Monday, May 2, 2016

Gotham Season 2 Episode 19 "Azrael" Review and *SPOILERS*

He is Vengeance, He is the Knight!
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Writers: Jim Barnes & Ken Woodruff
Air Date: May 2, 2016

*This review contains spoilers! Score and Non-Spoilers at the bottom!*

It’s time to return to our Pre-Batman Gotham City, and I don’t know how to feel about the villain this week. To those who didn’t watch the last episode, Hugo Strange brought Theo Galavan back to life, but his brain was a little messed up in the process… He began spewing bible quotes before crying out his new name: AZRAEL. While I was excited about this at first, I became curious about how they are gonna play him. He was always portrayed as a darker version of Batman who would go that extra step… But there’s no Batman… If I had to guess, he’s going to either be a Jack the Ripper with villains instead of prostitutes, or the roles will be reversed…

We open with Theo the day after he woke up… Surrounded by the doctor’s corpses, and walls covered in verses written in blood. Strange explains to Peabody that when he was brought back, his mind was broken, but he was stronger and faster than ever. She points out that even though he’s physically impressive, Theo was still pretty much a failure due to his mental state. However before they could continue, Hugo gets a call from the Asylum. When he arrives in his office, he finds Jim Gordon waiting. Jim explains what had happened in the previous episode while claiming he’s following a lead for a “client”. Strange quickly deduces that it’s Bruce Wayne who is the client, then does a psychoanalysis on Gordon… It really shows how much more of a threat Strange is on a psychological level. However Gordon rebuttals his psychoanalysis by claiming to be able to see Strange’s ticks.

Meanwhile, Nygma has really become the new king of the inmates in the Asylum, able to analyze each of their minds with relative ease… even if he is insane. He tries to make a deal with Strange, by showing his skills, and while Strange doesn’t accept the deal, it does give him a smart idea. Hugo heads down and speaks face to face with Theo, but now speaking as if he was “his father”. Telling him that he is a knight of the Order of St. Dumas. It actually is a very clever way to hint at the brainwashing that actually happens in the comics.

Bruce and Jim discuss what happened, and Bruce berates him for not bringing him in. He says he should be more forward, kill like he killed Galavan… and it’s at this point Jim actually admits what he did was wrong. This shows that he has grown since the beginning of this season… and then it’s thrown out later when he tries to justify taking the law into his own hand… Yeah, it’s scenes like this that really just seem copy and pasted. We’ve had these conversations before, yet here we are.

Soon after Hugo suits up his creation and gives him his mission: KILL THE DEMON, JAMES GORDON. He commits crimes and is able to get the attention of the police, which is where Jim finally speaks face to face with Barnes, trying to explain the whole deal with Strange bringing people back to life. Barnes calls him insane… and that’s when BATMAN SHOWS UP… I’m kidding, but seriously the way this guy moves and fights is VERY Batman esque. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers knew they couldn’t actually have Batman on the show, so they took someone they could and Batman-ed him up. At the end of the first encounter, he scales the walls leaping from pillar to pillar, and it kind of felt like Year One in a strange sense… and I liked it.

Soon after Barnes puts the entire force on trying to find the ‘masked freak’, before putting Jim behind bars. Why does he do this? Mostly for his own safety, but also due to the fact he doesn’t trust Jim anymore… Because Jim is a loose cannon. However, despite the added protection Azrael shows up and is able to pull an Arkham Game stealth challenge and kill 6 officers in the shadows before turning his attention to Jim. It felt friggin awesome.

While we're on the subject of Azrael, I LOVE this version of the character. Physically he moves and acts like Batman, but still adds his own flare with his holier-than-thou style of speech. Just the scene in the station alone, claiming he’s been to hell, made him stand out and so badass. Mentally, It’s clear that in the final few episodes(if not the next one), Theo and Azrael are going to fight over control, and possibly go after Strange for doing this to him. I hope neither die in said confrontation because I want both to stay on the show… Even though Strange is getting a little too Dr. Frankenstein in creating the baddies.

The action reaches its climax as Barnes faces down Azrael on the roof, sword to pipe. He is able to break his sword(which I couldn’t help but laugh at), and unmask Azrael to reveal that he is indeed Theo… and that Jim was right. Theo stabs Barnes before Jim blasts him off the roof with a shotgun, right into a crowd of news people. Now Gotham knows that not only is Theo alive, but he’s dressing up as a knight. This news shocks Bruce, Tabitha Galavan… and especially Penguin who is watching with his DEAD STEPMOTHER!(Yeah, that scene freaked me out a little.)

We end the episode with Nygma finding a way down to the supervillain lab, Bruce realizing that he can’t just kill people for justice, Barnes is rushed to the hospital,and Azrael looking down from the top of the bridge at Jim, before doing a cape twirl into the end title card.

Bits and Pieces:
This episode is probably the most action packed episode of Gotham and felt like the quickest in pace… It felt kind of good, to be honest. I mean it’s no emotion-packed episode like when Bruce faced Chill, but this episode might be my favorite this season due to the fact the writers were able to pull off something I never thought I would see, Police vs. An Acrobatic Fighter, and make it fun! Despite this fun introduction to our knight, the downfall was conversations we’d have before...and the slow self-inflicted downfall of Hugo Strange.


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