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REVIEW: Gotham 2X08 “Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s the Night”

“What is she playing at?”

That’s the question of the episode and, if you’ve been Team Barbara as of late, (agreeing that Galavan hasn’t been using her to her… fullest, albeit straight-up psychotic, potential) Gotham’s “Tonight’s the Night,” was likely the episode for you. The former future Mrs. Jim Gordon came out to play this week and reaffirmed to everyone in Gotham, and everyone watching Gotham, that she comes with so much baggage full of unfinished business that she’d likely need an entire staff of bellhops to carry it. 

Spoilers ahead!

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We open with what initially seems like a positively swell dream of Barbara’s: her wedding with Jim. Of course, this being Barbara’s mind, the dream quickly turns south and transforms into her nightmare: Penguin as the priest, Arkham patients as the guests, Galavan creepier than ever on the organ, and… oh right, Lee as Jim’s bride. Barbara is bound and gagged in a pew, laughed at by everyone in the room before having dozens of guns pulled on her, prompting her to awaken in the Galavan penthouse with a gasp. She seems to quickly forget the nightmare when her eyes catch sight of a neatly wrapped box that is absolutely begging for her attention.

Cut to: The Galavan siblings sharing one of their standard creepy/menacing chats, with Theo bringing up the fact that Gordon has, “forced us to accelerate our plans.” Said plans naturally involve young Bruce, whom Galavan still plans on taking Wayne Enterprises from. Tabitha is quick to inform her brother of her doubt over his ability to snag the Wayne family legacy from Bruce, pointing out that Theo’s, “not that charming.” But Theo being Theo means he has another card to play, in the form of a mysterious envelope, but the only way he can actually play it is if Gordon doesn’t have the opportunity to interfere.

He needs someone to keep Gordon distracted, occupied, and eventually buried six feet under.

Enter: Barbara.

Barbara who has been waiting to be the main act since joining Galavan’s merry band of murderous misfits and who is more than happy with the Mayor’s promise that, “Today is the day you get to kill Jim Gordon.”

An evil Galavan scene naturally means that a Gordon scene follows in the form of him trying to convince the Captain that the new Mayor is the man behind Gotham’s latest fires, murders, and breakouts. Unfortunately, Gordon saying something is true doesn’t make it true, and the Captain is quick to remind the young detective that, unless he has actual evidence, there’s nothing they can do where Galavan is concerned. The conversation is cut short when Barbara makes her grand entrance into the GCPD, hands raised and twisted smile in place.

After an uncomfortable interrogation between Gordon and Barbara (what did you honestly think locking lips would accomplish Jim?), both of whom think they have the upper hand, Jim decides to take his former love’s bait and agrees to let her, “show him something,” on the condition that she’ll, “tell him everything,” afterwards. Naturally, Lee and the Captain aren’t too thrilled with this idea, arguing that it’s a trap being placed by a mentally ill woman who needs help. Jim of course is his usual stubborn self, claiming it’s the only way they’ll get his former flame to talk, and manages to convince his superior to give him the green light.

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After another tense showdown with Lee, who is quick to let Jim know that his claim that this is the only way of getting information out of Barbara is complete and utter bullsh!t, Gordon hops into a cruiser with Barbs and they drive off into what everyone knows is a trap. During the world’s most uncomfortable ride-along, Jim does his best to cajole Barbara into pinning everything on Galavan, but she remains sinisterly coy and instead launches into the classic, “I know you still love me,” poetic. She seems to get under Gordon’s skin as he opens his mouth with a terse, “Barbara I don’t…” that gets cut of because…

It’s a trap. Of course it’s a trap.

I knew it was a trap, you knew it was a trap, the Captain and everyone else knew it was a trap. Hell, even Gordon said he knew it was a trap but, as is often the case, he’s stubborn where good ol’ Barb and his desire for information is concerned and decided to fall right into it. An 18-wheeler smashes into the police cruiser, knocking out Bullock and leaving Jim just weak enough that he can’t fight when a Tabitha drugs him as Barbara looks on. When he finally comes to, he finds himself tied to a chair in a church as Barbara walks down the aisle in her wedding dress, humming, “Here Comes the Bride,” and putting a new spin on the term, “Shotgun wedding.”

The spin being that she literally has a shotgun.

Barbara has her humorous moment of reveling in the fact that her dress still fits before launching into her argument that she and Jim are one in the same, two dark souls who can only be themselves with one another. Jim of course denies such a thing, prompting Barbara to snap, “Aren’t you tired of hiding your true self? Tired of lying to yourself? To Lee?”

The question is the perfect segue and: speak of the new girlfriend and the new girlfriend doth appear. Lee rolls up (Literally. She’s tied to a wheelchair and is rolled down the aisle until she’s beside Jim) and Barbara is very blunt in her statement that she loves Jim more and is going to cut off Lee’s face to prove it. Lee being the better half of the Lee/Gordon duo uses her quick-thinking to utilize Barbara’s Bridezilla nature against her, asking the other woman where she got her dress and distracting her just long enough for Gordon to break out of his bindings, snatch the shotgun, and point it at Barbara’s head.

