“There’s not much sense in bringing back the dead if they come back crazy,” says Ms. Peabody (Tonya Pinkins) to Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong) as they both watch the once-dead Theo Galavan (James Frain) writing scribbles on the walls in the blood of those he murdered in episode 19 of season two of FOX’s gritty comic-book inspired crime thriller, Gotham.
As the episode begins, Hugo is enjoying watching his newly resurrected experiment screaming and acting insane in his cell while Peabody is clearly starting to question Dr. Strange’s experiments. The scribbles on the wall are from the Order of St. Dumas sacred text but it is clear Galavan seems to be completely disconnected to who he once was. Dr. Strange is notified that he has a visitor…Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie).
Back in Dr. Strange’s office, Gordon says he’s working for a client and is looking into the experiments done at Pinewood back when Dr. Strange worked there. Hugo tries to tell Gordon he was just a low-level researcher and that all the horrible experiments went on without his knowledge. He also claims to have been one of the few who demanded Thomas Wayne shut down Pinewood when he found out about the experiments. Jim doesn’t believe Hugo and tells him he believes Dr. Strange was in charge of the experiments back then. Hugo asks Gordon why he’s looking into this at all and reminds him he’s not a cop anymore. Jim insists it’s for his client who Hugo realizes is young Bruce Wayne. Dr. Strange tells Gordon the real reason he’s pursing this case is that he’s hoping to find some sort of redemption in solving it. Gordon says that’s not it, but Dr. Strange tells Jim that he has “tells” that indicate to the doctor that he is lying. Gordon hands Hugo an envelope saying there is a court order in it to exhume Victor Fries’ body. Dr. Strange becomes uncomfortable and tells Gordon that Fries was cremated. Gordon smiles at Hugo and tells him he has tells too. “I just needed to know that you were lying and now I do,” says the ex-detective turned unlicensed private investigator. After Gordon leaves, Hugo opens the envelope to see nothing inside.
In another part of Arkham, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is figuring out how to manipulate other inmates and get them on his side by befriending some and defending others. He sees Gordon leaving and tells him that he won’t be in Arkham long, that getting out is like figuring out one big puzzle. Hugo and Peabody are discussing Gordon and Ed overhears, offering to help in taking the ex-detective down. Hugo and Peabody are surprised with Nygma’s offer as well as the way he seems to be becoming the top inmate among his group. Ed says they just wanted to be listened to, that everyone has a story. Dr. Strange latches onto those words and has an idea he wants to try out on Galavan.
Hugo decides to give Galavan a new backstory, telling him that he’s really Azrael, a 12th century warrior who served a man named Dumas. Azrael was resurrected to fight evil and follow the orders of Hugo. Of course, who does Hugo send Galavan aka Azrael after? Jim Gordon.
Hugo and Peabody feed more fiction into Azrael’s mind, using classic pieces of fiction including Alice in Wonderland. He’s made a sword named “Sword of Sin” and brings in a patient to test Azrael’s willingness to obey his new master. Passing the test, Azrael has a new suit of armor, a helmet, a cape, and his sword, and is released out into Gotham to kill Gordon.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is arguing with Jim and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) that they shouldn’t waste time trying to get concrete evidence on Hugo but should take action against him now. Bullock tells Bruce without solid evidence Capt. Barnes (Michael Chiklis) would just toss the case before any District Attorney had a chance to look at it. Bruce tells Gordon they need to handle Hugo the way Jim handled Galvan. At this, Jim asks Harvey to give them a few minutes. Gordon tells Bruce that is out of the equation. He never wants Bruce to know what it feels like to take an unarmed man’s life. He tells the young man if he did what he’s suggesting, it will haunt him the rest of his days and push him closer to becoming the evil he’s trying to stop. Gordon asks Bruce to trust him and leave it to him to handle.
When Bullock, Gordon, and Bruce try to explain to Capt. Barnes what Dr. Hugo Strange is really doing at Arkham with his weird unlawful experiments Barnes doesn’t believe a word and tells Jim he’s through with him because he knows that he once again is lying. Jim pulls Barnes aside for a minute to try to get him to listen to him one-on-one. As the arguing continues, who should show up but Azrael shouting for the death of Jim Gordon. Both Gordon and Barnes look at each other and then back at Azrael. They point their pistols at him and Barnes tells the cloaked and sword-wielding figure to drop the weapon. During the fight it’s obvious that Azrael is much stronger and agile, leaping from beams and climbing up walls since he was reanimated. His outfit is also bullet-proof so Gordon and Barnes can’t get a clean shot. Bullock hears the shots and comes running in with some cops and Bruce following. Azrael leaps and climbs easily up the walls and beams to an escape. Bruce witnesses the masked, cloaked figure’s escape and it’s obvious a part of him is both intrigued and impressed by him. (Another element of developing the future Bat has just occurred.)
