A mysterious assassin kills key political figures on both sides of an approaching city council vote to decide the fate of the Arkham district. Gordon must put a stop to the murders and stop a war between competing crime organizations, the Falcones and the Maronis. Meanwhile, Cobblepot plots his comeback and offers his help to Gordon. Barbara and Gordon’s relationship is put at risk.
Councilman Jenkins is killed by a man with an unusual weapon that punctures through the eye with a fast action retractable blade. Jenkins is an influential force behind an upcoming vote to decide the future of the disused Arkham district. There are several proposals on the table, two of them backed by competing mob interests. Maroni wants a waste disposal facility installed in the district, while Falcone endorses the Wayne plan for a community of low income housing and a new mental health facility in place of the asylum. Jenkins was on Falcone’s payroll and his death is meant to intimidate the council into voting for the Maroni plan. When Councilman Zeller, a politician on Maroni’s payroll, is injured with the same blade, burned to death, and left to be found at the old Arkham Asylum grounds, it becomes apparent that the murderer is an assassin for hire, working for both sides impartially, and that the competing mob bosses are trying to manipulate city council into voting in their interests. Gordon and Bullock investigate the murders and Gordon worries that the Arkham vote, whichever way it goes, will cause a city wide gang war between Maroni and Falcone.
Bullock visits one of his contacts in prison, a hitman named Minks, and describes the hitman and weapon they’re looking for. Minks gives them a name and location, a guy named Gladwell who works in the Lansky Building. They ask at every floor and finally find where Gladwell works. He sees them coming and hides while Bullock and Gordon search his desk, finding news clippings about the two dead councilmen. They also find a paper marked with the letters C, L, and M in a list. When they look into Gladwell, the find that the real Gladwell has been dead for years and that the assassin has been using his identity. Bullock asks Fish Mooney to find Gladwell for him, while Gordon gets a tip off from Cobblepot that there will be another murder that night. Gordon checks the list of officers on protection duty and finds that officers with names starting with C, L, and M are assigned to protect the Mayor. Gordon thinks that if they can stop Gladwell, they can stop a possible gang war.
Gordon arrives at the Mayor’s house and finds the protection detail is absent. He warns the Mayor his life is in danger and they prepare to leave the residence when they are surprised at the front door by Gladwell. A fight ensues where Gordon is nearly killed when Bullock arrives in time to help. Gladwell makes a leap for the Mayor and Gordon and Bullock both shoot him down, saving the Mayor.
The Arkham district is the last remaining undeveloped piece of land in Gotham and what to do with it is a hot issue. The Waynes wanted to tear down the old asylum and build a brand new mental health facility, believing that if they could help the least fortunate in Gotham, that it would bring hope to everyone else. When they died, the plan was taken over and endorsed by Falcone, who added a low income housing development to the plan – the building of which would be contracted out to one of his companies. Maroni wanted the land to be used for a waste disposal facility, the building of which would be contracted out to his company. Falcone and Maroni both stand to make a lot of money depending on how the vote swings, so its a big deal vote. Both bosses bought councilmen to sway the vote, but being pretty evenly matched, they each resorted to scare tactics and intimidation. Maroni’s restaurant, a front for money laundering, is robbed by some guys that Cobblepot hired. Maroni, thinking it was Falcone’s doing, decides to hit Falcone right in the “mouth”, meaning the Mayor. Apparently the Mayor is on Falcone’s payroll too, which makes sense since he also endorses the Wayne/Falcone plan.
It was Gordon’s fear that if he didn’t take out Gladwell and the Mayor had died that the city could have erupted into a giant crime war between the two reigning families as the hits escalated. Gordon thought that with Gladwell out of the way that the Wayne plan could be voted through without issue, but it turns out that the Mayor was intimidated by Maroni’s attempted hit. A compromise between the two plans gets voted through, where everyone gets a little bit of everything – except for a new asylum. There will be a low income housing program that can be built by Falcone, and a waste management facility that can be built my Maroni. Rather than a new mental health facility, the old asylum gets renovated – also contracted out to Maroni. This is bad because Maroni’s small victory undermines Falcone’s power and reputation, putting the possibility of a gang war right back in the cards.
Cobblepot is a pretty ruthless and devious character. He brazenly shows up on Gordon’s doorstep, offering his help and information. Gordon is predictably upset, having told Cobblepot never to return to Gotham. This obviously puts Gordon’s precarious position of trust among the corrupt GCPD officers at risk. Meanwhile, Cobblepot works as a dishwasher at Maroni’s restaurant and crime headquarters. He keeps his ears and eyes open and pretty quickly comes to understand every shady deal going down in the place. When Cobblepot discovers that the restaurant is a front for a money laundering business, he hires a trio of thugs to hold up the restaurant, steal the money, and kill the manager. Under the circumstances, Maroni thinks it was a hit by Falcone and retaliates accordingly. Cobblepot hides in a cupboard, having apparently saved one bag of money from the thieves. Maroni shows appreciation where appreciation is due and promotes Cobblepot to restaurant manager. Cobblepot meets up with his team of thugs, who are counting the stolen money, and thanks them by bringing them poisoned cannolli. Cobblepot leaves with the money, the first step in his rise to power complete. Always a pro at hedging his bets, Cobblepot also tries to make a friend of Gordon by telling him that Maroni is planning to have a political figure killed.
Barbara and Gordon
Barbara still wants to know who Oswald Cobblepot is – not knowing that Cobblepot, who introduced himself to her as Peter Humboldt, is the man who showed up on her doorstep to see Gordon. Gordon refuses to tell her and it comes out that Barbara and Montoya had been in a relationship some years ago. Gordon is angry because Barbara hadn’t told him. He wants to know why not, and she claims it was because they worked together and that she’s a woman. Gordon senses another, truer reason behind the explanation, but is unable to extract it from her. It seems he doesn’t know about her past with drugs and that that’s the real reason she hadn’t told him. Even though Barbara is hiding her own secrets, she demands that Gordon reveal his and tell her about Cobblepot. He refuses, saying that he should never had confided in her about his work and that he doesn’t plan to in the future. She gives him an ultimatum, saying that she can’t live in the dark. Gordon is conflicted and unresponsive, so Barbara walks away. Chances are they’ll come to some kind of understanding – especially since in the comics they were married and had children. This temporary break up might be Gordon’s chance to have his affair with Captain Sarah Essen. Considering the distant relationship they have now, it doesn’t seem very likely – but at some point in the comics, Gordon and Essen do carry on a pretty torrid affair. They break it off, of course, with Gordon’s conscience unable to handle the guilt of betraying his wife – but get married later on after Gordon’s marriage with Barbara dissolves. Hard to imagine now, especially considering how little we see Essen interact with Gordon, but that’s how it goes.
Ben McKenzie does this great thing as Gordon where he smiles but is really angry underneath. It’s difficult to describe – almost a parody of a smile rather than an actual smile – but it’s one of the most absolute fantastically funny and endearing things. That smile is so damn eloquent in the feelings it conveys and the thoughtful restraint it takes to muster it. As a service industry professional, I feel like I wear that smile every single day of my life and completely relate to the frustration and incredulity Gordon feels when confronted with the actions of idiots.