The short version: The Court of Owls reveals to James Gordon their plan to destroy Gotham by weaponizing the Alice Tetch virus. Bruce begins to embrace the Court's training to make him the "defender of Gotham," and Ivy uses the power of plants to bring Selena back from the brink of death. Meanwhile, Oswald's attempt to use Gordon to get to the Court (to get to Ed) results in him being captured and caged next to, who else? Ed.
The good: Strange returns, Gordon acts like a hero, Penguin and Ed's reunion
While, sadly, there's no Fish Mooney in sight, one of Gotham's campy best, Hugo Strange, has finally returned. One of the best castings this show has been BD Wong as Strange, and as we wind toward the maddening conclusion to Season 3, his presence borders on essential. It makes narrative sense that the Tetch virus would return before the end of this year, and it's a relief that involves Strange more than it does Jervis Tetch himself. Jervis's brief appearance early in the episode served as a reminder for how irritating he is. Strange, meanwhile, is playing both sides against each other, which is absolutely delightful.
I often worry about the direction James Gordon will take episode to episode. "Light the Wick" had me especially vexed, since it seemed like Jim might go full "the needs of the many" and allow a bunch of innocent people to die. Instead, though, we not only witness him investigating things with his partners at the GCPD, but we also see him sacrifice the manipulative upper hand in favor of doing the right thing. While there will certainly be consequences for Gordon's actions, I'm still glad he's returning towards being the man who won't let people directly in front of him die in the name of some perceived greater good.
I'm especially happy, though, that Oswald is back in the mix. After a season of being mayor and then being on the outskirts with Ivy, he's finally back to being a gang leader, making moves. I especially was happy to see Oswald roll up on Gordon, call him "old friend," and see the two mutually manipulate each other to great effect. But nothing could be better than when Oswald discovers he is in a cage next to the man he hates (and loves) most: Ed. Their quiet moment of sizing each other up and figuring out what they might do, punctuated with Oswald lunging at Ed, was perfectly dramatic. I can't wait to see what happens next week when they, presumably, have to work together in order to escape the Court.
The bad: Barnes is back, Bruce's mind control, Selina's sudden recovery, and the Court is dumb
As excited as I am to see Strange back in the mix, I am equally unexcited about the return of Nathaniel Barnes and his "GUILTY, GUILTY, GUUUUUILTY!" ravings. If there is one actor who Gotham has utterly wasted more than Morena Baccarin, it is definitely Michael Chiklis. Why, oh why, must he continue to be so utterly without dimension? All he does is snarl while tied up, and eventually vow to kill James Gordon. Yawn. I just don't care. If they'd tried harder to set up the potential for a redemption arc, maybe I would feel differently, but they didn't.
And I'm still decidedly on the fence about Bruce's mind-control plotline. I guess the plan is to make it seem as though Bruce is losing his empathy for the people of Gotham, only for him to snap back to his level best at the last minute? Maybe the way that all plays out will ultimately make Bruce's kidnapped/trained plotline worthwhile, but right now it just feels like the writers didn't know what to do with Bruce during the Court storyline.
Was anybody else anticipating Selina to be, I dunno, dead for a little while longer? Or dead at all? Or crazy when she woke up? As it stands, she basically took a nap for an episode. Hopefully there will be more to her falling to her death than what we've seen so far.
And speaking of the Court, how have they controlled Gotham for so long when they are all so very, very gullible? Gordon walks right into Kathryn's house, gives the absolute weakest excuse for being there, and she buys it! And then, later, Kathryn leaves Gordon alone with Talon to watch people get nailed with the Alice Tetch virus, and is shocked, shocked I tell you, that he might not go for that after being against the Court from the start. Maybe it's just Kathryn who is a complete rube? Then again, one of the other Court's members thinks it's totes normal that James was hanging in the conference room for no reason. He's just looking at this... book. Yeah.
Lines of the night
"You just torched their assassin. My guess is, they'll be in touch." - James Gordon
"You logical bastard." - Harvey Bullock
What does the shadowy group controlling The Court of Owls really want from Gotham? What will Selina do to Bruce 2 when she tracks him down? Will Oswald and Ed team up again to save their combined skins? And will Barnes finally be given something interesting to do as Gotham begins to fall (again)?