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'Gotham' Season 2 finale recap: We finally find out who runs Gotham

For The Baltimore Sun
"Gotham" finale recap: We now know who runs Gotham, and it's not Wayne Enterprises.

Who controls Gotham? No, it’s not Wayne Enterprises — it’s bigger than that.

There’s a secret counsel of Gotham’s wealthy elite, headed by the White-Haired Woman, that controls everything from Wayne Enterprises to Indian Hill. It’s a conspiracy theorist’s dream come true. And, of course, Bruce is determined to get to the bottom of it.

“Transference” was a far superior ending to the season than last year’s finale. But that’s not saying much. I’m still bitter that they rushed Barbara’s descent into madness (Really? She goes to go from traumatized PTSD victim to Stockholm syndrome hostage to maniacal killer in three episodes?).

Plus, Fish Mooney’s death in last year’s finale was weak. That’s why I’m not even mad that they brought her back and are letting her stay around next season. Not to mention that I like Fish, even if Jada Pinkett Smith (a Baltimore native) can be a smidge melodramatic.

But back to this year’s finale. Though somewhat rushed, “Transference” was an action-packed ending, wrapping up several plotlines while only keeping a few questions unanswered.

Namely, when are Captain Barnes and Tabitha going to awake from their comas? When will Bruce finally find out who was really behind his parents’ murder? And how and why were an unconscious Bruce and Lucius moved to the room where Jim is restrained?

Another burning question: How did Jim’s colleagues not figure out that there’s a clone taking his place?

The first giveaway is that Jim isn’t brooding — he’s smiling. Smiling! It’s the most we’ve ever seen Jim flash his pearly whites, and it shows. It’s more than creepy; it’s unnatural. I didn’t even think Ben McKenzie could make those facial expressions.

That unsettling smile should have been enough for Harvey and Alfred to call shenanigans and lock away this phony, but it was Barbara who saved the day. As crazy and stabby as Babs can be, she’s smart enough to point out a counterfeit Jim when she sees one.

Then again, how can you really think it’s Jim when he gets fresh with Barbara and says this about Leigh, his child’s mother: “Screw that [expletive]. Water under the bridge.” Ugh. No wonder she slapped Fake Jim upside the head, leaving a ripple in his stretchy, Silly Putty-like skin.

Meanwhile, Real Jim is locked away with a dose full of honesty serum pumping through his veins to see what he knows about Indian Hill.

But it’s more than your ordinary truth serum. Dr. Strange convinces Jim that he’s God and that he can absolve him from all of his guilt, and Jim buys into it. Something, however, still plagues him —  it’s his regret of not going after Leigh. As evil as Dr. Strange can be, he does have powerful insight.

“Guilt has compelled you to sacrifice your heart to your conscience, but guilt is useless. Love, Jim, love is our guide,” he says. In other words, get the girl, dummy.

Jim plans to do just that. But before he takes a sabbatical from police work (again), he teams up with Bruce and Lucius to stop the bomb that Dr. Strange has set to blow up any trace of Indian Hill. The order comes from the insistence of the Woman with White Hair and the secret counsel.

Once they find it, Jim and Lucius stare at the bomb, trying to figure out how to stop it. Suddenly, Peabody awakes from being knocked out by Dr. Strange earlier.

“Water,” she says with a raspy voice. Jim and Lucius thinks she’s answering their question on how to stop the bomb, but really she’s just thirsty.

As corny as Peabody’s thirst-induced deus ex machina is, it’s actually kind of clever. In so many action movies, the hero saves the day just by yanking out the wires, but never have I seen them fry the circuits just by dumping water on it. That should work, right?

Fish, meanwhile, hops on the bus filled with Dr. Strange’s monsters and mutants and hightails out of there. After being chased by the police and trying to jump a barricade of police cars, the bus lands on its side, and she walks away.

After being unwittingly released, Dr. Strange’s monsters pour out of the bus, horrifying the woman who let them out and soon to be terrorizing the rest of Gotham’s citizens. This sets the tone for next season.

How will the GCPD fight these beasts without Jim there? And when will Jim rejoin the force? I’m also curious to see how these monsters will interact with Gotham’s current villains. Will they butt heads or team up to make a league of supervillains?

More highlights from “Transference”

Best Harvey one-liner: “Strange, though, isn’t it? I mean, strange they’re MIA,” Harvey says about Bruce and Lucius’ absence. Fake Jim’s response is the best: “Ha, that’s funny. ‘Strange,'" he laughs dryly between bites of chips. First Jim smiles, now has a sense of humor? Strange, indeed.

Funniest line: “Uh, what drugs did they give you?” Lucius asks Jim after his unexpected apology to Bruce for promising to find his parents’ murderer.

Funniest (yet scariest) line: “I could tell you, but I would have to lobotomize you,” Dr. Strange tells Ed after he asks him to reveal who truly does run Wayne Enterprises. I don’t think he’s kidding, Ed.

Worst line: “Manipulative? As if,” Selina scoffs at Bruce for his apology for dragging her into this Indian Hill mess. Again, which decade is this show set in? “As if” was, like, so 20 years ago. (Yes, it’s been two decades since “Clueless” came out. Congratulations, you’re old.)

Best foreshadowing: The collision of Firefly’s and Dr. Freeze’s fire- and ice-streams reflecting in Dr. Strange’s left and right lenses, respectively. Later he gets caught smack-dab in the middle of the two streams. How did that not kill him? I guess the two extremes canceled each other out, because he somehow walked away from that relatively unscathed.

Grossest interior decorating: Penguin making Grace’s head as the centerpiece for a room at Chateau Cobblepot. Ugh, I was hoping we wouldn’t have to see his stepmother’s rotting corpse again, but, nope. Thanks for the reminder that Penguin is a sicko.

Best continuity: “I’ve been speaking about your life as if it had a future, and that is not so,” Dr. Strange tells Jim about his impending doom. “You have a few hours.” Then cut immediately to Ed barking, “You have 30 seconds,” to Bruce and Lucius. As overproduced and over-the-top as this show can be, it’s satisfying to watch when the writing and directing are on point.

Army of clones: The last monster who walked out of the bus was a Bruce replica, but with Kylo Ren/emo hair. You’d think we’ve gotten our fill of doppelgangers, what with Fake Jim strolling around GCPD, but I’m guessing this is more like Batman Clone, where they actually constructed a Bruce replica with his DNA. Hopefully he’ll be more of a challenge than Fake Jim, and won’t be defeated with a slap to the face.

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