“No Man’s Land” continues to be unforgiving to anyone caught in Gotham. For some, it’s less than others. Such as Penguin, who gets to wake up to the sound of a personal choir singing his praises. Until one of the members passes out because he’s been working double shifts after Penguin’s people defected to Jim’s ‘Haven’. Penguin’s morning continues to go downhill when some gang members ambush him for the attacks that framed him. He rightfully points out if he wanted to start a gang war, he wouldn’t stop at killing a few gang members.
Haven, meanwhile has been drawing more people by the day. Not just refugee citizens who didn’t escape in the evacuation, but gang members from all the factions who no longer want to be part of the fighting. Jim and the police have been sheltering everyone, but food and ammo are starting to be a concern again.
But when all of Penguin’s people defect, including his trusted advisor Mr. Penn and his dog, Oswald strikes a deal with the street gangs to get them back. He marches on Haven with the gangs, seeing through Jim’s bluff about having bullets. It’s a short-lived victory. The gangs turn on Oswald, throwing him into the same cell with Jim.
With some help from one of the kids Jim saved, the two break out and take back Haven from the Street Gang. For that moment, Penguin is a hero to the city as they cheer his name. But Gotham was never a city to give a reprieve. Jim and Penguin’s moment of celebration is interrupted by Barbara, to whom Harvey went for help when the gangs first showed up. Jim puts himself in-between Barbara and Oswald, willing to protect him inside Haven’s walls. There’s a moment where it seems like she’ll shoot Jim to get to Os if she has to. But we never find out, as Haven explodes right then, knocking everyone outside to the ground and seemingly killing everyone inside. The last safe place in Gotham, up in flames.
Meanwhile, Selina, after her miraculous recovery, is being haunted in her dreams by Jeremiah shooting her. Intent on killing him, she heads to the dark zone, the one place in the city he might be. Bruce goes with her, his intent to keep her from killing him. They run into the Mutants, and Selina tears into the leader for information on Jeremiah. Even after he tells her what she wants, she doesn’t stop attacking, not until Bruce stops her (with a grappling hook).
The lead takes them to the church of Jeremiah. Selina pretends to be an interested follower in order to get to Jeremiah. Ecco, Jeremiah’s assistant, is the one conducting the service. She instructs the followers, Selina included, to play a game of Russian roulette to prove their devotion to Jeremiah. Selina won’t do it. She and Ecco have a brutal fight that Bruce interrupts, giving Ecco the chance to escape. Finally, Selina handcuffs Bruce to stop him from interfering again, going off on her own to confront Jeremiah.
The biggest thing this episode gave us was a true introduction to Gotham’s Harley Quinn. Ecco has appeared before, but until now has been a mostly silent figure. Her actions before now, based as they were on Jeremiah’s orders, didn’t give any insight into her personality beyond showing her loyalty to Jeremiah. Now we know that devotion is at zealot levels. She’s an interesting interpretation of Harley, though it’s yet unknown if she’s the definitive version of Harleen Quinzel or if she’s a character who will later inspire Harley. Either way, she’s a welcome addition to the insanity of Gotham.
Penguin and Jim’s relationship continues to be a highlight of the show. Gotham’s strength lies in the characters and their complicated connections to one another. Oswald and Jim have trusted and betrayed each other so many times over the years there is no doubt Oswald would be willing to leave Jim to die one moment and working with him to escape the next.
Speaking of relationships, Bruce and Selina’s has evolved to be the closest to the Bat and Cat’s dynamic as we’ve ever seen on Gotham. Even with this episode ending with them at odds, it’s fascinating to watch their dynamic unfold. The first appearance of Bruce’s grapple was a wonderful little surprise as well. Gotham’s been a slow build towards these characters becoming the heroes and villain we know from the pages. These episodes do feel like the series is moving final pieces into place.
Last but not least, Gotham has pulled off some twists in the past, but the destruction of Haven was a gut-wrenching one. The one seed of hope this season had been cultivating was sundered. A new mystery planted in its place. Who’s behind this attack and what’s their plan?