Gotham (2013) season 2, episode 18
WRITERS: ROBERT HULL and MEGAN MOSTYN-BROWN
DIRECTOR: JOHN STEPHENS
AIR DATE: April 18 2016
"Pinewood" - an enigmatic title for the latest episode of Gotham, but as things go along, the reason for that title becomes clear, and has links to the overlying story arcs of this season and far before, with the Wayne murders and Hugo Strange’s work linked into what basically comes down to a codeword for a secret project. Along the way, three primary storylines play out.
Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is out of trouble having had cleared his name, but hasn’t decided to return to work yet with the Gotham P.D., despite Bullock (Donal Logue) and Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) wanting him to come back. He wants to look into the Wayne murders again on his own - but there’s a problem that showed up at his door at the end of the previous episode. Barbara (Erin Richards) is out of Arkham, seemingly wanting to make amends, and yet with her history with Jim, and her history as an outright lunatic, Jim is sceptical - as is the audience. I like the way Richards - who got more interesting the crazier the character got - conveys the sense of chaos about Barbara - as the episode goes along, we can’t be sure what she’s up to. Jim’s search leads to a reference to someone called The Philosopher- a search that ties to the other storylines playing out this time.
Professor Strange (BD Wong) and his assistant Miss Peabody (Tonya Pinkins) are busy getting closer to the end goal of his agenda, which plays out against the rest of the episode and closes things in a rather dramatic way when their goal is achieved. Along the way though, Strange has reason to interfere in other matters, calling in one of his assets to thwart discovery. That asset, in this case, is Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow, reprising the role from earlier in the season). Freeze’s decisive act late in the game is both spectacular and horrifying.
Bruce (David Mazouz) takes up the last third of the storylines, working with Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Lucius (Chris Chalk) to follow the trail his late father was working on. That includes a secret program - Pinewood - that Thomas Wayne once shut down. The path Bruce and Alfred follow leads to a former Blackgate inmate, Karen Jennings (Julia Taylor-Ross), who lives as a recluse in the countryside. Karen turns out to be more sympathetic than we could expect, with a history of being experimented on by the Philosopher under the secret project. She has a deformity that’s rather unique - a reptilian like hand that reminds me of Killer Croc, though her personality is vastly different, the subject of abuse from early years. The character makes an unexpected connection with Bruce - and thus what comes of them is all the more heartbreaking.
At present, time is running out in the season, and there is a sense that things are hurtling towards a conclusion. The way things come to a big ending certainly leaves us with questions. One of them being just how crazy is the not so good Professor Strange. Another being how on earth does one stop someone who’s come back from the dead all the more powerful for the experience.