Title: Mad City: Mad City: Burn the Witch
Director: Danny Cannon
Written by: developed by Bruce Heller, written by Ken Woodruff
Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Camren Bicondova, Erin Richards, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Drew Powell, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cory Michael Smith, Morena Baccarin, and more
Episode length: 42 minutes
Season 3 episode 2 continued in the same fashion as the season premiere, continuing some season 2 storylines focused for the most part on Fish Mooney, while also establishing the new, more mature Poison Ivy.
Mad City Burn The Witch was a continuation of the storylines begun previously or at least implied last week in episode 1 of season 3, reinforcing the idea the first two epodes of the the series third season were a two parter designed to continue some old storylines, while establishing some new ones. The episode also had some surprising developments in other areas regarding its characters.
The episode this time around was blend of the violent events, personal drama, and often fatal developments that are the show’s earmarks, that fuel the somewhat grim and dark nature of its appeal. The series seems to be in no rush, while beginning to wrap up some of last year’s storylines instead of barging headlong into the new areas and events that will make this season unique.
Here’s a recap, laced withe some comments (*warning, spoilers follow*)
Burn the Witch starts out right where last weeks episode ended with the abduction of Bruce, and we find him a large room with a large table, with one of its seats occupied by the woman we have seen before in the owl mask. She identifies herself as Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix), and despite the manners and decorum of it being a polite social event, the menace she represents is clear. She wants to deal, and in exchange for not harming Bruce or anyone he cares about, she wants a promise he will end all of his inquiries into the secret society she represents. He agrees, but as Alfred later points out what proof is there she will keep her end of the bargain?
This brief scene is followed by a visit with Gordon, who responding to a knock on his door is greeted by Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung), who can’t seem to get enough of pestering him. She confesses the trail to finding Fish has gone cold, and using the seductive leverage of the million dollar reward she talks him into trying to find out something that may put her back on track.
Together they visit Barbara who it seems actually has a clue as to Fish’s whereabouts, and after they leave Valerie ditches Gordon and trades what she learned for a chance to interview Fish after she’s booked with Harvey Bullock. Harvey, acting on the information she provides, raids the place where Fish may be hiding out, and indeed she is.
Following this we witness Ivy (Maggie Geha) who has been aged a few years by Marv’s touch, and after falling into the storm drain last episode, has washed up on the shore of the city’s waterfront. She’s not a litlle girl anymore and gets noticed by a man who offers to help her and invites her over to his place which is nearby. The poor sap seems to be a genuine good samaritan without ulterior motives.
Back at the raid, after initially feigning uncontested surrender, Fish and her band of merry monsters explode into violence and give the cops a pretty good fight using their special abilities. This scene was really well done, capturing some of the nightmarish qualities of the Arkham escapees using their special abilities on the cops in the episode’s most genre centric scene. This fight scene provides the episode with some nice science fiction moments in which the cops eventually emerge as victorious, but fail to capture Fish and her core companions.
This is followed by a brief scene with Penguin acting as rabble rouser, making an impromptu soapbox speech working some locals into a frenzy. The series seemed to be telegraphing a run for the office of mayor by Penguin, but it is not clear if that is the case, but it wouldn’t be the first time we have seen that, so it wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
Gordon visits GCPD headquarters and after talking with Barnes confers with Lucious who shows him the withered corpse of Miss Peabody. As this happens, Bullock is outside being abducted by Fish’s minions Sid (Michael Lorz), and Nancy (Bianca Rutigliano), and after a brief conversation and a kiss, Harvey is fully onboard to help Fish find Hugo Strange.
Anther brief visit with Ivy shows her arriving at the man’s place and seeing some plants badly in need of watering, is visably upset, and even more so when he takes one the plants and throws it in the trash. he makes a remark that someone must be looking for a beautiful woman like her, and she seems surprised he thinks she’s beautiful.
Meanwhile, Bullock takes Fish and friends to the secret location where Sid uses his ghosting abilities to get the drop on the agents guarding the door and kills them. Inside is Strange (BD Wong), suitably preoccupied with his scientific theories, in a Hannibal Lector style plexiglass case with formulas scrawled on its transparent walls. Fish makes her demands that he fix her, and find a cure for what’s killing her when she uses her new abilities, and to create her an army.
Meanwhile Gordon, having figured out that Fish has Harvey convinces Barnes along with some of GCPD’s finest to try to capture Fish again at the secret location where Strange is being kept. The secret location is not so secret any more, because shortly after the police arrive, the press shows up and bedlam ensues.
Shortly after this Penguin shows up with a mob of inflamed citizens, torches and all, who want Fish’s head on a pole and the scene goes from bedlam to utter chaos. Barnes, despite his strong authoritarian presence in the past seems remarkably ineffective in taking control of the situation and calming things down. He seems to have lost his mojo.
Gordon takes advantage of the situation and sneaks around back and gets in to the place, and is almost immediately found out by Sid, who blames him for the deaths of a lot of the arkham escapees and seems close to killing him. When he is confronted by Fish, he says he is only there to save Harvey, and proposes a deal where he finds a way out for Fush in exchange for his and Bullock’s lives. Fish accepts as long as getting Strange is part of the deal. Gordon plans on betraying her and calls Penguin, instructing him to have his mob attack, and letting him know Fish will be in back in a few minutes.
The mob attacks and Fish sacrifices Sid and Nancy to them to cover her retreat out of the back. She and Strange escape but are intercepted by Penguin as planned. They have words and instead of killing her Penguin lets her escape with Strange. The bodies of poor Sid and Nancy are shown being put in a bonfire by the mob.
A third visit with Ivy,shows her cleaned up in high heels, and dressed in clothes that flatter her lady parts. Her transformation is complete and she has apparently fully adjusted to life an adult female. That was fast, she is apparently a quick study. The dead body of her host is shown lying on the floor where she killed him. As she leaves, she tells his dead body to remember to water the plants next time. This scene effectively establishes Ivy as the homicidal, opportunistic sexy she-devil we will be dealing with going forward.
Later, back at his place, Gordon is once again called on by Valerie who tells him she has figured out just what happened and the role he played in it, showing she is pretty darned smart, and not just pretty face and a great pair of legs. The conversation suddenly shifts and it becomes apparent her story isn’t the only reason she keeps pestering him and they kiss. The next scene shows Lee arriving back in the Gotham as things are heating up between Jim and Valerie, letting us know the show will not be shying away from melodrama as part of its formula going forward.
One final scene shows Bruce and Alfred relaxing back at Wayne manor, and discussing what he will do with all of his extra time since he won’t be using it investigating the Court of Owls any more. When they hear the sound of breaking glass, they go to investigate, and discover its Bruce’s doppelgänger, who emerges from the shadows and pleads for them to not hurt him. There’s something creepy about this kid, and Mazouz effectively portrays this guy is different than Bruce. The wig the show uses to let us know this is someone else, is almost comical.
So there you have it, it was an eventful episode, wrapped up in neat package. It left me with the same the same sense this time around as it did with last week’s season premiere, this is a series in transition and the first two episodes were designed to smooth over the segue, and help re-establish the storylines going forward, along withe some hints of what the future of the series third season will hold.
From what i understand, there’s no reason to worry the show will continue to whip old storylines to death, that this season holds a great deal of new and exciting events and characters as well as some surprises regarding characters we have seen in the past including the return of the proto-joker Gerome. Now that it seems it may have pretty much finished establishing what it has planned for the near future, and transitioning into what it has planned going forward, I expect more of the same exciting tone and developments this series has established since it began as it gets down to the business of its third season. Happy viewing.