'Gotham' Recap: Animal Magnetism - Rolling Stone
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‘Gotham’ Recap: Animal Magnetism

The show’s Halloween episode offers up a pseudo-Pagan baddie, psychological mumbo-jumbo and more Penguin tomfoolery

Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor, L) returns home to his mother (guest star Carol Kane, R) in the "Spirit of The Goat" episode

Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor, L) returns home to his mother (guest star Carol Kane, R) in the "Spirit of The Goat" episode

Jessica Miglio/Fox

Happy Halloweek, viewers of Gotham — come on in and enjoy your seasonally appropriate costumed killer, the Goat. He’s no run-of-the-mill psycho, though: The Goat appears to be a kind of spectral, vaguely demonic entity who promises to keep reappearing even after his human host is slain.

We first encounter the villain of this episode — “Spirit of the Goat” — a decade in the past, when Harvey Bullock was an earnest cop, before he became an apathetic, drunken cynic. Back then, Bullock was the goody-two-shoes of his partnership, and his veteran partner was the bastard. “Gotham’s golden rule,” the old-timer mutters to Harvey: “No. Heroes.”

Despite some big mystical talk about an eternity of murders, however, the Goat turns out to be just a plain old guy in a mask that’s half the Gimp from Pulp Fiction” and half the Scarecrow from Batman. Also, he’s got teeny goat horns. But this animalistic monstrosity promises a return, and, in eventually, he delivers. Since nothing actually supernatural has presented itself on this show, we know the Goat isn’t a real spirit but some type of copycat or accomplice or other sneaky Scooby Doo solution. It’s a given.

(Also, like any good killer in any good piece of late-October TV horror, the Goat is meant to be spooookyyyy. Unfortunately, he simply isn’t. The guy’s potentially a little freaky when he’s punching mirrors and mumbling to himself, but his pagan ritual thing doesn’t feel even remotely inspired or genuine after being done to death on television in the last couple years. The Goat’s m.o. feels like a stock horror plot being used to set up a seasonal episode and a twist ending, which is exactly what it is.)

After some uncharacteristically dedicated detective work from the present-day Bullock, we find that the Goat is indeed a ruse. The “spirit” is nothing more than a deftly planted, devastatingly specific set of instructions from a murderous young hypnotherapist, Dr. Marks. She’s apparently brainwashed multiple men into being stealthy death-machines with a “kill the rich” agenda. Bullock gets past Marks’s final hypno-zombie, the bumbling old rich guy whose daughter was murdered by the Goat, and busts a nonlethal cap in her. Will these two face off again in the future? It seems plausible, as does the notion that Marks could hypnotize Bullock into being the Joker, if we’re still allowed to make outlandish suggestions as to the devil-clown’s identity. That Bullock/Joker thread might snap soon, though — we did learn this week that Harvey has a mushier heart than we ever knew, taking care of his old partner like an elderly papa and all.

Elsewhere in town, the Penguin has waddled back to his mother’s nest. The subplot between Mrs. Kapelput and her darling Oswald Cobblepot tilts toward the stilted; it feels like some violence or high drama is bound to erupt between these two, but that it’s not going to happen for awhile. For now, Oswald’s visit home is perhaps intended to flesh out his human side, despite the trail of brutally murdered bodies behind him. Instead, it feels silly and defanging. The Penguin likes taking a bath and lets his mommy scrub him with a big lufa? Alright, fine.

Jim Gordon and Barbara Whatshername (hang on — Kean!) spent last week apart after a big, forgettable blowout in the prior episode. Tonight, they figure out their crap, because nothin’ can keep these blue-eyed beauties apart. Just as Gordon commits to be truthful with his fiance, Detectives Montoya and Allen finalize their commitment to have Gordon arrested for murdering Cobblepot. Not only did Gordon not do that, but it’s almost like Montoya and Allen don’t know that Jim was voted Most Honorable and Honest for his high school yearbook all four years. (Also, Oswald walking into the precinct negates this Gordon’s-under-arrest plot. What’s his next move?)

Not so honorable or noble is Edward Nygma, who gets his first dedicated chunk of screen time this week. Notice, early on, how Bullock says “ay, Nygma”? It’s made to sound like “enigma” which is a little on the nose for riddle-obsessed fellow whose name is already E. Nygma. Yet names and comments are like that on Gotham, so the young Riddler winds up bumping into a colleague named Kristen Kringle. (She better not turn into a Santa Claus–ish murderer in time for the Christmas episode.) Kringle and Nygma have an anti-meet-cute, after which the socially awkward Ed says he’s “getting the sense that this was somehow inappropriate.” Yeah, dude — you creepily leaned in to inhale this woman, ruined her entire filing system, and blurted out “I want you.” At which point did you realize how uncool and creepy you were?

At Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred are tuned in to Dateline: Gotham Goat Watch, a primetime ratings-winner for sure. Alfred suggests that the young master skip town for a moment, since the Goat is obsessed with killing the firstborn scions of Gotham’s one percent. (Always with the one percent, this show!) Bruce kindly refuses; his DIY detective flowchart is getting too advanced to just go on a vacation. After nightfall, Selina Kyle pops up, briefly, for a little light breaking-and-entering with a side of theft. The countdown until she and Bruce adorably jump on the love train with Jim and Barbara has begun, maybe? Batman and Catwoman never could quite avoid each other….

Previously: Green Day


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