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Gotham Recap: Ep. 120, “Under the Knife”

Bruce takes a walk under a bridge after the incident with Reggie and is immediately threatened by some ne’er-do-well teenager. Selina shows up with a pocketknife and tells the teen to scram and she and Bruce talk about the incident. She went back to the scene and, yup, Reggie’s dead. Bruce is upset about what she did and tells her it can’t happen again, but she says that she’d do it again if she had to. Selina wants to blow Bruce’s investigation off, but he still needs her help getting to Bunderslaw. They plan to break into his safe at Wayne Enterprises which means they need to find a way to get Bunderslaw’s key. And for good measure, Selina warns Bruce not to tell anyone about what happened with Reggie, with an implied “or else” at the end.

Nygma is having a little too much fun stabbing watermelons in the ME’s office, but it’s for science. Jim comes in looking for Lee and Nygma, nervous about being yelled at for being in the ME’s office unsupervised again, tells him that she went home already. Meanwhile, the Ogre has been collecting news clippings and photos of Jim. That can’t be good. And at home, Lee hears a glass break as she’s taking a bath. She gets out and grabs a knife to investigate, but it’s just a kitty that found its way into her apartment through her wide open fire escape window. She calls Jim, whose phone rings right behind her, and she backhands Jim who has just arrived with her phone using some impressive reflexes. She gives him a cold compress for his neck as he explains the Ogre’s MO and the danger he currently believes her to be in. Jim wants Lee to leave town but she squashes that idea immediately, saying she’ll be safe as long as he does his job and catches the serial killer running around. Jim tells Lee he loves her and it’s amusing that it took the threat of a serial killer to make him say it. And at a bar, the Ogre orders a drink and sits down to begin his hunt again – but this time the prey is Barbara.

Back at her apartment, Barbara checks for Selina as she entertains the Ogre. He notices that she’s going to the Wayne Charity Ball and asks if she’s scared of his being there because maybe her boyfriend will come home. She’s miffed that he assumed that she’s the kind of person who would cheat on her boyfriend (WHAT A LAUGH) and tells him that if he saw the real her he’d run screaming like everyone else. He’s intrigued because now he doesn’t have to kill her, but she kicks him out.

At his club, Penguin is attempting to hire a group of mercenaries to help him kill Maroni and his lieutenants. Connor, the mouthpiece of this concern, wonders if Falcone has given his blessing for this take down and Penguin’s all, “He will.” But that isn’t enough for Connor so he declines. That’s when Penguin gives him his incentive: first dibs on Falcone’s contracts over Victor Zsasz and a chance to move up in the world. Connor changes his mind and agrees to meet later to talk details.

At GCPD headquarters, Jim and Bullock sit down with Detective Ben Mueller. After reviewing case files from past Ogre murders, they discovered something scratched out on a page of Mueller’s report, indicating that he got too close to finding out who the Ogre was and then silenced. Mueller confirms that the Ogre killed his wife and says he doesn’t want anything else to do with this to protect his daughter. Jim shows him the photos of the Ogre’s victims, stating that they were all someone’s daughter and this information could help protect other daughters in the future. So Ben leads Jim and Bullock to a private plastic surgery clinic uptown where one of the victims was a nurse. As they leave, we see the Ogre sitting in his car across the street, photographing Jim and Bullock as they get into the car.

Toting a decoratively carved watermelon, Nygma walks in on Miss Kringle and her boyfriend, Office Dougherty, canoodling. He’s hugging her and asking if she forgives him and she nervously agrees. As Nygma approaches her, he notices bruises on her arms which she says were an “accident” due to her having said some things “she shouldn’t have.” Nygma is upset and tries to tell her that Dougherty doesn’t have a right to hurt her, but she just tells him to mind his business and he leaves.

Alfred is finally up and mobile and walks in on Bruce as he’s doing some background research on Bunderslaw. Bruce says he’ll be attending the Wayne Charity Ball, but he really wants to talk to Alfred about his feelings on taking a human life. Alfred says that yes, when he was in the military, he had to kill people but it was always necessary. He tells Bruce that he’ll accompany him to the Ball, but Bruce says he’s already invited Selina so he won’t be alone. They have a cute conversation about Bruce’s budding interest in girls – this girl in particular – and Bruce says it’s “not like that.” (Except it is, partially, but okay.) Alfred says that he will attend anyway but give them wide berth to enjoy their date and Bruce asks him to send some outfit choices over to where Selina’s staying.

