WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for this week's episode of Gotham, "The Blade's Path," which premiered Thursday on Fox.
In its fourth season, Fox's Gotham has finally embraced the cartoonish quality of its reinterpretation of the Batman mythos, but with this week's episode, "The Blade's Path," the drama got animated in an entirely new way – by featuring a team-up drawn from the most unlikely of sources.
The appearance of Golden Age comic foe turned meme-worthy DC character Solomon Grundy was teased in the Season 3 finale. And while the transformation of supporting gangster Butch into this zombified, third person-talking goon was assured, two things stand out about his emergence this week.
For one, Grundy is perhaps the Gotham character most indebted to his comic roots. True to its "Let's lean into the crazy" streak in Season 4, the series didn't shy away from having Butch get a chalky-white bowl cut and wander around grunting "Born on a Monday." Add in the Frankenstein-esque ill-fitting suit, and this Grundy is essentially a drawing from a 1940s issue of Green Lantern.
Perhaps more entertainingly, the show's writers team up Grundy with the currently brain-drained Ed Nygma in sly nod to the classic Challenge of the SuperFriends. For those not familiar with the most classic of Hanna-Barbera's many iterations of the kid-friendly Justice League, Challenge featured the titular superhero team facing off each week against an assemblage of swamp-dwelling villains called the Legion of Doom.
On that series, The Riddler and Grundy represented polar opposites of villainy, with the former a cackling maniac and the latter a disgruntled strong man. Now as Gotham's take on the character's ham it up in a quest to cheat their way back into the limelight, it's impossible not to see their cartoon counterparts just beneath the surface.
And the show is all the better for it. Despite the occasional bits of bad storytelling that will never stop being a part of this show, Season 4 has finally found a way to make Gotham at least watchable superhero TV. In a way, the series would be better off if the producers allowed their villains to move into a swampy headquarters resembling Darth Vader's helmet. But until then, we'll take this new dynamic duo as far as they're willing to go.
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Cameron Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.