Review: Gotham, Episode 20 – “Under the Knife”

Gotham tells the story of the famous Batman ally Commissioner, Jim Gordon, as he climbs the ranks of the Gotham City Police Department. Alongside the history of Jim Gordon, and oftentimes intersecting with his history, are the stories of other famous Batman characters, such as the villains the Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot), the Riddler (Edward Nygma), and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). Gordon also interacts with a young Bruce Wayne and other allies like Harvey Bullock, Dr Leslie Thompkins, and Alfred Pennyworth.
Recently in the series Alfred Pennyworth was attacked by an old friend, Reginald Payne, who was hired by corrupt members of the Wayne Enterprises board. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are searching for the Wayne Enterprises board members responsible for the attack on Alfred, while the butler recovers. Detective Jim Gordon is tracking a serial killer that has plagued the GCPD for over a decade, known only as “the Ogre,” and dealing with the ramifications of the Ogre potentially tracking his loved ones. Oswald Cobblepot decides to kill mafia don Salvatore Maroni, and Edward Nygma tries to deal with the fact that his love interest, Kris Kringle, has another boyfriend within the GCPD.
Gotham
“You want to protect me, find him.” ~ Leslie Thompkins

Episode Recap

“Under the Knife” starts with Selina Kyle defending Bruce Wayne from a degenerate youth. Bruce asks about the late Reginald Payne and Selina confirms that Alfred Pennyworth’s old friend is, indeed, dead. The two discuss the ramifications of Kyle killing the man, and how to proceed with tracking down those in Wayne Enterprises who were responsible for Payne’s subterfuge.
At the GCPD precinct, Edward Nygma uses watermelons to test out the possibility of an unnamed suspect stabbing their victim. Nygma gets a little too into stabbing the melons before being interrupted by Detective Jim Gordon. Gordon asks Edward where Dr. Leslie Thompkins might be, and Nygma reveals she should be at home. The Orgre can be seen briefly looking over some newspaper clippings of Jim Gordon before grabbing a folding knife and heading off. Leslie Thompkins’ cell phone rings, but she is in her bathtub and her phone is in the other room. Glass is broken elsewhere in her apartment and Leslie leaves the bathtub to investigate. The Doctor checks her phone to see missed calls from Jim, and searches for the cause of the noise, which ends up being a cat. She starts to make a phone call on a landline when someone comes up from behind her and she strikes them with the phone. That “someone” ends up being Jim, he explains the Ogre’s serial killings and why Commissioner Loeb manipulated Gordon into searching for the Ogre. Leslie refuses to leave Gotham and tells Jim that to protect her, he has to stop the Ogre.
At an unknown bar, the Ogre delivers a drink to Barbara Kean. Later, Barbara takes the Ogre back to her penthouse. The Ogre prepares to attack Kean, drawing his knife behind her back and poising to strike. When Barbara reveals that she has no one that cares about her, he puts his knife away, realizing that hurting Barbara won’t affect Jim Gordon like he had hoped. Barbara gets offended by his lack of interest afterward, thinking he only wanted an illicit affair. Barbara goes on a tirade about how unlovable she is, explaining that if he were to see the real her, he’d run away. The Ogre leaves Barbara unharmed.
At his bar, Oswald Cobblepot leaves his mother alone for a moment to talk with gun-and-knife man, Conner. Cobblepot explains to Conner that he wants to have Salvatore Maroni and all of his men killed. Conner dismisses the idea as crazy, but eventually the Penguin talks him into it.
Harvey Bullock and Jim Gordon call in the original detective on the Ogre case, trying to get information on the Ogre. At first, the original detective refuses to cooperate, but Jim shows him the pictures of the eleven women killed after his wife’s own murder, and the detective leads the two into a cosmetic surgery office. As Jim Godron and Harvey Bullock leave the precinct the Ogre is shown surveilling the two detectives.
