I finally realized what might actually make Gotham
work: if it was about the Penguin and the Penguin only. Yes, the Bruce scenes often are the strongest in each episode, but the Penguin storyline is one that feels like it could last multiple seasons while we'll likely tire of Bruce by the end of the second or even third season.
Gordon's storyline, though? It's all over the map. His journey feels scattershot, and after this episode, "The Anvil or the Hammer," I struggle to see how in the world he eventually gets back together with Barbara. So let's start with that storyline first.
Gordon Kills the Ogre
Even though she saw what looked like a weapons room at the end of the previous episode, Barbara stayed the night with the Ogre and presumably spent most of the night having sex with him. To get her to stay, the Ogre tells her, "The night I met you ... I was going to kill you." He then tells her he sees something in her and she's the one for him. He thinks she's going to fall for him with that line.
Barbara, however, does not run out of the room screaming at first, as she takes in the full depth of the Ogre's insanity. When she does try to run, she learns she can't escape the apartment and the Ogre catches her.
At GCPD, Gordon tells Leslie he feels guilty for the Ogre's actions: "Whatever happens to Barbara, it's on me." Bullock breaks up the conversation by bringing in someone he claims knows where the Ogre is.
During the interrogation, the witness wants money. Gordon asks Bullock to leave so he can beat the information out of him. What should be a big character moment -- Gordon pulling a Bullock-like move even though it's against the law -- winds up being over in five seconds. Gordon learns the Ogre frequents a club called the Fox Club (though it sounded like Fox Glove every time someone pronounces it).
It's an exclusive club and one that requires an invitation, so Gordon goes to ask Penguin for help. When he demurs, Gordon grabs him by the collar, while holding Butch off with his gun. Penguin "accommodates his request" but says Gordon now owes him a big favor.
Some of these scenes are intercut with scenes taking place after the Ogre has tortured Barbara in some way. It's never clear how she was tortured, especially since there are no bruises or any other physical signs of trauma on her. While Gordon and Bullock plan their stakeout at the Fox Club, the Ogre shows Barbara his collection of photos of all the women he's killed previously before. She promptly faints at seeing it.
Bullock arrives at the Fox Club that night -- it's basically like Eyes Wide Shut if it was rated PG. In a somewhat funny, yet painfully ridiculous scene, Bullock quickly breaks his cover and reveals he's a police officer after being grossed out by some sort of sex performed on stage with a pig.
Back at the Ogre's place, Barbara wakes up on the couch and starts crying while the Ogre cuddles her. He wants her to name someone for him to kill so he can prove he loves her. She has to give him a name or he will kill her.
Gordon arrives at the club and the owner refuses to cooperate at first. One of her workers admits to knowing the Ogre -- when she's shown a picture of him -- and even shows off the scar he gave her nine years ago. She gives them a few details about the apartment and they think they have an idea of where it is.
Gordon and Bullock arrive at the Ogre's apartment but don't find Barbara or the Ogre. They stumble upon a cordless phone in the weapons room when it starts ringing. It's the Ogre and he stupidly reveals where he is because of a ton of background noise that Bullock and Gordon quickly, and correctly, recognize. We learn the Ogre and Barbara have headed to her parents' place.
I actually figured she suggested the Ogre kill Leslie, but no, apparently it was her parents.
Gordon and Bullock arrive at the house sometime later to find Barbara's parents murdered. Barbara enters the room, looking like she's in total shock. Or like she's drugged.
The Ogre gets the jump on Bullock and knocks him out, causing him to fall down the stairs. He then attacks Gordon in the living room and they fight. Gordon gets a hold of his gun, but the Ogre puts a knife to Barbara's neck. Bullock comes in and pulls a gun, and he and Gordon fire. Gordon shoots the Ogre right in the head, killing him.
The next day, Gordon gets a round of applause from his fellow cops at GCPD. He also apologizes to Leslie and tells her he loves her, not Barbara.
