On this episode of Gotham, titled “A Dark Knights: The Blade’s Path,” Butch awakens and adopts an alter ego, Sofia tries to get close to Penguin and Bruce seeks revenge against Ra’s al Ghul.
After being shot in the head and in a coma for six months, Butch aka Cyrus Gold, is taken by two orderlies and dumped in Slaughter Swamp.
Swamp Thing, You Make My Heart Sing
There’s some seriously questionable stuff in that marsh because Butch awakens from his coma and emerges from the murky waters. His hair is white, and while Butch was never especially sharp, his IQ seems to have dropped even lower. He encounters a group of men, beats them senseless and steals some clothes. He hears a nursery rhyme about Solomon Grundy playing on a phonograph and begins to repeat the lyrics (Grundy is a villain in the DC Comic universe who was a murder victim by the name of Cyrus Gold who returned as a zombie.)
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A Way to Kill Ra’s al Ghul
Bullock is back, and Gordon questions if anyone has contacted the Captain about Ra’s al Ghul. His trial has been pushed off one honorable Judge Bam Bam’s docket. Gordon’s worried that because Ra’s is a minister of a foreign country, he’ll weasel out murder. Bullock claims not to know anything about Ra’s, but he’s not being exactly forthcoming with Gordon in other areas. Gordon discovers Bullock plans to release all of Jim’s collars because they have licenses from Penguin. This comes straight from the Commissioner who is getting paid off by Penguin.
Meanwhile, Bruce is still obsessed with Ra’s knife. Bruce uses Dr. Winthrop’s notes to uncover the meaning of the description on the handle that says the knife is intended for the one who bathes in the healing waters. Bruce tells Alfred he thinks this could mean the weapon can be used against Ra’s. This would explain why Ra’s wants it so badly; it’s the one thing that can kill him. Alfred suspects Bruce wants to do the honors and reminds his charge of his vow — no killing. Alfred warns Bruce that taking a life, never mind how justified, will take him down a path darker than he could ever imagine.
Bruce and Alfred attend Alex’s funeral. Gordon arrives and passes some bad news on to Alfred. Ra’s has been given diplomatic immunity. The Nanda Parbat embassy has filed papers to have Ra’s extradited immediately. Gordon is worried about Bruce and wants Alfred to keep an eye on him. Gordon isn’t happy that instead of protecting Bruce, his guardian appears to be putting him in harm’s way. These two aren’t in a good place, but they do agree to try and keep the news about Ra’s from Bruce for as long as possible. Too bad Bruce overhears their conversation.
The Goodbye Girl
Barbara visits Ra’s, ready to spring him from Blackgate, but Ra’s has other ideas. He simply wants to say goodbye. When he brought her back to life in the healing waters, his intent was to have her be his eyes and ears in Gotham, but she became so much more. Barb isn’t interested in compliments. Ra’s made her a promise: do as he says, and she would receive a gift beyond her imagination. (I guess reincarnation just isn’t good enough.)
Ra’s places a hand on the glass box that is serving as his cell, and through it, passes something onto Barbara. She’s not sure what it is, but Ra’s promises she’ll soon find out. And with that, the twosome part ways…for now.
The Name Game
Penguin’s licensing scheme is a big success, according to Mr. Penn. Eighty six percent of the crime in the city is accounted for under Pax Penguina. This isn’t good enough for Oswald who chooses to focus on the other 14 percent. He orders Penn to get Firefly to make examples of anyone who isn’t in compliance.
Enter Sofia Falcone who invites Penguin to lunch. Sofia points out that while Penguin may think he has everything, there’s one thing he lacks — the Falcone name. A name that once accounted for 100 percent of the criminal activity in Gotham. By having lunch in public, it will show that Penguin has the support of the Falcone family, and that should be enough to send the outlying criminal elements scurrying back. Penguin’s original plan was to kill Sofia, but decides to put it on the back burner now.
