Gotham goes full Face/Off in Mad City: Blood Rush

Contributed by
Nov 7, 2016, 9:57 PM EST

Last time on Gotham... Jim's back on the beat, Ed and Isabella are sweet, and Jervis got a rap sheet

Now on Gotham... some human meat in the backseat leads to a fait accompli...t.


- Barnes is out for groceries in the middle of what I guess is Murderville, USA, when he spots some dude throwing disassembled human into a van. Seriously, man, what part of Gotham do you even live in that a guy casually tossing body parts into the back of his Ford Free Candy is something that just kinda happens? Is it just me that finds that weird? Anyway, Barnes follows the killer, only to find out that he's actually just the cleaner who makes bodies vanish after the fact. You know who is a killer, though? Barnes. He literally rips the cleaner's head off when he finds out someone's been taking off people's faces and then dumping the bodies. And if you found out you were trapped in a story that mirrors elements of the Nic Cage/John Travolta disasterpiece, Face/Off, you might fly into a murderous rage, too. As it is, though, Barnes committing the ol' decapitation special is mostly about him losing his sanity due to his Alice Tetch blood infection. But I get it, regardless. No one wants to be trapped in a Cage/Travolta vehicle.

- Detective James Gordon is Detective James Gordon again. Guess what his first case is! You'll never believe it, there's some body parts, a dude's head is involved, and for some reason, Barnes says he's gonna take point on this one. What a guy! It's a good thing Barnes is inspired to handle this case (for some very mysterious reason) because Jim and Harvey are preoccupied talking about the party Lee's having in celebration of her forthcoming nuptials. Harvey wants to go because, since Carmine Falcone is hosting the event, there will be plenty of mob tail to hit on HA HA HA HA BARF. Meanwhile, Jim does not want to go. He definitely does not want to go. THat is why he stares longingly at the door to Lee's office. So over her, man. Anyway, Lee's husband to-be, Mario, still hates Jim, thinks Jim could've gotten Lee killed (he's right) and doesn't want Lee hanging around Jim anymore. At one point Mario even punches Jim in the face and Jim's like "yeah, that seems right."

- Meanwhile, Ed sees Isabella wearing the exact same glasses that Kringle used to own (Gotham does love a coincidence) aand starts haivng visions of Ms. Kringle telling him he will absolutely murder Isabella. That voice in Ed's head is probably right, so Ed decides he's gotta break things off. But since Ed is #clueless, he asks Oswald to do the dumping on his behalf. It goes awesome and by "awesome" I mean that Isabella totally pegs Oswald for being in love with Ed and basically says "bitch, the boy is mine." So Isabella's solution is to dye her hair red in order to look exactly like Kristen Kringle before inviting Ed over. She thinks that, by putting Ed's hands around her throat in his nightmare scenario, he will see that things will be fine and that he is not capable of killing Isabella. That's a stupid plan, but it works. And by "it works," I mean that Ed tells Oswald things are cool so Oswald has a henchman cut Isabella's brakeline. She gets hit by an oncoming train. Yeah... We'll talk about that more later.

- Barnes spends the entire episode trying to figure out how to control his new homicidal urges. Barnes asks Tetch if there's a cure. That's a stupid plan because, duh, no there isn't, and Tetch certainly wouldn't tell Barnes if there were. Barnes does manage to caputre (but not kill) the mob doctor who, apparently, steals the faces of the innocent to help criminals have fresh identities should the need arise. Barnes is all ready to turn himself in after cracking this last case when, while congratulating Lee at her mob-thrown wedding party, the mob doctor he just arrested waltzes in because blah, blah crime in Gotham yada, yada mob connections whatever, whatever. So Branes starts hearing voices saying that everyone  is guilty and before you know it, Bob's your uncle, and Barnes puts the mob doctor through a literal wall, falling several stories to his demise. But the doctor doesn't die before he can tell Gordon that Barnes killed him.


From my heart I mean this -- Nathaniel Barnes' fall from grace is a well-told tragedy and is undoubtedly one of the best stories Gotham has ever told. There may be no good cops in Gotham (not even corruption-wise, just cops who are terrible at upholding the law), but Barnes is unquestionably a good man with good intentions. The first two seasons involved Gotham showing us how even James Gordon could be corrupted, but that story is so much more affecting with Barnes. Nathaniel shows up to Gotham with the intent to bring law and order back to a city on the brink of slipping into hell. And while Barnes' hard-nosed dedication to the law may not have always worked out (since his employees are mostly simpering idiots) he still maintained the thin blue line in Gotham and kept things from falling apart completely.

Barnes' descent into madness isn't even his fault. I think that's part of what makes it easier to sympathize with him than Gordon. Alice Tetch's blood disease isn't something Barnes asked for, and even though it did give him his physical strength back, there's no doubt Barnes would rather need a cane than need to fight voices in his head. And we really do get to see Barnes valiantly fight his encroaching madness in a way no one else in Gotham possibly could. We always know his crossing the line and going full evil is inevitable, but that's what makes Barnes such a tragic figure. He tries and comes so close to arresting himself before it's too late, but he just can't do it.

And now we're about to watch a good man, unhinged, allow himself to be judge, jury, and executioner to all the citizens of Gotham. But because it was proved time and again that Barnes is a good man, it will be that much more painful when Harvey and Gordon have to stop him. I'll tell you something else it'll be -- totally insane. And statistically speaking, the crazier Gotham is, the better.


It would seem the love triangle between Ed, Oswald, and Isabella has ended in what I would call the absolute worst way possible. Forget how ridiculous Isabella's "let me look and dress just like the woman Ed murdered and then have him strangle me" plan was, because at least that was the writers trying to give her some agency of her own. And forget that we incorporated the idea of a doctor who gives people the faces of others yet stridently didn't connect that to Isabella/Kristen in any way (although that, too, is unbelievably baffling). 

What really gets me is that the resolution to this story is yet another female character being used as a prop (in this case a wedge-shaped prop) and sacrificed so that the story of two other men-type characters can be pushed forward. And in this case, Isabella's death will also signal the death of the potential romance between Ed and Oswald which Gotham has been baiting LGBT viewers with all season. It's all such a waste of exciting possibilities.


The only thing crazier this week than Barbara Kean showing up to Lee's party to ask her if she's still got a lady boner for Gordon, is the party hair. My god, citizens of Gotham, when did the bump-it come back into vogue and could we not? More hairspray was used for this one sequence, I suspect, than in the sum total of the '50s through to the end of the '80s. Michelle Pfieffer used less product in Married to the Mob than they put into Morena Baccarin's hair for this scene (the above image really doesn't do it justice). I looks so bad! Like, John Travolta in drag in the Hairspray remake bad. Did they hire my Aunt Lorraine from Jersey to do this hair or what? It's like Mad Men on steroids.

Anyway, you get it -- the hair will consume Gotham first, but then it's coming FOR YOU.