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Elementary Reenacts History in Pushing Buttons

Veronica

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When you watch enough murder mysteries, you start to recognize the classic tropes. Of those, one of the more random ones might be “Historical Reenactment.” I’m sure that academics and professors have all sorts of interesting ideas on why reenacting history is a murder mystery trope. But I think it’s because you get to have that “Oh, we’re all playing dead for historical accuracy, hey wait, isn’t that dude really dead?” moment.

A group of Revolutionary War reenactors are playing out the iconic Battle of Harlem Heights. Among the “deceased” Redcoats, one man turns out to have taken a real gunshot wound to the chest during a salvo of blanks. He’s very dead.

Sherlock and Gregson interview the would-be soldiers, only to find varying accounts of what happened and what the potential killer may have looked like. The only helpful information is that one soldier was familiar enough with guns to have heard a distinctively modern gunshot among the musket fire.

Joan and Bell have more luck with other witnesses. It turns out the victim, a George Nix, had his own personal bodyguard. Nix had insisted the guard would be out of place in the reenactment and had left him on the sidelines. He was unable to protect his client, he has plenty of information. Nix had owned a gym company where individuals could buy franchises, but only at a steep cost. It was essentially a pyramid scheme, leaving many people broke. Some of his dissatisfied customers sent him death threats. That’s what the kids call a Clue.

After the battlefield, Sherlock heads to a doctor’s appointment. His headaches and sensory overstimulation are getting worse, not better, and he’s frustrated. He’s also anxious about becoming addicted to the meds prescribed to help with his symptoms. His doctor insists that recovery will take time and that he’s unlikely to form an addiction.

Sherlock is dramatic even when he’s suffering, and Joan walks in on him in the brownstone wearing an enormous welder’s mask. It helps block out the computer glare hurting his eyes. She proposes a better solution would be to not spend so long on the computer. But Sherlock has found something. Among the gym-related threats, which he dismisses, is an email chain from Nix’s daughter. The two were estranged, and she threatened to kill him if he came looking for her. Joan heads out to find her while Sherlock meets up with Michael.

You remember Michael, right? Sherlock’s new friend, you know, the one that was burying a dead woman out in the forest? Totally not suspicious. Sherlock meets Michael at his office, where he’s looking at social media photos of that same young woman. He shuts his computer off before Sherlock can see and the two go get coffee together. They discuss Sherlock’s PCS and his anxiety about his medication. Michael has good advice and encourages Sherlock to lean on Joan and NA, but…I don’t trust him.

Nix’s daughter is living on a commune in upstate New York. She blames capitalism for Nix’s death and denies any wrongdoing of her own. She has an alibi for his time of death, and there’s no way she could have ordered a hitman on her father. All technology is banned on the commune, so she couldn’t have even gotten in contact with such a person.

That’s a dead end. (Get it? Because it’s a murder investigation? Ah, I make myself laugh.) But as they leave the commune, Bell gets a call from the captain. Someone just burned Nix’s house down.

The investigation confirms it was arson. The accelerant used was a combo of dangerous chemicals that makes an incredibly hot fire. Unfortunately, the accelerant ingredients are common household items and recipes to make the accelerant are available online. There was no DNA or fingerprints at the crime scene, but there was something else. A footprint, tracking mud from the scene of the murder. The arsonist and killer are probably the same person.

Looking at the crime scene photos, Joan notices something. Nix had a collection of expensive silver once belonging to Paul Revere. But there’s no trace of the silver in the wreck of the house. That would be a big score. The fire may have been to cover up the theft. But if the theft was the goal all along, why kill Nix?

Sherlock’s new meds make him sleep more and more deeply and he sleeps through the conversation I just described. Joan gently reminds him that rest is key to his recovery.

The two head to the Property Crimes division and meet up with a Detective Mason. He and Sherlock worked together on a case back when Sherlock first came to NYC. Considering Sherlock’s current success, he resents that he was never able to work with Sherlock again. He’s the best detective for crimes involving stolen historical artifacts, but in exchange for his help, he has a test. He hands Sherlock a file for a bizarre crime and asks him to work on it. Sherlock promptly solves it. Mason reluctantly shares a list of places that the silver may have been fenced.

