"By Fire" (S2/E6)
Author: Ricky Church (Follow RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: October 31, 2015

EPISODE INFO: "By Fire" originally aired on the FOX television network on Monday, October 26, 2015. GOTHAM is based on "Batman" characters owned and published by DC Comics.

SYNOPSIS: After Bridgit Pike (guest star Michelle Veintimilla) rejoins her brothers, a new spark of courage ignites within her, as she chooses to take control of her future. Meanwhile, Kringle and Nygma’s relationship will take a new step and Penguin and Galavan continue to battle for control of Gotham City’s underworld.

MAIN CAST: Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Michael Chiklis as Detective Nathaniel Barnes, Sean Pertwee as Alfred, Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman, Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma/the future Riddler, James Frain as Theo Galavan, Jessica Lucas as Tabitha Galavan, Chris Chalk as Lucius Fox, Nicholas D’Agosto as Harvey Dent, and Zabryna Guevara as Captain Sarah Essen.

PREVIOUS EPISODE: S2/E5 "Scarification" Review by Ricky Church (10.19.15)

In ‘By Fire’ the hunt continued for Firefly as several big pieces of the season were shuffled around, though not quite as cohesively as one might hope. While still a decent episode, “By Fire” had some flaws to it, particularly as some of GOTHAM’s old, problematic habits reared their head.

The best aspect of this episode was Bridget’s continued development. There was some very genuine sympathy for her character as she dealt with the consequences of her actions and what her ‘brothers’ had done to her. Unlike most interpretations of the Firefly in the comics, there were some nice layers to the character in GOTHAM. However, her turn from reluctant arsonist to avenging pyromaniac felt a little rushed. Granted, I saw her brothers’ murder coming, but her transition to targeting all “pervs and bullies” seemed rushed. It would have been better had they lingered around her decision a little more before she made such a drastic change in character.

Selina also benefitted from some good characterization here. Her friendship with Bridget showed a more vulnerable side that we rarely get a glimpse of in this show and Camren Bicondova did a good job selling the audience in those scenes. It still is rather weird that she and Bridget are such good and long friends though considering, prior to this, she had never mentioned Bridget and Ivy was considered her best and only friend. It also seems rather out of character, even for a 13-year-old version of Selina, to leave so many young women behind to such a terrible fate at the sex auction. However, considering Selina is not yet truly Catwoman, a fact this show often forgets, hopefully this is the start of better development for Selina as she becomes more altruistic.

“By Fire” did have a few problems in its story and logic though, common problems GOTHAM has faced in the past. For instance, its perfectly shown that Selina and Bridget have masks prior to their robbery of the sex auction, yet both of them inexplicably take them off solely as a plot device to be recognized on camera by Gordon. On the topic of the sex auction, that’s a rather dark place for the show to go, especially in its depiction of how abused many of those young women were. Its one of those tonal inconsistencies GOTHAM is known so well for.

Gordon is also out for blood after the death of the cop last week (Luke was his name; thankfully they said it because I had completely forgotten what his name was), going so far as to actually beat suspects in full view of other cops. This was a bit problematic because A) its unlike Gordon’s character to beat suspects, no matter how angry he is and B) there was still little emotional investment in Luke’s death since we had just met him two episodes ago.

It was, however, consistent of Captain Barnes to still write Gordon up for his violence. I was worried he would let that slide or simply not mention it at all given the show’s tendency to skirt around significant characteristics like that, but his by the books beliefs still held out. That’s at least a small positive for the episode. - Ricky Church

STRAY THOUGHTS...
* Penguin and Butch’s plan to infiltrate Theo’s circle backfired in a somewhat predictable twist. Also, Butch has a very comic-booky mallet for a hand now...

* Speaking of Butch, his conditioning was brought up again, yet its never been explained what Zsasz did to him or how the conditioning exactly works. Would be nice to get that cleared up once and for all...

* Riddler’s story also felt a little out of left field, though its better when you think of "Scarification" and "By Fire" as one episode. AND...

* FINALLY the Indian Hill/Arkham deal with Wayne Enterprises is brought up again. That plotline was all but dropped halfway through last season. If my suspicion is right, it looks like Wayne Enterprises will be responsible for many of the rogues gallery the same way LuthorCorp was in SMALLVILLE.

GRADE: C+


GOTHAM airs Mondays at 7PM CT/8PM ET on FOX.
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