Gotham Recap And Review – S02E09 – “Rise Of The Villains: A Bitter Pill To Swallow”


The ninth episode of Season 2 of Fox’s Gotham, “A Bitter Pill to Swallow”, is an improvement over previous episodes for Season 2 in terms of pacing.  I still think that the GCPD is probably the most incompetent police force known to man.  However, at this point, it’s a standard for the show.  As for the rest of the episode, the story seemed a bit cleaner because it was very much contained to a few locations — making it much more focused.

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Spoilerific Recap: Tabitha enters an empty bar.  After paying a fee and repeating a passphrase disguised as a drink order, she’s led to a secret room housing various illegal hedonistic pleasures.  Meeting a woman, who’s obviously the head of the place, Tabitha negotiates a deal to put a hit out on Jim.

At the hospital, Jim is given the prognosis that Barbara may never awaken from her coma.  Jim is offered to accompany her back to Arkham’s infirmary, but chooses not to go.

Penguin wakes up in Edward’s apartment.  His moment of surprise is cut short when Edward injects him with an anesthetic that knocks him out cold again.

At GCPD, Jim gathers his things to meet Barnes at Theo’s penthouse.  He’s confronted by Leslie who wants to talk about how Barbara has awaken a darkness inside of Jim.  Jim gives a few excuses and wants to talk about it later.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce has a meeting with Silver.  He wants to get her assistance in helping him find out who killed his parents since her uncle, Theo, claimed to have information.  Alfred interrupts them and quickly asks Silver to leave.  Bruce tries to defend Silver’s presence and starts to argue with Alfred.  Before Silver departs, she stealthily gives Bruce a set of keys.  Alfred is skeptical that there was anything in Theo’s envelope in the first place, and forbids Bruce to go near Sliver again.

Jim enters an elevator and a man quickly stops the doors and squeezes in.  The man tries to make some conversation, going as far as offering Jim some candy.  It’s soon revealed that the man is a hitman when he takes out piano wire and tries to strangle Jim.  The two fight, with Jim gaining an advantage and knocking the hitman out.  When the elevator doors open, Jim drags the hitman to Barnes’s feet.  Suddenly, the hitman’s phone rings.  Jim answers it.  On the other end is the woman who Tabitha dealt with.  Because the hitman wasn’t the one answering, the woman realizes that he failed his mission.  She goes to another group of hitmen and makes a new offer to take out Jim.

Penguin wakes up again.  This time, he attempts to leave, but Edward is still able to stop him.  Penguin inquires what Edward is after.  Edward admits to being a murderer and wants Penguin to guide him.  Penguin, defeated from his mother’s death, tells Edward that his empire is in crumbles.  He tries to leave again, but topples over unconscious.

Jim wakes his would-be assassin up to get answers out of him.  The hitman is uncooperative, leading Jim to hang him out a window.  Barnes sees this and admonishes Jim for his unlawful behavior.  At that moment, Barnes is brought to the attention of other hitmen appearing in the lobby.  Barnes calls for back-up, as the only law enforcement in the penthouse are him, Jim, Alvarez (forensics), and Parks (a rookie cop).

As the cops gear up, the front door of the penthouse starts to creak.  Another hitman has actually entered and sneaks down a flight of stairs.  He takes Alvarez and slits his throat.  The front doors open and the rest of the hitmen enter firing their weapons.  Jim and Barnes are able to take them out.  However, the first hitman that attacked Jim in the elevator, takes Parks hostage and threatens to cut her throat.  Jim quickly shoots him in the head, saving Parks.

Barnes orders everyone to leave, but Jim believes that any evidence left behind will be destroyed by Theo’s men.  At that moment, one of the hitmen, who was to have been taken out, wakes up and stabs Barnes in a major artery.  Jim kills the hitman, but Barnes is unable to move at the risk of death.

Penguin comes to consciousness once more.  This time, Edward brings a present: Mr. Leonard, an employee of Theo’s, who’s been bagged and gagged.  He offers Penguin the chance to kill him.  Penguin picks up a knife, but is so uninspired that he drops it and announces that he’s done and that he’ll be leaving Gotham.  Edward drags Mr. Leonard away to an undisclosed location while Penguin sadly hums a tune.

