Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gotham: By Fire Review


Burn, Baby, Burn could have been the name for By Fire, Episode Six to Season Two of Gotham.  Firefly makes a return appearance, while her future is still up in the air.  We also get more worrisome news regarding Gertrude Kapelput, some shocking twists and some really good acting.

Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) now has his minion Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) inside the coven of the Galavans: Theo (James Frain), his sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and their girl Friday, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards).  Butch is there to find Gertrude Kapelput, but despite having lost his hand, the Galavans have a few tricks up their own sleeves.  Butch stumbles back to Penguin, informing him he knows where Gertrude is and they have to move now.

In other news, Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla) regrets what happened to the Gotham City Police Officer and wants to escape.  Her friend, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) helps her the only way she knows how: by robbing a sex slave auction with Bridgit in her fireproof outfit.  They take the money to get Bridgit out of Gotham, but Bridgit is kidnapped by her brothers before she manages to make the bus out of town. This unleashes Bridgit's fury, and she immolates both of them and slips into crime for crime's sake.  Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) recognizes Selina and puts two and two together (at least in this case).  He and the Strike Force attempt to take Bridgit in, but in mutual panic one cop fires and she accidentally sets herself on fire.  Selina is hurt and angry that her friend was dead and blames Gordon.  However, Bridgit is not dead, but has been secretly spirited away to Indian Hill, a division of Wayne Enterprises.

Finally, things are starting to look up for Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and his first romance, GCPD Records Officer Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack).  They even go to bed together (Ed: Virgin No More).  It isn't until Ed reveals that he did indeed kill Kringle's last boyfriend Officer Dougherty that Kristen freaks out.  For some reason, she doesn't seem pleased that Ed is a murderer.  In his panic, Ed accidentally strangles Kristen, leaving him in shock and devastation.

We certainly went through a lot of events within By Fire, but what was incredible is that within all that, each story managed to have its moment.  Each story: Bridgit, Nygma, and Cobblepot, all flowed individually without crashing into the others.  Each of them also had simply fantastic performances throughout.

For me, the Bridgit/Selina storyline was the most heartbreaking and best-acted.  Bicondova and Veintimilla are simply perfect in their scenes together.  I was so moved by these two lost kids trying to survive in the dark world of Gotham.  We see that Cat is actually a good person who does bad things.  She is loyal and protective towards Bridgit, and does what she can to help her friend.  Veintimilla also impresses as the meek Bridgit, and when she finally hits her breaking point it is chilling.

The fact that Firefly survived (I figure to eventually face off against the future Batman) was a smart move, and I do hope she makes a return appearance.

Equally excellent were CMS and Spack as the doomed lovers.  While I would have liked to have seen an actual love scene between Nygma and Kringle (the virgin at least deserves to have his moment of glory shown), in all other respects the fact that Nygma ends up killing his darling is, like Bridgit's storyline, heartbreaking.  Credit to both CMS and Spack for playing their relationship so well to its tragic conclusion.

About the only real flaw regarding the three stories involves the Penguin story.  Part of the problem for me is the idea that Gertrude, a total innocent in all this, will pay a high price (even at this point I figure she's a goner).  Part of it also involves the conclusion: I am not convinced that Butch is somehow setting Penguin up for a trap.  Already in By Fire we see that Galavan had all along known that Butch was not a real 'team player', so a lot of the 'shock' is gone when a lot of what is going on and will be going on with this story looks pretty obvious.  Before the end of the episode I wrote in my notes, "I think it's a trap for Penguin", and I stand by that conviction.

We did little glimpses of how Galavan is still playing young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and his training with Alfred (Sean Pertwee), and while it's good to see them pop up it neither added or take away from the overall episode.

Apart from the obvious nature of the Penguin story, By Fire has hit another highpoint in Gotham's second season with great acting and a story pushing us towards what I hope will be a shocking (but logical) conclusion. 

Butch is not a handy man while
the Congressman hangs around...


Next Episode: Mommy's Little Monster

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