Gotham season 5, episode 6 review: 13 Stitches

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Gotham confirmed the existence of a major member of the Bat-Family in this week’s episode, while we were also teased with Bane’s long-awaited debut. But did its returning episode maintain the final season’s high standard?

Gotham has always been that unapologetically outlandish show that divided viewers over its sheer, well, outlandishness. While some couldn’t stand the alterations it made to the Batman legacy, others lapped it up and applauded its innovative approach. However, it seems that, regardless of their initial feelings towards the show, everyone is loving its fifth and final season so far. And in all honesty, it’s easy to see why.

That original storytelling that Gotham is renowned for has been on full display this season, with the writers loosely adapting the iconic graphic novel Batman: No Man’s Land, using it as the perfect springboard to finally bring the show full-circle and introduce us to the one person we’ve been eagerly waiting to see: Batman.

After a very brief hiatus, the show returned to Fox this week and it didn’t take long for it to utilize its originality once again as we saw yet another iconic Batman villain receive a Gotham makeover. And, to quote Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy from Batman & Robin, “His name is Bane.”

But he wasn’t the only legendary Batman character that the show confirmed the existence of. Here’s what went down in “13 Stitches”.

The Enemies Of My Enemies Are My Friends

Following on from the previous episode, “13 Stitches” focused on Gordon’s attempts to overcome Walker’s crew, that was led by his old army buddy Eduardo. In doing so, he successfully managed to fry the chip in Ed Nygma’s head and the pair subsequently met up with Barbara. After another shootout with the soldiers in the Sirens club, the trio reunited with Bruce, Alfred and Lucius and they all orchestrated a plot to remove the chip from Ed’s brain and broadcast its incriminating files via a satellite to the government. The on-the-run aspect lent itself nicely to the story and allowed for some uncomfortably close visuals of the remnants of the city.

While Eduardo tried to bargain Gordon with the returning Lee Thompkins, a fistfight between the pair ended badly for him as the GCPD Captain ended up impaling him on the wreckage of Haven while Lee managed to overpower the other soldiers. But the former lovers’ reunion was soured by the reveal that, like Ed, Lee was also programmed by Walker. However, as she attempted to kill Gordon, the crafty captain was able to stop her, presumably frying her chip in the process.

By the episode’s conclusion, Gordon, Bruce, Barbara, Alfred, Lucius and Ed had taken the GCPD Precinct back from the rabid soldiers, restoring a semblance of order to Gotham. And it was admittedly nice to see Jim work with former enemies like Barbara and Ed to get the job done. Moreover, it provided us with a compelling arc as we rooted for our favorite characters, regardless of whether they were a hero or villain, as they all sought to overcome the greater evil that was threatening to destroy the soul of Gotham.

However, when Walker herself showed up and activated a suspiciously glowing mask over the mouth of the dying Eduardo, it was clear that her agenda was far from over. And in that moment, Bane was born.

Batgirl Begins

One of the episode’s more underlying stories saw Barbara Kean, in the aftermath of their recent one-night stand, struggle with the possibility that she may be once again developing feelings for Jim. This wasn’t actually said outright, but it was there, and it led to a conclusion significant enough to make it a, well, significant talking point.

It all started when she attempted to prove to her former fiancée-turned-enemy-turned-frenemy-turned-enemy again-turned-lover that there was still good inside of her. Offering her building for shelter and herself for backup, she soon noticed Jim was bleeding and offered to patch him up. When he wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea, it was clear that she took it to heart – something we haven’t seen Barbara do in years. And it wasn’t hard to see the upset written all over her face when Lee showed up.

This all led to a confrontation in Jim’s office when Barbara revealed that she was pregnant with Jim’s child, inciting a reaction of pure shock from everyone in the room and, without a doubt, the audience watching at home. Given the pair’s complicated history on the show, and Gotham‘s tendency to reinvent the Batman story, it was looking like we would never see the future Batgirl born. But with Barbara’s bombshell, it looks like it will remain true to the comics after all and that the pair will indeed have a daughter in the future.

But will Barbara and Jim reunite and live happily ever after in a post-No Man’s Land world? Or will the future GCPD Commissioner’s heart always belong to Lee?

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The Joke’s On Bruce

After being non-existent throughout, Jeremiah Valeska finally showed up in the episode’s final few moments where he kidnapped Alfred and brought him back to Wayne Manor because, well, he simply needed a Butler. In the closing scene, the Clown Prince of Crime told him that “today is the big day” and, in doing so, virtually assured us that he would finally have a much bigger presence in next week’s episode (after appearing for no more than a few minutes so far this season).

While it was a brief encounter and was little more than a rehash of the Jeremiah tease last week, this one also served a greater purpose as, by taking Alfred to Wayne Manor, he confirmed to us viewers that he had found a way off the island – a tunnel that we should expect to see a lot of traffic on before the season’s conclusion.

On one hand, the constant teases are incredibly annoying because they mean very little screen time for the brilliant Cameron Monaghan. But on the other, they’re “annoying” in the best possible way as they serve their purpose beautifully, leaving us wanting more while prolonging the Jeremiah arc to treat it like the main event showdown that it deserves to be.

Gothic Getaways

  • Yet again, Gotham delivered with its returning episode. This season has yet to produce anything other than a strong outing and, by bringing every character’s respective storylines together this week, “13 Stitches” may have been a season-best.
  • Ben McKenzie did a great job as director here. From the opening long shots that followed Gordon’s escape from Ed to burning barrels in the isolated neighborhood where Alfred met Jeremiah, there were plenty of hauntingly beautiful sights – all of which added a more grounded aspect to the already-gritty feel of this season. Visually, it was a Gothic masterpiece.
  • Though it didn’t accomplish much, the episode’s secondary arc revolving around Selina and Oswald sure was a lot of fun. Camren Bicondova and Robin Lord Taylor work incredibly well together and it showed here.
  • Sarah Schenkkan was admirably alluring as Magpie and, quite frankly, the character deserved better than being a footnote that was ultimately sacrificed by Penguin. Justice for Magpie, darn it!
  • Penguin quoting Alexander The Great was a real nice touch that just summed up how far the character had come since the show’s beginning. What is there left to accomplish when he’s already ruled over Gotham on multiple occasions? And what’s the point of ruling over a city when there is no one left to rule over?
  • Selina’s character journey is a little harder to follow. She no longer wants the reputation that comes with being the person who “killed” Jeremiah Valeska (even though we didn’t see her struggle at all with it before now) and thus, wants to leave town with Oswald, yet she happily removes people’s fingers and bargains with The Penguin with over her price. The character has always been cunningly deceptive so, perhaps there is a meaning behind her contradictory behavior. But which Selina is the real Selina?
  • “Please don’t habituate the curtain rod” may be the single greatest line of dialogue that the show has ever produced.
  • On that note, the humourous alliance between Ed and Lucius Fox remains one of Gotham‘s most underappreciated friendships.
  • Is there a doctor in the house? Yes, there finally is, as this episode marked Morena Baccarin’s first episode back this season as Dr. Lee Thompkins.
  • The long-awaited showdown between Bruce Wayne and Jeremiah Valeska in Ace Chemicals takes place next week: Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel.

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Gotham returns to Fox next Thursday, Feb. 21, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Are you excited to see the future Batman and Joker face off over a vat of chemicals? Let us know in the comments below!