At the plastic surgery clinic, Jim and Bullock meet Dr. Cushman and ask him about Det. Mueller’s victim, Nurse Julie Kemble. Cushman says that she had only recently started at his facility before she was murdered, having been referred by a patient. Of course Jim and Bullock want the patient’s name but the doctor won’t give it out without a warrant. On the way back to the car, they see someone sitting in a car in an alley, watching them, and Jim knows immediately that it’s the Ogre. The Ogre puts the pedal to the metal, nearly running Jim and Bullock over, and escapes, but now they know he’s watching them. At the precinct, they report straight to Essen who is flabbergasted at the close call, and Jim gets a call from the Ogre. He says he’s sorry they didn’t to meet properly in the alley and Jim threatens to put him down. The Ogre teases Jim about his press, saying he must be drinking the Kool-Aid if he really thinks he’s the rising star hero cop who’s going to clean up the GCPD. He warns Jim that if he keeps investigating he’ll kill someone Jim loves and hangs up. Jim, Essen, and Bullock know that the Ogre is used to intimidating police so they have to make a big play to prove they won’t be deterred this time. Like holding a press conference telling all of Gotham about the serial killer in their midst and calling him out in the process.

Selina has returned to Barbara’s apartment and Barbara is looking through a small pile of dresses for the Ball that evening. She tells Barbara that she might see her there just as a large quantity of shopping bags with dresses, shoes, bags, and more inside are delivered for Selina from Bruce. Impresses, Barbara checks some of the stuff out and gets ready to play dress up with Selina.

And at the precinct, Bullock fills Jim in on what he’s learned after their search warrant was approved. He says that the patient who referred Julie Kemble is Constance van Groot. Jim recognizes the name as part of one of the wealthiest shipping families in Gotham, which could be how the Ogre funds his lifestyle. They head off to the family address immediately.

Butch is a little panicked: Maroni has shown up and is having drinks with Penguin’s mother. Penguin tries to get his mother to leave but, in a passive aggressive power play, Maroni says that Gertrude will stay and tells Penguin to have a seat.

Bruce arrives at Barbara’s apartment to pick up Selina and he and Barbara have a slightly awkward meeting: Bruce mentions how Jim had mentioned her to him. Selina comes out in a cute little princess dress, Bruce is wowed at her makeover, and the two leave.

When they get to the van Groot estate, Jim and Bullock immediately catch a man trying to kill himself. They get to him in enough time to cut his rope down and handcuff him to an end table and Bullock investigates the upper level. He walks into a bedroom where Constance van Groot is in bed, and downstairs Jim notices several family photos in which the face of a young boy is scratched out. Bullock yells for Jim to come upstairs and we see what he’s discovered: the decaying body of Constance van Groot.

Bruce and Selina are the center of attention at the Wayne Charity Ball. Selina wants to know what’s so interesting about them and Bruce is like, “Well, I’m kind of a big deal.” He says they should keep dancing and smiling, and that Bunderslaw will show up because he’s on the guest list.

Bullock calls Essen to fill her in on their latest findings: the man who tried to kill himself was Jacob Skolimski, likely the woman’s butler and very probably the father of the Ogre. Bullock thinks that the Ogre killed Constance van Groot but his father covered it up so that they could continue to live off her money. They think the Ogre must have tipped Jacob off, causing his suicide attempt. She advises Bullock to keep an eye on Jim who is worried that Lee will be the next victim.

They question Skolimski about his son who refuses to give them any information. Skolimski’s under the impression that his son has only ever made one “mistake” and anything else is lies, so Jim and Bullock prod him to tell what he knows.

At the Ball, Bruce tells Selina that she can’t ever off-handedly kill someone again. She says she didn’t have a choice which he doesn’t accept, saying there is a line that he’ll never cross. Selina says that must be where they’re different, because she’d do it again if she could. And then Bruce spots Bunderslaw and they put their key swiping plan into motion.

Nygma approaches Office Dougherty and some cronies and asks for a word. He poses this riddle: “I can start a war or end one. I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless. I might be snared with a glance but no force can compel me to stay. What am I?” The answer is love and Nygma thinks Dougherty is abusing the fact that Miss Kringle has given hers to him. Nygma begins to threaten what he’ll do if Dougherty hurts Kringle again, but Dougherty cuts him off with a steaming pile of mansplaining. He tells Nygma that since he’s never been with a woman, he doesn’t know this, but women need a firm hand – especially ones as mouthy as Miss Kringle. Nygma promises that he won’t let Dougherty keep hurting her, so Dougherty gets in his face with a tough guy, “What are you gonna do?” and Nygma’s jaw is set. Uh oh.

Barbara’s date resurfaces as the Ogre finds her at the Ball. And with intercut scenes of Jim and Bullock’s interrogation of Skolimski and Bullock reporting to Essen, we discover the Ogre’s origin. Skolimski says that the estate wasn’t a good place for a boy to grow up as van Groot kept herself isolated, but she doted on his son as if he were her own. Soon, the Ogre began to believe that he was van Groot’s secret son and became obsessed with the idea, finally confronting her about it. She laughed and denied him so he killed her and his father helped him cover it up. Skolimski says that he hasn’t seen his son since the day he killed van Groot and except for the phone call tipping him off that police would be coming he hadn’t had any contact with him. He’s convinced that his son hasn’t done anything wrong and Jim says he’s been seducing and killing women for a decade. Skolimski is highly amused at this because as he remembers him, his son had a face that not even his mother would love. He shows Jim and Bullock pictures of his son, and Jim thinks that he had some excellent plastic surgery before beginning his killing spree: the whole right side of his face is deformed and sure enough, it’s the Ogre.

Maroni, Penguin, and Penguin’s mother continue to have very tense drinks. Penguin wants to part ways but Maroni has some questions for Gertrude first. He wonders if she knows her son is a psychopath or if she’s just stupid. He tells her that Penguin stabbed one of his friends to death and wants to know when exactly she knew she gave birth to a monster. This is all very overwhelming for her and Penguin vows revenge.

As they dance, Barbara finds out how the Ogre was able to come to the Ball: he donated $10,000 to the charity so that he could see her. And as Miss Kringle lets herself in at home, we see Nygma sitting across the street, keeping an eye on her place. The Ogre tells Barbara that he needed to see her because they have scaring people in common. He says that the woman he thought was his mother said that to him and he knows what it’s like to be one person on the inside and another outside. He tells her that he brought the person that he is now into being, and he an do the same for her so she can stop hiding, and she’s on board with the idea.

Bruce shakes hands with Sid Bunderslaw, allowing Selina to slip her hand into his pocket and grab his safe key. As Bruce and Bunderslaw exchange pleasantries, Selina embeds the key in some putty and when when Bruce and Bunderslaw shake in parting, she slips the key back into Bunderslaw’s pocket. Across the way, Selina notices Barbara nuzzling and then leaving with the Ogre.

And as Dougherty shows up at Kringle’s place, Nygma stops him in the street saying that he needs to leave her alone. He says Dougherty should leave Gotham tonight and it finally dawns on Dougherty that Nygma likes her. Dougherty punches Nygma in the stomach, who then stabs him in the abdomen. Nygma likes that feeling and stabs Dougherty again and again and again and again, finally letting his body drop and laughing hysterically.

Penguin serves his mother tea at her apartment and tries to explain away the things Maroni told her. She tells him that she’s not stupid and that if he lies to her now he would break her heart. She asks if he’s done things he should not, and he lies again, saying he’s simply a nightclub owner, so, crying, she says that she’s tired and retires to her room. Penguin is anguished just as there is a flower delivery to Gertrude from Sal. He’s pissed and destroys the delivery, telling the delivery man to tell Sal that he’s a dead man. And further incensed, he reconsiders, picks up a piece of the broken flower vase and stabs the delivery man to death right there in the hallway. Gertrude asks what’s happened, so Penguin lies again, saying that he is helping a neighbor with his garbage as he drags the poor killed messenger down the hall.

And the GCPD finally know who they’re after: Jason van Groot, nee Jason Skolimski. He adopted van Groot name when he went to the plastic surgery clinic where he met his first victim. The only picture they have is a sketch from Dr. Cushman and Essen shakes loose one more important thing the Ogre said to Jim when he called: he referred to Jim as “the rising star of the GCPD.” Jim remembers that Barbara was with him in the photo that accompanied that article and rushes over to her apartment. Selina answers the door and tells him that she left the ball with some guy, confirming that it could be the same guy in Jim’s sketch.

The Ogre has gotten Barbara back to his apartment, and as he makes drinks, she asks him what’s through a couple of doors. He tells her to see for herself and it’s the closet we got a peek into last week: it’s full of chains, masks, weapons, and harnesses and is meticulously clean. The two stand in the room facing each other and Barbara gives him a small smile.

The Questions: How is Penguin going to come at Maroni? How long will Bruce and Selina’s friendship last if she’s willing to keep killing? Now that Nygma’s snapped, what will finally push him to villainy? And will Barbara be the one to give the Ogre unconditional love?

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