Gotham: All Happy Families Are Alike

The Gotham crime family war, already taking over the city, explodes when Fish Mooney returns and wants her piece of the pie; meanwhile, Dr. Lee tries to help Barbara deal with the aftermath of her handling by the serial killer Ogre in a season finale that turns up the juice.

This episode was very well designed. From the opening scene when Fish Mooney comes back to Gotham like an avenging Queen to the hopeless war Jim’s waging against the evil of Gotham to the inexplicable “let me play counselor to you after your tragedy in my own personal apartment” scenes between Barbara and Leslie: every shot is beautiful even if the story doesn’t necessarily make sense.

The strongest part of the episode was the gangland storyline. Falcone gets set-up with the help of Loeb. Jim decides it's his role to try and frustrate Loeb, Marconi and the goals of the Penguin all in one go. When Jim manages to go berserker and kill an entire group of gangsters sent to do away with Falcone, and Bullock shows up, it’s a great moment. Jim’s a true Wild-West gunslinger (and that’s a nod to Stephen King, too, I shouldn’t wonder) and when he’s in killer mode, he needs help to come down. Falcone ultimately decides to leave the city and recognizes the city needs Jim now; it feels a little as if Jim is Falcone’s true heir.

The same gangland storyline gives us a little depth and perspective on both Fish and Penguin and does a nice job giving us some payoff for the confusion of the last few episodes. Fish is done taking cow-poo from entitled, patronizing males (Babes! Toots! Really?), but her storyline, while building her character, has been seemingly totally adrift from what’s been happening in Gotham. Penguin is turning into the weaselly mastermind we know and love, but we’ve only seen occasional examples of his viciousness. When he manipulates Fish and Maroni against each other so successfully that Fish shoots Maroni through the head, even Penguin seems shocked by his own success (although sometimes I wonder if the character isn’t having some sort of internal orgasm from the violence. He’s that creepy.) The entire sequence seems natural, especially after what Fish has experienced with Dollmaker. I'll be very sad to see Jada Pinkett leave this show.

Fish Mooney, rocking the hair.
Not so natural was the whole storyline between Barbara and Lee, but I think seen in perspective with the last couple of episodes, it works. Many people were rooting for Barbara to turn evil last episode with the Ogre; here she demands treatment from Dr. Thompkins… in her apartment, privately. Then, after some therapy which includes bitchy sniping about Jim Gordon (which I think Lee was trying to pass off as trauma) Barbara reveals she in fact killed her own parents. Whether she was truly goaded by the Ogre or possessed of serial killer tendencies to begin with isn't gone into, but at least the depth and nebulousness was there. Still a bit confused about how Jim managed to show up and even know there was a problem - wasn't he just in the clutches of Fish Mooney? - but I'm glad Lee is safe.

Gotta hand it to her - when she was trapped, she made a weapon.
Slightly better was the Bruce Wayne storyline; he’s tearing apart his house in search of his father’s secret, with mild opposition from Alfred, who seems too troubled by watching an obsession form before his eyes to say much. Bruce’s sincerity allows this to be pulled off with aplomb. The worst part of this episode was the Edward Nygma storyline. It takes an upturn when Kringle brings her suspicions to Nygma, but she’s way too easily allayed (didn’t she just see him disposing of a body?) Nygma then starts basically talking to himself and demonstrating two distinct personalities, both evil. He also rants about what’s black and white and red all over (either a newspaper or a bloody Penguin, depending on who you ask.)
So, which of them do you think is going to clean this? Right, the butler.
The episode leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger. Fish has been killed by Penguin in a final combat after the Penguin goes berserk and mows down most of her men. The Penguin is now King of Gotham, as he tells us repeatedly from on top of a building. Meanwhile, Bruce has finally discovered his father’s secret: a moving staircase and - surprise - the keening of bats.

Bits and Pieces

Fish Mooney's arrival in Gotham by boat. How did she heal from being shot?

Part of the tragedy about Barbara is I don't think Jim ever loved her. Even in this episode he seems to trust Leslie Tompkins far more than Barbara Keane. I wonder if he sensed her tendency to kill way back when.

The idea that Selina would be mentored by Fish Mooney was a cool one. I don't like how her character is developing here necessarily. I always thought of Catwoman as being amoral but incredibly ethical. The legal thing wasn't important to her: the right thing, however... in this episode she's shown as bloodthirsty, though.

Maroni was supposed to be big in Batman-time. Now he's dead. Will another Maroni rise in Gotham?

The Butch brainwashing bit. I'm glad they included this plotline.

Overall

This was a solid end to a hit-or-miss first season; I think the show does better when it takes all its many threads and tries to bring them into play with each other. A huge step up in performance from Ben McKenzie. I'm staying with this for a second season, but worried who can possibly bring in the energy of Fish Mooney and whether the show will allow the plot to fall to pieces again. 3.5 out of 4 secret remote-control fireplaces.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess you could say that Fish is now sleeping with...some species of aquatic animal.

JRS said...

LOLOL.... one wonders if you can drown a Fish.

Diogo said...

Yeah, Selina was out of character. She occasionally does kill people, but usually out of self-preservation, not because she enjoys it. She's a thief, not a murderer.

topher darling said...

Is it confirmed through casting that Jada Pinkett isn't returning? If not, I'm going to go with Rule #10.

Marianna said...

I was thinking that Selina's out-of-character behavior could be a reaction to having killed someone for the first time, like Faith. Or maybe the writers just messed up. It could go either way.