Well kids, another episode of Gotham has happened. Between us, I had high hopes for this week’s episode. Last week left us with a bit of a cliff hanger, with Gruber heading off into the world to do nasty things. As things turned out, I was disappointed with a lot of what happened this week. But overall, the show was much more enjoyable than I thought.
The main focus of this episode is not Gruber and his villain antics. The core plot is focused instead on the Falcone crime family. Fish finally makes her move against Falcone and she fails quite spectacularly. Falcone reveals himself to be a ruthless mob boss, even if he has a soft side. Second to this plot line, we see Gruber’s criminal rampage dwindle down to nothing while Gordon reclaims his detective badge with a harsh brutality and lots of luck. Behind all that, we see Nygma not understanding people and Barbara drinking tea awkwardly.
Let’s start with what the show did well.
The focus of Gotham has been on the criminal families for quite a few episodes. However, Falcone has not received much screen time or character development. We’ve seen him portrayed as a leader who is disconnected from his family and is easy prey for his enemies. Way back in the pilot, we were given a Falcone that was powerful and knowledgable, and hinted at a much stronger character. This is the first episode that we’ve been given that character again. With Penguin’s story, we knew that Falcone was always working behind the scenes to acquire facts and keep an eye on Fish. But the episodes with Liza showed Falcone weakening. This was probably done to show the impact Liza had on him, which speaks to the success of Fish’s plan. But here, when we see Falcone confront both Fish and Liza, we see what happens when a man with power acts to fix a problem. Not only does Falcone eliminate Fish’s entire organization in a blink of an eye, but he brutally strangles the girl that was used as a weapon against him.
Falcone had several lines during his exchange with Fish about these events serving to remind him who he really is and renew his sense of purpose. I hope that this will also mean an revitalization of his purpose to the plot. There were hints originally at his connection to Gordon. And given that this story is supposed to be more about Gordon’s development in Gotham, I really want to see the conflicts between Gordon and the criminals of Gotham grow. Maroni is portrayed as a stereotype, and serves to oppose Falcone. Actually, he serves to demonstrate Falcone’s success, so long as Falcone continues to be portrayed as a powerful but careful leader. I want to see more of this version of Falcone.
This episode also evened out Fish’s cartoon antics. She was still over the top and traded overly-dramatic exposition for real emotion, but she wasn’t as bad as normal. Instead, Butch got to be the goofball, hamming it up with stupid grins at every opportunity.
And of course, Bullock was perfection, as always. He continues to be the strongest character on screen. Logue clearly has a firm grasp on the Bullock character, and consistently delivers a wonderful performance. Bullock hasn’t had much character development, but we have learned more about motivation than any other character in Gotham. We’ve seen him change from his early portrayal as a corrupt detective, to a loyal and skilled detective who is struggling to survive. And more importantly, we know why this change happened. He’s also a wonderful comedic foil to the drama of the city and the show. While he’s not an “everyman” character, he is certainly the easiest for the audience to identify with and latch on to.
But then, there’s everything else in the episode. To clarify, as much as I complain about Gotham, I don’t dislike it entirely. There are many good things about the show, but there are many more things that I feel can and should be improved. It’s been picked up for a second season. I want to see a better show as we move on and get deeper into the story.
Since I just mentioned Bullock, let’s jump right to Gordon. What the hell is going on with the boyscout? Gordon, who’s developing a bit of a Dark Knight growl, is hell bent this episode on reclaiming his detective shield and catching Gruber. He does so primarily through the plot device of sheer luck, but also by throwing down the gauntlet and blatantly challenging the police commissioner. It’s great to see Gordon grow some balls and take control of his life, seeing as in the first few episodes he was mostly reacting to what happened to him. But this new Gordon seems dangerous and chaotic. Bullock’s repetition of the line “that was you being careful?” sings absolutely true. Maybe Gordon is just swinging to the other end of the emotional spectrum and will even out, but I think we’re in store for at least a few episodes of Gordon throwing himself into danger. He certainly continues to be a good cop. And he’s still the shining light in a city of darkness.
This could be the start of some solid character development for Gordon. The Gordon we know in the future has to become a badass, but one that is in control of himself and in charge of the GCPD. Maybe we will see young Gordon fall from grace then earn his way back, learning from his mistakes to become a better officer. We can certainly hope.
And then there’s Gruber. Gruber, who’s name wasn’t really Gruber, started out as someone who could potentially be a strong recurring villain and could shift the focus of Gotham back to the comic book vibe that it is based on. Instead, he is quickly dismissed and utilized only as a plot device. His motivation is revealed to be nothing but simple revenge. And the brilliance that he was described as having in the last episode was cut to shreds by his insulting downfall by a glass of water.
I really wanted Gruber to be around for awhile. He was given an intriguing, if very predictable, introduction. His gimmick was entertaining, had promise for a variety of applications, and proved to be quite terrifying. There easily could’ve been a wave of victims left mindless, performing repetitive tasks at Gruber’s crazy whim. We even had some insight into his cold brilliance with his lines about Arkham opening his eyes to the truth of the world. And he was incredibly insightful in his brief confrontation with Gordon. But all of that was taken away from us. Of course, there’s an opportunity for Gruber to return. And given what we know about the revolving door of Arkham, it’s very likely. But I think this was a wasted opportunity at this point in the series.
As to the rest of the episode, it all really fell to the background. The exchange between Fish and Falcone was so flat and lifeless that I just stopped caring. The only thing to shake me out of my stupor was the shock at how quickly Fish gave up the ruse. Given the length of her set up for this move against Falcone, the climax was uneventful and boring. And the positions she had established since the pilot was cut to shreds when she admitted to trying to help keep Falcone alive based on their relationship. The bit with Penguin admitting his double cross to Maroni was played as a joke, so it carried no weight, plus it got lost in the Gruber/Maroni struggle, however short it might have been. Barb returning home was pointless. And Nygma’s scenes were the perfect example of awkwardness. Not only did he continue harassing a fellow member of the GCPD, but seems to have lost all sense of communication. When his love interest confronted him about the cupcake, all Nygma could do was repeat “it’s a riddle” like a broken record. And the fact that he latched onto Gruber’s name of Electrocutioner in the newspaper was a horribly obvious hint towards his criminal development.
This episode also really highlighted the little details that bother me about Gotham. The over-use of CG was painful, from the first moment of a fake newspaper floating down through the city. And then there’s the very confused timeframe of the show. We see old technology of manual screen projectors clashing with obviously modern cell phones. These things wouldn’t matter so much if the plot and characters of the show kept me more intrigued. But when I get bored, my mind wanders and latches onto these stupid details.
Speaking of details, what’s with the continual mention of shoes? This episode gave us another “nice shiny shoes” reference, along with Nygma’s galoshes that never were mentioned again. And then there was Commissioner Loeb showing up randomly (with a surprising cameo, by the way) looking surprisingly like the image of Gordon we are familiar with from the classic animated series. I find this odd.
In wrap-up, I didn’t hate this episode. I’ve said it many times, and I will say again that Gotham is entertaining and has promise. The plot has a few new interesting twists that are keeping me interested. I’m not a fan, but I will faithfully see how this thing plays out.