Grundy Meets Nygma
Nygma, desperate to regain his mental capacity, ransacks a pharmacy looking for a chemical solution to his problem. The pharmacist has an idea. He claims to have some pills called Smartivia that is supposed to boost brain function. As Nygma searches for the drug, the pharmacist takes the opportunity to stab Nygma, in of all places, the hand, pinning it to a desk. He takes Nygma’s gun which turns out to be a fake. All Nygma wants to know if the pills work which, of course, they don’t (sugar pills). The pharmacist calls the police, but Nygma frees himself before they arrive.
In the alley, Nygma encounters Butch. Ed swears he never had an issue with the gangster and blames everything on Barbara. But Butch/Grundy doesn’t remember or care. He does indicate some interest that Nygma appears to know who he is, so Grundy knocks Ed out and carries him off.
Nygma regains consciousness and Butch asks if Nygma knows Grundy, which he obviously doesn’t. Nygma has a few questions of his own, like what the hell happened to Butch to turn him into a pasty swamp monster? Once Nygma realizes Butch/Grundy has no idea who he is, he tries to leave, but Grundy is in the market for a pal, and Nygma happens to be available. Nygma insists he’s in no position to help anyone since he can’t even help himself. Hell, Ed can’t even rob a pharmacy. In a gesture of goodwill, Grundy offers Nygma a hot dog from a cart he stole, so this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Ed could use some muscle in his life and anyone is smarter than poor Grundy.
Grundy proves his usefulness when the two are attacked by a bunch of street thugs. I’m not clear if they’re the guys Grundy pummeled the night before, some of Penguin’s guys, or old associates of Nygma’s, but no matter what, they’re out for blood. Grundy dispatches them readily although his arm does catch fire in the process. Ed puts out the fire, earning Grundy’s devotion in the process. I’m not sure this duo surpasses Nygma and Pengin in their heyday, but they aren’t half bad.
Free Ra’s al Ghul
Alfred fails in his task to keep an eye on Bruce who slips into his batsuit in the middle of the night, grabs the knife and disappears. Alfred goes to Gordon for help. He’s convinced Bruce has gone to Blackgate to try and kill Ra’s al Ghul.
Bruce successfully breaks into a maximum security prison, steals an I.D. and turns off the security cameras. He makes his way to Ra’s cell and opens the door. Ra’s appears to be sleeping, so Bruce removes the knife but finds himself unable to use it. As Bruce turns to go, Ra’s calls him a “weak, foolish boy” (Yeah, that Ra’s is a faker.)
Ra’s hits Bruce, freeing the knife. Ra’s tells Bruce that he’s still not ready and pushes him onto the floor. Several guards enter. Bruce identifies himself and orders the men to stop Ra’s, but they are Ra’s henchman. They knock Bruce unconscious and drag him off.
Gordon and Alfred arrive at Blackgate to look for Bruce, not realizing that Ra’s and his men have complete control over the prison and are expecting them.
Bruce wakes up in what could best be described as Blackgate’s basement, eerily an appropriate temporary lair for Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s informs Bruce that Gordon and Alfred are upstairs. Foolishly, Bruce demands that Ra’s let them go as if he’s in any position to make demands.
Bruce figures out that the guards were replaced before he got there, and Ra’s applied for diplomatic immunity, knowing Bruce would hear about it and come for him. Ra’s admits this was all to acquire the knife, but not for the reason that Bruce thinks. Ra’s hasn’t seen the knife in ages. It was first given to him after he was bathed in the Lazarus Pit. While submerged in the waters, Ra’s had a vision of Bruce who was to be his heir. Bruce is the only one who can end Ra’s suffering. Ra’s hands Bruce the knife and asks him to set him free.
The Way to a Boy’s Heart is Through His Mother
Sofia chooses a Hungarian restaurant to appeal to Oswald’s more sentimental side as his mother was Hungarian. The owners also happen to be old friends of the Falcone family. Sofia goes to great lengths to make the meal “special.” Penguin just wants to get in, be seen and get out, but Sofia urges him to try the goulash. Oswald doesn’t think it will stand up against his mother’s recipe, but when he takes a bite, he’s overwhelmed and rushed out of the restaurant. Sofia happened to get her hands on Gertrud’s recipe.
