Gotham “Scarification” Review (Season 2 Episode 5)

Gotham "Scarification" Season 2 Episode 5 (10)

After taking things down a notch on last week’s episode, “Gotham” once again dialed the knobs up to crazy town on the latest episode, “Scarification.” We’re talking chopped off hands, gouged-out eyes, and- be still my heart- a dude completely exploding! The 60’s “Batman” this is not. Although, come to think of it, the only way that last bit would have been better is if, after the guy blew up, a cartoon bubble went up saying “SPLAT!”

For you see, even though it may not have the overall tone of that original “Batman” show, “Gotham” certainly qualifies as cartoonish, albeit in the best of ways. It’s like one of those animated movies they’ve been churning out over the last few decades or so brought to life, only given that darkened Christopher Nolan grit instead of the Tim Burton-esque gothic fantasy thing. The villains all tend to be ground in reality, that whole “Balloon Man” thing notwithstanding, with nary an obvious outfit in sight.

For instance, tonight, we got what they’re calling the “Firefly,” aka Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla, “Not Cool”). “Firefly” has indeed appeared in the comics, albeit as a male, last I checked, so it was kind of cool to make that into a female role and basically completely reinvent the mythology, though I suppose some of the purists out there might not care for it. Personally, though, I liked that they made it into a relatable female character instead of the typical male, especially since in at least one iteration, it was a millionaire-turned-crook after he gambles away his fortune.

Here, we had the sister of a group of professional arsonists called the Pike Brothers who was abused and generally treated like a maid and slave by her brothers. At one point, when she tried to stand up to them, one of them actually threatened to “turn her out,” i.e. make her into a prostitute if she didn’t like her treatment. Yikes!

Understandably, she went with the first options, only for an unexpected opportunity to arise when one of her brothers was caught by Gordon and Captain Barnes trying to escape with some explosives and shot him when he pulled a gun on them, resulting in the aforementioned exploding dude. (Nice touch with Barnes being all: “What kind of bullets do you use?” Lol.)

One man down for the next series of jobs, which involved blowing up various Wayne Enterprises locations, the Pikes had no option than to ask for their sister’s help. Though dubious, she went along with it, just barely escaping the location in time to avoid getting blown up herself, but not to avoid burning herself in the process.

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Thus, Brigit, to avoid a similar occurrence the next time, fashioned herself a non-flammable suit that was more practical than flashy, and therefore not the typical super-villain outfit. Indeed, as I mentioned last week, it was like an even more toned-down variation of the outfit worn by “The Exterminator” in the movie of the same name.

From the looks of things in next week’s preview, she amps things up a little, but so far, no one has gone completely overboard with the costuming, which I think is actually a positive thing, when all things are considered, given what the show is going for overall. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t replicate Harley Quinn’s signature look if she were to be featured on the show, like I’m still holding out hope for, but I’m also not against it being a gradual thing, like we’re seeing with Selina Kyle’s outfit, where there are hints of the “Cat Woman” to come, but nothing overt as of yet.

But I do like the combination of subtle and completely bonkers we’re getting on the show this season, so I’m all for them keeping up the good work, to be sure. If the show can manage somehow to continue the balancing act they’ve been maintaining thus far this season of crazy-but-still-essentially-grounded-in-reality, I’m all in. But it’s going to be a tricky bit of business to pull off, that’s for sure, especially at the accelerated rate they’re going so far.

However, to their credit, the show did introduce a new wrinkle in the mythos via the back-story of the various families that used to run Gotham back in the day, which, of course, included the Waynes. At one point, Celestine Wayne reportedly said that Caleb, a member of another of the prime families, the Dumas family, forced herself on him, possibly falsely.

As a direct result of this, Caleb’s hand was cut off, which the Penguin, upon learning of, promptly does the same to poor Butch (Drew Powell) in order to better infiltrate the Galavans as a supposed turncoat against him. Since Butch has been conditioned to obey everything the Penguin tells him to do, he hopes to get Butch to figure out where Theo is holding his mother captive, but knows Theo will never buy it unless he does something extreme, hence the whole hand thing.

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Anyway, it turns out that Theo is actually a descendent of the Dumas family, who went underground after the whole thing with the Waynes, vowing to one day get revenge on them. The various attacks on Wayne Enterprise businesses are just the first volley in what will ultimately end in the kidnapping of Bruce himself.

However, what takes this into the realm of the genuinely interesting is the appearance of Father Creel (Ron Rifkin, “Alias”), lending credence to the fact that this must be connected to The Sacred Order of St. Dumas, which is a cool twist I did not see coming. I’ll let the uninitiated click on this link to get up to speed on them, but suffice it to say that they have roots in the real-life Knights of Templar, a group of monks-turned-soldiers during the Crusades era.

This might- and probably does- mean that Theo is, in fact, the character Azrael, and not Ra’s al Ghul as many have been thinking. If so, that could well mean that Theo isn’t necessarily a bad guy after all, but one who has been brainwashed into doing what he’s doing. In some incarnations, notably the “Sword of Azrael” series, where it’s the alter ego of the character Jean-Paul Valley, he eventually overcomes this to become a hero himself, even going so far as to assume the role of Batman himself at one point, after the attack by Bane depicted in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Although admittedly Valley does so in a much-more violent fashion, with many an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire, in part due to the previous brainwashing, which doesn’t go over well with the real deal, Bruce Wayne, for obvious reasons. Obviously, it remains to be seen whether the show gets into all of this, or for that matter, opts to follow any number of “other” Azraels, of which there have been a few, the second-best known being Michael Lane.

However, given the involvement of the whole St. Dumas thing and Father Creel, it seems likely that whatever the case, or whoever he “really” is, Theo Galavan is part of a more radical splinter group known for handling things in a much-more aggressively violent way, at the very least, which we already know from his actions to date. So, where it goes from here is really anyone’s guess, honestly, but I like that they went in an unexpected direction with it, and it will be interesting to see how the show makes the St. Dumas thing its own.

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Beyond that, we saw Gordon throw in his lot with Theo, despite girlfriend Dr. Thompkins being a bit dubious of the latter, and the first victim of the assembled strike force, Garrett (Lenny Platt, “How to Get Away With Murder”), at the hand of Bridgit, albeit not entirely intentionally. Although, from the looks of it, she doesn’t let this stop her from continuing her reign as “Firefly,” so I guess she gets over it, despite the warnings of pal Selina.

That was about it for this week, but a definite return to form, after a vaguely off last episode, which wasn’t bad, by any means, just not up to the standards set by previous episodes this season. This one was, and not only that, it set into motion some potentially super-cool plot developments that should make the next few episodes really interesting, as we see what the show does with the whole St. Dumas and possibly Azrael mythos. I, for one, I very excited by this prospect, as I’m sure are a lot of fellow Bat-fans.

What did you think of “Gotham” this week? Were you also jazzed to see the whole St. Dumas thing come up, or is it new to you? (If so, be sure and read up on it in the links provided above for some idea of what may be to come- unless, of course, you’d rather go in blind, which is understandable, even though the show may well do its own thing with the premise, which is fine, too.) What did you think of “Firefly”? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!