Review: Gotham, ‘Blood Rush’ – Barnes vs. Tetch

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Plot: After Barnes (Michael Chiklis) finds a dismembered body, his blood lust takes aggression out on the killer. Barnes continues to battle with the disease, and is desperate for a cure. Gordon (Ben McKenzie) returns to the GCPD and is put on the same case Barnes was involved with. Meanwhile, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) fears Isabella’s (Chelsea Spack) resemblance to Miss Cringle puts her in danger of himself, leaving an opportunity for Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) to swoop in.

One of the weaker Gotham storylines got a hell of a lot more interesting. When you get the caliber of actor that is Michael Chiklis, you should start utilizing the man. With the exception of yelling at Gordon every now and then, Barnes has been floating around in a haze of gimmicks all season long. This was finally the episode that gave Barnes an actual arc. There’s a lot to cover, including Gordon’s return to the GCPD, and that Nygma-Oswald-Isabella love triangle that is heating up. We got to start with everyone’s favorite bald police captain.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX.
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX.

What bored me about the whole “Barnes has super strength now” garbage is it would always pop up whenever it was convenient. There’s nothing compelling here. It’s just a gimmick. In this episode, it’s less about the gimmick and more about the man. We see Barnes wrestle with giving into the blood lust. It wisely taps into his demons. Barnes has always been the strict by-the-book cop. It’s only fitting that Alice’s blood unleashes his repressed desires in how he’d like to handle criminals. While there’s a couple corny lines, Chiklis makes it work. Aside from a couple moments from season two, this was definitely Chiklis’ best performance in a long time.

One of the best Barnes scenes is when he interrogates Tetch (Benedict Samuel) in a desperate attempt to get a cure. Of course, Tetch screws with him. While we only get one Tetch scene, it’s a damn good one. Benedict Samuel manages to up his game even more. He was rhyming like crazy. No matter how pissed Barnes got, Tetch remained more and more in control and completely mocked him.

Barnes also had a few odd scenes with Gordon, but that was the intent. Gordon made his triumphant return to the GCPD, but more importantly the Gordon/Bullock partnership is back in full force. They fell right back into their old rhythm. When Bullock (Donal Logue) is on, he’s highly entertaining to watch. I keep clamoring for a Bullock centric storyline.

Phoro Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.
Phoro Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.

Gordon also had to deal with the awkwardness of returning to work with Lee (Morena Baccarin). Yikes. The person who was most upset about this was Mario Falcone (James Carpinello), Lee’s fiancé. He’s been a pretty measured guy so far, but not here. Even though this was a fast character shift, I like the tension they’re creating between Gordon and Mario. It was also nice to see John Doman back as Carmine. More scenes with him please. He’s fantastic.

Speaking of love in the air, let’s not forget Nygma and Isabella. It started out with a nice breakfast, but then Ed got all looney after seeing Isabella put on a pair of glasses, reminding him of good ole Miss Cringle. This left an opportunity for Oswald to swoop in on Isabella’s territory. This started out a little slow, but the tension between Oswald and Isabella ramped up quickly. Maybe too quickly. We’ll see how that all plays out next week. Isabella was certainly an intriguing character in this episode, especially her risky plan to hold onto Nygma.

Nothing blew me away about this episode, but the character dynamics were entertaining and compelling all over the place. They even managed to infuse a cool bit villain, played creepily by William Abadie. He reminded me of Milo Ventimiglia’s character from season one. This was an important episode in getting us to care about Barnes’ little problem. We also get the obligatory Barbara (Erin Richards) is nuts scene.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.