Gotham “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” Review (Season 2 Episode 9)


Leave it to “Gotham” to find a way to be engagingly contemplative and surprisingly self-aware and still be nuttier than a fruit cake (two words: cannibal hitman), in “A Bitter Pill to Swallow.” This episode was a series of set-pieces, with one focusing on the burgeoning relationship between an ailing Penguin and Ed Nygma; another on Bruce and Alfred (with brief cameos from Silver and Selina, the two polar opposite women in Bruce’s life); and, last but not least, between Gordon and Captain Barnes, as they fought for their lives while looking for evidence against Galavan in his apartment.

Undeniably the weakest of the three was the Bruce subplot, which is sort of ironic on a show set in the Bat-verse. Not that it was poorly acted or anything, there just wasn’t much point to it, really. We already know Silver is dirty, and Bruce should know that, too, but in his determination to find out the truth about what Galavan really knew about the people responsible for his parents’ death, he’s basically ignoring all those red flags. Well that, and he’s still obviously smitten with her.

So, despite Alfred’s continued efforts to thwart him from doing something stupid, Bruce is basically going down a dangerous path that can’t end well for him. Hell, even Selina stopped by to try and talk some sense into him, claiming she could now prove Silver was one of the bad guys, but Bruce continues to stubbornly resist anyone and everyone standing in the way of his getting what he wants.

To be fair, though, this is actually about what someone his age probably would do in his position, so even as Bruce is being an idiot, you still get it. Hopefully, either Alfred or Selina will get through to him next week.


Far more engaging was the dynamic duo that was Ed and the Penguin. Still recovering from recent events, the Penguin was essentially bed-ridden, which meant he was stuck listening to Ed rattle on about wanting the Penguin to teach him how to embrace his inner killer. However, in the end, it was Ed who ended up teaching the Penguin the real knowledge about his current situation: the truly dangerous people are those who are completely unencumbered by loved ones altogether.

Given that the Penguin has lost his beloved mother and Ed has lost Miss Kringle, there’s nothing whatsoever stopping these two from going full-on psycho, as Ed himself pointed out. As such, it was high time they banded together and took the town back for themselves, least of all with the seeming power void left behind in Galavan’s wake.

Though that may not be as over as it seems, if next week’s preview was any indication, with Galavan seemingly getting off scot-free and being released from jail. Or the ending, for that matter, in which Father Creel returned with a band of monk-like “brothers” I can only assume were the predicted Sacred Order of St. Dumas, though we’ll have to wait until next week to know that for sure as well. But who else could it be, really?

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However, the main centerpiece of the show by far was the siege on Galavan’s apartment penthouse by a host of hitmen tasked with killing Gordon by any means necessary. Hired by Tabitha to avenge her brother, in lieu of her shooting injury last week- which, like Penguin, sidelined her from the action while she was healing- they were sent by a shady lady who looked as if she could be singer Lorde’s mother. (Or Lorde herself, when she piles on the make-up, if I’m being brutally honest.)

To the best of my knowledge, we never got a name, unless it was Highsmith Royale, which I would say I doubt, but there have been crazier names in the Bat-verse, so who knows? Whatever the case, she sent one chipper guy, who promptly attacked Gordon in the elevator, with Gordon just barely defeating him.

Then, once she realized he had failed, she sent a whole host of hitmen after him, who were also defeated, albeit one after taking out a forensics expert at the scene. I thought for sure the beat cop type on the scene was toast as well- she might as well have been wearing a Red Shirt- but damned if she didn’t make it out alive in the end. But only to the end, of course. Captain Barnes likewise got stabbed in the melee, almost bleeding out in the process, but he ultimately made it out as well.

In the end, it came down to Gordon and the lone assassin left, Eduardo Flamingo (Raúl Castillo, “Looking”)- see what I mean about those names?- a guy so horrific even Lorde lady fired him at one point. Why? For freaking EATING his victims, which apparently is crossing a line in the hitmen business. Not so with this job, what with Gordon and company laying waste to so many of her guys in one fell swoop.

In the end, Gordon took him down, too, and could have easily killed him, but unfortunately, between words of warning from Dr. T. and Captain Barnes, he ultimately chose to back off, which didn’t cost him, but totally did that aforementioned beat cop, who ended up getting killed after all, back at the precinct, no less, when Flamingo cold bit her neck and she bled out! Yep, this is totally the show in which someone gets munched to death- eat your heart out, “Hannibal”! (Or he would if his show hadn’t been cancelled- RIP.)


So, yeah, it was craziness as per usual in “Gotham” this week, despite a lot of meditative scenes of people wondering about their actions and the consequences of them and whether that mattered or not. Like I said, leave it to “Gotham” to find a way to do both insane action and pensive drama. You gotta love it. (For the record, that doesn’t look like it will be an issue on next week’s episode, which looks to be back to the insanity.)

What did you think of the latest episode of “Gotham”? Did you appreciate the quieter scenes this time around? Or do you prefer it when the show goes full-on batsh*t crazy? How do you think Galavan gets out of jail, given his situation? What are those funky monks up to? What was the big plan Galavan alluded to? What will Penguin and Ed get up to next? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!