Gotham: Into The Woods

"This is who I am."

This was an excellently-crafted episode with more than a share of questionable long-term decisions, and it wasn't easy to review.

The first story I will address is the continuing adventures of Oswald Cobblepot, because that one's the easiest. Everything I predicted in my last review came true. It was meticulously acted on Robin's part, playing against a villain foster family so hilariously clich├ęd it could give Rowling's "Harry Potter" a run for the money, and fabulously gruesome. That's all, and Reformed Oswald is no more.


The reasoning for why the show chooses a "family" story to return Oswald to his former glory, or more succinctly put, to further push the character towards its logical extreme, is that the love of family and longing for that bond has always been the Penguin's main weakness. Maroni hurt Oswald to his core by exposing his illegal activities to Gertrude. Galavan effectively broke him by killing her. Edward pointed out that only by letting go of his love could he be truly free. Hugo chose his "unhealthy relationship with his mother" as the infiltration point into his psyche.


Only by the tremendous shock for such a man as Oswald to have his new-found father murdered and finding his step-family the culprits is it possible for him to break his conditioning and come out stronger for it. It is notable that in the final scene, Oswald actually looks happy. The shackles on his mind are gone and his one true weakness is burnt out of him. It will be impossible to control him again in this fashion.

The main story chain of the episode - which worked as a far stronger red thread than in most previous outings and made for a great hour of television - was Jim Gordon's duel with Edward Nygma, into which most of the participating characters were drawn. As usual, Cory Michael Smith knocked it out of the park in his portrayal of The Riddler, even if you need to give the show a lot of dramatic license for the final result - for example, when Jim is knocked out, why doesn't Edward just kill him?

There are small remnants of the way Ed used to be still alive in the character, even after his demon has assumed almost total control. The person mocking Jim and underhandedly pointing out he is a killer and a hypocrite in his apartment - that's the old Edward, which prompts his dominant persona saying, "shut up, you talk too much." The same goes for the scene in the woods, "Were you my friend? Or did you just pity me? Oh poor weird little Ed with his silly word plays and his riddles?" The Riddler doesn't care about the emotions of his toys. It will be interesting to see how this contradiction within the character will proceed.


With the way the episode ends with Edward locked up at Arkham Asylum, the stage is set for the cartoon figures rumbling their way through the rest of the season - Mr. Freeze, Azrael and others. In a way I find this regrettable, because these are far less complex characters than Edward Nygma, but I have a feeling the show is shooting for maximum fireworks down the stretch, and I can't really fault them. Also, it's anyone's guess how they will utilize Ed over the final five episodes.


It will be interesting to see how the show will deal with Edward meeting Hugo in Arkham. This is because unlike Oswald, Edward has no weaknesses that would let Hugo easily control him - he has absolutely no moral incitement to be good. The way Gotham has utilized Professor Strange has mostly been as a catalyst and a way to help the villains of the show realize themselves, which also seems to be one of his personal credos. One could argue, the Riddler is already realized.

This seems to be the end of Jim Gordon's "rehabilitation arc", with Barnes back to trusting him, and it can't help coming off as odd and as a half-measure. James Gordon still murdered Theo Galavan. Now, after it's revealed that he was innocent of the murder of Pinkney, the center of attention shifts to Nygma. As for Jim's crimes, the show seems to simply forget them.


The way the writers chose to conclude the arc between Bruce and Selina was saddening and cruel, and thematically it was almost an exact reversed duplicate of the events in season one, with the broken snow globe replaced by the thrown-away jacket. However, while one might have inferred that Selina truly believed she was protecting Bruce by lying to his face the last season and effectively breaking his heart, this time around it makes little sense. If he'd been dealing with Vicki Vale or Silver St Cloud from the cartoons, it would've been one thing, but Selina is a professional thief and one need only think further than the nose to realize she's liable to end up with the wrong people. It's more than a stretch to believe she'll be in any more danger with Bruce than on her own.

This betrayal is also far, far worse. Bruce has been living with Selina for months, and for all she knows, after he feels he's "done" he just throws her away like a used-up toy.


Now, of course this isn't the end of their saga, but what this episode told us explicitly was that Selina must not know that Bruce is Batman. This is the first part of that smoke screen, and that was the entire point of the scene. This is classic Bruce Wayne self-inflicted pain, straight from the comics. In this manner, the show effectively marries part of classic Batman canon, and it's yet hard to tell if that's a hit or a miss.

In a rare event, I have absolutely no idea how this will play out over the rest of the season.

3 comments:

Marianna said...

Great review! I enjoyed the part Selina got to play in clearing Jim's name. I'm not really sure why he isn't calling Lee. I'm with Barnes on this one.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

James not calling Lee... plot contrivance on part of the writers to re-insert Barbara. Feeling ashamed of his behavior. Remember, Lee is the only person halfway "good" (in a legal sense) who knows for sure that he killed Theo.

To be honest I think this was my worst review yet. ;-) I felt like I couldn't quite hit the head on the nail with it.

mazephoenix said...

I hope Barbra and Jim don't get back together. I don't buy it after her multiple murder attempts..it's Gotham so who knows though..
Penguin pulled a Titus Andronicus on his stepmother..eugh.
How long til prof Strange releases Nygma?
BD Wong is killing it in this role.