“I got you the information. Everything I did in there I did for you,” says Barbara (Erin Richards). “This doesn’t change anything,” replies Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) who’s working freelance to unravel the conspiracy behind the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in season two episode 18 of Fox’s gritty comic-book inspired crime thriller series, Gotham.
The episode begins right where the series left off with Barbara standing outside Jim’s door and saying hi. Gordon is shocked to see her released and after checking to make sure she’s not there to try kill him (or has any friends in the hall), lets her enter and listens to what she has to say. Barbara tries to convince Jim that she’s okay now and the monster who killed her parents and tried to kill him and Lee is gone for good. Jim is extremely doubtful but decides Barbara is telling the truth. Barbara notices the Wayne file opened on the table and recognizes the picture of a woman in the file. She offers to help Jim on his case but he declines and sends her on her way. As she’s leaving, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is heading toward Jim’s door bringing pizza and beer. He stops, stunned, when he sees Barbara. “Hi Harvey,” Barbara says with a friendly smile as she walks past him. In shock, Harvey is speechless and then fears for his partner’s well-being as he begins to shout Jim’s name and bangs on his door.
Inside the apartment, Harvey still can’t get over Barbara being released so soon by Hugo Strange. Harvey and Jim discover during their investigation that Matches Malone, the man who gunned down Thomas Wayne and his wife, was a regular contractor for “The Lady,” the woman who hired the hit squad to kill Gordon at Galavan’s Penthouse. When Gordon took down most of her best killers she had to go underground. So, Jim plans to start questioning some ex- and current hitmen and Harvey tells him to be careful. Jim responds, “Always.”
After beating some information out of a third-rate scumbag, Gordon learns that “The Lady” spends some time at a bar called Artemis. Unfortunately, it’s a bar for ladies only but Jim is in for another surprise as Barbara has shown up ready to help him. Yes, it seems the lovely ex-fiancé has been following Jim. Gordon asks Barbara why she’s doing this and why she wants to help him so badly. She tells him she was with him when he got assigned the Wayne case and that she knows how much it means to him. Not having any other cards to play, Jim reluctantly accepts Barbara’s help.
Inside the bar Barbara becomes quick pals with The Lady, telling her she’s looking for a new partner to start her own assassination agency with. Barbara tells the Lady she’s got the names and contacts but Barbara has the style, wealth, and reputation to make it a successful business. As a sign of good faith, Barbara gives up Gordon who has found a way to sneak in to the bar but got caught by The Lady’s henchwoman. They take Jim to a private room where he’s tied to a chair and Barbara tells him that his obsession with this case is what is going to get him killed. Barbara asks The Lady to tell him who the man was that hired her group to kill the Waynes so that he can die knowing the answer to the question that has plagued him for so long. The Lady says she didn’t know his real name but that he went by a nickname. (What is it about Gotham that every villain has to have a nickname?) He called himself the Philosopher. With that, Barbara delivers an electric shock to both The Lady and her henchwoman with her little electric prod and knocks them out. “See, I told you I had a plan,” says Barbara to a surprised Jim.
Outside the bar and down an alley, Barbara is searching for some kind of understanding and forgiveness from Jim. She tells Jim that when she woke from her coma the first thing she remembered was his face as he was holding on to her trying to not drop her from the window. “You looked in my eyes and saw me, not the monster I had become,” says Barbara, holding back her tears. She tells him if he could just look at her that way again she really believes she might be able to make it. Gordon responds to Barbara by telling her if she wants to be a good person it’s her choice to make and that he can’t be that for her. He ends their brief conversation telling Barbara he can’t forgive her for trying to kill Lee.
Meanwhile at Wayne Manor, Bruce (David Mazouz), Alfred (Sean Pertwee), and Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) are working on the information in Thomas Wayne’s old computer and come across a name in Thomas’ calendar, Karen Jennings. The date on the calendar is the day before the murder. Bruce gets the address and despite Alfred suggesting they try to learn more before going to talk to her, Bruce heads off to find her. Alfred and Bruce drive out to the country and find an old cabin with the matching address. They enter cautiously but are met with a brief attack and Alfred is badly scratched by what looks to be three very sharp blades. Bruce sees a young woman hiding in the shadows and tells her that they’re not going to hurt her and puts down his gun, and Alfred is none too pleased. “Please, I’m Bruce Wayne. We’ve just come to talk to you and ask you a few questions,” the young man says to the girl who steps out and reveals that one of her hands is a strange bird claw.
