Gotham “Strike Force” Review (Season 2 Episode 4)

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On the latest episode of “Gotham,” the writers turned the volume down to, say a solid seven, but even with the crazy at slightly lower levels, they still found time to stab a mayoral candidate, shoot a lot of another mayoral candidate’s bodyguards in cold blood, and totally pimp slap a teenage girl, in “Strike Force.” Okay, maybe it was about an eight, for that last one alone, especially what with it being a grown up doing the slapping. More on that later.

We began with the Penguin finally beginning to wonder who was stealing his thunder, what with all the whackos running around causing mischief that he had nothing to do with. So, naturally, he called a meeting, as you do if you’re a super-villain in Gotham, apparently, and no one was fessing up. Enter Tabitha Galavan to introduce him to the source of all his ire in a conveniently-timed meet-and-greet with her brother, Theo.

Theo makes Penguin a deal- wipe out his competition in the impending mayoral race and he’ll hook him up with a deal to help him rule the city. Penguin wisely says no, but Theo is not the sort to take no for an answer, so he blackmails him into doing it anyway by kidnapping Penguin’s mom. You know, I hate to point out the obvious to a crazy person, but if he hadn’t killed the would-be Joker, he’d already have someone all too happy to do it for him, without having to trust the likes of the Penguin, aka his villainous competition. I’m just saying.

However, it did work, so all’s well that ends well, sort of. Penguin does indeed end up stabbing one of the candidates to death, while getting himself fingered for the crime in the process, at least to Jim Gordon, who recognizes that he’s the culprit. Gordon confronts him and the Penguin makes it obvious he was coerced into doing it, but that if he went down, so would Jim. Gordon says if that’s what has to happen, then that will have to happen, and it certainly looks to be headed in that direction, thanks to a new recruit to the police force.

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That would be newcomer Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis, from “The Shield” and in full-on Vic Mackey mode, minus the evil- so far), who is now heading up the police department and determined to take down any and all bad guys, including those on the force itself. To that end, he fires several of the most obvious suspects- although Bullock somehow manages to sneak by his corruption detector. He also forms an ad-hoc strike force (hence the episode title) from newly-recruited cadets fresh out of the police academy, who are thus clean and not jaded as of yet, with Gordon as his second-in-command.

Their first case is to protect the mayoral candidates, in light of one of their deaths. Theo Galavan stages a drive-by shooting to make it look like he’s under attack as well- while he’s receiving a Medal of Valor and Bravery, no less- then subsequently announces his own intention to run for Mayor. Then the Penguin sends Victor Zsasz after the final candidate, but the newly-minted strike force intervenes and manage to save that one in the nick of time, though not a host of his bodyguards.

Meanwhile, Bruce returns to school, and Alfred arrives to inform him he’ll be literally walking-or better yet, running- home as part of his new training. Shortly before that, he catches Selina hanging about waiting for Bruce, and promptly goes up to slap her across the face and inform her that her services will no longer be needed, ostensibly on behalf of the late Reggie, which hardly seems fair as Reggie did nearly kill Alfred that one time, so he wasn’t exactly the best of friends. Granted he maybe didn’t deserve to die, but that’s no real reason to smack around a girl, either, so shame on you Alfred. Either way, the future Catwoman slunk off with her decidedly shocked tail between her legs- for now, at least. Can’t say I blame her.

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However, romance was in the air all around otherwise, with Ed finally mustering up the courage to ask Miss Kringle out (first name Kristen, naturally- see what they did there?) and her saying yes, and actually sticking around to eat dinner at his place, despite it looking like a serial killer’s apartment, down to the Leatherface-friendly front door. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, she catches him talking to himself- literally, in his case- and still kisses him. Not to mention he slips and let it slide that he killed her ex! Clearly, these two were meant for each other.

Another romance-in-the-making came courtesy of Bruce meeting none other than Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind, aka that kid from “The Goldbergs” long distance GF- can you say upgrade?). Comic readers will recognize her as one of the rare Mrs. Bruce Waynes, though I imagine that won’t be happening anytime soon, given their respective ages. Also not a plus, she’s the “ward” of none other than Theo Galavan, who serendipitously introduces the two, right before informing Bruce she’ll be attending his same school. Coincidence? I seriously doubt it. Given how crazy this season has been, I wouldn’t put it past them to have her turn out to be a sleeper agent, waiting to be given the go-ahead take Bruce out at the right time.

That was about it, save the revelation that Theo wants to destroy low-income houses in town so that he can rebuild his planned empire right in the center of town over it. Oh, and the fact that he wanted Penguin to get fingered for the crime of taking out the competition both to take out his own competition and to keep the police busy while he manages to sneak himself into office as Mayor before any major vetting on his end. Unfortunately for him, with one more candidate left standing, he still has potential competition, though he can always continue to threaten Penguin’s mom for results, as she was still under his possession at the end of the show. That is, if the cops don’t get to Penguin first before he can complete the task.

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So, yeah, still a fairly nutty episode, but not quite as crazy as the ones that proceeded it thus far this season. But then, as predicted, it would have been hard to keep up that pace all season long, so no big surprise there. Not that I’m complaining, as it was still a pretty enjoyable episode overall. From the looks of the preview for next week, they are by no means out of crazy to give us, with a nut-bar with a flamethrower and a hooded figure that appears to be the real one pulling Galavan’s strings. Could the latter one be the real Ra’s al Ghul, not Galavan? Could be. (The other one reminded me of that old movie “The Exterminator,” which would be an excellent cross-over, come to think of it. He’d certainly fit right in with the rest of these crazies!)

What did you think of the latest “Gotham”? Disappointed they put the brakes on the crazy more or less, for now? Or do you think it’s only a matter of time before it starts right back up again? Is the Penguin doomed? Is Gordon? Any predictions on the two new baddies? Do you think St. Cloud is the future Mrs. Batman, or an evil plot in-the-making by Galavan? Or both? Make your predictions below and see you next week!