Title: Mad City: Follow the White Rabbit
Director: Nathan Hope
Written by: developed by Bruce Heller, written by Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt
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
The spotlight of the series is still on Mad Hatter as he wrongfully pursues an agenda of revenge against Jim Gordon for the death of his sister.
First of all, let me say I think Benedict Samuel is terrific as Jervis Tetch / Mad Hatter, his madness is on full display in this episode and in one scene in particular he is very impressive in his portrayal of the mad misguided psychopath making his torment and inner anguish almost palatable, it is a portrayal remarkably well done.
Secondly,this episode forced me to reevaluate Tetch as a villain, whereas I had already relegated him to being a one-trick-pony the episode served to elevate Mad Hatter as being as valid a villain and a threat on the same level as some of the others we have encountered in this series, the combination of his hypnotic abilities and apparent smarts makes him a double threat in the grim city where we have so often seen that the use of violence is often not accompanied by any use of brains behind it.
That being said, I have to admit this episode impressed me less than the last couple of episode have done, I am not sure why that is, it may be because the scope of the episode was so narrow, the show’s usual hopscotch approach to storytelling was still in place this time around, with only a couple of subplots in place instead of the more widespread updates we have become accustomed to. This may not be the reason, I’m not certain what the reason was. It was still a perfectly serviceable episode of the series , although to my mind, not stellar.
Here’s a recap, laced with some comments (*warning, spoilers follow*)
The show begins with the culmination of a wedding with the happy couple and entourage happily leaving the church where it took place. They enter their limo and the driver makes some comments about love, The groom reminds him they have a reception to attend, and asks him to get under way. The driver, of course is Tetch (Benedict Samuel), and he tells them they will not be attending. Bummer for them.
Next we have a brief visit with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) who is enjoying his morning while his human fire hydrant looking, apparently non english speaking maid Olga (Deborah Unger) serves him breakfast. He’s in a jolly positive mood and the reason is he now knows that someone really cares about him, and that someone of course is Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). Penguin is so smitten with the idea of his new best friend, he plans to proclaim his love to him.
A disquieting notion that never sees full realization, at least not yet. He joins Ed who is all business, and a model of efficiency, and so emotionless as he goes about his duties he seems almost robotic in sharp contrast to Penguin’s bubbly mood.
This is followed by a brief look at Valerie (Jamie Chung) and Jim (Ben McKenzie) as they start their day in a local diner where she at least is having breakfast too, She has gotten a whiff of a story regarding Alice Tetch’s blood and asks Jim if he can set up a sit down with Lee Thompkins about it for her, he seems doubtful Lee will say anything that will contribute to the story, and seems to think its a bad idea in general. She is oblivious and self absorbed as usual, and despite her intentions to be an independent woman it now appears as if they are a regular thing.
Shortly after Jim is approached by a pale figure in a white coat who hypnotically keeps repeating he has amesaage for Jim Gordon and he delivers the message from tech of course for Jim to go to specific location where he finds himself caught between a rock and hard place faced with a decision to save a kid Tetch has mesmerized into stepping in front of a truck or saving the recently married couple who has hypnotized into standing on overpass and jumping to their deaths.
Jim saves the kid and watches helplessly as the couple takes a header off the ledge, which kills them immediately. By use of a nearby payphone he is next instructed to go to an address he is given by Tetch or more people will die. There’s a pattern emerging, and Jim is smart enough to figure out what’s coming. He arrives at the address just in time to see Valerie being kidnapped by the Tweedles through a telescope and is informed they have Lee also.
In his desperation Gordon goes to visit barbara and Tabitha and tries to intimidate them into giving him the location of tech and where he might be holding the ladies. Barbara is bat-shit cray as usual, and enjoying the hell of the discord and conflict going on, especially if it means Jim is unhappy as a result. As Nygma reports to Penguin, there’s no sign of Butch, or where he is yet.
A visit with Barnes shows us the blood’s effects on him are progressing and that he is barley in control of the rage seething inside as a result of being affected by it.
Next Tetch draws Jim to a warehouse where he is confronted by two locals wired up to be electrocuted unless he chooses to shoot one of them. he doesn’t, so just as Barnes, Bullock, and the GCPD show up Tetch electrocutes both captives as they arrive.
Another visit with Penguin and Nygma has Penguin on a school tour as part of his mayoral duties. He has been wanting to tell Nygma about his true feelings all day but is lacking in the courage to actually do it. Instead he tells him he wants to talk to him in a more private setting and invites him to dine with him that evening.
During his visit to the school Penguin spots a kid who is not playing with the others, and approaching him, he advises the kid to at least give it a try and if the other kids don’t like him he can always sneak up and push them down the stairs when they aren’t looking. Good advice from the mayor who shows he hasn’t lost touch with his roots as a homicidal psychopath.
So the moment finally arrives when its time for Jim to decide who he will choose to live and who will die at Tetch’s hands. In order to find out how to find them he has to figure out a clue in the form of riddle he has to solve to find their location, and he finally realizes the pale man that delivered his message earlier has the info he needs. As he is leaving he encounters Lee’s fiancee Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) who is beside himself with the news of what’s going on , and Gordon enlists him to help.
The scene is set in Lee’s own home where Tetch has set up a tea party in keeping with his character, and Jim joins him and nearly provokes him into killing Jim on the spot, but the Hatter recovers his composure, and when they spring their surprise involving Mario it turns out the Hatter is one step ahead of them and the gun Mario has is not loaded.
Forced to choose, Jim tells him to kill Lee, knowing Tetch will do the opposite of who he chooses, and sure enough Tetch shoots Valerie, which is what Jim wanted all along , he still loves Lee and wanted to protect her by choosing the opposite of what he really wanted. In the end he out smarted the Hatter and tricked him into shooting Valerie.
After, in the hospital where Valerie is being treated for her wound, Jim tries to explain to Lee, but she shuts him off saying she already knows what he did. If Valerie is smart enough to figure out what he did too, he’s going to have hell to pay when she recovers.
In a very surprising development in the episode’s final scene we find Ed in a wine shop picking a bottle for his dinner with Penguin when he encounters a woman who for some reason she can’t explain starts talking to him, and the thing is, she looks an awful lot like Miss Kringle who as we know Ed killed last season. this doppelgänger who introduces herself as Isabella (Chelsea Spack) even gives him a riddle as part of their conversation and of course Ed is immediately smitten. Looks like dinner with Penguin is off the dance card for Ed.
Like I said, not a terrible episode, but it didn’t really make as good an impression as some i have seen on the show . the series has set the bar pretty high and maybe expecting excellence every time out of the gate is asking too much. No show I know of has a great episode every time and even a good episode from this series is better than a lot of others at their best. Until next week, happy viewing.