TV REVIEWS: GOTHAM
The hammer has fallen on the inaugural season of Gotham, but did it go anywhere?
When I offered my pseudo-preview/review of the show, I was light on spoilers, but not for this review of the episode, “All Families Are Alike” and the season.
*Spoilers from here on out.*
First things first, we’re introduced to Bruce Wayne, who found out not everything is what it seems in the world of Gotham. Aside from seedy characters like Selina “Cat” Kyle (Camren Bicondova), Reggie Payne (David O’Hara), and corrupting forces surrounding his family’s company Wayne Enterprises, Bruce tries to go on a journey of self-reliance after depending on Det. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) falls a little too short on his priorities given the mounting duties on his plate. Bruce’s trusted ally in Alfred (Sean Pertwee) is trying his best to provide a father-type figure, while at the same time reluctantly agrees to be part of Bruce’s journey.
Bruce’s naïveness was obvious as he struggled to get acclimated to the shady world around him. Bruce’s biggest clue to his family’s past came when Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) provided Bruce a clue about his father “stoic” nature. His father’s secret was a dark stairway hidden behind a fireplace triggered by a remote control hidden in a book, which is likely the future batcave.
I would have loved for this angle to play out sooner rather than later because they played up how naive he was too long in this season, which could hurt the show in the long run given the uncertain nature of TV. If Bruce’s journey became a plot point, perhaps they should have him on every few episodes as kind of a novelty to help build up on the show. They can feature him more often the more important he is to the central story, but otherwise I felt for the most part, his scenes plodded too much and slowed down the show.
Now the main attraction, Gordon, who’s been a consistent “bend-but-don’t break” maverick all season long, has been finding that he’s been bending way too often enough that he finally understood the ecosystem he’s in the season finale of having Carmine Falcone (John Doman) in Gotham. It’s the kind of realization that would match up the way Gary Oldman‘s performance as Gordon in The Dark Knight Rises that you can see some shades of that broken man starting to come out. You can sense he knows his place and even he can’t take on Sal Maroni(David Zayas)’s forces and Police Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) in the ensuing mob war.
On top of that, you had his ex in Barbara Keane (Erin Richards), who finally broke under the influence of the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia), when she revealed to Dr. Leslie “Lee” Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) that it was she, not the Ogre himself, who killed her parents when he drove her to her parent’s house. Yeah, big shocker there…
Upon her confession, she attacked Lee with a knife who earlier personally requested the good doctor to talk about her traumatic experience. Ex-girlfriend asks to be alone with current girlfriend of the main character, what’s the worst that can happen?
Anyway, Lee fled and locked herself into the bathroom while Barbara did her best Jack Nicholson from The Shining. As the fight continued back in the living room, Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) came into Keane’s apartment to find Lee finally knocking her out on the floor after slamming the back of Keane’s head repeatedly against the floor.
Oh well! Barbara was finally starting to get interesting after essentially becoming one of the most annoying and underdeveloped characters of the entire season. I’m kind of glad she snapped but who knows what will happen to her in the next season. Will she come back? Will she be a patient at Arkham? Will she become a future Batman villain?
Speaking of Batman villains, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) finally snapped and all it took was the woman he loved. He developed from being an awkward Screech-type of nerd to Gollum from Lord of the Rings with his inner monologues, obsessing over Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack). He finally tapped his psychopathic rage after being pushed around for his quirks and nature over her abusive cop boyfriend, Doughtery (Zachary Spicer), stabbing him repeatedly underneath the elevated train near Kringle’s apartment at night. He systemically dismembered the body and burned with acid in an attempt to eliminate all evidence. It was all perfect, except the fake note Ed left her about her boyfriend leaving her which coincidentally spelled out his last name with each new line. It was blatantly obvious to her when she confronted him about it, which the future Riddler coyly denied. I don’t sense it will end well for her come the new season. Nygma is one of the proper ways you build up a character.
To top it off, you have the gang warfare masterminded by Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) to turn Maroni against Falcone with a fake assassination attempt. Penguin revealed that he sabotaged the assassins’ guns before their attempted hit. With Maroni on the rampage, Falcone became completely unprepared for the ensuing onslaught. This is what really gets me scratching his head, particularly when he revealed his plans to quit and run away with Liza (Mackenzie Leigh). When Liza was exposed as a mole from Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Falcone killed her and was reinvigorated to keep running his operations.
So somehow, Fish got a new look, amassed an army to somehow overtake both Maroni and Falcone in a very short time and just happened to recruit Cat in the process as well.
Under Gordon’s protection, Falcone said he needed two days to mount a counterattack against Maroni. Following Mooney’s assassination of Maroni for his chauvinism mid-speech by shooting him in the head, the ensuing gunfight and Mooney’s own death after being thrown down a building at the hands of the Penguin, Falcone announced to Gordon his intentions of quitting.
Wait, so despite Falcone agreeing to stay in power so that chaos won’t run rampant in Gotham, he’s quitting now that there’s a bigger power vacuum with Penguin taking over who knows what now? In closing, Falcone gives Gordon, Gordon’s father’s knife. Originally a gift from Gordon’s father, Falcone reminded Gordon that his father, like him, was a good man, but he carried a knife.
So to sum up this season of the show, I enjoyed how certain characters were built up from Bullock, Nygma, Mooney, and Penguin. Others like Gordon, Keane, Bruce Wayne and Falcone, not so much. As far as those who gripe about how ridiculous the show can get, I guess you have to have some suspension of disbelief, because you’re kind of blurring the lines from real and gritty to goofy and over-the-top, which kind of describes the world of Batman perfectly.
It’s got a lot of work to do to be more of what it should be. I think this season’s finale should have been the mid-season finale. So I guess the real Batman-ing will start next season.