Nygma Covers His Tracks
So how did Nygma plan to dispose of his first victim's body? By chopping it up in pieces and bringing it in a suitcase to GCPD. Because the best place to dispose of a body is from within a police station...
A few hours later, Nygma is still pouring chemicals over body parts to dispose of them when Kringle comes by, needing some case files. Because Nygma is an idiot, she sees the body parts quickly, but also quickly buys his lies about it being a current case. She asks if he's seen her boyfriend, Tom, and Nygma says he hasn't.
Later that night, Nygma talks to Tom's skull because he has skipped about eight steps and has gone full-on psycho already. He then puts the skull in a bag and beats it with a hammer to crush it.
Afterwards, Nygma goes to see Kringle, who has apparently received a letter from Tom saying he left town. In a clever moment, we see that the first letter of each line spells 'NYGMA.'
Bruce Meets a Future Ally
Alfred hands Bruce a package from Selina at the beginning of the episode. What he doesn't realize is that it's a copy of Bunderslaw's key that they stole in the previous episode. Alfred then tells Bruce that Reggie, no matter what he did at the end of his life, still deserves a proper send-off and he wants to go to his funeral.
Bruce heads to Wayne Enterprises and gets a tour. He asks to go to the bathroom and sets off the fire alarm. While everyone starts to evacuate, he sneaks into Bunderslaw's office -- because of course it is that easy -- and starts looking for the hidden safe. Bunderlsaw finds Bruce going through his safe within seconds. He tells Bruce he knows Selina borrowed his key and has been expecting him.
Bunderslaw tells Bruce his father did what he did years earlier -- came in with secret files and demanded to know about the company's illegal dealings. But then he eventually went along with it. And now Bruce has a chance to reconsider.
Lucius Fox enters and escorts Bruce out of Bunderslaw's office. Even though he literally just met Bruce, Fox tells him privately that he knew Bruce's father well and he kept "his true self hidden." Okay.
The next day, back at Wayne Manor, Bruce tells Alfred that Selina pushed Reggie, causing him to die. He also tells Alfred about Reggie's connection to Bunderslaw, and that his father and grandfather chose to stay quiet about all the illegal things the company was involved in.
Later that day, Bruce cuts up a picture of his father and posts it to the bulletin board he's using to track all of the company's illegal activities.
The War Begins
Penguin begins to put his plan into action to take down Maroni. It starts with having Butch hide weapons at the bar that Penguin purchased in a previous episode, and then Penguin waiting for the right time for when Maroni will be there. It's apparently on the day of someone named Tommy Bones being released from prison.
On the night of a celebration for Bones, the Irish man Penguin hired to kill Maroni enters, pretending to be there to present a gift from Falcone. He says the gift comes with a message and claims he was there to kill Maroni. His gun jams and one of Maroni's men then kills him.
Butch delivers the news to Penguin at his club, who isn't surprised in the least. He had removed the firing pins from the guns. He wants Maroni alive and is out for blood.
A package arrives for Falcone near the end of the episode. It's the head of one of his henchmen. Maroni and his henchmen then go on a shooting spree.
At the end of the episode, the Captain tells them that all cases are on hold until they get a handle on this mob war that has broken out between Falcone and Maroni. Penguin couldn't be more pleased.
The season 1 finale has a lot of plotlines to deal with, as this episode surprisingly leaves a lot of things hanging. How will Fish leave the show? Will there be a definitive victor in the mob war or will we be left wondering who survived? Will Nygma commit another horrific act? Will Bruce give up his pursuit of Bunderslaw? And will Leslie be written out of the show so that the writers can do the impossible task of trying to rehabilitate Barbara next season so that she eventually marries Gordon?
I'm hoping the finale actually tries something the show has failed to do before -- focus on one, maybe two, plotlines. Resolve them. Completely. And then next season, tackle the rest of the mess.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.