Episode title: Unleased
Director: Paul Edwards
Writers: Bruno Heller (developed by) Danny Cannon (written by)
Stars: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Morena Baccarin, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, James Frain, Nicholas D’Agosto, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Michael Chiklis, Drew Powell. Jessica Lucas, Nathan Darrow, Erin Richards, Kristen Hager, BD Wong, Tonya Pinkins, John Doman, and more.
Duration: 42 minutes
The hunt for the resurrected Galavan/Azrael intensifies after the murder of Barnes, and Penguin joins the hunt seeking revenge.
Gotham has been a consistently good series and often shows signs of greatness, In fact this is one of the most consistently good shows of recent memory, and it keeps finding ways to improve. The strength of the show, beyond the delightful stories it tells, is in its characters, and the excellent job done by the actors that portray them. Unleashed is another great example of what i am talking about. This is an episode that is amusing, full of action, and moments that are just plain fun.
(*warning – possible spoilers follow*)
Unleashed begins with a brief look at Penguin as he prepares to go out with a single purpose in mind, to find Theo Galavan and kill him. This is all we are shown, but somehow it is a foregone conclusion he will reappear later in the episode. Like everyone else Penguin has learned of Galavan’s mysterious resurrection, but he is not concerned with that, only with getting revenge for the murder of his mother.
In another part of town Galavan/Azrael has taken refuge in a church, and when he is confronted by the priest in charge of the place, he snaps his neck in an almost absent minded manner, without hesitation, after the priest is unable to provide him with a new sword so he can continue his homicidal crusade to find Gordon and kill him. This new incarnation of the former mayor is a cold -blooded, merciless killer without compunction.
James Frain is great as the resurrected Galavan. He was convincingly menacing and evil as Theo, but he is even more remarkably memorable and fun as the crazed Azrael. In his new resurrected form he is not only super strong and fast, he is also almost impervious to injury, and possessed of a single minded goal to carry out his missions of death with the fervor of a religious zealot, and Frain plays the part for all its worth without going overboard in his portrayal.
Meanwhile, Gordon, and Bullock are out to bust Hugo Strange, It is now known Strange is behind all the unexplained, and mysterious resurrections of people thought to be dead, who are suddenly returning to Gotham, and causing problems for its citizens and the GCPD, and Gordon is determined to put an end to it. He and Bullock show up at Arkham with a warrant to search the place, and Strange’s records and files, but the wily shrink is one step ahead of them, having just shredded all of his papers.
As this is going on, Bruce has run out of patience, and wants to take matters into his own hands to bring Strange to justice for the death of his parents. After resistance on Alfred’s part, Bruce convinces him to allow him to return to the streets in order to find Selena to help him bring Strange down. This represents a singular moment in their relationship, as Alfred has finally realized he can only protect Bruce so much and needs to let him loose a little more to pursue the path he has chosen.
Bruce finds and convinces Selena to break into Arkham in order to rescue her friend Bridgit Pike/Firefly (Michelle Veintimilla), who was taken there after her arrest. It turns out Strange has been up to no good with her former friend, turning her into a homicidal maniac as one of his experiments for his own purposes. So Selena devises a plan to invade the asylum without being detected.
She succeeds in invading the place and encounters Edward Nygma in the ventilation system as he is trying to make an escape, but has managed to get lost. Once inside she overhears a conversation between Strange and Miss Peabody in which he as much confesses his crimes. Selena continues to look for her former friend, but once she finds her it doesn’t turn out to be as pleasant a reunion as she had hoped for. Strange has messed with her former friend’s head, and now it looks like she may kill Selena.
Eventually Gordon and Bullock remember that Galavan/Azrael has a sister, Tabitha, so they decide to call on her for a possible lead as to his whereabouts. Visiting Gilzean they find her, and she tells them about the myth of Azrael, who her brother is now convinced he is, and together they go to visit a crypt where a former version of the knight is supposed to be buried.
Just as they uncover the sword that was buried there Galavan/Azrael shows up and knocks out Bullock and Gordon too before he is confronted by Tabitha, who jogs his memory just enough to remind him his original target was Bruce as payback for his family’s mistreatment in the past. He stabs his sister with the newly unearthed sword they were kind enough to provide him with, and goes off to find Bruce and kill him, forgetting about his mission to kill Gordon for the moment.
After this Tabitha is shown in the hospital, asleep in bed, with Gilzean talking affectionate nonsense to her unconscious form, when who should arrive, but Penguin. After a short conversation in which Gilzean gets Penguin to promise not to harm Tabitha, Butch reveals the location of Galavan/Azrael to Penguin.
Gordon calls ahead to Wayne mansion to warn Alfred that Galavan/Azrael is on the way to kill Bruce, and just then Bruce returns, and the two of them do their best to prepare for his arrival. This all in vain, as he arrives and enters the place apparently without effort.
He and Alfred get into an intense battle which is one of the highlights of the episode, and Alfred despite Galavan/Azreal’s enhanced strength and speed, remarkably, holds his own in a sword fight that nearly destroys the entire room it takes place in, this is knock down, all out brawl in the manner of the classic westerns popular in the past, and was really a lot of fun to see. Alfred at one point actually seems to be getting the better of the super strong maniac at one point, until he has the misfortune of being thrown thrown through a window, bringing the fight to an abrupt end.
I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but there is an unwritten law that when someone gets thrown though a window, or some other surface composed of glass, on tv or even in movies, it means the fight is over, because once the glass gets broken the person in question is always rendered unconscious. There must be something about the physical properties of glass that causes this to happen, because it works every time. Don’t believe me? Pay attention the next time you see a fight scene on tv.
Anyway, Bruce has kind of been furtively running around while this epic battle was taking place, but finally makes an attempt to escape, and runs to the mansion’s garage, which is full of cars, and just as Galavan/Azrael arrives. He manages to find a car with keys in the ignition, and runs the homicidal maniac over with it, driving through the garage door with him pinned to the front end and the hood of the car.
Of course this fails to have the desired effect of ending Galavan/Azrael’s life, it doesn’t even knock him out, and when Bruce leaves the car to find evidence of his assailant’s location, the crazed killer gets the drop on him, and just as he is about to deliver the killing chop to young Bruce’s head, Gordon arrives and shoots him until he falls to the ground in a motionless heap.
Of course that’s not the end of it, and in the grand tradition of stories of this sort, the bad guy is not really dead, even though he might appear to be. Anyone knows this, even little kids know you always check the bad guy to make sure he’s dead.
Sure enough Galavan/Azrael rises ready to cause more mayhem, and Gordon turns, ready to finish the job, but it turns out he is out of ammo, and his gun clicks on empty. Just then we hear the voice of Penguin who has finally arrived, just in the nick of time, to once again pull Gordon out of the fire before he meets his doom. he is accompanied by Butch Gilzean who has a bazooka in his hands which he promptly aims at Galavan/Azrael and fires, blowing him to bits.
I laughed in delight at this scene. It is a classic fans will not soon forget. Penguin approaches the burning rubble that was recently Galavan just long enough to utter the words “your welcome”, to Gordon and the others, and then he and Gilzean turn and walk away. Hilarious? You bet it was. A great finish to great story, a wink at the audience like a cherry on top. Good stuff from a great show that’s smart enough to not take itself too seriously, and remember its roots. Bravo.