So much happened in The Sinking Ship the Grand Applause that this easily could have been the season finale. Seriously the pacing this episode was so crammed with eventful moments it felt like watching three at once. That’s not a bad thing as the The Sinking Ship the Grand Applause was a gloriously eventful and entertaining episode.
There’s almost too much to dissect here, but let’s break it down.
I had a good feeling about this one when the opening scene had The Riddler use a rocket to blow up Sofia’s men who were guarding Martin (including one who was reading Detective Comics). Sure, we could argue about how a gas filled room and a rocket would only destroy one room, but it’s Gotham and any use of a rocket to deal with problems instantly wipes away any logic gaps.
Bullock agrees to rejoin the GCPD, welcome back you lovable drunk — the inept department hasn’t been the same without you. Harvey does have some conditions though, namely that Gordon fesses up to his sins once they take Sofia down.
To accomplish the Fall of Falcone, they need evidence and to start, Bullock meets with an old Falcone ally, The Scandinavian Skinner. She’s not doing much skinning these days and is simply running a candy store. Man, I love Gotham! Skinner tips Bullock off that Mr. Pen was in bed with Carmine Falcone, Penguin and Sofia and is the one person that has all the dirt.
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Gordon and Bullock had to deal with another problem, namely Penguin breaking out of Arkham Asylum with Riddler’s help. Sofia knew Martin’s rescue meant Penguin was coming for her and she sent Zsasz to deal with him. Zsasz wanted to bring a pal who’d just recovered from a hospital stint. Yay Headhunter is back! I can’t even begin to make sense with obvious murders/deaths on this show, but I liked Headhunter and the pairing with Zsasz immediately proved worth whatever logic holes needed to be filled to resurrect him.
Riddler and Penguin turn to Lee for help, but after learning she’s lost control of The Narrows to Sampson, Riddler doubts she’d be much use. They both laugh when Lee says she’ll kill Sofia. But Riddler likes her suggestion to seek out Grundy for some added muscle. Penguin scoffs at Riddler’s plan to have Mr. Freeze ice him and take him to Sofia, but Lee doesn’t think that’s a bad plan at all.
Cory Michael Smith is doing a masterful job of pulling off playing Ed and Riddler like different people. Riddler has seriously bad timing as he finds Grundy in the sewers, only to learn he’s got his intelligence again and remembers he’s Butch. In an attempt to make good with his lady, Grundy knocks out Riddler so Tabitha can kill him. Despite dealing with major migraines, Barbara concocts a scheme to take him to Sofia so she can deal with him and they’re in the clear.
Penguin gets impatient waiting on his ally and walks right into Gordon and Bullock who were searching for him in a funny scene. While Gordon is in a dealing kind of mood once Penguin gives up Mr. Pen, Bullock wants nothing to do with it and is all set to arrest Penguin when Zsasz and Headhunter arrive in their whole modern Pulp Fiction deal. Lee manages to survive the shootout and rescue Penguin. And now it’s time to try the Mr. Freeze route. I love how dismissive Freeze is with Penguin’s feelings and concerns about being iced up.
Selina comes to Bruce asking for his help to buy back the items from the Wayne employee that Ivy killed. I definitely got a Batman and Catwoman vibe as they fought the pawn broker and his goons. Gotham has gotten much better at teasing these moments instead of going the hamfisted route of trying to draw the connections to the comic source material. But Selina really didn’t need help dealing with some goons — she really wanted Bruce to return the items since she didn’t want to face the family.
Sofia sics The Dentist on The Riddler, but he doesn’t need to give up Penguin since Freeze brings him in. And now Zsasz and Headhunter clue her in on Mr. Pen’s importance so she leads them to kill him. Penguin uses Freeze’s device to defrost too late to kill Sofia and has to decide between getting revenge or saving his ally from being executed at the pier. Penguin opts to save Riddler putting an end to The War of Birds and Riddles. A real partnership with these guys is definitely going to be troublesome for Gotham.
I have no idea what the deal was with Pen in this baby camp, which was a weird scene even for Gotham. But now, everyone’s heading there. Gordon gets shot and wants Bullock to take Pen to the GCPD while he distracts Sofia’s men. That’s a decent plan right up until Sofia shooting Gordon two more times. I really dug how psychotic Crystal Reed played Sofia here as she wanted Gordon to beg for forgiveness and they could start over.
Making good on her earlier threat, Lee arrives and shoots Sofia in the gut and point blank in the head. That was pretty cold and unexpected. And for an encore, Lee seizes the Narrows back from Sampson after pummeling his hand with a hammer. I kinda like cold and vicious Lee.
At the hospital, Bullock reveals Sofia is in a coma. What? Oh come on! Lee definitely would have killed her! I get it, we’re on Episode 15 and the writers want to at least keep open the possibility of Sofia returning at a later date. Bullock doesn’t want Gordon to fess up now. In a nice nod to The Dark Knight, Bullock says Gotham needs its hero and he’ll have to live with the debt he owes.
In addition to migraines, now Barbara’s got a glowing hand deal going. Oh, she’s having visions of Ra’s al Ghul. Gotham takes drastic liberties, but I knew killing Ra’s off at this point would be too far even for them.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10
File Closed: The Sinking Ship the Grand Applause was a great episode of Gotham that only loses some points for the last second decision not to fully pulling the trigger on killing off one of the season’s main characters.
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX