'Gotham' recap: Jim overcomes his bad side

For The Baltimore Sun
"Gotham" recap: Jim vs. assassins vs. himself.

What's Jim Gordon hiding?

Everyone has a side of themselves that they mask from the outside. In "A Bitter Pill to Swallow," Jim wrestles literally and figuratively with the fact that he has a dark side.

“Barbara accused me of having a monster inside me,” Jim says. When she was taunting him to shoot her in “Tonight’s the Night,” he admits he nearly gave in. “I almost crossed the line.”

Barnes tells him a war story about how anyone at the right moment can kill someone. When he was at war, he put a gun in an insurgent’s mouth. He wasn’t going to pull the trigger, but in a split second, something made him do it.

“There is no line,” he says. “Just the law. That’s what separates us from the animals.”

It’s the first time “Gotham” has explored this facet of Jim, and I’m glad the series dedicated a full episode to it without getting sidetracked too sidetracked villains’ sidestories. The focus is on him and how he must embrace his good side while accepting his bad.

To do that, he must defeat the villains fairly and justly.

Jim is on the elevator to Theo’s penthouse to collect evidence when a talkative guy with creepy glasses offers him a piece of candy. Nothing about that sounds good.

First, what sane person strikes up a conversation with a stranger in an elevator? Second, those red, circular glasses scream serial killer or hipster (pick your poison). Third, what adult male offers another adult male candy? Or anyone of any age for that matter. Run, Jim, run!

Our suspicions are correct, and the creeper yanks a piano string around Jim’s neck and tries to choke him. It’s a hitman who Tabitha hired as vengeance for Barbara. “He hurt her,” she pouts to Theo. Right, like she’s the first person heartbroken from a break-up .

Jim and the hitman duke it out in the elevator until Jim knocks him senseless and drags him into Gallavan’s apartment.

But it doesn’t stop there. “If the first guy doesn’t succeed, [they] keep sending men until the job is done,” the hitman tells them. “None of you is making it out of here alive.”

As promised, three more assassins roll in to finish the job. More fighting and more action. It’s all good entertainment until Barnes gets stabbed in the leg and he starts bleeding profusely. Barf.

The next and final hitman to arrive is Eduardo Flamingo, an expert who enjoys eating his victims. That’s right, we’ve stumbled into cannibalism territory. Again, barf.

Jim goes outside to face him one-on-one. Eduardo lashes a chain whip at him, while Jim gets a few good punches in. Then, Jim has him pinned down and he shoves his gun into Eduardo’s mouth. He’s thisclose to pulling the trigger, and could have gotten away with it.

Instead, he decides it’s not worth losing sleep, haunted by a man he unjustly killed. He saw what it had done to Barnes, and he wasn’t going down that path. Good Jim prevailed.

But at what cost? Maybe the law is worth bending sometimes.

Had he shot Eduardo when he had the chance, Officer Parks would still be alive. You can see him agonizing over that moral dilemma when Lee tells him that she died.

Will he continue to live by the law, or will he bend the rules so that he can sleep at night?

More highlights from “A Bitter Pill to Swallow”

Corniest line: “You know what I like about those glasses?” Jim pauses to the assassin right in the eyes. “They look like targets.” No Harvey this episode, but Jim made up for it with that zinger. Sure, we’ll call it that.

Worst hair: Eduardo Flamingo. Gah, those feathers! He looks like a cockatoo with horse teeth. I don’t know how Jim didn’t yank those hideous things out of his hair when he was fighting him.

Worst wingman: Alfred. He hates all of Bruce’s girlfriends, and stops at nothing to keep him from dating them. First, he punches Selina, then he takes Bruce’s key to Silver’s place. Both girls might be bad, but Silver’s just straight-up evil. At least Selina has some good in her, even if she does stalk Bruce. Ugh, so creepy.

Officer down: I wish Officer Parks’ sacrifice wasn’t so obvious. Jim won’t let her stand guard by herself, and he makes sure to tell her that she did a great job after the shootout was over. That’s when you know she’s getting the bullet, or in this case Eduardo’s chompers. Predictable as always, “Gotham.”

Fallen soldiers: Speaking of, how many cops have they killed off this season? That, and I’m sure recruitment has plummeted with their high, um, turnover rate. At this rate, Jim, Harvey and Captain Barnes will be the last cops standing by the fall finale (just one more episode!).

Lacking evidence: Cops aren’t the only ones they’re losing. First Kris is gone, and now that another forensics guy was killed off. Plus, does Ed even go into work anymore? Who is there to run crime scenes? Also, why is no one looking for Kris?

Creepiest lines: “Do you believe in fate?” an overly eager Ed asks Penguin.

“Where are my clothes?” Penguin replies waking up in Ed’s bed after being drugged. Yikes.

Paint remover: What’s behind the painting? Jim knocks into a large canvas while wrestling with one of the assassins and breaks off the bottom corner. He could’ve dug deeper — in fact, he insists on digging deeper — but instead pauses to put a tourniquet on Captain Barnes’ gushing leg (ew), and listens to his war story. We’d better uncover the truth in the next episode.

Sweet talk: “Why the hell are you with me?” – Jim

“Beats me.” – Lee.

Ah, true love.

Sibling rivalry: The Gallavan duo is on the rocks. First, Theo reams out Tabitha for going against his orders and hiring a hitman to kill Jim. But then it gets more tense when he becomes more and more power hungry. “This city will be mine! Ours,” he corrects himself after she shoots him a dirty look.

But his intensity doesn’t stop there. “Endanger that prize again, and though it breaks my heart, I will cut your throat.”

One of them will turn on the other. Will it be Tabitha, fed up with Theo’s obsession with domination? Or will it be Theo, disappointed that his sister let love get to her head?

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