Inside the precinct, Edward Nygma goes to visit Kris Kringle and finds Officer Tom Dougherty in her file room. Kris Kringle has visible bruises from her new boyfriend, and Nygma tries to intercede but is discouraged by Kringle.
At Wayne Manor Bruce Wayne reads a dossier on Sid Bunderslaw. Alfred Pennyworth comes into the study and Bruce decides he plans to attend the Wayne charity ball. Bruce asks Alfred about killing people in the army, and how necessary it was. Alfred refuses to let Bruce attend the event without his being there to protect him, and Bruce explains that he will be taking Selina Kyle and asks Pennyworth to have some clothes delivered to her.
Gotham
“Help me kill Don Maroni and all of his lieutenants” ~ Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin
At the cosmetic surgery office, Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock speak with the head doctor, but he refuses to give any information on the Ogre’s first victim without a warrant. The two detectives leave the office, and Jim Gordon spots the vehicle the Ogre has been tailing them in outside. When the two pursue the vehicle, the Ogre speeds after them both, forcing them to jump out of danger. The Ogre drives off before either Bullock or Gordon can do anything.
At the precinct, Gordon and Bullock explain what happened to Captain Sarah Essen. Gordon deduces that the Ogre has to have been tracking them for awhile. Gordon is interrupted by an urgent phone call that ends up being the Ogre. The two challenge each other, Gordon promising to take him down and the Ogre promising to kill someone close to Jim if he doesn’t back down. Harvey and Captain Essen approach Gordon as he gets off of the phone with the Ogre. Gordon suggests that they need to show the Oxgre that they won’t cower to his threats. Gordon calls a press conference and reveals to the citizens of Gotham the Ogre’s existence and asks for the city’s help in finding him.
At Barbara Kean’s penthouse, Kean and Selina Kyle go over clothing options for the Wayne charity ball. Selina has dresses and shoes delivered by Bruce, and the two work together on getting Kyle ready for the ball.
Harvey Bullock gets a key piece of evidence, from the doctor at the cosmetic surgery office. This evidence leads the two detectives to a wealthy Gothamite family, the Van Grut.
At the Penguin’s club, Oswald Cobblepot approaches Butch Gilzean, giddy about Conner’s willingness to take down mafia don Salvatore Maroni. Butch interrupts Oswald, trying to explain that Maroni is in the club. When Cobblepot excuses the don’s presence, Gilzean explains that the Penguin’s mother is with Maroni. Oswald approaches his scorned former employer and his mother, who appear to be flirting over wine. Maroni insists that Oswald join the two.
At Barbara Kean’s penthouse, Bruce Wayne arrives to pick up Selina Kyle. Bruce and Barbara meet for the first time. Selina and Bruce leave for the Wayne charity ball, where Barbara Kean says she’ll meet the two later.
Detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock arrive at the Van Grut Mansion just in time to find an old man hanging himself. The two get the man down to safety, and Harvey goes to look around the rest of the house. Jim notices that man’s face has been scratched out of nearly all of the pictures in the mansion, while Harvey discovers a very old corpse–that of Constance Van Grut.
At the Wayne charity ball, Bruce and Selina dance while everyone else at the ball stares at them. Bruce tries to find Sid Bunderslaw while the two dance. Bruce tries to explain to Selina that she can’t kill anyone else like Reginald Payne. Selina counters that she’d kill Payne again. Bruce begins to argue but is cut off when he locates Bunderslaw. Later, the Ogre approaches Barbara Kean again and asks her to dance.
Gotham
“Am I really supposed to wear these?” ~ Selina Kyle
