Gordon and Bullock investigate when street kids start to go missing. A strange duo, posing as members of the Mayor’s Homeless Outreach Program, drug and kidnap kids in order to traffic them for the Dollmaker. Meanwhile, Cobblepot begins planning his comeback and Selina wants to trade important information to Gordon to avoid child services. Bruce is in a dark place after his parents’ death and Alfred asks Gordon to intervene.
A group of homeless kids are approached by Patti (Lili Taylor) and Doug (Frank Whaley), who claim to have food and clothing for them from the Mayor’s Homeless Outreach Program. When they get close enough, they inject them with drugs and drag them off to their truck. Selina and another kid named Mackey narrowly escape capture while a homeless veteran gets shot when he gets in the way. When Gordon investigates the crime scene, he discovers that the first on scene had left to take care of another matter at a restaurant that pays him off for protection. When it turns out the Mackey had smashed through the restaurant window, Gordon guesses that it might have something to do with the dead veteran. When they question Mackey, he tells them the whole story about the kidnappers and that kids have been disappearing for months. When they ask Fish Mooney later, she tells them that no one knows or wants to know what the kids are being trafficked for. Nygma discovers a unique drug in Mackey’s blood and Gordon and Bullock set off to interrogate the three places licensed to carry and sell it. They find the place that sells the drug to the traffickers and get caught in a firefight. Patti and Doug escape, but Gordon and Bullock save the kids. The Mayor uses the trafficking crisis as an easy excuse to round up all the street kids and put them in custody. As a bunch of kids, including Selina, get ushered onto a bus going to juvenile hall, Patti and Doug hijack the bus. Selina recognizes them immediately and tries to escape, but Patti threatens to shoot anyone who misbehaves. When they arrive at a shipping warehouse, Selina is able to hide on the bus and slip away unseen. When they realize she’s gone missing they go to hunt her down, when Gordon arrives just in time to stop Selina from getting shot. The pharmacist had described to Gordon a particular logo on the kidnapper’s van and Gordon works out that it’s the logo for the Trident Shipping Company. Meanwhile, the whole case is big news because Barbara leaked the story to the newspapers, forcing police action on a case that the corrupt GCPD would rather have left alone.
While it’s left a mystery who this Dollmaker person is and why he needs all these kids, in the comics he is a serial killer who makes dolls out of his victims. It seems unlikely that he would need to traffic kids for this purpose though, at least not in the quantities being taken. Another aspect of the Dollmaker is that he has an extensive “family”, each of which contribute their own twisted take on their “father’s” work. It could be that the Dollmaker is assembling his family with all these kids and that we may see a small Dollmaker army at some point.
Despite the title of this episode, we don’t get to know much more about Selina than previously. We know that she believes her absent mother is still alive somewhere and that she’d rather be on the street than “Upstate” in Juvenile Hall. She’s also extremely agile, smart, and intuitive. She knows that Gordon isn’t like the rest of the cops, that he can be trusted to keep his word, and that she can trust him with her information. She offers to trade the identity of the Waynes’ murderer if Gordon can keep her from being sent Upstate. We know that she witnessed the murder, but does she really know who the murderer is? He was wearing a mask, after all. But she could have easily followed them to discover their identity afterwards.
During all this, Cobblepot – raggedy and looking rather like a drowned rat – manages to hitch a ride from a couple of frat boys just outside town. The frat boys are condescending and make the mistake of calling him a penguin. Cobblepot kills one in a rage and kidnaps the other for ransom. He rents a small trailer to live in and makes himself a crazy “beautiful mind” collage of all things Gotham. When the boy’s parent’s call about the ransom, they think it’s their son pulling some scam for extra cash and hang up. Cobblepot is a pretty suspicious looking character, so the guy who let him the trailer is probably pretty skeptical about him. It seems unlikely that Cobblepot will be able to continue living in the trailer for very long. And he certainly can’t go back to Gotham yet. It turns out that before his “death” he told Falcone all about Mooney’s secret plans to take over as boss. While she denies the story, it’s clearly true. Even though she thinks Cobblepot is dead, if she got the chance she’d make him suffer for his betrayal.
Bruce is heading into a very dark time after his parents’ murder. He starts burning himself, drawing dark pictures, and listening to metal music. Alfred doesn’t know what to do, somewhat out of his depth not only as a guardian, but as a guardian to a unique child like Bruce. Alfred asks Gordon to come see Bruce, saying that the boy respects him and might listen to him. When Gordon visits, Bruce explains that he’s been testing himself. Gordon encourages him to talk about his feelings, that it can help make things better. Bruce asks if talking about the terrible things he saw in the war helped Gordon. When Gordon says yes, Bruce tells him that he’s a terrible liar. They talk about the trafficking case and Bruce wants to do something to help the children, so he gives them all new clothes.
I just want to say here that I think my instinct about Sean Pertwee as Alfred is pretty spot on. He’s a little bit more brash and less refined, more prone to angry outbursts and cockney tones. His delivery is magnificent. While Gordon is visiting Wayne Manor, Alfred and he are talking privately before Bruce comes in. Then Bruce seems to appear out of nowhere, interrupting the conversation. Alfred, startled and exasperated, says “Now look, I told you before not to sneak up on people like that. It’s rude!” If you know anything about Batman and Gordon, there’s a running joke that Batman is super stealthy and will either appear out of nowhere, surprising Gordon, or will disappear silently in the middle of their conversation. In The Dark Knight Rises, Catwoman does the same thing to Batman, leaving silently while his back is turned, mid-sentence. Then he says to himself, still in his Batman voice, “So that’s what that feels like.” Anyway, I think Alfred is going to be a major highlight of this show. And it delights and amazes me to no end that the older Sean Pertwee gets, the more he looks like his dad, the famous third Doctor Jon Pertwee of Doctor Who fame.