SPOILER WARNING: This is a recap for Gotham Season 4, Episode 4, "The Demon's Head," so yeah, you're going to get some spoilers.
"The Demon's Head" is like a sleight of hand trick. By volume of time, you spend most of the episode distracted by Ra's creepy dog boy, Bruce's descent into cowardice, and Ed's embarrasingly bad riddles.
But to understand the trick Gotham's playing, you have to pay attention to the three, small scenes where Sofia Falcone quietly and deftly manipulates both Penguin and James Gordon. Those scenes, if you dissect them, are extremely telling, not just of Sofia's motivations, but also of where Gotham's fourth season is heading.
Sofia Falcone will take over the gangs of Gotham. Of that I have no doubt. The biggest question coming out of "The Demon's Head" is: How's she going to pull it off?
Right from the start, Sofia is at least one step ahead of Oswald. Penguin thinks he's using Sofia to flush out any capo still loyal to the Falcone family. In reality, though, Sofia is allowing those capo to walk into their own graves specifically to fool Penguin into believing she is not a threat. And it works.
In fact, Sofia visits Gordon at the GCPD specifically to be seen by Penguin, so that he will tip his hand. And the only time Sofia shows her cards is when she delivers this damning speech after those Falcone capo have been capped:
"My father wouldn't have killed those men. He would've invited me to his club as you did, but then gone further. He would've invited me to dinners, had us seen in public, sent the message that the old order supports me. And those men you killed would've pledged their loyalty. Now they're fertilizer. My father knew how to build on the strength of others."
Penguin didn't have to kill those men. Sofia didn't make these things happen, the existing power structure did. But Sofia can use that fertilizer Penguin made to sow seeds of descent against him.
"Don't act the innocent, Jim. You came to Carmine Falcone for help -- it was never gonna be bloodless." That is how Sofia justifies the way she manipulated both Penguin and her father's men.
When Gordon insists he needs to know her plans, she just says, "No, you don't," before revealing that sexual manipulations are also in her toolkit. After all, despite how pious and in control James Gordon claims to be, deep down he likes the darkness, and longs to be dominated. And Sofia knows it.
And we know from Gotham's panel at New York Comic Con this year that Sofia has no love for James Gordon. He killed her brother, Mario, after all. But Sofia knows she can't take revenge directly, so she's coming at it sideways. And thus far, Jim doesn't seem to have a clue.
SPLASH PAGE SOFIA
Sofia Falcone is not an original Gotham creation -- she existed in the comics long before this. And while Gotham doesn't reuse story elements from old comics, it is worth noting that in Dark Victory, Sofia faked her own paralysis in order to stealthily murder both cops and criminals to get revenge on those who had hurt her father.
We probably won't see that exact story, but, combined with what we've seen in "The Demon's Head," this reveals the answer to our question: How will Sofia Falcone take over as crime boss of Gotham City? And the answer seems to be, "with deft, charismatic manipulation, and an unwavering willingness to lead those foolish enough to try and stop her on a protracted march towards their own slaughter."
OTHER SERIOUS QUESTIONS FROM "THE DEMON'S HEAD"
- Do you think Ra's dog boy, Anubis, has a dental plan? Or are his teeth naturally pointy?
- Can Selina teach Lee how to use that whip? Pretty sure she'll want it when she rolls into Gotham and sees Gordon with Sofia.
- It's cool that Zsasz and Fries both work for Penguin, but wouldn't a show called My Two Victors be even better?
- Can Bruce not play the tortured "It's all my fault" archetype? We already have an entire rogue's gallery of DC heroes on The CW doing that and it's played.
- Where was Harvey this episode? I know it'll be related to the conflict with Gordon he's going to have this season, but can't Bullock just have been on an elaborate ice cream run all episode instead? Think of all the problems that could be solved in Gotham with ice cream.
- Gotham gods hear my prayer -- can the "Riddler can't riddle good" plot persist for a few more episodes, please? His constant looks of devastation over his own stupidity are priceless. Amen.