This episode kicks us off with the continuing psychiatric treatment of Penguin, which is about as old-school as you can get. It’s so old-fashioned and outdated that it’s actually kind of uncomfortable to think about anyone with mental illness actually having to watch it and take it remotely seriously, because it’s a total farce and I think that’s the intent but I honestly can’t be too sure at this point.
Once you get past that, though, there are some interesting scenes between Penguin and Strange. It’s a little sad that, while Penguin used to be the main attraction of the show, my interest in him has tapered off this season. While everyone else is developing around him, he’s kind of become one-note. His arc felt like it reached an actual end and now they’ve just had to take him back to basics so he can start his ascent to power all over again. Hopefully this stint at Arkham will push his character into a new direction.
When it comes to the villains, though, I was definitely pleased with how Nygma was treated in this episode. So far, he’s just been building as a schizophrenic serial killer, which has never been a part of Nygma’s personality in the comics. But in this episode, he feels threatened by Gordon’s investigation of Kringle’s murder because he feels as though Gordon is toying with him. He feels like his ego and his intelligence are being called into question and that’s a threat to him. That is the Riddler, and it’s the first time I’ve truly felt like I’ve seen him on this show. Hopefully there’s more of that to come from him in the future.
By and large, the episode belongs to Bruce. This is him weighing the decision he made last week to kill Matches Malone. Actually, to be more accurate, he spends no time weighing the decision. He doesn’t want to think about it at all, because then he might talk himself out of it, and I think all of that comes through in Mazouz’s understated performance.
Once again, the chemistry between Alfred and Bruce is great. While the fight scene Alfred gets himself into is a little gratuitous, it’s still my favorite moment of the episode. Every time the series reminds us just how tough Alfred is and how much he’s been through, I’m totally on board with that. This fight also showcases just how intelligent of a fighter Alfred is, he knows exactly how to fight different opponents in different ways, how to weaken them and wear them down to get them to a level where he can take them on. While Bruce is a long way from putting on the cowl, it feels like Alfred could just slip that thing on now and we’d have a perfectly suitable Batman.
From what we’re given here, I don’t think Lori Petty is at all intended to be the Joker. She rocks the trademark look, to be sure, but there’s no reason for it. It’s a red herring for the sake of a red herring. At this point, there have been so many that the Joker is just going to look like a really unoriginal guy or gal when they finally appear on the scene. Still, Lori Petty’s Jeri does spark a nice Dark Knight homage with an interrogation scene between her and Gordon.
It’s not nearly as good, though, as the one between Bruce and Matches. This is about as intense as the show has ever been. And, much like a “cured” Penguin, it changes things moving forward.