Gotham ‘These Delicate and Dark Obsessions’ – So Who’s Ra’s Al Ghul?

Photo Credit: FOX

Gotham ‘These Delicate and Dark Obsessions’ Plot Summary:

Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) uncle (James Remar) warns Jim of a dangerous weapon the Court plans to bring into Gotham, but Gordon’s investigation into his father’s death leaves him with more questions about his Uncle and the Court. Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) quickly finds himself in hot water at Ivy’s (Maggie Geha) place, and Bruce (David Mazouz) comes face to face with his mysterious captor.

We needed a breather after last week’s Riddler-fest, so it’s almost good that Gotham offered a quieter episode this week. Nothing about this episode blew me away, but nothing stunk either. Solid Gotham fare all around. We saw some characters in familiar places (Barbara goes bananas), and some characters in not so familiar places (Bruce). That’s probably the best place to start. While not the primary story, the introduction of a Batman villain is usually where we begin whenever one of his rogues gets called up to the show.

Although, apparently, this is NOT Ra’s al Ghul. This is the first Gotham review where I have to reference casting news and off field shenanigans. Gotham announced Ra’s al Ghul would be joining season three, being played by Alexander Siddig. In this episode, Bruce’s unnamed captor finally reveals himself, but it’s actor Raymond J. Barry. Last time I checked, Raymond J. Barry is not Alexander Siddig.

For all intents and purposes though, this was Ra’s al Ghul. He acted like Ra’s al Ghul. He talked like Ra’s al Ghul. And most important of all, he spoke to Bruce as if he were Ra’s al Ghul. This wouldn’t be the first time we got a big misdirect with this character (*cough* Batman Begins *cough).

Speaking of Batman Begins, that’s pretty much what we got. The Court of Owls is the League of Shadows. They want to bring in a big weapon and cleanse Gotham. They’ve also done it a couple times previously. Remind you of anything? You could rake the show over the coals for ripping off Batman Begins, but if you’re going to rip somebody off, it might as well be Christopher Nolan.

What’s more important is that the dynamic between “Ra’s al Ghul” and Bruce have intrigue and meat, and this definitely did. “Ra’s al Ghul” constantly talked like a fortune cookie, and Bruce even calls him out on it. That was funny. Whether this guy is Ra’s al Ghul, or some high ranking servant, it doesn’t matter. The crux of the character has always been a desperation for Bruce to stand by his side, and they absolutely get that across. Where Ra’s al Ghul has the advantage where other Batman villains on this show don’t is that he can be the fully formed villain right out of the gate. He’s been Ra’s al Ghul long before there was ever a Bruce Wayne, let alone Batman.

Aside from Berry’s solid performance, the introduction of this character raises a lot of questions. If Ra’s al Ghul knew long ago what Bruce was destined to be, we can then infer he orchestrated the death of his parents because of that vision. But if Ra’s al Ghul is the head of the Court of the Owls, why even bother an attempt to destroy Gotham? If this vision of Bruce’s destiny is to come true, he should know this isn’t going to work. What a waste. Well, we’ve spent way too much time on a character who may not even matter in a couple weeks.

Oswald has been on a lot of weird side tracks for what feels like a couple of years now. It was nice to see them get back to the root of who this character is – an unstable mad man who freaks out when he isn’t respected. Him and Ivy were a surprisingly good pairing. This was the first episode where Ivy really hit for me. She was a little goofy, but Geha did a good job of making you want to see the character more. This storyline is definitely in a great place by the end.

Speaking of crazy people, Barbara (Erin Richards) made her return, and is just as egotistical and looney as ever. She’s used as a great plot device here, but it was also interesting to see her not have the upper hand for once when her plan is foiled by a no non-sense sword wielding whack job.

That brings us to the Court of Owls, and the real heart of this episode: Gordon. Last week laid a nice foundation for this payoff. As Gordon learns about the true nature of his dad’s death, we could have easily seen him fly off the handle. It’s nice to know he’s learned a few things from Bullock (Donal Logue) and Lee (Morena Baccarin), as Gordon deals with his family drama and massive threat level to Gotham with a level head. The interplay between him and his Uncle took a lot of great twists and turns. It’s always an ambiguously emotional ending for Gordon, and this was no different.

While this episode continued to push Gordon and Oswald into great story arcs, it’s Bruce and the introduction (maybe?) of Ra’s al Ghul that brings the central question of this series back to the forefront – why were Bruce Wayne’s parents killed? We got a little closer to that answer this week.

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.