‘Gotham’ Season 2 Episode 9 Recap and Review: A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Gotham Robin Lord Taylor Season 2 Episode 9
Robin Lord Taylor in ‘Gotham’ season two episode nine (Photo by Nicole Rivelli © 2015 Fox Broadcasting Co)

“You know what I like about those glasses?” asks Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) right before he shoots a hired killer in the eye. “They look like bulls-eyes,” says Gordon, answering his own question in season two episode nine of FOX’s gritty comic-book inspired crime series, Gotham.

The episode begins with Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) downtown walking into a bar – I know it sounds like a bad joke – ordering a high smith with no ice which is really code to gain access to a secret doorway that leads to a parlor room complete with gambling tables. Tabitha meets a mystery woman who seems to be in charge and tells her she’s there to order a hit. The mystery woman asks if it is business or personal to which Tabitha asks, “What does it matter?” “Personal costs more, unforeseen complications,” replies the mystery woman and Tabitha hands over a photo of Jim Gordon.

Gordon returns to the GCPD, after checking in at Gotham General to see if Barbara’s condition had changed. He visits with Lee (Morena Baccarin) who gets a bit upset when he lets her know he was at the hospital checking on Barbara. It’s not so much that she’s jealous of her…well, maybe just a little…but that Jim keeps going towards his dark side and she’s concerned he might cross over into it and she’ll lose him. Jim promises to talk to Lee about what happened with Barbara and his darker thoughts after hours.

Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) wakes up in bed not sure where he is to find Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) standing over him, smiling. Ed then sedates Oswald, telling him to rest up and that they have a big night ahead. When Penguin wakes again he gets reintroduced to Ed who lets him that even though he might want to leave, he’s a hunted man and with the condition he is in he wouldn’t get more than three blocks.

Ed explains to Penguin that he’s recently gone through some changes and killed three people. Nygma becomes elated after saying it out loud about killing people. Ed is convinced their meeting again is fate and looks to the Penguin to be a guide down this new dark road Ed is going to travel into a world of murder and crime. Oswald, however, is not in the mood for any of this still, grieving over the death of his mother. He sees himself as a failure and tries to leave but passes out on the floor due to his physical state.


At Wayne Manor, Bruce (David Mazouz) has Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) over to comfort her following her uncle’s arrest and to try to get her to help him find out who killed his parents. (Theo, her uncle, threw a folder that supposedly held the identity of the assassin of Bruce’s parents into the fire as he was being arrested.) Alfred (Sean Pertwee) enters and is surprised to see Silver there, telling her she should leave. She does but not before giving Bruce a hug and a key to the room where she’s staying at a hotel. (Wait…these kids are like 12 or 13 right? What the…?) Bruce is angry at Alfred for sending Silver away, telling him he had no right but Alfred counters saying he must do what he thinks is best for young master Wayne. He also tells Bruce if he is going to act as a kid in a jail, then Alfred will be his jailer. He forbids Bruce from pursuing anything more on Theo Galavan (James Frain).

Gordon goes to Theo’s apartment to try to find evidence linking him to the mayor’s kidnapping. In the elevator he’s attacked by a piano repairman using a piano wire as a weapon. This is obviously the hit man sent to kill Jim. They fight and Jim, using his military training, is able to get the upper hand on the assassin and knock him out. He drags the unconscious body into the apartment where Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is waiting for him. Barnes asks, surprised, “Who the hell is this?” “He just tried to kill me,” replies Jim, and then the fake piano repairman’s phone rings. Jim answers it but doesn’t say anything. On the other end is the mystery woman checking to see if the job is done. By hearing nothing on the other end she knows her man has failed, so she goes out into the parlor to find another killer.

Gordon wakes up the hitman and tries to get him to talk, even half pushing him out the window before Barnes stops the interrogation and pulls Jim aside to talk. Before they can even get a conversation started three more assassins show up, shooting up the place trying to kill Jim. Barnes and Gordon take out the killers but not before they lose another officer in the firefight. Barnes ends up with a serious stab wound in his leg that’s flowing blood.

Gordon ties a tourniquet around Barnes’ leg while telling his Captain that he believes that both Barbara and Lee are right about his dark side and that the “monster” inside him is getting harder to control. Barnes tells Jim all men have a darkness inside them and reveals that during his time in the military he shot a young prisoner in the mouth even though he had already captured the boy. “At the right moment, any man could give into anything. All that separates us from the animals is the law,” says Barnes who’s pretty talkative considering he has been shot and is bleeding out possibly to death.

Back at Ed’s, Penguin wakes to see a man tied up with a bag over his head, crying. Nygma tells Penguin it’s a gift for him and says it’s one of the men who betrayed Penguin and helped murder his mother. He gives Oswald a knife but Penguin drops the knife saying, “I’m done. I need rest and then I’m leaving Gotham forever.” Penguin goes back to bed, humming a song.

