Gotham: By Fire – Killing Kris Kringle (Review)

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Things just took  a grim turn in Gotham. By Fire was an episode that turned out to be a bit rough on the female members of the juvenile criminal community.  Things also turned deadly for another female character who probably should have thought before freaking out in front of Mr. Nygma. Before the end credits roll things are very bleak and a particular bird-man is getting ready to take his troops out to rescue mommy.

Bruno Heller once agains teases us with his tendency to usher in characters that appear to be related to the DC Gotham verse. A female firefly was introduced and then, seemingly, discarded almost as quickly as Jerome “The Joker.” Although Bridgit Pike is not dead, the gender swap firefly has been sent to Indian Hill, a Wayne Enterprise facility where invasive testing, aka torture, of “monsters” is the rule of the day.

Poor Pike has been abused not just by her arsonist “family” but by Gotham’s finest as well. The kid looked to be ready to take on all those who bully and threaten the helpless only to get caught by Captain Barnes and the GCPD who wanted payback for the death of new Strike Force member Garrett.

The storyline for Pike (Michelle Veintimilla) was good. An abused and downtrodden girl whose adoptive family are a group of fire-bugs that bully her into submission. A little taste of power transforms the shy and awkward child into a homicidal human flame thrower.  Turns out the kid likes the power of the fire and the fear it induces and death it deals by her hand. 

Kudos to Veintimilla who pulls off the switch from timid victim to vengeful fire-starter effortlessly.  Her expressions give the viewer her thoughts and feelings, just as that one eye tells us that Firefly is terrified as she is being wheeled into Indian Hills.  This poor kid just cannot get a break. Just as she starts a little well-deserved payback to all those bullies, she is incarcerated with a fire proof body and destroyed visage.

Jim Gordon learns that his alliance with Captain Barnes is going to be an uncomfortable one. Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is a “black and white” cop. There is no grey in his view of the law, but as Gordon tells his new boss, “This is Gotham” if one were to look up grey in the dictionary, there would be a picture of the city in the definition.

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Cat tries to save her friend Bridgit.

Selena Kyle (Camren Bicondova) goes off the deep end when her friend Bridgit is kidnapped by her brothers. Getting tooled up she is approached by Gordon who promises her that if she lets the GCPD take care of things the girl will be protected. Sadly, Jim has made a promise he cannot keep, Barnes does not honor grey pledges. 

When the Strike Force head down to the meat market where Firefly is torching the owner/auctioneer and releasing the caged female captives, things go wrong. A stray shot, an angry youngster with fire at her disposal and an exploding police car means that Jim’s promise to Cat cannot be kept, even without Barnes’ insistence that Gordon was out of line.

The female Firefly goes up in flames and later Gordon will tell Kyle that the girl is not expected to “make it.” Selena swears off making friends with cops and this  presumably pushes her over the edge into full villainy. Bicondova kills it in her scenes with Bridgit and her slow tears in the scene with Ben MacKenzie as Gordon was an emotionally underplayed powerhouse performance.

As expected, Mr. Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) blows it pretty spectacularly with Kristen Kringle and he ends up killing the woman, even as he swears his love for her.  This was a doomed relationship from the start, Nygma was too socially inept to carry on a relationship with anyone, let alone the woman he killed for.  This was heavy in the irony department and one felt sorry for Kringle, who really was  a bad judge of character all around.

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Chelsea Spack as Kristen Kringle, sic transit Kris mundi…

Kringle really was an odd one, seems her admission to Lee (Morena Baccarin) that she really liked a bit of rough, was not true after all. Once Ed confesses he murdered the abusive cop Dougherty poor Kris freaks out, despite that fact that she and Nygma just had sex in his bed.  Cue one short exit for the woman who had very poor taste in men.

Butch manages to get into the employ of Galavan and becomes the plaything of Tabitha and Barbara. Later, sporting a mallet for a right hand, Butch is caught looking for Penguin’s mother. After being punished by Tabitha, the “Tiger Lady” locks him up. Gilzean (Drew Powellescapes and reveals where Gertrude Kapelput is being held and Penguin rounds up his troops for a rescue.

One does wonder if Butch has been turned by Theo’s sister as the big man stands in front of the fireplace while Penguin ratchets a shell into his shotgun and gestures for his men to go.  By the end of the episode, before we see poor Bridgit being wheeled into a room surrounded by screaming “monsters” and  the city of Gotham is full of some very unhappy people. Selena and Nygma (who is cradling the women he just murdered, screaming) are two characters whose destinies have been shaped by this episode.

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in and catch the murder, madness and mayhem that Bruno Heller delivers on a regular basis. See just how Nygma’s killing of Kris Kringle turns out for the city and its denizens.