It’s a good lead. Joan, Sherlock, and Bell bring in a firefighter who was at the scene of the arson. He was trying to sell the silver to a pawn shop. But he insists that he’s not responsible for the murder or the fire. He stole the silver along with a safe simply because he had the opportunity to do so when fighting the fire. To prove his innocence, he shows them the stolen silver and the safe. They were destroyed. If his goal was to steal the silver, why set a fire that would ruin it?

The next morning, Joan wakes up to Sherlock making a racket in the kitchen. Our first “Sherlock annoys Joan into waking up” of the season! Sherlock realized that they had missed a clue regarding the fire. The particular accelerant used creates a fire that burns incredibly hot. Nix’s safe was built to be resistant to the heat of a normal fire, but the arson burned so hot that the documents the safe contained were destroyed. He now thinks that was really the point of the fire.

But luckily, Sherlock has some tricks up his sleeve, and he knows a way to restore documents exposed to heat damage. More clues! The documents were indeed something significant. A collection of signatures belonging to a man with the unusual name of Button Gwinnet. For once this is not a name we can blame on the unique tastes of the Elementary writers. Gwinnet was a real person from the Revolutionary era, a governor of Georgia and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

For that reason, his signature is highly sought after and expensive. There are collectors who wish to form complete collections of the signatures of everyone who signed the declaration. Gwinnet’s signature is the rarest and thus most valuable. They theorize that someone attempted to destroy Nix’s Gwinnets in order to drive up the price of the surviving signatures.

Working on that theory, the detectives interview a historian and art collector. He was another Gwinnet collector and he’d tried to buy Nix’s Gwinnets in the past. Even more suspicious, he was actually at the battle reenactment. But he insists that he views historical documents such as the Gwinnets as being sacred artifacts and he would never try to destroy them. Besides, he had no reason to do so. Nix had been struggling financially due to the scandal surrounding his gyms and had recently offered to sell his Gwinnets.

Sherlock makes another effort to communicate with his doctor. By breaking into his office, as one does. He’s frustrated with the way his meds are affecting his sleep patterns. But Sherlock’s doctor firmly insists that if Sherlock’s meds aren’t working, the best alternative is for Sherlock to take a break from his work all together. Go on vacation. Chill. But I’ve been watching this show long enough to know that Sherlock Holmes has no chill.

After re-examining the clues, Joan has a new theory of the case. The arsonist/killer didn’t want to destroy the signatures, they wanted to destroy the documents the signatures were on. Most of the papers are trivial, but one catches her interest. In Revolutionary times, the newly formed states would offer land in exchange for soldiers joining the army. There’s one such land offer among the documents for a specific soldier. But in an incident called the Yazoo Land Scandal, the land was sold to someone else. Now, that soldier’s modern day descendants are suing to get the land back. The document belonging to Nix would have made the case and cost the current owner of the land a lot of money.

The soldier’s descendants are suing an NYC-based land developer. One that Sherlock realizes he’s already encountered in the course of the case. They have their killer. The only problem now…is how to prove it. The gun from the murder has vanished, even though the police carefully checked the guns of all the reenactors. They also have no proof of the arson.

Since the twist in this episode turns out to be not so much who did it, but how to prove their guilt, I won’t say how Joan and Sherlock figure it out. But it involves a lot of poo.

The case successfully solved, Sherlock and Michael meet up again. Michael has been thinking about what Sherlock told him. So has Sherlock. He’s actually contemplating taking the doctor’s advice of going on vacation. But Michael has a counter offer. A new case. A woman he knows from the meetings has gone missing. Guess who the woman is? Yeah, that’s right, that woman we saw Michael burying in the season premiere.

Thoughts:

  • This was a stronger mystery than last week. Lots of fun trivia, based on real, historical events, and a good, solid murder! That’s what I like to see! (Note: don’t say that in real life.) However, I’m disappointed that Joan and Sherlock didn’t don any Revolutionary era costumes.
  • I’m not sure what was up with Detective Mason. Considering he was only in the episode for about five seconds, I’m not sure why they bothered to retcon him a history with Sherlock. Maybe he’s going to show up again later?
  • What is Michael playing at? Is he going to be one of those cliche fictional murderers who longs for a worthy adversary? But I’m also contemplating the fact that although we saw Michael bury that woman, we didn’t see him kill her. I had him pegged as a serial killer at first, but maybe something else is going on.
  • Speaking of Michael – I like to see Sherlock interact with other people in conversations that aren’t related to crimes or his NA meetings. He’s often pretty awkward, both in the things he says and in the way that Miller plays his body language. It reminds you that there’s a side of Sherlock that’s not a Super Genius Mystery Solving Machine, that he’s also an awkward nerd that doesn’t know how to make small talk. It’s so humanizing and endearing.
  • Only Sherlock would view vacation as a punishment. I, personally, would love to go on vacation. And I went on vacation literally last month.   
  • I’m so mad about the pun in the episode title. Pushing Buttons…Button Gwinnett…I won’t forgive you for this, Elementary writers.

Images courtesy of CBS

Veronica is an English graduate who likes to spend her time reading way too deeply into science fiction, murder mysteries, and children's cartoons.

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Dang, I missed the pun! I enjoyed this episode and the development with Sherlocks PCS. Good point about what we do and do not know about Michael. Every time they said, “Button Gwyneth,” I thought of this “one-song play, Button” Stephen Colbert did with Lin Manuel Miranda about Button Gwyneth (who didn’t make it into Hamilton): https://youtu.be/uhFeQSBZUSk

Television

Star Wars Resistance: Episode 11, “Bibo”

Angelina

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Star Wars: Resistance

So…Star Wars: Resistance is back from its winter hiatus! Should we celebrate? Not yet, I’d say, because “Bibo” is more like a filler/breather episode meant to tune the audience in after holiday break. It has nothing substantial to add to series’ lore or to its overarching plot, yet it still manages to entertain and to help us dive back into familiar Colossus atmosphere.

Spoilers ahead!

Recap: Neeku Finds a Pet

So, we’re back at The Colossus, where Synara presents Kaz with a chance to loot a salvaged Clone Wars-era fighter for repair parts. All nice and good, until they find a small, cute but awfully stinky creature stowed away inside the rusty husk. And until Neeku decides this small critter would be his pet from now on.

Actually, Bibo is really cute

A bit of slapstick ensues, as Neeku tries (without any success) to teach his pet some obedience. It turns out the newly christened Bibo can (and actually will, if no one stops him) eat literally anything. Especially if it has something to do with starships.

By the by, Synara has a call from her pirate leader, who informs her about Kaz and Poe’s Resistance affiliation. The call is of course interrupted by Kaz appearing to ask for another repair part…or, rather, to spend some time around Synara. Who masterfully pretends not to see his advances, and I can’t really blame her for that.

They go on a salvage dive together, hoping to find other fighters from the same squadron as the first.

As Bibo continues to wreak small-scale havoc in Yeager’s garage, it turns out Neeku really loves his new pet dearly—so much so he’s ready to leave Yeager’s service if he insists on his “no pets”rule. Neeku’s devotion is so strong, Tam asks to cut Bibo some slack. And even goes on to support Neeku after he loses Bibo in the station’s maze of corridors.

And while Kaz is busy fighting sea sickness and Synara’s too pointed questions about his real identity, a big tentacled monster is leading its way to The Colossus, and of course it’s looking for Neeku’s pet. And, well, we learn the aptly named children from Tehar might be Force-sensitive, as the girl, Eila, turns out to have profetic dreams.

Meaning, she dreamt something like this, poor soul!

All that results in Neeku having to choose between his pet and station’s safety, and of course he makes the right choice. however hard it is for him.

Review: On Caring for Each Other

While the episode doesn’t advance the story in any way, it managed to checklist/remind the viewer of all the plot-relevant details, while telling a cohesive self-contained story.

We have Synara playing an important role in the story, which reminds us she’s the primary Chekhov’s gunwoman of this show. Seeing her really care for the station and really enjoying her new work as a salvager, it’s obvious she will be made to choose between her allegiances very soon. On the one hand she has people who actually care–be it about each other or about common causes–and on the other hand she has her (high enough) place in pirate crew and a lifestyle she’s accustomed to…

I just hope Kaz with his inept wooing wouldn’t do anything with her decision.

Speaking about Kaz, this episode also reminds us both of his strengths and weaknesses. He’s still not good in either social interactions or actually not tripping on things, while still brilliant in flying and able to think and act quickly in a stress situation. Also it’s kinda sweet that he doesn’t really bother Synara with his feelings, trying to do something good for her instead. Well, “trying” is a key word here, but still: seeing a guy not forcing his niceguying down a lady’s throat is always a treat.

Also this episode went a long way to show us Tam Ryvora’s caring and friendly side. Which I really liked, and especially I liked that it was not treated as something special or unusual. She just is really a caring person who would look after her co-workers and help them any way she can. But when those co-workers act as jerks…well, she will call them out on it.

All the plot lines, in the end, converge on the main idea of the episode, which is: to love is to care for those we love. Which is actually quite close to being the idea of the whole series.

Neeku being ready to protect his “smallest friend” even at the whole station’s cost is equally ready to give it back to its mom even though his heart(s) is/are really breaking. Because he sees the critter really is better with his mom, not with him. All the while whole Team Fireball is ready to set aside their discomfort if their friend—Neeku—needs his pet so much. Even Yeager, the one most annoyed at Bibo’s existence, is ready to help Neeku find it.

Because he cares. Because they all care.

Thoughts, Moments, Theory Fuel

  • Neeku harboring so strong feelings for his just-found pet makes sense if we remember he has no close friends and is mostly isolated because of his quirky behaviour.
  • Tam Ryvora calling Yeager out for making such a fuss about Neeku’s pet while never really reacting with due severity on Kaz’s (much more destructive) mistakes was great.
  • The girl from Tehar, Eila, having profetic dreams must be a Chekhov’s gun. I look forward to see how it goes off!
  • Will the tentacled creature return in the series finale, like the wolves and the space whales did? We’ll see!
  • Synara now knows how to set the alarm on.
  • The Are you trying to incite panic? – Yes! Exactly! Everyone needs to panic right now! moment was really funny.

Images courtesy of Disney

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Game of Thrones Season 8 Teaser Really Wants to be Meaningful

Kylie

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2018 was a magical, Throne-less year, even if it officially won its Season 7 Emmy for Outstanding Drama in September. I’ll admit—I may have taken it for granted. Because here we are, less than a fortnight into 2019, and HBO has decided to grace us with the news that the biggest critical darling (for reasons still unexplained) is going to be back on our screens April 14th. April 14th. That’s basically 4 minutes from now.

Of course, HBO didn’t simply tell us the date; no no, we needed a Teaser Trailer of Extreme Significance to accompany it. And this one is…special. Look, I may not have been amazed at the three-second exchange between Dany and Sansa from the Golden Globes teaser, but at least that involved what was obviously an actual clip from the new season! In fairness, it’s not exactly unheard of for season release dates to be dropped in some kind of weird CGI ice and fire video featuring old dialogue. But this one was clearly planned and staged, it features three main actors, and the budget is certainly better than that of “people sit in chairs” from last year. Here, just check it out for yourself:

There’s a little here we can talk about, though I’m guaranteeing you the millions of hot takes that are currently clogging up Twitter will place far too much significance on this. “Oh my god, does that mean the Starks are all going to die?!” Probably not. There’s a reason I picked the Hall of Faces promotional picture for this piece—sometimes showrunners Benioff and Weiss just like to play up the idea that anyone can die, before shrouding Jon in plot armor so thick that he can survive plunging into freezing cold waters in full furs whilst surrounded by the army of the dead without an eye-blink.

They’ll probably be fine.

I do feel like I’m being uncharitable. In concept, this is not a bad teaser. Jon walks by the statue of Lyanna, and we hear a Lyanna quote. Good stuff, seeing as that’s his mom, which I’m assuming Bran will get around to telling him at some point (even if he never passed that on to his sisters). Jon also gets the last walk-by quote when looking at the Sean Bean statue, about how he’s still a Stark since he has the blood. Relevant, I think.

