Gotham “Azrael” Review (Season 2 Episode 19)

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On the latest episode of “Gotham,” we saw the rise of “Azrael” from the ashes of Theo Galavan (a returning James Frain), as Gordon and Bruce Wayne worked overtime to bring down Hugo Strange, with or without the help of Captain Barnes. That would prove easier said than done, however, as Gordon learned the hard way.

We basically picked up where we left off last week, as a revived Galavan continued to rant and rave, seemingly spouting nonsense. But Strange did some digging and eventually realized there was a sort of method to his madness, in that he was both quoting and referencing the book “The Will and Order of St. Dumas,” even going so far as to write words in the blood of his victims on the walls.

But before Strange could figure out a way to use this knowledge to his advantage, Jim Gordon paid him a visit, asking questions that quickly went from vague to accusatory. First, Gordon asked Strange about his role at Pinewood, which Strange naturally downplayed considerably, claiming he was one of the ones who was in favor of Bruce’s father shutting it down.

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Gordon isn’t buying it, so Strange asks him why he’s really here, growling the question like a cat- great line delivery on actor B.D. Wong’s end there. In Strange’s opinion, Gordon is looking for redemption for himself, not for Bruce, like he claims. Gordon asks him about Victor Fries, and Strange is evasive, letting Gordon know he’s lying through his teeth in spite of his cool demeanor.

It’s obvious that Gordon knows Strange is behind a lot of the crazy goings-on lately, so his determination to bring down Strange isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which is a problem. Ed Nygma overhears Strange and Peabody talking about Gordon and offers up his services, but Strange isn’t interested, instead leaving Ed to continue playing mind games with his fellow inmates.

Nonetheless, this gives Strange an idea- why not play some mind games with Galavan? Throwing caution to the wind, he goes into Galavan’s area and messes with him, claiming to be his father and that Galavan has been reborn as Azrael. Galavan doesn’t take much convincing, and in no time asks Strange to tell him what to do.

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Meanwhile, Bruce is growing more impatient with Gordon’s lack of progress, and starts making threats about killing Strange himself. Gordon admits that he killed Galavan to Bruce and says that he doesn’t want to go down that road, echoing Selina’s warnings in a previous episode. Like it or not, they need to do this the right way and by the book, which means trusting the law to do their job.

Strange subjects Galavan to the “Clockwork Orange” treatment, showing him a history of St. Dumas to put things in perspective and focus Galavan. Before long, Strange is convinced that Galavan will do anything he asks, which proves true. He tells him that Jim Gordon is a demon and must be defeated, giving him a sword he claims is centuries old, but was actually bought yesterday in a store.

Ed Nygma manages to sneak out of his cell and follow Strange to see what he’s up to, but hits a wall- literally- when Strange disappears from the hallway, with seemingly no exit to be found. Ed is not so easily deterred and correctly assumes that there must be a secret door hidden somewhere in the area and decides to draft some of his fellow inmates to help him find out where it is.

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Gordon accompanies Bullock to a crime scene that has left four victims strung up and little in the way of clues. Barnes is livid when he sees Gordon there, convinced that Gordon helped facilitate Karen’s escape in last week’s episode, which he most certainly did, but Barnes has no proof to that end. Bruce demands to talk to Barnes and tells him what he knows about Strange and his dubious activities, but Barnes isn’t buying it.

At one point, after Gordon criticizes him for being blind to the truth of what’s going on, Barnes says if he thinks he could do a better job to be his guest. “Maybe I will one day,” says Gordon, which, of course, we know will come to pass eventually- maybe sooner than later, given what happens later on.

At that moment, Azrael literally swoops in, decked out in a fancy costume that hides his identity. He draws a sword on Gordon and knocks out Barnes in short order. The cops, led by Bullock, intervene and run Azrael off for the time being, but there’s no denying that Bruce is impressed- and getting some ideas in the process.

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Gordon naturally assumes that Strange sent this Azrael after him, but Barnes remains dubious. He does assemble a team to go after Azrael, though, which is something, but he insists that Bruce go home now, so he can get out of harm’s way. After giving said team a rousing speech, Barnes informs Gordon he is under arrest for suspicion of helping Karen escape and locks him up.

No sooner does he do so that the lights go out and Azrael attacks again. He tells Barnes that he has no quarrel with him and if he hands over Gordon, he and his men will not be harmed. Barnes is not in favor of this plan and Azrael subsequently starts taking out cops left and right. Barnes has Gordon released to be moved elsewhere, but Azrael intervenes, grabbing Gordon and someone’s gun and firing it at him- but there are no bullets, lucky for Gordon.

Barnes fares better with his gun, unloading an entire clip into Azrael, but to no avail, as it barely slows him down. “We’re gonna need a bigger gun,” says Jim in the understatement of the year and goes to find one. Meanwhile, Barnes heads to the roof, hoping to lure Azrael up there, which he does. Barnes bars the door, but Azrael breaks through it like it was nothing and the two fight.

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Barnes knocks off Azrael’s mask in the melee and is shocked to see it’s Galavan himself. He stabs Barnes and he goes down as Gordon arrives, shotgun in hand. Azrael is forced to jump off the building when he breaks his wonky store-bought sword and is caught on camera and ID’d as the former Mayor by TV reporters in front of the precinct, who broadcast it on TV.

Among those watching are Penguin, who’s bemused; Tabitha, who’s stunned as she knows him to be dead; and finally Bruce, who is convinced Strange is behind it all and is determined to do something about it. Gordon tells Bullock who Azrael really was as Barnes is carted away by medics.

Ed, with the help of his fellow inmates, puts together a device and sneaks out of the cell again and heads to the hallway he trailed Strange to before. Using the black light of a bug zapper, and some ammonium, he is able to find the hidden entrance to the doorway out of there and opens it after jimmying the lock. It leads to an elevator that he gets in and goes down to Strange’s secret hidden laboratory, where he does his experiments on inmates.

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That is where we end things more or less, with Azrael still on the loose and looking to kill Gordon and Strange planning on melding personas on further inmates, with his next source of inspiration apparently “Alice in Wonderland” and the Cheshire Cat specifically.

As there are numerous “Wonderland”-inspired villains in the Batman canon, this could be the beginning of the “Wonderland Gang,” which features The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum and several others- or simply the creation of the villain known as Cheshire, who was technically part of the League of Assassins (among others), but it wouldn’t be the first time the show has tweaked things a bit, so you never know.

Either way, things are looking to get even more interesting soon, what with any number of villains already out and about (The Huntress, Barbara, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Azrael) and many more to be joining them soon, no doubt. Granted, there’s only three episodes left, but it should be an exciting run of them, to be sure, and hopefully the show will be as bonkers as we want it to be for the final episodes. Fingers crossed.

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Until then, this was a decent enough episode, with some great sequences with Azrael and Strange only getting crazier and crazier by the minute, while Bruce keeps his eye on the prize as he starts to formulate his own alternate persona, inspired by the likes of Azrael, even though he’s technically one of the bad guys. I also liked the notion of Strange masterminding the various villains he is sending out into Gotham, which should make for some interesting future bad guys.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Gotham”? Are you onboard with the notion of Strange coming up with some of the villains, or do you prefer the way the comics did it? Or do you like that the show makes the back-stories their own? Any predictions on what is coming next? Wil Gordon be the new commissioner sooner than later? Will Bruce adopt the Batman persona sooner than we think? Sound off down below and see you next week!