Harvey calls Captain Sarah Essen to fill her in on what they found at the Van Grut mansion, and warns his boss about Jim Gordon being too involved. Jim grabs Harvey and the two interrogate Jacob Skolimski, the elderly man who had attempted to hang himself.
At the GCPD precinct Edward Nygma approaches Officer Tom Dougherty about his abusing Kris Kringle. Dougherty blows off Nygma, telling him that Kringle needs a strong hand. When Edward demands that he stop, Officer Dougherty asks Nygma what he will do about it.
Jacob Skolimski, reveals to Jim and Harvey that his son grew up thinking that Constance Van Grut was his real mother, and killed her years ago after confronting her about it. When Jim explains to Skolimski that his son is the Ogre and has been seducing and killing women in Gotham, the elder man laughs off the possibility, showing the two detectives photos of a horribly disfigured boy. Jim takes one of the pictures to the cosmetic surgeon that he and Harvey visited earlier, and the doctor confirms that he operated on Jason/the Ogre. The picture is revealed, showing Jason as a younger, disfigured boy; the scene transitions to show Ogre sharing a dance with Barbara Kean at the charity ball.
At the Penguin’s club, Oswald and his mother visit with Salvatore Maroni. Cobblepot’s mother, Gertrude, dotes over her son until Maroni can’t take it any longer and divulges Oswald’s true nature to his naive mother. Gertrude, overcome with shock, passes out, and Cobblepot verbally attacks don Maroni, who laughs and threatens the Penguin before leaving the club.
While dancing at the Wayne charity ball Jason/the Ogre and Barbara Kean discuss his infatuation with her. The Ogre apologizes for leaving her the night before and explains that when she revealed that no one could ever love her, he felt the same. Jason offers Kean a way to be herself, to not pretend to be someone she’s not. Elsewhere in the ball, Bruce introduces himself to Sid Bunderslaw; Bunderslaw politely excuses himself before the young Wayne can ask him any questions, but not before Selina Kyle has a chance to pick his pocket and copy his keys.
Edward Nygma follows Kris Kringle home, and when Officer Dougherty approaches her doorstep, he confronts Dougherty again. Dougherty lashes out at Nygma, punching him in the gut. When Nygma stands up and the corrupt cop tries to punch him again, Edward stabs him in the chest. He continues to stab the police officer multiple times before Tom falls to his death. At first, Nygma seems distraught at his own actions, but his cries of fear transition into diabolical laughter momentarily before he  looks around in shock.
Oswald Cobblepot gets his mother back to her apartment, where he tries to gloss over don Maroni’s accusations that he is a murderer. Gertrude Cobblepot demands that her son tell her the truth and asks if he has killed people, but he assures her he is only a night club owner. Mrs. Cobblepot cries out that she is exhausted and needs to go to bed. There is a knock at the door, and a delivery man attempts to give flowers to Gertrude Cobblepot, courtesy of Salvatore Maroni. Oswald kills the delivery man, and when his mother asks about the noise he tells her he is helping a neighbor.
At the GCPD precinct, Gordon and Bullock explain what they’ve learned about Jason Skolimski. While talking about his phone call with the Ogre, Jim Gordon remembers the paper that quoted he was a rising star in the GCPD, pictured him with Barbara Kean. Knowing that Barbara is now in danger, Jim rushes out of the GCPD. Jim arrives at Barbara’s penthouse to find Selina Kyle alone. Jim asks if the drawing he has of Jason Skolimski could be the man that Barbara left the Wayne charity ball with, and Selina confirms.
At Jason Skolimski/ the Ogre’s penthouse, Barbara asks about a side room where loud music is playing. The Ogre leads Kean into the room, which ends up being his torture room. The two share a knowing glance as “Under the Knife” ends
Gotham
“Oh Dear…Or Dear…Oh no…*Cackles maniacally*…Oh dear!” ~ Edward Nygma