Back at the GCPD, Gordon, Bruce, and Bullock are trying to convince Barnes that this new sword-wielding nut is a creation of Dr. Strange but Barnes still won’t listen. He finally has Bruce escorted out and Gordon locked up in the holding cage while he sends out almost all his officers to find and bring in the swordsman. This is just the opportunity Azrael needs, and he kills the power to the GCPD. “A blackout,” says Barnes to Gordon who replies, “I don’t think so.” Azrael comes crashing through the big glass window on the second floor and demands Barnes to give him Gordon. Of course Barnes refuses and the fight is on. Barnes has one of his officers let Jim out just in time for the officer to be cut in two by Azrael’s sword. Barnes empties his gun into Azrael who collapses, but after a few seconds he slowly stands up (cue creepy horror movie music). Jim tells Barnes he needs stronger firepower so Barnes tells Gordon he’ll lead Azrael up to the roof so Jim can get a much stronger gun.
Barnes gets to the roof and uses a long pipe to bolt the door, but Azrael easily breaks it open with his new strength. Azrael and Barnes fight with Barnes using a metal pipe against Azrael’s sword which he actually hits hard enough to break. Azrael’s mask comes off and Barnes is shocked to see Galavan’s face. Azrael takes his broken sword blade and stabs Barnes. Gordon arrives on the roof and is also shocked to see that Azrael is in fact Galavan. Jim uses the cannon gun he found to blast Azrael off the roof and down onto the coroner’s van parked below, with Azrael’s fall caught on camera during a live news report. Azrael gets down off the van and disappears into the night. Gordon holds the dying Barnes, telling him to look at him and stay with him. Barnes half smiles as he coughs and tells Jim, “You’re a pain in the ass,” to which Jim responds, “So are you.” And with that Capt. Barnes dies.
Across Gotham, citizens watch the news report and see Galavan as Azrael rise from his fall and run off into the night. Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), still sipping wine with at least a week-old corpse still in the dining room, is tuned in to the broadcast as are Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Butch (Drew Powell) who’s getting more and more concerned over Barbara’s weird behavior. Bruce and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) also have the TV tuned to the news and Bruce is very upset because he knows that Dr. Strange is behind it. “What the hell is happening to our city?” asks Alfred to which Bruce replies, “Nothing good.”
The episode ends with Nygma discovering, with the help of a few of the inmates, the secret elevator from Arkham that leads down into Indian Hill. Ed walks out of the elevator and into the hall leading to the rooms where Dr. Strange has his experiments, repeatedly saying, “Oh my,” as he walks by the cells.
Review of Gotham Season 2 Episode 19:
Action-packed, very dark, and with two over-the-top performances, episode 19 of season two titled “Azrael” reveals the origin story of one of Gotham’s lesser known villains while making his antics part of the inspiration for the eventual birth of the Batman. The stand-out performance in this episode goes to BD Wong as Dr. Hugo Strange who realizes for the first time since the character’s introduction that he has been played and is now the focus of a police investigation. Wong portrays subtly the uneasiness and concern Dr. Strange is feeling during his cat and mouse interrogation with Gordon. By far it’s been BD Wong’s wonderful performance as the mad doctor Hugo that has made his character the second most interesting villain in the show. Ed Nygma aka the Riddler is still the most fascinating villain in Gotham these days.
One character sorely missed in this episode was Selina (Camren Bicondova). She’s become not just a supporting character but a main one, after developing feelings for and a true friendship with Bruce. She’s also fun to watch interact with the rest of the main characters. Not even having one scene with her leaves a feeling of emptiness with the episode. Couldn’t they have snuck in a quick scene of her watching Galavan revealed to be Azrael?
With Azrael loose in Gotham and on the hunt for Gordon and with the death of Capt. Barnes, it’s going to be interesting to see how Jim, Harvey, Bruce, and Alfred stop the sword-wielding monster and the mad doctor pulling his strings.