 

Gotham: Scarification – Firefly Gets a Gender Change

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Gotham: Scarification features a gender changed Firefly, taking a page from Marvel’s decisions to change up the guys and gals with a female Thor…Of course the televised version of the DC verse sans a grown up Bruce Wayne and a Jim Gordon who is considerably younger than, say, Gary Oldman’s police commissioner has given viewers a number of origin scenarios.

That said, not all origin tales are true or meant to be taken literally. Just as The Joker was introduced via Jerome Valeska and Heller just yanked the future jokester with the big grin right out of the equation. Granted, it was an effective way to show just how far new character, in the television verse of Gotham, Theo Galavan was prepared to go in his quest for revenge.

Now seems a good moment to discuss Theo and sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas as sis just kills it, that great combination of sexy sultry vixen with deadly psychopathic killer tendencies is an epic win.)  These two had some brilliant interactions in this episode.

Tabitha  complaining that  she was bored, and brother dear retorting that she has plenty to do. A parent chiding a child who complains that they have nothing to do. In the same scene, after she complains that Kean sleeps too long is is “crazy” Theo takes off his “daddy” hat and protests that the crazy bit is what makes Kean so much fun.

Most telling is when the audience is spared the sight of Tabitha taking Bunderslaw’s eye but Theo watches it all and the “master criminal” looks decidedly ill.

Thus far, all of the good guys are boring, most probably because they are not Batman; with his long list of issues including the murder of his parents that will not reach fruition till the young “Master Bruce” grows up.  Alfred is there to provide a bit of color and break a few heads (and slap a young Cat Woman, aka Selina Kyle).

Back to the Scarification episode, the Penguin is losing his grip on whatever passes for normal in his “I’m the King of Gotham” brain. After meeting the expository antique queen, Edwige the “bird man” (great line from Tabitha) decides that the Dumas tale of Wayne ancestors chopping off the hand of a transgressing Dumas relative,  Penguin opts to chop off Butch’s hand.

*Sidenote* The punishment of removing the hand of Caleb does make one wonder what sort of “illicit” embrace the two were caught in? Where was Caleb’s hand?  Celestine was not telling anyone but…the fact that she died an “old maid” spinster speaks volumes…

One note of complaint has to be played here. The flashback was odd to say the least. With all the participants in the sepia memory having some pretty “punk” version of old fashioned hairstyles. Considering that these “mod” do’s needed styling wax, someone made a boo-boo here. Just saying.

Still, this is Gotham. The only place in the world where one can buy weapons and all things connected to murder and mayhem in a giant Home Depot type of store, The Merc.   While this was amusing, the gag about the Firefly “brother” exploding when Gordon shoots him was funnier, albeit a cinematic joke that has been almost, pardon the pun, done to death.

The newly formed GCPD Strike Force suffers its first fatality, Luke Garrett, much to the consternation of Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) who vows to make the “cop killer” who killed his man pay.

Jim Gordon proves that his ability to read people is way off when he offers to support Theo Galavan for mayor.  The mayoral candidate and former Dumas gets a visit from Father Creel, a robed figure who is obviously from the punishment cult that the old Dumas transgressor, aka that young man who could not keep his hand to himself (Boom Boom), Caleb, was banished to.

It now appears that the old chap in the robe is promising a legion of more old chaps in robes who are about to lay waste to Gotham. (Fair enough, these traveling monks may not all be old, but that was the vision that sprang to mind when watching the end of Scarification.)

The change of Firefly to domestically abused gal pal of Selina Kyle is interesting as a sort of skewed Cinderella tale sans mice and the further Cat Woman as Fairy Godmother. The main difference being that Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla) makes ashes and does not sweep them. 

Still, as those who take Gotham far too seriously would point out, in this Batman-less verse this is Bruno Heller’s vision and not necessarily a mirror image of DC’s Gotham.   In Bruno’s world, if you are a good guy, it essentially “sucks to be you.” The villains all have a lot of fun, get the best lines and have access to the prettiest women…except for Ben McKenzie’s gal on, and off, the show Morena Baccarin

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Thinking about it, Jim Gordon had access to Barbara Kean as well, and crazy or not, this sleeping beauty is lovely to look at but, after the evil Jason Lennon got done with her,  dangerous to hold. After the “death” of Jerome, whom I am still hoping pops up like an evil “clown” from a kid’s crank toy, it seems the best way to take Gotham is with a huge grain of salt. Blood pressure be damned.

This verse is all pre-pre-Batman. With origins to be played with and varied up until  Heller’s verse only faintly resembles the real DC tales of this darker than dark city called Gotham. The series airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in and enjoy the alternative version of a DC favorite.