On most crime shows, people who are dead stay dead. But Gotham is prepared to break all the rules – that’s surely part of its charm – so we weren’t that surprised when Hugo Strange managed to resurrect one of the corpses in his Indian Hill facility.
We were a bit disappointed that it was the megalomaniac Theo Galavan – we were so over him – but guess what? Galavan’s personality has been erased, and in its place, Strange decides to use his Clockwork Orange-style conditioning imprint the personality of immortal assassin Azrael.
What with Galavan’s super-strength and his renewed sense of mission, it’s like a whole new era has opened up for Gotham – Azrael is kinda the first super-villain. The mortal cops just aren’t going to be ready for him.
If the continuing plot is going to be that all the Gotham villains are basically programmed to be odd by Hugo Strange, that clears up one unanswered question about Batman mythology – why do all the loonies congregate in Gotham?
When Gordon and Bruce question Strange about Project Chimera, which they learned about from Karen Jennings, Strange plans to send Azrael out to dispose of Gordon.
Now, there’s a possible downside to the Azrael character, and that’s the rich diet of ham accompanying his every appearance. What with the mediaeval armour, the doomy voice and the ‘thou dost offend me’ dialogue, there’s every chance that the character will just look ridiculous rather than scary in a modern setting. But in fact, the other characters are so righteously scared by the authentically batshit Azrael that you tend to accept their horror as realistic.
There’s a lovely scene where young Bruce sees the superhuman caped figure of Azrael leaping around the Gotham skyline, and we think – aha, THIS is where he finds the essence of Batman; a sinister, revengeful and mysterious character following his own agenda, unlimited by mortal concerns.
Meanwhile Ed Nygma is another candidate for the Strange treatment – but locked up in Arkham he realises that he can manipulate the other inmates, and indeed Professor Strange himself. Will he be able to escape by making himself useful to the Professor? With Jim Gordon hot on the scent, Strange is going to need some allies soon, and when Ed finds his way into Indian Hill, it gives him every incentive to get out fast.
For our supporting characters, Oswald Cobblepot has spent rather too long in the company of the decaying corpses of his murdered step-family, so he needs to get out a bit more; and Barbara, Butch and Tabitha seem to have settled into TV-induced lethargy. It’s nice to see the transformation true love has worked on Butch, but we can’t help feeling that Tabitha is just biding her time until she can dump him. Will the return of Theo/Azrael be that opportunity?
Azrael attacks GCPD, effortlessly offing several cops in his search for Gordon, but Captain Barnes unmasks him on the roof. The realisation that Galavan is back from the dead hits each character in different ways – for Jim, of course, it’s something of a relief, as he can now put behind him any accusations that he killed Galavan (though he actually did). For others, different emotions dominate; for Oswald, thirst for even more revenge, and for Tabitha, presumably a mixture of sisterly concern and justified dread.
But when Azrael apparently kills Captain Barnes before escaping into the night, we’re left with a puzzle – Gordon is off the force, so he can’t take over, so who does that leave? Surely not the irresponsible and lazy Bullock?
Jim Gordon’s far too inexperienced to make a good Captain, and can’t be expected to take charge when Azrael is still haunting the streets in search of revenge. The final shot of Azrael standing atop Gotham bridge swirling his cape is almost too symbolic.
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