Sofia heads to the Iceberg Lounge, apologizing for upsetting Oswald. But Penguin isn’t buying the contrite act. He knows it isn’t a coincidence that the goulash tasted just like his dearly-departed mother’s. Penguin figures Sofia is buttering him up, but she questions why he finds it so hard to believe someone would want to do something nice for him. Oswald reveals the only person who ever did anything nice for him without expecting something in return was Gertrud.
Sofia tells Penguin she envies him because her father never helped anyone unless it benefitted him, and eventually, it drove away everyone who ever loved him. Sofia insists all she wants to do is help. Sofia figures out the only way to get to Penguin is through his foot. She notices it bothering him and hones in on the kingpin’s Achilles Heel, so to speak. Sofia recalls that when she was a girl, she broke her ankle. Her father told her to put ice on it and tough it out. When Sofia’s mother took her to the hospital, she told her daughter that ice actually makes the pain worse; what she needed was warmth. (What a yummy metaphor.)
Oswald remembers that his mother used to sing, so as Sofia massages Oswald’s foot, she hums a little tune, and there’s a noticeable thaw in Penguin.
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A Destiny Fulfilled
Having served time at Blackgate, Gordon senses things are off, and he and Alfred get into a fight with Ra’s men. Alfred demands to know Bruce’s whereabouts, but the last-standing guard promises Ra’s has plans for Master Wayne, and they’ll never find him. Gordon figures the least public base is the prison’s sub-basement.
Ra’s has walked the earth for centuries waiting for Bruce. Only he can kill him and only with that dagger. That is Ra’s curse and the meaning of his vision. Bruce thinks this is all another manipulation, and whatever Ra’s curse is, he deserves it for everything he’s done. Ra’s understands Bruce’s anger, but unless he strikes Ra’s down with the blade, Bruce will never be free. But Bruce refuses, so Ra’s says he will disappear and let Bruce live his life. Bruce will follow the path of light and grow into a fine man. He’ll become a husband and father. There may come a day when Bruce forgets Ra’s ever existed. But Ra’s will return and kill everyone Bruce loves.
The threat works because Bruce stabs Ra’s with the dagger, and Ra’s turns into a skeleton right before Bruce’s eyes. Alfred and Gordon arrive to catch the very end of the show.
Gordon has no plans to arrest Bruce. His story is Ra’s men infiltrated the prison and Ra’s escaped. Bruce laments betraying himself and his parents’ memory. He took a life. Gordon says that just because he knows that he is capable of doing something, doesn’t mean he has to do it again. Gordon knows Bruce believes in doing good and fighting for what is right. Nothing that happened with Ra’s changes that.
Bruce decides his vigilante days are over, but Alfred tries to convince him otherwise. Yes, they started this to prepare for Ra’s return, but it’s bigger than that now. Alfred sees it. Bruce can make a difference. Bruce doesn’t believe he’s the hero Gotham needs. He made that decision the minute he killed Ra’s al Ghul. He took the dark path. Alfred knows it will be a long, bumpy journey back, but Alfred knows Bruce can do it, and when he’s ready, the batsuit and Alfred will be waiting for him.
Nygma has a plan. He wants to use Grundy’s muscle to make money. With money, Ed can become smart again, and then, maybe, they can figure out what the hell happened to Butch.
Nygma takes Grundy to an underground fighting club, run by a woman named Cherry (Marina Benedict). Also working at the club is Lee. Yes, Jim’s ex is back in town and is hanging out with a very unsavory crowd.
What power did Ra’s give Barbara? What is up with Lee? Could she still be affected by the virus, or has she just fully embraced her bad girl? Will Grundy become more of a threat or remain a mindless oaf? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.