Sansa and Arya, meanwhile, are both shown walking past Cat’s statue with her voice-over, and here’s where my eyes began rolling to the ceiling. For one, it’s a little odd that Cat has a place in the Winterfell crypts at all, but you know…small potatoes. Then, the one Cat quote they picked was her awful, self-flagellating monologue she gave to the walking anachronism. There was a bit more to her character than not being instantly welcoming of the child that bore a significant political risk to her own children! A thing that bothers me too is that Sansa and Arya are shown in association with this quote. I guess they’re both girls, so manly, slow-clapping Ned couldn’t possibly have said something that stuck to them. But Cat’s quote had diddly squat to do with them (these are actually all about Jon), and it’s only going to further push the ridiculous notion that Sansa is somehow struggling with her loyalty and support of Jon. Hopefully Arya’s presence neutralizes that reading a bit, but I know this fandom pretty well.

Finally, the Starks meet up together in the crypts—which is nice and reminds me of that time Sansa, Bran, and Arya had happy bonding and trial-planning times together completely off-screen—only to see statues of themselves! Lost twist ending confirmed! This is purgatory!

Or, I don’t know, something about danger and stakes and “no one is safe on this show” (except everyone who clearly is).

Then the trailer just gets unabashedly Weathertop-esque as what’s likely to be the Army of the Dead approach. Maybe Uncle Benjen can be a last-minute Strider for the third time in a row. But you know, it’s more or less the same thing as Cheryl‘s minty-fresh breath from that trailer for Season 7. There’s a bigger threat, and every teaser is going to end with it.

All in all, I’m not particularly over or under-whelmed. This was a very expected trailer, and probably a long day for Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, and Maisie Williams. I love that Bran was excluded for ~reasons~ that I’m sure are as difficult to explain as his three-eyed crow nature. But frankly, can we take that alone as proof that Season 8 is not, in any way, going to have the “same ending” as A Song of Ice and Fire? This show is going to do what it wants, as it sees creatively fit to do so. Which is why any “meaning” to be found in it falls flat. It’s conceptually fine and technically lovely. But as has been the case, if a plot point needs to happen, even for something like a Stark death, it just will. If they need to randomly prosper instead, then they will.

And now we have only three months to prepare ourselves for the millions of articles on why that makes for the most compelling TV possible.


Media courtesy of HBO

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It’s the Beginning of the End for Gotham

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Gotham’s final season is here. The city connections to the outside world have been sundered. The land carved up by gangs. The first moments of episode one open more than a year after the city has been turned into ‘No Man’s Land’. The Riddler and Penguin putting on their best threads join Jim, Harvey and the rest of the GCPD in an all-out gun battle.

This is a just glimpse into the future, as we’re taken back to day 81. The government is offering no help to Jim.  When the bridges to the city blew, not everyone had been evacuated. The GCPD took in any civilians who didn’t escape. With people to protect and not enough food or ammo to do that they’re running out of options quickly.

Meanwhile, everyone else has been adjusting to life in the new Gotham. Penguin has made City Hall his seat of power and with a factory in his area is the only person producing more bullets. The Siren’s Club has become a safe haven for women, with men only allowed in if they bring information of worth to Barbara. Scarecrow, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Zsasz and some other gangs have all claimed their own territories. The Riddler is alive and has been suffering from blackouts in his memory.  He’s sure it’s the softer Ed who’s been taking control again. Still unaccounted for are Hugo Strange, Lee Thompkins and the enigma that is Jeremiah Valeska.

Selina wasn’t evacuated because of the bombs. Instead, she’s been at a clinic in the zone protected by the GCPD, paralyzed after her gunshot.  Bruce and Alfred have been at her side. Even with surgery, Selina has no chance to walk again. For someone like her, defined by her independence and mobility, its soul-crushing. So much so she’s willing to kill herself. One nurse whispers to Bruce that doctors aren’t going to help Selina, but ‘the Witch’ can.

Scarecrow and his gang raid the GCPD and clinic for food and medicine, drastically cutting down their rations. With supplies in desperate need, Bruce makes his own arrangements for a drop. But the helicopter is a huge signal flare for everyone in the city. Within moments of entering the city limits, it’s shot down by an RPG. Penguin and his gang try to claim the supplies, but Tabitha still devastated over Oswald killing Butch shows up, looking for revenge. Oswald, however, turns her own blade back on her, stabbing her in the heart.