What happens next is perhaps the most anticlimactic Galavan Goon/GCPD showdown to date. The Strike Force crashes through the church, the expendables get taken out, Tabitha gets away, and poor Barbara falls out of a stain-glass window after one more, “I love you baby,” for Jim. Luckily she falls into some bushes and, despite a few dozen broken bones, is alive enough that we know we’ve not seen the last of her.

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The B plot of, “Tonight’s the Night,” focused on Galavan’s scheme concerning Bruce. Galavan’s chat with the young boy is planned to an absolute T, making it clear that this play might be the most significant yet. He offers to buy Bruce’s 51% of Wayne Enterprises, claiming that it’s because he wants, “To clean up Gotham, protect its citizens, return this city to what it was.” This isn’t really a match for Bruce’s, “It’s all I have left of them,” but Galavan didn’t come to this little lunch unprepared.

He was well aware of the fact that Bruce’s resistance had little to do with money or power and brought Wayne the one thing the young boy couldn’t resist: information on his parents’ deaths. He pulls out the mystery envelope that he’d previously flashed to his sister and holds it to Bruce like a cat toying with a mouse before supper. “If you sell me your company, I will give you this as a signing gift. This is the name of the man who killed your parents.”

It’s a low blow, even for Galavan, and is likely the Mayor’s most manipulative play to date, which is saying a lot considering we all know what he’s done to reach his new position of authority.

After being given until the end of the day to make a decision, Bruce goes to wallow in his underground lair until Alfred finds him and lends a listening ear. After the Wayne Butler reminds Bruce that he’s his parents’ legacy, not the company, the young boy makes his way back to Galavan with the intent of signing W.E. away. But he’s a teenage boy so he, like, totally changed his mind last minute.

Perfect timing too because Gordon and the GCPD barge into the room, punch Galavan in the face, and place him under arrest for the kidnapping and torture of the former mayor… whom they found tied up at the docks thanks to the small bit of information Barbara provided in between talk of wedding dresses and darkness.

The episode’s C plot is mainly irrelevant save for the fact that it provides the closing scene of the episode. Nygma is in the forest burying the sawed up body of Kringle when, unfortunately, a rando hunter pops up from the trees and is all, “Hmm… that looks pretty suspicious tbh. What the heckie dude?” Nygma smacks the poor guy in the head with a shovel, tells his dead corpse to stay put, and scurries to his car to get his handy-dandy saw. When he returns, he gets in one solid quip (“If I can’t make the hole bigger, then I’ll make you smaller.”) before noticing that his sandwich has been eaten. Naturally, he can’t have someone who has seen two dead bodies wandering around in the woods, so he follows the literal breadcrumbs to an ominous trailer and out pops…

Penguin.

Bleeding and begging for Nygma’s help.

Looks like Gotham just got itself a new dynamic duo.

Clearly the main point of this episode was the concept of having, and more importantly accepting, internal darkness. Barbara and Jim are essentially character foils, one having accepted and embraced their darkness while the other continues to keep it at bay. Perhaps what’s most interesting about his idea is the fact that both Barbara and Lee have pointed out that Jim isn’t as all-American as he tries to pretend he is.

Lee’s statement to Jim that, “Her sickness and yours feed of each other,” completely mirrors Barbara’s claim that Gordon is, “Like an addict who thinks he can dabble in darkness as long as no one sees the needle marks.”

*Side note, that last quote might actually be my favorite line in the history of television because wow what an image it paints.*

The, “Rise of the Villains,” concept is one that obviously concentrates on the more notable evil-doers of Gotham (Penguin, Galavan, Tabitha etc.) but, as of late, its ominous undertones seem to be far more focused on who is supposed to be the hero of the show and the city: Jim Gordon. We’ve seen this dark sickness that both Lee and Barbara claim he has on more than one occasion and it appears that the remainder of the season might be focused on whether or not what little morality Gordon seems to have left will be enough to prevent him from embracing said darkness and becoming a villain himself.

Episode Grade: B-

Episode Highs:

  • I find Barbara to be one of the more entertaining characters on Gotham and was happy to see her get some much-deserved screen time. Also, as crazy as she may be, she is actually one of the most consistently honest characters on the show and dropped truth bombs left and right this episode. (Namely the fact that Jim has his own darkness that he’s simply yet to fully accept.)
  • The one-liners were the saving grace of this episode, the only things keeping it from dropping into the C range.

Episode Lows:

  • Not much actually happened and what did happen didn’t really have any sort of impact. It was Barbara-centric (a plus) but the episode pretty much ended where it started off, with the middle not actually doing much to create an ending.
  • We’ve spent 7 episodes watching Galavan come into power and evade the GCPD at every turn and then he gets taken down by Gordon’s right-hook?! Really?! I know he’ll likely slither out of this one as well but it seemed a rather anti-climactic episode.
  • Bruce seemed extra annoying this episode, no?

Additional Thoughts:

  • How much do you want to bet that Galavan’s smarmy lawyer-pal is going to promptly get him out of his whole, “kidnapping and torture,” charge?
  • Do you think the file Galavan chucked into the fire really had the name and information of the Wayne murderer? Or was it A. Blank paper that wouldn’t matter since Bruce would have already signed W.E. over by the time he opened it or B. The name of some rando that Galavan was setting up for Bruce to take out

What did you think of, “Tonight’s the Night”? Sound of with your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen