Gotham, Season 2, Episode 05, “Scarification”
Written by Jordan Harper
Directed by Bill Eagles
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on FOX
The season continues to build this week as the GCPD make good on their mission to go after The Penguin and his crime organization with the newly created Strike Force. The team get their first big win hitting The Penguin in his wallet hard, but unbeknownst to them there is a looming evil that is implementing a plan just above The Penguin and he’s looking to send a message to the Gotham elitists whom have wronged his family name.
While the GCPD go after The Penguin, Galavan has been targeting Wayne Enterprises, the family that corrupted his legacy during the inception of the city. We learn, through a newly-introduced historian named Edwige, that there were five high society families that begat Gotham. Although this episode does very little to move the momentum of the season, it offers up character motivation and necessary exposition in a way that is not too dull and actually ends up informing The Penguin and his plans against Galavan.
Galavan has also been working Gordon to gain his endorsement for mayor of Gotham. It’s been clear that Galavan has had Gordon in his plan, as there have been enough times where if he wanted to, he could’ve easily taken him out. It’s an interesting position that they are putting Gordon in, as he tries to work with his law-abiding strike force but finds himself making deals with those who are willing to bend the law for what he considers to be the greater good. This may end up completely exploding in his face, especially when he learns what Galavan is really up to.
Although “Scarification” is not as momentous as the previous episodes have been, it still offers some interesting backstory, introduces a complicated blooming villain, and slowly develops the Galavan plot with a newly-revealed element that invites more curiosity to the proceedings. It’s kind of funny how even on a seemingly relaxed episode of Gotham, there is still a human explosion, a rocket launcher, and limb chopping. Welcome to Gotham, Captain!
There is very little Ed Nygma in this episode but what we do get informs how Gordon has been making strange bedfellows as of late. Gordon made a deal with The Penguin early this season and that is an alliance where he was knowingly joining forces with a Villain. When it comes to Nygma, he is going on a double date with someone on his way to becoming one. It appears that Nygma has successfully paired with Kringle and is presently “strangely cool”, as observed by Leslie. This may be Gotham’s way of hinting that Nygma’s cooler alter ego has already taken over, otherwise this whole sequence doesn’t do very much to move forward that arc. The Gordon and Leslie interactions continue to be a highlight, as both Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin maintain excellent chemistry and are fun to watch.
The Penguin is not taking well to being one of Galavan’s “tools” and has decided to put into motion his own scheme to exploit the weakness of his enemy. It is good to see The Penguin become active again, as his weaseling appeared to have no effect, nor did his appealing to Galavan’s good nature. It’s also interesting to see more of the relationship between the Penguin and Butch, as there are plenty of complicated feelings festering within their dynamic, particularly in reference to Butch’s loyalty. One of the episode’s best scenes has Drew Powell performing Butch’s mind controlled ticks as he is being pushed to drink by Robin Lord Taylor’s seething Penguin. It could be considered a kind service, what The Penguin was doing forcing Butch to drink his favorite alcoholic beverage, dulling his senses before severing his hand.
One of the more curious things we get to scratch the surface on in this episode is Cat and how she gets by. Earlier the show had presented Cat as one of The Penguin’s affiliates but it appears her position is still more freelance, as Butch seeks her aid and it doesn’t seem like she’s on The Penguin’s actual payroll. We learn that Cat has some notoriety for being favored by Fish and that she has a face that will open doors, which sounds very promising for Cat’s future. There is also great screen time given to Cat and Bridgit that gives insight to the problems with the Gotham City youth. Cat sees Bridgit’s situation and knows that it’s going to take her to dark places and wants to help her get out of it. Cat does end up helping her escape the cops when things get hot and it’s going to be interesting to see where their story goes from there.
Case File: The serial arson attacks on Wayne-owned buildings
This week the GCPD strike force are faced with a series of arson attacks that have been appointed by Galavan’s design. As we learn more about Galavan’s plan, his motives become a bit more clear. The five buildings that were burned down are meant to be a retaliation towards those who had wronged Galavan’s family’s name, which we learn is “Dumas”. Galavan also intended to reclaim the weapon with which the deed was done. Why this is important raises questions in itself, particularly by episode’s end, when Ron Rifkin appears as part of some kind of cult. As the GCPD learns, the main target is revealed to be Wayne Enterprises, which can only mean that Bruce not only plays a significant role in Galavan’s endgame for revenge, but may be the one who Galavan’s wrath is directed at.
Although Galavan commissioned the arson strikes, he is not the one GCPD is after. The face of this crime spree comes in the form of pyromaniacs the Pike brothers (and the Pike sister Bridgit). Gotham has decided to feature another known villain from the comic book source material and have also given the character a gender swap to boot. The origin of this version of Firefly mines from the orphaned inner city children problem. Not only do the Pike family have no parents to raise them, they are also destitute and patriarchal. Bridgit is enslaved and mistreated by her brothers and forced into the family business against her will. This makes for a villain who did not begin as bad but was made into one by her situation. Michelle Veintimilla portrays Bridgit, and she is given a good arc to play. In the beginning she’s timid and submissive but as she takes on her mission and gets a feel for starting fires, she begins to light up and enjoy it. Veintimilla does a good job at displaying the character’s compliance and novice skill level. It will be interesting to see how she handles the news that she is now a cop killer.
This episode is credited to Jordan Harper, whose previous contribution is “The Anvil or the Hammer”, which was the last time we saw Syd Bunderslaw and were teased with what was in his hidden safe. It seems fitting that Harper be the one to address the question of what was in the safe, as we learn that within Bunderslaw’s security box was the knife that severed the Dumas family from Gotham City. Harper’s script does a good job balancing the Firefly plot with the GCPD case and plugs in the dark Gotham history in a way that doesn’t feel like too much of an info dump. The direction by Bill Eagles helps greatly in making this episode as entertaining as it is. The flashback, using flickering film grade to visually aid Edwige’s recount of the history, works very well for that scene. The special effects in particular are well presented and clean without being too overblown. Things like the explosion of Evan Pike, the fire that burns Bridgit’s leg, and the flames that envelope Luke Garrett all look very good. In an overall slower-paced episode, “Scarification” offers up some more clues into Galavan’s motives as well as insight into some of the issues that the Gotham inner-city children are facing, and that are turning them into villains.
- The five high society families that founded Gotham are the Crowns, the Waynes, the Kanes, the Dumas, and the Elliots. The Kanes are possibly named in reference to Batman creator Bob Kane, and the Dumas after the author of The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas. It’s also significant to note that Elliot is the surname of Bruce’s bully Tommy from season one episode “The Mask”.
- It’s cool that there are still Fish loyalists in Gotham and all, but considering how they treat Bridgit, I doubt Fish would stand for the Pike brothers on her team.
- Bridgit sewing up her Firefly costume has to be in some part a homage to Selina Kyle sewing up her Catwoman suit in Batman Returns, no?
- “You are in deep waters, Mr. Penguin.”—Edwidge. “…That is where penguins thrive.”—Penguin.
- CW’s Arrow also had an iteration of DC’s Firefly character in season one.
- Speaking of The CW DCTV-verse, in last week’s episode of The Flash, the writers just introduced 52 alternate Earths to its mythology. Wouldn’t it be something if one of the 52 Earths were Gotham?!? DC fans, let’s get this crossover campaign started!