Jim and the GCPD are also trying to take the supplies. Bruce, having made his own way there, steals bullets from Penguin’s men giving the GCPD the extra firepower they need to turn the fight in their favour. They claim the supplies, buying themselves a few more weeks’ worth of time.

Fresh from the victory, Jim gets some more good news, in the form of a mysterious radio message from the mainland. They don’t say much beyond they are allies and help will be coming soon. The moment is uncut when he finds graffiti, a message from Jeremiah, on his desk.

Jim is still arguing with the government on the mainland as the second episode begins. He doesn’t have time to listen to their bureaucracy because he has to save kids from enslavement. After learning about a gang using kids for free labour, he goes to Barbara for transport. She’s raw after losing Tabitha, but she still gives Jim the vehicles he needs.

Their rescue goes well, until one of the vehicles gets a flat tire in the crossfire, forcing Jim, Harvey and three kids to escape on foot. They find refuge in an abandoned hotel. Their rest doesn’t last long when Jim and Harvey encounter a child and a strange masked woman, (aka Mother and Orphan who were teased in the season four finale). The streets aren’t safer since there’s a bounty on Jim’s head. Just when it seems like Jim and Harvey are outgunned, Barbara rides in on a four-wheeler like a vicious angle of death. Her good deeds aren’t out of the goodness of her heart. She’ll need allies if she’s going to take Penguin down. She wants Jim to be one of those allies.

The Riddler hasn’t figured out to stop his other half from taking over. His nightly escapades this time included kidnapping a biker. The Riddler beats the information his alter ego wanted from the biker the night before. The information, the location of the gang’s headquarters, leads Ed to find the gang leader slaughtered with the blame pointing to Penguin. He’s not sure what his alter ego end goal is yet, but it seems like he’s trying to start a gang war.

Meanwhile, Bruce, following the lead on ‘the witch’ finds her being guarded by men who are waiting on backup to kill this witch. The Witch is actually Ivy, who’s been residing in a park since the city was cut off from the world. Bruce convinces the men to let him talk to ‘the Witch’ with a lie about a missing brother.

He lets Ivy out and she kills the men, threatening to do the same to Bruce. He reveals he needs help for Selina. She’s reluctant to help at first. The last time she’d seen Selina, she’s destroyed the Lazarus water Ivy was using to enhance her plants. But Bruce convinces her to help. She gives him a seed that should heal Selina, but, she warns that taking it could change Selina.

He returns to the clinic. The seed sends Selina into a shock, but hours later she’s walking again. But, as Bruce hugs her, her eyes shift colour and shape to become more catlike.

Review

Two episodes in, the final season is gearing up for an explosive ending. Gotham turned into this empty war zone takes the city to new lows. Gotham, both setting and show have always been defined by the criminals. ‘No Man’s Land’ creates the perfect opportunity for those criminals to wreak havoc to the full. But also creates the ideal conditions to give birth to the hero the city needs. Be that Bruce, or Jim, both men have grown into their roles as the city’s protectors. For Jim, that means being the face the people trust and respect. For Bruce, it’s being the one who works in the shadows without need or want for praise.

As for the criminals, the tease of the Riddler and Penguin months down the line is tantalizing. What draws them all together again? Jeremiah’s tease, though not as substantial still leaves one wanting more. Losing Tabitha was a devastating blow to establish to the stakes for the season. Gotham does have a tendency to bring characters back to life so I hope that tradition carries on at least one more time. Her death has pushed Barbara into action. Who’s to say where her character will stand when the smoke finally clears. She’s the one character I’m most curious to see since she’s the one major player in Gotham who doesn’t have a major legacy in the comics. I’m glad Selina’s recovery wasn’t drawn out. It was heart-breaking to see her so depressed and broken. But now she can join the final fight, as a fully realized Catwoman.

Mother and Orphan, on the other hand, didn’t have much of a presence. They were there and then the plot moved on. It seemed like it was going to be a compelling start to the characters, with a flash of Mother in the background of a shot that would make most horror movies jealous. It turned out to be underwhelming as Jim and Harvey escape before the pair could truly feel threatening.

But, there are still many things lurking the depths of Gotham, waiting for their moment to strike. These final episodes promise to be filling with new faces and old favourites as the series moves to its final curtain call.


Images courtesy of Fox

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