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Season 4: A Dark Knight
Okay, so... Penguin is in control of Gotham's underworld, and he's established something called the "Pax Penguina," issuing licenses to commit crime. Police are required to leave licensed criminals alone, though they can still arrest criminals without licenses from Penguin. Of course, Jim has no intention of honoring the licenses. (Nor does Bruce, doing his vigilante thing.) There's also a new detective in the GCPD named Vanessa Harper, who often works with Jim. And Gotham has a new mayor, named Burke, as well as a new commissioner (who is as yet unnamed). Also, the villain "Scarecrow" officially gets his start this season (having previously been introduced in season one, before assuming that name). Barbara returns from the dead, and opens a weapons shop for criminals. She invites Tabitha and Selina to become her business partners, which they do, despite some reservations. As Penguin gains ever greater influence over the GCPD, Jim seeks help against him from Falcone, who declines. However, his daughter, Sofia, goes to Gotham (against her father's wishes), and offers her help to Jim. She begins getting close to Penguin, as part of a long-con to bring him down. He never particularly trusts her, but he tolerates her. Also, she opens an orphanage, where Penguin meets a boy named Martin, who doesn't speak. Penguin begins to see Martin as something of a protege, and comes to genuinely care about him. Um... Lucius Fox makes a suit for Bruce to wear when fighting crime (still not a Batsuit, though). Also, Ed is stolen from the Iceberg Lounge by a woman named Myrtle Jenkins, who is a fan of his, I guess. She defrosts him, but the effects of having been frozen have left him not quite as smart as he used to be. Later, Penguin has Myrtle killed.
Eventually it turns out that Barbara had been revived by Ra's, and has been working for him. Ra's wants to acquire a very important knife, which Bruce obtains instead. Bruce takes it to an antiques specialist named Niles Winthrop, hoping to learn more about it. Ra's kills Winthrop, and later takes his grandson, Alex, hostage, demanding Bruce give him the knife. Bruce refuses, so Ra's kills Alex, for which Bruce will blame himself for quite awhile after that. Ra's is arrested, though that's part of his plan. He later applies for diplomatic immunity, and Bruce decides to kill him rather than let him go free. Which means he now has two deaths on his hands, and it all takes a great emotional toll on him.
Meanwhile, Butch's body is dumped into a swamp outside Indian Hill, and he revives with a very pallid (vaguely monstrous) appearance, no memory and not much of a mind at all, but much stronger than he was. He soon takes on the name Solomon Grundy. Later, he meets Ed, who convinces them that they're old friends. Ed takes Grundy to an underworld fight club run by a woman named Cherry, in a district of Gotham called the Narrows, where he uses Grundy to make money. It turns out Lee is back in Gotham, and working as a medic at the club. She agrees to try to find a way to restore Ed's former intellect. Also, a man called Professor Pyg (who wears a pig mask) begins killing cops who work for Penguin. That leads to both the GCPD and Penguin's gang trying to stop Pyg. Ultimately, Bullock makes a tragic error, and Jim saves the day, which leads to Jim replacing Bullock as captain of the GCPD. So he finally has the power to put an end to the Pax Penguina, and clean up the department. Later, Penguin sends Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina to the fight club to kill Ed, after learning that he has become successful (and does a mocking impression of Penguin for the crowds). They fail to kill Ed, but Barbara does kill Cherry, after which Lee takes over the business. Also, Tabitha is shocked to find that Butch is alive, and wants to restore his memory. Eventually, Jim arrests Pyg and sends him to Arkham, and subsequently learns his true identity, Lazlo Valentin. But he later breaks out of Akrham. Lee eventually realizes the effects of Ed's having been frozen have worn off without her needing to do anything. When she tells Ed this, he soon begins having hallucinations of his alter-ego, trying to tempt him to become the Riddler again. (His alter-ego also tells him that Ed is in love with Lee.)
