Gotham: Mommy's Little Monster

“Nobody’s telling the truth. This is Gotham.”

The Penguin makes his move when Galavan orders Tigress to do the unthinkable as his meteoric rise to mayorhood reaches its crest. Meanwhile, Selina meets her competition for the attention of Bruce Wayne, and Alfred sweats a lot.

Whilst in college I took a course on the Gothic novel and read The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Not everything in those books made absolute psychological sense, but they do have psychological impact. The Monk has ghostly bleeding nuns, for example, which generally have some sort of psychological impact no matter how you look at it. I'm starting to recognize Gotham is the Gothic version of television. Remember, just a short while ago Penguin had taken the crown as King of Crime in Gotham. In a few episodes he's turned into an oppressed, downtrodden lackey, and our cliffhanger resolves as follows: Butch is now free of Penguin’s mind control, and has thus lost half of his interest as a character. Penguin’s free of his mother, which doubles his interest as a criminal. Her death scene was drawn out and melodramatic and sentimental and perfectly Gothic (although I was marveling at her high Endurance, I tell you, and looking at the clock.) But in the process Penguin achieved a new level of viciousness which, apparently, enabled him to briefly turn the tables on the Galavans and escape their trap while waddling industriously out a window. Despite some cheesiness, I loved Penguin throughout this episode–kudos to Robin Lord Taylor, and to Drew Powell, who's getting to be one of my favorite actors.

Galavan's now mayor, and the cut seems to give him license to do whatever he wants; he sends the Gotham police force on the attack, and they start hearing about the split. I feel strongly Jim Gordon is being badly written this season. One episode he's punching victims, and here he's preaching the exact opposite. Jim’s policing through fear schtick is completely true and rings completely hollow considering an episode or so ago he was beating up unrelated people to find out information about crimes. Then he goes and waves a gun at Butch, locking him to a pipe during the most senseless attack I've ever seen on television. I mean, it's possible Jim and Victor Zsasz both have x-ray vision: this is Gotham. What should have been an exciting fight turns into boring bullets in an unmoving wall, however. But wait! There's machine guns from the Gilzean group! Wow! So of course Harvey and Jim... shoot more bullets at the wall, which continues not to move. Honestly, after the carefully crafted fight scenes in Daredevil, this is laughable. Gilzean gets away, of course, but not without revealing some Galavan gossip to Gordon.

I spent some time wondering how Penguin would deal with his abject failure and the loss of his mother; the answer is cloning. An army of Penguins appears, drawing Galavan’s fire and enabling Penguin to stand face to face with Galavan himself, tempting Jim in the process, who amazingly… does the dumbest, revealing himself to Galavan in at least three ways I can count. Will Galavan not attack someone he's sure knows his secret? There was some back and forth as Penguin tried to get Jim to side with him against the criminal Jim just admitted is a murdering criminal yet decided to turn his back on (does this make any sense to you either? Why with his back to–but I digress. Badly written, but at least he's not shooting at an unmoving wall again.) Then Penguin drives off, escaping Tigress/Tabitha and Galavan once more.

Selina finally manages to return to speak to Bruce, meets Silver St. Cloud. Who performs as expected, insulting Selina in a variety of ways and meowing loudly. Selina cats back, and Silver scoots off–but Selina's betrayal brings Bruce to tears. Infatuation and all that. I kind of wish that Alfred had heard Selina's accusations. While not very clear or needley, her instincts are right on. And Selina/Bruce make a much better couple for the show; Silver looks like a clone of every teenybopper I've ever seen. Galavan's plot to take the Wayne company prior to killing Bruce seems to place Silver as the killer. I still find David Mazouz' portrayal of the character boring and single-sided, so it's tough to care here.

Nygma’s scenes are again some of the stronger scenes in this episode! The opening scene with Dark Nygma (as he’s identified in the captions) was seriously heavy on the creep. I loved the concept of the criminal forming himself, and the hand in the vending machine? Priceless. We are here seeing life conspire to turn a mild-mannered stalker a serial killer. The merger of two personalities in the end–the new vision of what makes a life beautiful–whoa, and I thought the special effects hit the golden spot–any more and it would have been cheesy. What's next for Nygma seems more pre-ordained, though, and a big part of the attraction of this storyline has been how it enlarged on the original Batman stories. Will Gotham manage to continue delivering on the surprise front here? I hope so. It's beautiful.

Plotwise, the show still sucks. It's a gorgeous piece of kit with flamboyant loopholes a bus full of unexploded cheerleaders could drive through. But it's like a Gothic potato chip. I know the oleo chemical whatsis are there. I can't stop chewing and swallowing them, and it's too good and salty to not to let myself think too much about it.

Bits and Pieces

Galavan sucks as a character but James Frain does get in some nice moments. E.G.: “Not even a mother could love.” You KNOW he was looking directly at Penguin.

I really think it's not too late for Jim. I want him to give Lee a full confession, and have her help him through all of these weird moral and immoral tangles. But in the end either he's badly written or really complex, and it's up to the show to pull it off.

Penguin's revenge is still unachieved. Here's hoping it's epic. I liked the image of the demented Penguin clones today.

Barbara watch: she's apparently mostly asleep again this episode.


Harvey: Looks like you backed the right horse. Do you trust him?
Jim: A Gotham politician? About as far as I can throw him.


An uptick from the previous episodes, and if you suspend a little disbelief and have patience for extended death scenes, quite enjoyable and serviceable in pushing forward several major plot threads. Four out of five Penguin assassin clones.


Marianna said...

Excellent review! It does seem like they can't decide what kind of person Gordon is. I get making him conflicted but having him swing from one side of the pendulum to the other on a regular basis seems indecisive.

mazephoenix said...

Frain has charisma to burn, but Galavan is just too standard evil crime boss. Barbara sleeping? They really don't know what to do with her.
This is indeed a Gothic novel. Nygma could have stepped out of the pages of the Monk. Yes, I've read it. It's very..arresting but not very logical. Much like the show.
Kudos to Robin Lord-Taylor as ever.

Docnaz said...

Thanks for another excellent review. It adds so much to my enjoyment of the show.