A new assassin has now been hired to kill Jim named Eduardo Flamingo and he calls Jim to let him know that he’s already taken care of the police guarding the front of the building and that he’s headed up to take care of Jim, too. (Seriously, one guy against multiple trained policemen? No wonder Gotham needs Batman so badly). Not wanting to get cornered and with Barnes desperately needing medical attention, Jim decides to go down and take on Flamingo outside. After an over-the-top, almost silly fight, Gordon once again gets the upper hand and puts his handgun into Flamingo’s mouth wanting to pull the trigger but he doesn’t. Instead, he reads him his rights and arrests him. Flamingo responds, saying, “Oh man, what a disappointment you are.”

Gotham Cory Michael Smith Season 2 Episode 9
Cory Michael Smith in ‘Gotham’ (Photo by Nicole Rivelli © 2015 Fox Broadcasting Co)

Meanwhile, at Nygma’s place Ed is playing and singing the same song Penguin was humming. Oswald wakes up and wants to know why he’s playing that song. Ed tells him he was humming it. Penguin tells Ed that was the song his mother used to sing to comfort him. Ed offers up a little riddle, saying, “I can bring tears to your eyes and resurrect the dead. I form in an instant and last a lifetime. What am I?” To which Penguin responds, “A memory.” Ed tells Penguin that though his memories of his mother might bring him pain now, it won’t always be so. He says when he looks at Miss Kringle’s glasses, he now feels gratitude. Ed tells Penguin that even though his mother loved him and he loved her, SHE was HIS weakness and now that she’s gone Penguin is free. “A man with nothing that he loves is a man that cannot be bargained. A man who cannot be betrayed. A man who answers to no one but himself. I see before me a free man,” says Ed. These words ring true to Penguin who accepts Ed’s gift of killing Theo’s stooge who is still tied to the chair and stashed away in Ed’s closet.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce tries to sneak out to go see Silver but is blocked by Alfred at every turn, with Alfred even discovering the key Silver gave Bruce as she left a day earlier. Bruce makes one more try to sneak out the window of his father’s study but instead of being able to go out the window, he’s met by Selina (Camren Bicondova) who was hiding behind the curtains. “Going to see your girlfriend?” asks Selina with a hint of jealousy in her voice. (Hiss!) Surprised, Bruce asks Selina why she’s there and she tells him that she’s there to help him and that she has proof that Silver is a snake. Selina then asks Bruce to let her show him, which he looks like he’s about to do.

Gordon is getting patched up by Lee at their place while telling her about what happened and about his dark side. She comforts him and tells him to always tell her the truth no matter what line he may or may not cross. As they embrace, Jim’s phone rings. Lee picks it up and answers, becoming visibly upset. She relays the message that Flamingo just killed the rookie cop Parks while waiting to be processed at GCPD.

The episode ends with Tabitha visiting her brother Theo in jail and with him being furious with her for the first time. It seems he didn’t want a hit squad going after Gordon and tells her she could have jeopardized all their plans. He says that everything is ready for the arrival of the Brothers and that if she does anything to endanger their plan again he will cut her throat, which seems to shake her to her core. The last scene is at the docks with Father Creel meeting the Brothers who kill a security guard who has the bad misfortune of discovering them.

Review of Gotham Season 2 Episode 9:

Overly dramatic and with some of the worst action scenes in the show’s history, season two episode nine titled “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” is the most forgettable episode of this season. The silly plotline with the laughably bad hit squad that makes The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight look like professional killers provides some of the most ludicrous shoot-outs in television history. The fight between Jim and the killer/cannibal Flamingo is poorly choreographed and lacks any real excitement. The episode does feature a terrific fight scene in the elevator between Jim and the first assassin, however the action in this episode goes downhill from there.

Another weakness in this episode is the absence of Jim’s loyal partner, Bullock (Donal Logue). Unless he was physically in another state there is no way he would sit on the sidelines when word of a hitman trying to kill Jim reached the precinct.

The stand-out performances in this episode were delivered by two of the show’s major villains. Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith as Penguin and Riddler, respectively, steal the episode as the two classic, eventual crime kings of Gotham become partners in crime – or rather mentor and student. Smith delivers yet another wonderful performance as Nygma who has embraced his need for killing and bloodshed. Taylor captures real sorrow and sadness as Penguin mourns his dead mother as well as the loss of his crime empire. Hopefully the pair will join forces to make life extremely busy and difficult for Gordon and the rest of the GCPD.

With only one more episode before the winter break, here’s hoping Selina can open Bruce’s eyes to what snakes Silver and her uncle are and that Gordon and Bullock can put Theo and his crazy sister away.

GRADE: C

More on Gotham Season 2: Ben McKenzie Interview / Robin Lord Taylor Interview / David Mazouz Interview / Camren Bicondova Interview / Morena Baccarin Interview / Bruno Heller Interview

Kevin Finnerty