Penguin eventually learns that Sofia has been associating with Jim, which destroys whatever shred of trust he had for her. Sofia wants to use the GCPD, under Jim's leadership, to go to war against Penguin's gang, but Jim isn't interested. Sofia then uses Martin as leverage against Penguin, but Penguin and Zsasz fake Martin's death, to trick Sofia into thinking Penguin can't be controlled by threatening the boy's life. Meanwhile, Tabitha kidnaps and tortures Grundy, in the hopes of restoring his memory. She eventually gives up, but later, when he's alone, Butch wakes up and remembers who he is. Also meanwhile, Bruce has become a party boy, hanging out with a group of teenagers, drinking, throwing his money around, and generally being an asshole in his attempts to rid himself of the pain of what he'd done to Ra's, and what he'd let Ra's do to Alex. This all leads to conflict with Alfred, whom Bruce finally fires. And at the end of the first half of the season, Falcone comes to Gotham to take Sofia home, after Penguin had informed him of all she's been up to. But then there's a drive-by shooting that kills Falcone and wounds Sofia. There are rumors that Penguin was behind Falcone's murder, which obviously isn't true. But it does seem like at least Zsasz believes the rumors, so he turns against Penguin, and now works for Sofia Falcone, unaware that she was actually the one who had her father murdered. In any event, there's no proof connecting Penguin to Carmine Falcone's death, but he ends up being arrested for Martin's murder, and Zsasz lies to the police about their having only faked his death. So, Penguin is sent to Arkham... where he meets Jerome Valeska, looking and sounding more Joker-ish than ever. Meanwhile, Sofia assumes control of Penguin's gang, and gives the Iceberg Lounge to Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina. (I guess it's the same place that they used to own, as "The Sirens.") And it turns out that Sofia had been behind Professor Pyg's actions all along, as part of her larger plans for Gotham. She then kills Pyg, but basically forces Jim to take credit for it, to reinforce his status as a "hero," so that she can control him. Also, Bullock quits his job at the GCPD, rather than accepting demotion back to detective.
Well, as always, I'm sure I've said things very much out of order. And I've left out some details. But you can probably tell it's shaping up as a fun season.
So, way back in the second episode of the season, something happened that I had completely forgotten about. Ivy stole some potions and drank them, then started to mutate. She's not seen again until episode 12, when the show returns from a nearly three-month hiatus (which began more than two months after we last saw Ivy). Now, some teenagers break into the abandoned store Ivy had robbed, and find a weird plant cocoon thing, from which Ivy emerges. (She's now played by Peyton List, the third actress to portray her in this series.) Aside from a new appearance, she also seems to have a new mind and personality (presumably a bit more mature than her first two incarnations, but also less sane). At first she seems to have little memory of her past self, but over the course of the episode, memories return, even if she still seems to think of herself as a different person than who she was before. And she has new plant powers, like the Poison Ivy from the comics. So it should be interesting to see how her story develops.
Meanwhile, Lee gives a speech to various members of the Narrows community, trying to convince them to work together instead of against each other, as they always have in the past. During her speech, someone tries (and fails) to kill her with a bomb attached to a toy plane. Jim and Lucius investigate, and find that the man responsible is a toymaker named Griffin Krank, who had been hired to kill Lee. Jim's investigation of the explosion leads to his finally learning that Lee has returned to Gotham. Ed is eager to find out who tried to kill Lee, and eventually learns that it was the Riddler who had hired Krank, which is deeply disturbing. Meanwhile, Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina reopen The Sirens (which they even announce with a very amusing commercial; I love how deadpan Selina is). Also, Bullock is now working as a bartender (I think at the same bar where he was briefly employed in season two). And I guess Alfred is now living in the Narrows. (I find it hard to believe he doesn't have enough savings to live somewhere better, even without a job, but maybe he has his reasons.)
Well, Ivy causes a lot of trouble. She teams up briefly with Selina, but when Selina realizes how crazy (and homicidal) Ivy has become, there is a falling out between them. Alfred eventually goes back to working for Bruce. Sofia's gang kicks Lee out of the Narrows, which Sofia wants to take over for herself. Penguin sends a letter to Ed that ultimately helps the Riddler take control of Ed's mind, so he breaks Penguin out of Arkham, and the two of them begin working together. Sofia causes some problems for them, but in the end, Lee kills her, and takes back control of the Narrows. And Bullock goes back to working at the GCPD. Meanwhile, Barbara begins having migraines that eventually turn out to be caused by the Demon's Head (which up til now I always thought of as just the title for the leader of the League of Shadows, which until Bruce killed him, had been Ra's al Ghul; however, it now turns out to also refer to certain mystical powers that signify the League's leader). Eventually, she learns she's meant to become the new leader of the League. However, there are men in the League who don't want a woman to be their leader, so the women in the League kill them and accept Barbara as their leader.
Jerome, Jervis Tetch, and Scarecrow break out of Arkham, and begin implementing Jerome's plans for Gotham. Meanwhile, Riddler begins a vaguely romantic relationship with Lee, despite the possibility that she might just be using him. Jerome gets Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Firefly on his side. Jerome is looking for a reclusive scientist named Xander Wilde, who it turns out is actually his twin brother, Jeremiah Valeska. Jeremiah has been hiding out from Jerome for a long time, seeing almost no one in person. Though he does have an assistant and bodyguard named Ecco, who is pretty badass. (There was also some speculation in the fandom that she might later become Harley Quinn.) Jerome wants to release a gas that will turn everyone in Gotham mad, but Penguin plays an important role in stopping him. Also, Penguin gets Butch to work for him by promising to find Hugo Strange and get him to cure Butch's condition. (Which I guess means make him look human again.) After being pursued across rooftops by Jim, Jerome falls to his death. But he had left a "gift" for Jeremiah, which turns out to gas him. That makes Jeremiah's face look very Joker-like, and turns him mad. However, Jeremiah doesn't believe himself insane, despite turning into a villain. He believes his sanity, as well as his genius, will allow him to be a more successful villain than Jerome was. And with the help of Ecco (dressed in a rather Harley-ish costume), he assumes control of all the cultish Gothamites who had been Jerome's followers. Meanwhile, Tabitha gets kidnapped by another (male) faction of the League, and they get her to help with a ceremony that resurrects Ra's, who fights Barbara for control of the League. Barbara ultimately relinquishes the Demon's Head to Ra's, to prevent him from killing Tabitha. But the women of the League continue to serve Barbara.
Jeremiah had built some high tech power generators, using Wayne Enterprises resources Bruce had provided him with. But after going mad, he turns the generators into bombs, which he intends to use to destroy Gotham City, so that it might be rebuilt to his liking. He also uses Scarecrow's fear toxin to drive Bruce mad, but Selina helps him escape, and rescue Alfred, whom the villains had previously abducted. Meanwhile, Jim obtains Jeremiah's blueprints for where the bombs have been set up. Riddler deciphers the plans, which Jim takes to the GCPD. Lucius provides information for stopping the detonation, which Bullock uses to save the day, and finally regains the respect of the GCPD officers. Jeremiah teams up with Ra's, who wants to use the city's destruction as part of his plan to force Bruce to become a "Dark Knight," the city's protector. Or whatever. Jeremiah later shoots Selina in the stomach, and she's rushed to the hospital. The League steals Jeremiah's bombs back from the GCPD, and instead of using them to destroy Gotham itself, they use the bombs to destroy all the bridges between Gotham and the mainland. One bomb also destroys City Hall, or something, with a lot of important people, including the mayor, and the commissioner, I think. Barbara eventually kills Ra's. Penguin makes good on his promise to get Strange to cure Butch, but then he kills Butch in front of Tabitha, as revenge for her having killed his mother, way back in season 2. Meanwhile, the city descends into chaos, and various villains begin assuming control of different areas. This includes pretty much every currently active villain on the show (although it didn't seem to include Ivy, and now I can't remember where she was at the end of her story arc). It also includes some new characters on the show. One of them was familiar to me from other incarnations of the Batman mythos, but a couple others were unfamiliar to me. Also, Jim uses a searchlight on the roof of the GCPD as a signal of hope to Gotham's citizens. It led Bruce to meet with him, which was pretty neat, because of course we all know that someday that searchlight will become the Bat-signal. And... I guess at least some of Gotham's populace had been evacuated before the bombs, and more will be evacuated by boats. (But surely some will remain, especially in the Narrows.) One of the evacuees is the unconscious Selina. Bruce chose to stay in Gotham to protect the city, rather than go with her, but he sent Alfred with the doctors to look after her. (I suspect staying behind will cause a rift between Bruce and Selina next season, since before she went into surgery at the hospital, he had promised to stay with her.) Time will tell.
Anyway... again, I've left out a ton of details. And I feel like I've said too much. But it's been a hell of a lot of fun.