(The following is a recap for the Gotham episode, "A Dark Knight: Hog Day Afternoon." There will be spoilers for the episode. Now you know. So don't squeal about being spoiled. That is a pig pun, but also spoiler complaints are E X H A U S T I N G.)
So much goodness in tonight's episode. There's the first ever live-action appearance of Grant Morrison's bizarre surgical villain, Professor Pyg -- and he's pretty gnarly and good! We find out Bullock has been on Penguin's take this whole season -- and there's actual pathos at the GCPD! And Sofia Falcone continues to be the most competent gangster Gotham City has maybe ever had -- and she hasn't even officially started with the gangstering part yet!
But there's something much larger happening here that we have to talk about because it relates to the one, constant problem Gotham has had for a very, very long time now: Leslie Thompkins and Gotham's overall inability to consistently write women with agency (who aren't crazy and/or evil).
LESLIE THOMPKINS IS ACTUALLY LESLIE THOMPKINS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER
During the events of "Rogues' Gallery," the eleventh episode of Gotham's first season, Dr. Leslie Thompkins technically made her first appearance. Since that introduction, she has spent most of her time being either a hand-wringing, scared girlfriend to James Gordon, or a crazy/stupid doctor who keeps making terrible decisions specifically because she just can't get over... WAIT FOR IT... James Gordon. Her entire existence has been almost entirely defined by one man. In other words, #LeslieThompkinsDeservesBetter.
Last week, we saw Lee's return in what felt like a corny attempt at a gritty Lee-boot. She had sharp bangs, she was pouring booze on patients rather than actually caring for them, she had really dark eyeliner... oooooh, so edgy! Things were not looking good for Lee, aesthetically or characteristically.
For the uninitiated, the Leslie Thompkins of both Batman comics and the beloved '90s animated series fame is a doctor who is primarily defined by her selfless dedication towards caring for the poor, regardless of their past sins. This is a woman whose kindness and resolute attitude towards caring for anyone in need led to an ongoing no-violence policy at her clinic that even Killer Croc and Victor Zsasz obeyed.
Meanwhile, last season on Gotham, Lee released the Tetch virus which made people go into a rage, gave herself the virus, ON PURPOSE, before absconding with, GUESS @#$ING WHO, James Gordon. Just a little comparison, in case you aren't totally caught up on Gotham's version of the life and times of Dr. Leslie Thompkins.
That is a lot of preamble, but it's necessary preamble because in "Hog Day Afternoon" Leslie Thompkins is revealed to be running a clinic for the poor. That's right! The reason she is a ring doctor in the secret fight club in the Narrows is because she's using that as her in to also help all the poor people of Gotham who don't have the means to get the care they need any other way. She feels guilty for unleashing the Tetch virus, and is actively making the choice to try and set right what she put wrong.
I want everyone to appreciate the layered characterization we're getting out of Lee, because it is a genuine first. Not only is Lee acknowledging her past misdeeds, not only is she starting up the very clinic the character is most directly associated with in Batman continuity, but she also manages to help Grundy AND Ed in the process. Leslie helps Grundy because, at least so far, he's just a wayward soul. Much more notably, though, Lee manages to get a TON OF MONEY off of Ed, which she can use to help care for more poor folks. The most notable thing? She is actually going to help Ed, a man who has caused her immeasurable harm. And while she is more than a little hesitant about that help (which is fair), it's clear that this Lee, much like her comic book counterpart, genuinely does believe that all people, regardless of past transgressions, deserve what care she can provide. AND DID YOU NOTICE THAT I HAVE NOT HAD TO MENTION JAMES GORDON ONCE OH MY GOD THIS IS A DAY TO BE CELEBRATED ANNUALLY MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
After four seasons, Leslie Thompkins has shown her first ever signs of being the kind of character she was always meant to be, and also the kind of character that Gotham desperately needs her to be. Fun crime ladies? Count 'em: Selina, Barbara, Tabitha, Ivy, Firefly, Fish Mooney (RIP) -- almost every woman on Gotham is technically a villain, and IT'S SUPER WEIRD.
At this point, with Sofia Falcone being such a cool gangster leader and Lee maybe actually being a good doctor, all we need now is for Detective Jamie Harper to become an indispensable part of the GCPD and Gotham will have pulled off the proverbial female protagonist hat-trick.
I don't know what's happening behind the scenes on Gotham, but two enormously swollen thumbs up. Keep it going, Gotham!
HUMOROUS OBSERVATIONS TO ELICIT SOFT CHUCKLES FROM THE READER
- Are the orphans at Sofia Falcone's Outrageous Orphanarium actually orphans, or are they just paid child actors designed to screw with Penguin? Because I want at least an outtake of Crystal Reed throwing one of those kids a twenty while Robin Lord Taylor isn't looking.
- The answer to "how is Solomon Grundy different from all the members of Indian Hill's undead babrbershop quartet" is now, offically, "he bleeds bog water." He also has no heartbeat and continues to be paler than my high school girlfriend who worked at Hot Topic, but it's the bog water blood that remains the headline here. Not sure that makes any kind of scientific sense, but it's funny.
- Point of order: the Professor Pyg from the comics actually deforms his victims, whereas the Gotham version just puts hog faces on them after what is usually a pretty humdrum murder. One guy gets a grenade in the belly, but it's all been a little too Jigsaw for me so far. I'm gonna have to go ahead and use one of my "I know where the Gotham producers buried the bodies" cards, and demand that Pyg horrifically alter at least one face. Do it for the continuity, Carl! And also, because I'm blackmailing you!
- Ed Nygma should remain canonically stupid for at least the rest of this season. He should have to rely on Baby's First Book of Riddles for all his heists, because him getting repeatedly played by everyone around him is easily the most enjoyable thing to ever happen to Riddler on Gotham.
- Not sure James Gordon has a lot of ground to walk on when coming down on Bullock for being a crooked cop considering, in this very episode, they both beat the crap out of a fellow officer before locking him in the trunk of a car.
- Gotham wants me to believe that Penguin has feelings for Sofia Falcone, but he is 100% gay and still in love with Ed and lalala not hearing you, show!