“Perhaps this was Mr. Galavan’s destiny all along,” Dr. Strange muses. I couldn’t agree more.
“Azrael” sets up the remaining episodes of Season 2 of "Gotham" nicely by reviving old grudges and giving them a new identity. While I usually can’t stand overhauling a character after a dramatic plot twist (see: Barbara becoming “sane” after her coma), this persona shift is what Galavan needs.
Galavan has always been a servant to the Order of St. Dumas, and his evil shouldn’t be confined to the drudgery of politics and bureaucracy. What his character (and “Gotham”) needed was for him to become a full-fledged knight. All it took was a violent rebirth and a lot of brainwashing from Dr. Strange.
“Everyone has a story, and they just want to be listened to,” Ed says, explaining his method for manipulating people.
Though Ed gives that advice hoping for it to be used against Jim, Dr. Strange discovers it works perfectly for a recently reanimated Galavan, who has mostly forgotten his previous life.
“What is an identity? What is a sense of self? It is a story we humans tell ourselves,” he poses to Peabody.
So to refocus and redirect Galavan’s violent outbursts, Dr. Strange relies on the only thing Galavan remembers — the entire text of the Order of St. Dumas. That makes it easy to convince Galavan that he is Azrael, a 12th-century knight who died for St. Dumas, and that Dr. Strange is St. Dumas.
As his follower, Azrael must do whatever his lord commands. First on his list is to kill Jim Gordon for snooping around Arkham and asking too many questions about Pinewoods. But before that, it’s storytime.
Dr. Strange has seated Galavan in front of a large screen with a video indoctrinating him to believe he is Azrael. It’s eerily similar to the aversion therapy scene from “A Clockwork Orange,” except Azrael is sitting unrestrained and without metal prongs keeping his eyes open. That, and he seems to enjoy it.
He also likes the new sword and armor Dr. Strange gives Azrael before sending him on his quest to kill Jim. Best part about his costume? His helmet, which hides his identity as he goes to find and destroy Jim. It certainly stumps Barnes and Gordon, until it’s broken off during one of many fights later.
More impressive are Azrael's fighting skills, which are half sword fighting, half parkour. I don’t remember Galavan being this good of a fighter when he was alive, so there must have been something in that reanimation serum.
Apparently being brought back from the dead also makes Galavan death-resistant, because he survives countless gunshots from Jim and the gang, as well as a tall drop from the building onto a police van. Ouch.
One thing that hasn’t been revived is Galavan's once-glimmering reputation. The news captures his crushing fall (how symbolic!) and confirms that not only is he alive, but he’s also the masked crusader responsible for killing cops.
It’s fitting that Dr. Strange calls Azrael “the redeemed one” when Galavan's reanimation will be Jim’s redemption. Sure, it was proven that Jim was framed for Officer Pinkney’s murder, but Galavan’s death still looms over his head.
But now that Galavan’s back from the dead — and worse, killing cops — the city and his colleagues will see Galavan for what he is: a bloodthirsty maniac hell-bent on vengeance.
Soon, they’ll see Jim differently, too. Headstrong and flawed, yes, but determined to fight for what’s right. It won’t be long until Jim’s back on top of his game, climbing the career ladder until he reaches his destiny to run the GCPD.
With Barnes’ tragic sword injury, I wonder if that will be sooner rather than later.
More highlights from “Azrael”:
Funniest line: “We have got to give [Galavan] a great, heroic story,” Dr. Strange tells Peabody about his cure for Galavan.
“We need to give him a good, heroic dose of thorazine,” retorted Peabody.
Grossest moment: Penguin drinking his morning wine next to his decomposing stepmother’s body, swarmed by flies. And you thought it was bad when your roommate leaves dirty dishes out for days. Barf.
Hold your tongue: Norton the cannibal has serious personal boundary issues, especially when it comes to his tongue. First, he licks Ed’s neck (without his consent), then licks a leather flyswatter used in the kitchen. Oh, “Gotham,” your ability to make me dry-heave knows no bounds.
Creepiest moment: Barb’s crazy eyes as she holds a butcher’s cleaver while asking for limes.
Big guy on campus: Ed practically runs the show at Arkham. He solves fights between the patients, and enlists a ragtag team of recruits to find out how patients are escaping. (Hint: They aren’t. They’re being used in Dr. Strange’s diabolical laboratory.) Sad, you’d think all that know-how on understanding and befriending people would have made him more likeable at GCPD.
Spark of inspiration: Bruce is in awe as he watches Azrael stop bullets with his costume and jump on scaffolding with his cape fluttering in the wind. You can tell there’s a part of him that’s worried for Jim’s safety, but there’s an even bigger part that wants to copy his nemesis’ moves. I love little moments like this that help Bruce mold his identity into the Caped Crusader. Speaking of…
Two of a kind: Jim and Bruce’s friendship works because they both make each other better. One of my favorite moments this episode was the Jim’s “you see what I have to put up with?” look when Barnes calls Bruce a “pain in the [rear].” Funny, that’s what Barnes has called Jim more than once. Looks like Jim’s rubbing off on Bruce, or is it the other way around?