“I want to understand how it all works.”
The line, uttered by the young Bruce Wayne as he continues his investigation of all things Gotham, best summarizes the backbone of this week’s ‘Gotham.’ In the midst of it all, new alliances are formed (not all willingly), plots move forward, and we also get quite the Easter Egg regarding a certain masked adversary of the Caped Crusader. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet…Fish Mooney at odds with Nikolai…
The primary driving point of the episode begins when a junkie playing for drug money gets a green vial dropped off into his case. Like any good druggie, he inhales the strange fluid, no questions asked and is rewarded with a trip that exponentially bolsters his physical strength and jones for milk. How does he showcase said powers? Only by ripping an ATM from the wall of a convenience store and galloping from the scene with the machine on his back. On their lunch break—something Bullock reiterates several times—Gordon catches sight of Selina Kyle before the store alarm draws his attention. The clerk’s fantastical story about the thief is corroborated by the surveillance footage and, after asking around the streets, they get a name to go with the ATM thief’s face: Benny.
Following the trail of discarded milk containers, the detectives come face to face with Benny. He’s not doing too well and demands more of ‘viper’. He shouts about the guy with the mangled ear and hefts the ATM above his head only to have his body collapse on itself, leaving him smushed under the ATM. Back at the station, Nygma (thankfully leaving the riddles be for now) gives his report on traces of the drug. Its formula is genius, activating unused DNA which causes a major calcium burn (and subsequent hankering for milk) that provides the fuel for the dramatically increased strength. Unfortunately, the side effects include said bones crumbling to power, ending in suffocation and death for the user. A drug of this magnitude requires a state of the art lab and Nygma points out Wellzyn as the best in the city. Interestingly enough, Wellzyn is a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises and the thought of such a reputable company is beyond the pale. So much so that Taylor Reece, General Counsel for Wellzyn, shows up at the precinct before anyone can call in. She’s no doubt doing damage control after the news spot breaking down Viper’s spread throughout the city but does identify the Mangled-Eared Man as Stan Potolsky, former genius biochemist for Wellzyn whose research was strictly focused on consumer products. Soon after their meeting with Reece, Gordon is spirited away by Frankie, Sal Maroni’s number two, for a tete-a-tete with the big guy.
Backtracking a bit, both heads of the mob families are making their plans. While Fish is mentoring young Liza on the arts of seduction, Falcone gathers his people together, including Fish and the outspoken Nikolai, reminding them that they “need each other”. He doesn’t want to retaliate against Maroni just yet. Too bad Maroni’s not of the same mind. He wants to mess with Falcone, to remind his adversary that he’s here to stay and isn’t satisfied with the Arkham deal. He makes plans to rob Falcone’s casino and Cobblepot decides to throw his hat in the ring, telling Maroni the truth of his origins. Enter Jim Gordon.Tell me a story, Gordon…and make it good
The Don wants to hear Gordon’s story, one that better match Cobblepot’s or both men will be swimming with the fishes. As it stands, Gordon corroborates Oswald’s tale and, by his act of morality, now finds himself the pawn of two major crime bosses. Aggravated, Gordon refocuses on the case, eventually finding a photo of Potolski and Isaac Steiner, the biochemist’s former professor. The elderly gentleman drops some very powerful information on the detectives. Potolski was a genius working on pharmaceutical weapons for soldiers. Viper was the original side-effect laced version while Venom was the more stable version two. Realizing the dangers of the drug, Potolski wanted production stopped. It did until the murder of the Waynes’, after which Wayne Enterprises authorized Wellzyn to get back to production. Potolski refused this decision and now plans on exposing the company in the loudest way possible. Steiner buffs himself up on the drug and takes a few bullets from Gordon before falling. He last words give the detectives the clue they needed regarding Potolski’s end game; namely releasing the drug on the unsuspecting folks gathered for the Wayne Enterprises benefit, one that Bruce Wayne just so happens to be attending.
Speaking of Bruce, the boy continues to show his maturity, questioning Mathis, one of the Board subordinates, about irregularities in the Arkham project. He requests for her to gather the Board for questions but their conversation is interrupted by Stan Potolski appearing on the video screen. He rants about the evils of Wellzyn before pumping a barrel of the drug into the air ducts. Bullock works to evacuate the crowd while Gordon confronts Potolski on the roof. The detective shoots up the line pumping the gas into the building and it exposes the biochemist to the drug’s full effects. Though powered by the drug, Potolski continues his rant about Wellzyn and its corruption and, just before throwing himself from the roof, implores the detectives to look into Warehouse 39. And so ends the tale of Stan Potolski.
Gordon and Bullock pay a visit to Warehouse 39 only to find it empty. “What did you expect?” Bullock asks. Unbeknownst to them, Mathis is watching from afar, speaking on the phone to a mystery individual who asks if the detectives need to be taking care of. They are good for now, she says, but will re-evaluate things as they become necessary.
Bruce continues digging through the records, but now he has some help. Once against his young master’s obsession, Alfred’s decided to join in on the research.
Maroni, with Cobblepot’s help, successfully rob’s Falcone’s casino while the latter runs across Liza. Her seduction of Falcone begins as Fish Mooney and Nikolai’s partnership to take down their boss is revealed underneath satin sheets and silk wrist ties. Curious bedfellows, indeed…
And let’s not forget the mention of ‘Venom’ as the second iteration of the Viper drug. The former is the fuel behind the power of Bane, the man who would ultimately break the bad. Well done, ‘Gotham’, well done.