A cannibalistic assassin, Eduardo Flamingo, gets a call from the woman who’s been heading up the hits.  He agrees to the contract and requests the address.

While waiting for the EMT and back-up to arrive, Barnes speaks to Jim about his recent behavior.  Jim recalls his face off with Barbara and how he almost “crossed the line.”  Barnes tells Jim that he doesn’t understand the meaning.  He goes on to tell a story of his days in the military when he shot a restrained teenage prisoner in the head because he was desperate.  He tells Jim that there is no line, there is only the law.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce greets Alfred a good night.  However, Alfred is already aware that Bruce is ready to sneak out once Alfred thinks he’s in his bedroom.  Angered, Bruce vows to never give up on investigating Theo and finding out what was in the envelope.

Penguin wakes up to a record playing the same song he was humming.  Edward also plays along to it via his keyboard.  The song has sentimental meaning to Penguin because it was what Gertrud, his mother, sang to him before putting him to bed every night as a child.  Edward reacts with some initial sympathy, but quickly puts the blame of Gertrud’s death on Penguin.  Angered, Penguin grabs a knife and puts it to Edward’s throat.  Edward unflinchingly tells Penguin that now that all their loved ones are dead, the two are unencumbered — true freedom.

The police finally arrive outside, but Flamingo easily slaughters all of them.  In the penthouse, Jim makes a plan to go outside to confront Flamingo.  Barnes is not hot on the idea.  After some reasoning, Barnes agrees that Jim’s plan is probably the best one.  Exiting the building, Jim is quickly ambushed by Flamingo.  The two engage in some brutal hand-to-hand combat.  Jim finally overpowers Flamingo, takes a gun and shoves it into Flamingo’s mouth.  Jim resists the urge to kill him and screams in frustration.  He chooses to arrest Flamingo instead.

As a new friendship is forged, Edward and Penguin eat and sing.  Now back to form, Penguin asks about Mr. Leonard.  Edward happily retrieves Mr. Leonard from his closet where his fate is left up to the imagination of the audience.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce makes another attempt to sneak out again.  This time, he’s surprised by Selina who tells him she’s saving him from a big mistake.  She offers him proof if he’s interested.

As Flamingo is about to be booked, he feigns a momentary illness.  As Park tends to him, Flamingo lunges at her and bites her in the jugular.  As a band of cops try to get Flamingo off of Parks, a pool of blood forms around her body.

At home, Jim is being tended to by Leslie.  He finally admits to her that his thoughts of crossing the line scared him.  His phone rings and Leslie answers it.  Hanging up, she gives Jim the bad news that Parks has died.

Tabitha visits an unhappy Theo at the prison.  Theo is angered that Tabitha, wanting vengeance for Barbara, went against his orders and hired hitmen to kill Jim.  Theo tells her that his plan has almost come to fruition and if she endangers it again, he’ll kill her.

At the docks, Father Creel welcomes the arrival of members from the Order of St. Dumas.  A security guard stumbles onto them, but is quickly stabbed to death by the Order.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a Recap of 'Tonight's the Night'

Best Moment: Edward making Penguin face the fact that Gertrud is dead.  Though the dialogue is a bit cheesy, Cory Michael Smith’s and Robin Lord Taylor’s acting skills still shine through.

Final Thoughts: Why on Earth would you send a measly four cops as back-up?  If your captain and a leading detective are being ambushed by hitman after hitman, you send a SWAT team and have helicopters patrol the area.  It’s plot conveniences like these that will be the downfall of Gotham.  Challenge your characters more — that includes the villains.

I also think that Selina coming back into the fold was a bit too easy.  Bruce needs to win her back.  Why would a girl who’s been spurned — especially one who was trying to help you — offer her assistance out of the blue?  Selina has been set up as a street-smart-look-out-for-number-one character.  The end scene seemed a bit too convenient also.