Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 8/7C) has been showcasing individual characters (mostly villains) almost every episode – even as it developed Theo Galavan’s plan to destroy the city and rebuild in his own image. We’ve seen, among others, Jerome Valeska, Edward Nygma, Oswald ‘Penguin’ Cobblepot and , of course, Galavan given episodes that explored their backgrounds or highlighted aspects of their personalities.
Tonight’s the Night is Barbara Kean’s turn in the spotlight in an episode that brings all manner of arcs into play.
Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s The Night opens with Kean (Erin Richards) walking up the aisle at her wedding rehearsal, with James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) waiting. It looks like a perfect scenario until suddenly, Barbara finds herself among the guests – who have all become Arkham inmates – and the wedding is Jim and Lee’s (Morena Baccarin).
She awake from her worst nightmare to find a gift from Theo Galavan (James Frain) waiting for her. When she meets with Galavan and his sister (Jessica Lucas), she gets the go ahead she’s been waiting for – to kill Gordon. What she doesn’t know is that the Galavans have something else to do and she’s merely providing a distraction…
Elsewhere, Gordon and Bullock are in Captain Barnes’ (Michael Chiklis) office arguing for a warrant to go after Galavan, though the captain is unmoved because they have no evidence. As they argue, they’re interrupted by Barbara’s arrival at the station.
She promises them information if Gordon comes with her to see a ‘good’ surprise. They assume it’s a trap (they’re not wrong) and things get pretty ugly for Gordon.
Meanwhile, Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) has set out to dispose of Miss Kringle’s body. Deep in a secluded wood, he just gets the suitcase containing her body into a hole when he is interrupted by a hunter. Oops! (And only his first interruption!)
On yet another arc, Galavan is attempting to persuade Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) to sell him his 51% of voting shares in Wayne Enterprises in return for billions – plus the identity of the man who killed his parents.
So, there’s a lot happening in Tonight’s the Night.
Writer Jim Barnes and director Jeffrey Hunt walk a fine line between the Burton and Nolan Batman tones – giving Kean a more operatic arc; Nygma a more darkly witty arc and Bruce and Galavan an arc that seems, by comparison, more grounded.
The result is an episode that springs some welcome surprises – not the least of which is a hint of super-villain team-ups to come. There’s also a relationship that may just be in peril; a defining moment for Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Bruce, and a delightfully dark conclusion that will have fans talking.
While there’s no sign of Selina, this week, there is a moment with Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) where, once again, plays up to Bruce. There’s also the return of a character we haven’t seen in ages – and it’s a killer moment!
The eighth episode of Gotham’s second season, Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s the Night is one of the best episodes of the series to date. It amuses, terrifies, horrifies and delights. It surprises in ways that feel organic and right.
Final Grade: A