Gotham season 3, episode 20 recap: “Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine”


Tonight on Gotham, a rage-virus-infected Lee forces Jim to see things her way. And the leader of the Court of Owls enacts his final plan to have Bruce destroy the city.

Gotham again introduced some new concepts and changes to its source material. As the Court of Owl’s leader (the Temple Shaman in previous episodes) urged a brainwashed Bruce to avenge his parents death, we learned that a higher power was at play. This unknown top-level baddie was soon revealed, and it made us question if Bruce’s training will ever be truly self-motivated.

Spoilerific Recap

The Court of Owls leader, the Temple Shaman, speaks to the council, blaming them for the Waynes’ deaths (something he never condoned). Bruce Wayne has a chance to take vengeance, but he hesitates. The Leader gives the order and Talons execute every council member.

Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and the GCPD arrive, alerted to the location via the crystal owl’s map. They find a dying Owl, who blames the Leader and Bruce for their murders.

Alfred doesn’t believe that Bruce is a killer. The team is frustrated at the lack of progress and dead-ends. Jim is soon alerted to Lee Thompkin’s current whereabouts—her home.

More from TV

Barbara Kean, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean are surprised to learn from Edward Nygma that Penguin is alive and well. Ed further reveals his knowledge of the Court of Owls and assures them that the organization has no interest in the underworld. Their first concern will be Penguin, since he blames all of them for his attempted murder.

Jim arrives at Lee’s and discovers that she’s been infected (her turn to evil is conveniently symbolized with some dark eye makeup and black clothes). He offers to show him his dark side. She soon exhibits super-strength and throws Jim across the room, rendering him unconscious.

Alfred tells Harvey that the Whisper Gang may be able to help them find the other Court of Owls locations. That is, if any of them are still alive.

Ed and Butch infiltrate Penguin’s safehouse. They hold Ivy and Penguin at gunpoint while Selina makes a run for it. As always, Penguin has a trick up his sleeve and activates the room’s safety protocols—giving them enough time to escape. On the rooftop, Tabitha has already anticipated Selina’s escape route.

Bruce laments to the Leader that he didn’t give the order to kill the Owls. Hugo Strange interrupts their meeting, presenting the virus bomb. The Leader gives Bruce the mission to detonate the bomb and embrace his destiny.

Lee puts Jim into a car trunk.

Just as Talons take the bomb away, Harvey and Alfred burst in. The two are temporarily preoccupied with one Talon, but Alfred quickly catches up to Bruce and the Leader. Bruce refuses to go with Alfred and chooses to side with the Leader. A Talon promptly knocks out Alfred.

Harvey books Strange and locks him in a holding cell. Alfred updates Harvey: Bruce has been brainwashed and he’ll soon detonate the bomb. As if things can’t get any worse, Lee makes an impromptu appearance.

Jim wakes up and discovers that he’s in a coffin and buried six feet underground.

Lee communicates with Jim via radio—but the batteries are limited and so is his air … 60 minutes to be exact. Jim can save himself though. Lee left a virus-filled syringe in his coffin. He can choose to inject himself and use the super-strength to escape, or wait and suffocate. Jim refuses, but Lee thinks he’ll give in. Jim thinks Lucius can locate him via the radio signal.

Ed questions Selina and figures out that Penguin needs her to get in touch with Bridgit Pike. Ed wants Selina to set up a meeting with Penguin, so the rest of the gang can ambush him. Selina complies, but with some demands of her own: cash to leave Gotham; and no harm to Ivy. Barbara agrees and soon dismisses Tabitha and Butch before continuing the conversation.

Harvey figures out that Jim is buried somewhere in Jackson Park. Before he leaves, he gives the task of interrogating Strange to Alfred—which quickly leads us to the good butler threatening to throw Strange off the GCPD’s rooftop. Alfred offers Strange his freedom if he reveals Bruce’s location. Strange agrees and reveals that the Leader and Bruce are at Wayne Enterprises.

Bruce and the Leader are at the top floor of Wayne Enterprises. The Leader wants assurances that Bruce will follow the plan, and vows that he will soon bring Bruce to the higher power that singled him out.

Jim is quickly running out of air as Harvey and GCPD units desperately search the park. Harvey urges Jim to take the virus and save himself. Jim refuses. Just as Jim hears news of the bomb being at Union Station, his radio batteries die. With no options left, Jim injects himself and soon breaks free from his underground prison.

Penguin, frustrated about his current situation, vents to Ivy. Penguin soon figures out that they’ve been set up due to Ivy’s naive nature in trusting Selina. Ed, Barbara, Butch, and Tabitha enter shorty after.

Harvey finally finds where Jim was buried along with an empty syringe. He radios back to GCPD. Overhearing that Jim is now infected, Lee steals the keys from a guard and breaks out.

Ed threatens Penguin with torture if he doesn’t give him the respect of calling him “the Ridder.” Penguin scoffs at the name and refuses. Surprising everyone, Fish makes an entrance with her henchmen and they promptly apprehend Penguin.

Jim makes his way into Union Station. He finds the bomb and takes out a Talon who’s guarding it.

The Leader urges Bruce to detonate the bomb. Alfred arrives and holds the Leader at gunpoint. When Bruce hesitates, the Leader forces him to activate it, initiating the bomb’s countdown timer. Alfred fires, killing the Leader.

Lee makes her way into Union Station and attacks Jim just as he’s trying to diffuse the bomb.

The Leader, before taking his last breath, tells Bruce to seek out the Demon’s Head in order to fulfill his destiny. Bruce, enraged, attacks Alfred with a barrage of futile punches.

Reaching the end of the countdown, the bomb activates, releasing a virus cloud.

Best Moment(s)

  • The hilarity of seeing Penguin having to deal with Selina and Ivy. The interactions between the three are gold.
  • With all the leeway the GCPD seems to give the gun-toting Alfred, Harvey—with his off-the-cuff comment to the butler—finally addressed what’s been on audiences minds for a long time: “I’m gonna have to give you a badge or something one of these days.” Seriously, Alfred is not a police officer. And even he was, it’s strange that he’s allowed to take the law into his own hands, while Jim and Harvey seem to conveniently look the other way.

Final Thoughts

Being the penultimate episode before next week’s two-part Season 3 finale, much of this episode was composed of setups and cliffhangers. The Demon’s Head reference is obviously a segue into the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul, who will be played by Alexander Siddig.

Speaking of Ra’s, Bruce’s introduction to him via the Court of Owls leader is a total departure from the source material. Gotham hasn’t been completely clear if Ra’s is the one who created the Court, or if the Leader departed from the Court and later aligned himself with the Demon’s Head. Hopefully, it’s the latter, as I don’t want the Court’s significance to be diluted.

Next: Catch up with a recap of 'All Will Be Judged'

Don’t forget to visit the Gotham After Show where our friends at will give fans a play-by-play of the latest episode. And the fun continues with Welcome to the Batcave, also on