In a distracting week focusing on the US Presidential elections it’s a welcome relief to have a bit of time out in our favourite fictional city. Unfortunately this was a much slower episode than the rest of the season so far, but we’re anticipating it’s just building up for what is yet to come.
In the recap, we see Lee, Jim and Valerie at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with Jim having to answer the question nobody wants to face. Barnes is faced with his own challenge, that of having the Hatter’s sister’s blood coursing through his veins. We’re brought back to Ed’s murder of Kristin and the possible consequences of his relationship with her doppelganger, Isabella. Penguin’s feelings for Ed, the third part of their love triangle, are recalled as well, and finally, Jim returns to Gotham City Police Department. “Once A Cop, Always A Cop”.
Blood, as the title suggests, is key in this week’s episode. Lots of blood. Barnes is coming home from grocery shopping and sees a man rolling up carpets in the back of a van. We get a closer look and see there are bodies in the carpets. Barnes is overcome with a feeling that the guy is suspicious and follows him, gun drawn, into a room where he’s dismembering the bodies and dissolving them in a vat of acid. He’s literally caught red handed, and Barnes isn’t happy. The man – Polly Penny – tells Barnes he’s not the killer, he’s merely the cleaner. He gets his jobs from a lovely chap known as The Toad. It’s all too much for Barnes. He feels the blood within him literally boiling, and his rage rises up, causing him to kill Polly.
Time moves very slowly in Gotham, and finally it’s the night of Lee and Mario’s engagement party. Carmine has invited most of the city, because he’s proud of Mario. Lee tells Mario that Jim has returned to GCPD, and unsurprisingly, Mario isn’t pleased. It quickly becomes a matter of trust, as Mario is insanely jealous of Lee’s relationship with Jim. Why did they move back to Gotham!!
One thing about this show is the glorious aerial pans over the city, they make a nice segue between scenes. This episode has several of these, and now we are at GCPD, where Jim has returned like The Prodigal Son. Typically, the place is a mess, and Bullock hands Jim his badge back and the pair set off to work like nothing ever happened.
Love’s young dream, Ed Nynga and Isabella have enjoyed a night of passion, and Ed presents his lady with breakfast – and of course, a riddle. She’s off to a librarians’ conference, and pulls out her glasses to read her schedule to Ed. SHOCK! They’re exactly like Kristin’s! Apparently this is coincidence, but it shakes Ed up a lot and he runs into the bathroom where there’s a lovely little scene between him and the ghost of Kristin, who taunts him, saying he’ll kill Isabella. He runs off back to the Mayoral Mansion.
Jim and Bullock are at Polly Penny’s place, which is now the scene of another crime, as Penny’s dead – and faceless – body is hanging from the ceiling. Blood is smeared everywhere. They call Barnes, but presumably get no answer, as he is in Arkham with Jervis Tetch, who tells him he sees Alice in him. Barnes asks Tetch how to beat the virus, and is told it focuses on the darkness within, which in his case, is criminality – he rages at the guilty, a violent, bloody rage. Tetch tells Barnes the only cure is to let his “dear sister win”, and that he should listen for the voices, and that soon he will see the world for what it really is.
Back at GCPD, Lee and Jim have a confrontation, and it’s a bit awkward. Meanwhile, Barnes – aka The Flash, because he’s around that town like lightning today – is in his office being talked to by Bullock. Barnes’ mind is clearly on other things, but when Jim comes in he tells him he is running point on the case of the murdered John Doe. Alvarez pops in with information about The Toad, and presumably, Barnes is off again.
Ed tells Oswald of his dilemma, and Oswald helpfully suggests that the pair break up, before he kills her. Ed finds he can’t do that though, and asks Oswald to do it for him. Oswald’s glee is palpable, and he pats Ed on the knee maybe just a little bit too long, but we’re not really complaining!
The Flash – Barnes – is in a seedy bar looking for The Toad and when he finds him, breaks some arms and legs and practically kills the man trying to get information out of him. Helpfully The Toad tells him Dr Maxwell Simon, a plastic surgeon, is the man behind it all, and “if you need a new face, he gives you one”. Barnes manages to control his rage and bundles The Toad up in his car boot to find Dr Simon.
Oswald tells Isabella it’s over between her and Ed. She’s not too happy with the idea, and says that she’s not going to give him up – as she realises that Oswald loves Ed as well. It’s going to be a fight to the death between this pair, and Pengy tells her in the end that she’s been warned…oops.
Back at Dr Simon’s office, Barnes confronts him starting to cut the face off a young woman with “great elasticity” in her skin. Barnes sees a jar full of faces, and is incensed. He kicks Simon, but manages to contain his rage, and instead takes him in. He tells Gordon that this is the killer of John Doe, but not that of Polly Penny.
The man is certainly fleet of foot. Basically Barnes is in most scenes this episode – he next turns up at Lee and Mario’s engagement party, and rescues Lee from Barbara, who’s got three lines to say this week. He agrees to stay for one drink, and is approached by Mario’s Dad, Carmine Falcone. The rage wells up inside him…but he doesn’t give in, instead, he calls Alvarez on his flip-phone – remember – the show practices anachronism! He tells him that he’s going to bring in the murderer of Polly Penny – and sees Simon. The voices start to speak to him – “guilty guilty guilty”.
Ed is at Isabella’s, having received a note from her saying she’s willing to see him. She comes out of the bathroom dressed as Kristin Kringle – Ed is shocked – but she tells him it’s in order to face his fears. He finds he doesn’t want to murder her after all, and so they kiss instead. Eventually he returns to the mansion, where he tells Oswald it’s all good, they’re not splitting up, and Oswald sends him off to bed, as he must be exhausted. Butch comes in with some snips: he’s taken care of Isabella. She’s driving to her conference, and discovers her brakes no longer work – and there’s a train coming…oh.
Meanwhile – Super-Barnes finds Simon in his office, and allows his rage to consume him. He’s a latter-day Incredible Hulk without the green skin and torn clothing (did you ever wonder where Bruce Banner found new clothes from all the time once he’d changed back?). He not only throws Simon at the wall, but he throws him RIGHT THROUGH IT. Simon crashes onto a car. Barnes zips back to the party and tells Jim and Bullock that he was mistaken, Polly’s killer wasn’t there after all. Jim sets off home, and discovers Simon. He asks who did this to him – Simon, who by rights should be dead – squeaks out, “Barnes”.
As we said at the top of this review, it was a far slower episode than previous weeks, but we’ve been left wondering what could possibly happen next – Gotham City isn’t the most law abiding town, so if Barnes is going on a quest to rid the place of all the guilty, he’s certainly got his work cut out for him!
Final Grade: C+. You’ve done better work.
Last thoughts: How did Isabella get an outfit exactly like Kristin’s on such short notice? Also we’re liking the story arc about Barnes, it’s a nice character development.