicely grisly and effective foe to push Barnes over the edge. When the guy walks, Barnes sees him at Leslie’s and Mario’s engagement party, then corners him in the bathroom, before saying that everyone is guilty, and he is now judge, jury and executioner. After pushing the guy through a wall (yes, through a wall!), and onto a car several stories below, Gordon later finds his way to the surgeon, who tells him with his possible dying breath that Barnes was the one who dropped him. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag, and it couldn’t come at a more dramatic time, as Barnes starts favouring Gordon more than ever in his desire to clean up Gotham City.
The idea of Gordon becoming the only hope to stop Barnes, now ironically becoming the very corrupt force that he originally wanted to root out of the GCPD since his debut last season, is one that gives Gordon something useful and interesting to do, now that he’s back at the precinct. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gordon becomes captain of the GCPD before the end of this season too, which would then pave the way for more interesting storylines in a potential, albeit very likely fourth season. He’ll certainly have earned it, if he manages to stop a man that’s becoming as strong and vicious as he is unstable!
- Barnes' gruesome first murder at the start
- Gordon and Bullock working cases again
- Gordon learning of Barnes' terrible secret
- Isabella's weird choice to impersonate Ms. Kringle
- Penguin's irrational murder attempt of Isabella
- Mario's idiotic jealousy coming out of nowhere