Review

“Under the Knife” is light years better than the previous episode, “Beasts of Prey.” The biggest gripe about “Beasts of Prey,” that the Ogre was too much like the current 50 Shades of Grey lead Christian Grey, was sidestepped beautifully by showing that the Ogre originally had a hideous form. The fact that he is exacting his revenge on the pretty people of Gotham not only makes him more insidious of a serial killer, but also distinguishes him from the ubiquitous 50 shades of Grey craze. The other change that “Under the Knife” has is showing the Ogre’s impression of Barbara Kean, a much hated character in the Gotham series, evolve from a potential victim to almost a protégé. What the Ogre will do with Kean in the future, and how he will use her against Jim Gordon, is exciting. It is also the most interesting Barbara Kean has been in Gotham.
Jim Gordon forces the GCPD to continue their hunt for the Ogre, despite everyone’s trepidation in doing so. Gordon’s own fear for the safety of  love interest Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and then his bolting after Barbara Kean at the end of “Under the Knife” when he realizes she is in danger, shows how serious the GCPD takes the Ogre’s threats. His dogged determination, however, won’t let him ignore the fact that there is a serial killer in Gotham. Gordon knows he has to do what is right regardless of the danger it entails.
Edward Nygma’s infatuation with Kris Kringle, his anger at Officer Tom Dougherty hurting her, and his eventual stabbing of the GCPD officer are incredibly well done moments. Cory Michael Smith has played the GCPD forensics officer amazingly since the beginning of Gotham, and sadly Nygma hasn’t been given nearly the attention he deserves in the series. Hopefully, the next two episodes show more of “Riddle Man,” now that he has the blood of a GCPD officer on his hands. Literally.
The absolute worst part of “Under the Knife” are the cutesy scenes between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle going to the Wayne charity ball. Selina hating the dress-up clothes she is forced to wear and mocking the affluent citizens of Gotham that attend the event, along with everyone anticipating the event and meeting up at the ball, gave more of a Beverly Hills 90210 drama feel than the dark and gritty Gotham usually gives. I was as equally excited as Selina Kyle appeared to be to see her in her typical leather and steampunk goggles.
Overall, “Under the Knife” does a great job of building up the series for its final two episodes of the first season. “Beasts of Prey” is still easily the worst episode of Gotham thus far, but had Fox been able to back-to-back the two episodes for the return after March Madness, they would have worked great as a two-part, two-hour, special. I can’t wait to see how Jim and Harvey deal with the Ogre, how the Penguin and Maroni’s showdown goes, how Edward Nygma’s story advances now that the GCPD forensics officer is a murderer, and how Bruce Wayne deals with the corruption within Wayne Enterprises. The final two episodes of Gotham’s inaugural season are setup wonderfully to be the most entertaining of the season. Let’s hope they are!
Gotham
 “What’s in there?” “See for yourself” ~ Barbara Kean and the Ogre

Content Guide

Violence: Oswald Cobblepot attacks the flower delivery man with a shard of broken glass, showing a lot of blood and gore; the Ogre’s counter-pursuit of Jim Gordon leads him to try and run over Gordon and his partner; a man attempts to hang himself before being thwarted. Edward Nygma stabs a man brutally and repeatedly before showing the bloody knife. 
Sexual Content: The one scene in “Under the Knife” that stands out as far for sexual content would be when Dr Leslie Thompkins is taking a bath and cannot reach her phone in the other room. She is shown to suggestively be naked in the bathtub; however she attempts to cover herself up when the phone rings and she stirs, showing very little to no cleavage and minimal mid-riff. 
Drug/Alcohol Use: Don Maroni, Oswald Cobblepot, and Oswald’s mother, Gertrude Cobblepot, drink at the Penguin’s club.
Other Negative Content: Selina pickpockets a man at the Wayne charity ball. 
Positive Content: Jim Gordon is determined to do the right thing, going after the serial killer, the Ogre, despite the fact that doing so places his loved ones at risk. All too often, we as Christians skirt doing the right thing for significantly less unpleasantness. 

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The Bottom Line

 

The turn "Under the Knife" takes with the Ogre's storyline completely separates him from the well-known Christian Grey and does so in an entertaining fashion. Edward Nygma finally reaches his breaking point.

 

8.7

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Cody Hahn

Lover of Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Geek.

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