As they talk, Bruce and Alfred discover that poor Karen (Julia Taylor Ross) was part of a secret bioengineering project at Wayne Enterprises. She tells them doctors came to her when she was in Blackgate – she killed her abusive father in self-defense but the jury didn’t believe her – and said they could fix her withered arm. She went to Pinewood to have the procedure but instead of fixing her arm, they gave her a claw. Bruce asks her if she remembers any names. She doesn’t, but she does remember the face of the man in charge. Karen also tells Bruce, who has been very soft and sensitive with her – something she’s not used to but appreciates – that his father didn’t know about Pinewood and the insane experiments they were conducting. When he found out, he shut it down and put the patients who survived in hiding. Bruce realizes his father must have discovered the program was starting up again and tried to stop it. Bruce convinces Karen to take them to the old facility and promises her he won’t let anything happen to her.
When they get to Pinewood it’s clear no one has been there in years and that the project is not happening there. Bruce senses that Karen is hiding something and begins to asks her about it when the three get ambushed by security guards who warn them they’re on private property. They get captured by the police outside after, instead of running with Bruce and Alfred, Karen decides to fight back and kills one of the men causing Bruce to go back which delays their escape. Bruce calls Gordon to get released and good old Bullock makes it happen. Bruce, Alfred, and Jim meet to team up and work the case together, sharing the information they have found on the case with one another.
At Arkham, Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong) hears the news about Karen’s recent arrest and decides it would not be good for him or anyone on his staff if she talked or if anyone connected the dots about her claw arm to him. In short, it could ruin everything he’s built so he sends Mr. Freeze out after her in a new special subzero suit.
Bruce, Alfred, and Gordon join forces and together try to spring Karen as she’s being transported in the prison van to Blackgate. During the rescue Karen reveals the truth to Bruce, that his father Thomas started Pinewood with the best intentions but that the man who ran it took advantage of Thomas and in secret went on with his horrifying experiments. Karen says Thomas did more than just place her in hiding. He took care of her and looked out for her like a real father would. The rescue is almost complete when Mr. Freeze attacks. Gordon and Alfred put up a good fight with Bruce trying to get Karen to safety, but she looks at Bruce and says that his father would be so proud of the man he’s becoming. Karen then sacrifices herself so that Bruce, Jim, and Alfred can escape from Mr. Freeze who they are no match for.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce is very upset about Karen’s death, not just because she was the only person who could identify who the Philosopher is but because he made her a promise to protect her. Lucius Fox comes in with some interesting news. He’s double-checked and cross-referenced the data he found an old photo of Thomas Wayne, his friends, and business associates who had nicknames. (Again with the nicknames!) In the photograph Hugo Strange is identified as the Philosopher.
As the episode comes to a close the last scene is at Arkham where Patient 44 has successfully undergone the re-animation process a few hours too early. He kills a couple of scientists who are in the room with him. Strange is watching from outside and finally it’s shown that patient 44 is Theo Galavan as he shouts the name Azrael!
Gotham Season 2 Episode 18 Review
Dark, action-packed, and stylishly-paced, episode 18 titled “Pinewood” finally reveals the secrets as well as the reason behind the murder of Bruce’s parents. It also opens the door to the mysterious past of Dr. Hugo Strange and just how truly evil this mad doctor is.
The stand-out performance in this episode goes to David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne who, even though he is becoming tough and very smart still, hasn’t lost his humanity or his decency. The scene where he takes charge of talking to Karen and reaches her not by using threats but by appealing to her by treating her with decency, displays just how mature Bruce is becoming. Also, the scene in Wayne Manor after Karen’s death where Bruce is blaming himself for getting her killed and not keeping his word that he would keep her safe is full of sorrow and anger. This has truly been Mazouz’s season to shine.
With the revelation of Dr. Strange behind the murder of the Waynes and Mr. Freeze back on Gotham streets – along with the rebirth of Galavan – the city of Gotham is going to need Jim and its heroes more now than ever before.