Gotham Gets Stranger (You See What I Did There, Right?)!

GOTHAM: Guest star Brian McManamon in the "Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles" episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, May 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jeff Neumann/FOX
GOTHAM: Guest star Brian McManamon in the “Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles” episode of GOTHAM (Monday, May 16 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) Cr: Jeff Neumann/FOX

As Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 8/7C) steams toward the end of its second season, it has not fallen into bad comics goofiness like it did last year. Instead, it’s gotten darker and more twisted – we’ve even caught a glimpse of Killer Croc (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in the dying moments of last week’s ep (just before Firefly’s attempted fricassee of Selina Kyle.

Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles picks up right where it left off and carries on to a staggering cliffhanger that will lead into next week’s season finale with style (if not grace).

A Legion of Horribles gives us some intriguing information – Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) and his associate, Ms. Peabody (Tonya Pinkins) have reanimated 13 dead people including a certain former crime boss and given them a certain little something extra: different types of animal DNA (one has a bit of octopus, another a bit of cuttlefish, etc.).

We also meet the pair’s boss – a woman who seems to be wearing a designer piece of optometrist’s equipment as a mask (it works pretty well). She is not happy because Strange and Peabody have yet to reanimate someone with their memory intact – but wait…!

GOTHAM: Guest star Jada Pinkett Smith in the "Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles" episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, May 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jeff Neumann/FOX
GOTHAM: Guest star Jada Pinkett Smith in the “Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles” episode of GOTHAM (Monday, May 16 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) Cr: Jeff Neumann/FOX

Meanwhile, Selina (Camren Bicondova) hasn’t returned from Arkham and Bruce (David Mazouz) is ready to go in after her – along with Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk). They cobble together a plan to get Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) into Arkham and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) will be standing by to bring the police if they find anything that could give them a reason.

Selina, meanwhile, has problems with the reanimated Firefly (Michelle Ventimilla) – who strongly dislikes being called Bridget. And Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) attempts to persuade Strange that he can be useful.

Written by Jordan Harper and direct by Rob Bailey, Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles is smart, fast-paced and as madly peculiar as any ep to date. The two also do something that I would have never expected: they bring back Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and make her intriguing (something she stopped being after only a few eps in season one).

Gotham continues to make good use of noir conventions (weird angles, lighting and score) as it sets up a Gotham with super-powered villains who foreshadow more familiar Bat-foes (Octopus Guy? Kinda like Clayface without the muck…).

While there’s nothing quite as darkly hilarious as Penguin’s bazooka in A Legion of Horribles, but there are a few quality laughs here, too (which I won’t spoil because where’s the fun in that?).

In a series that makes real suspense hard to achieve (we know how all the principles wind up – we’ve seen the comics), Harper and Bailey do a surprisingly good job. We have a cliffhanger situation that leaves us wondering just they get out it. Kudos for that.

Final Grade: A-