Gotham: The Executioner

Dear Ken Woodruff,

This is Gotham. This isn't Smallville.

It's hard for me to write entertaining and well-thought-out reviews of substandard material. As I've previously noted, I don't like talking trash about a show I love either. Finally, it's a strange feeling watching a show where you feel like part of it has jumped the shark but you still love all the rest of it. I can't think of any other case of this in my television viewing history. So, this will be a short review.

What happens in this episode is simple. Jim captures Barnes and Eddie finds out Isabella was murdered, telling Ozzie he believes Butch to be the culprit. It's unclear if that's a ruse or not - Edward being Edward, I would think so - but both these plots are very primitive and straightforward. That said they're all very well acted. Especially Michael as Barnes is doing a great job, the tension between him and Jim is palpable and their rapport is great. As for Isabella being dead, that's just... weird. We never got to know her motive or background, and I have a hard time believing she's really gone forever.

Then we have the Batcat storyline, which is just rather confusing.

In summary, Ivy meets a man and steals a diamond necklace from him, then runs to Selina for protection. This, of course, means she has to reveal her identity to her, which makes you question why the show bothered to have her hiding it in the first place. Her making fun of Selina and keeping her in the dark for one episode in 'Anything For You' serves no purpose, and the reveal itself packs no punch. It almost looks like Camren herself thinks the whole situation is absurd.

After that, some men of unknown affiliation show up at Selina's place shooting at them, they run and Bruce decides they should return the necklace but end up finding the owner dead in his home, murdered by the same men who chased them. Finally they notice there's a key inside the diamond. One would assume that the reason for this plot is to re-fire the Court of Owls arc, even though I have no idea where this is going.

The weak link here is the new Ivy Pepper. It pains me to say this, but the truth is Maggie Geha is no great actress and her scripts are awkwardly written. Her character lacks emotional depth and pairing her with the brilliant David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova she falls stunningly flat despite being "ten feet tall".

You can't just throw in a Smallville-esque pretend-teen with the ensemble's real teens and think no-one will notice. I do realize that "she got aged up by a monster", which is among the most nonsensical pieces of storytelling I've seen on the show, but the show advertised her new persona as "nineteen years old" and Maggie is nearly one decade older. All in all, their scenes are simply grating, some cute fluff aside, even if their storyline is currently among the most promising ones on the show as both Barnes and Jervis are incarcerated.

"Most promising" doesn't equal "least contrived", though. Frankly, it's amazing how much trouble these kids are getting themselves into, even when not looking for it.

In this show, Jim and Harvey are the cops, Eddie and Ozzie are the crooks, and Bruce, Selina and Ivy are the Scooby-Doo gang. They've been shot at with crossbows, gassed, attacked by life-draining monsters, hunted by assassins and a sword-wielding madman, kidnapped multiple times and nearly sacrificed by an insane cult and burned alive by a crazed pyromaniac. Judging from Bruce and Selina alone, it's a miracle any Gotham teenager survives into adulthood.

In "Batcat romance news" Selina denies that Bruce is her boyfriend. I guess this is the show setting up a situation with Ivy seeing that as a window of opportunity and Selina coming to regret that statement. However, I'm not sure the show will actually go through with showing anything physical between Bruce and Ivy. That would make for uncomfortable viewing for most people, seeing as Maggie is almost twice David's age. Then again, Gotham is known for its crazy.

The bottom line is this is the weakest installment since the second episode of the season, and much of it is due to hamfisted dialog, telegraphed plotlines and... well, Ivy. However, the next one looks to be a bomb. Pun intended.


Episode still courtesy of farfarawaysite.com

5 comments:

millicentcordelia said...

Enjoyed your review, and I must agree-in some ways, this was a lackluster episode. First, the good news-the Barnes’ story continued to deliver. Michael Chiklis delivered a show-stopping performance, filled with power and menace, that was genuinely scary. The scenes between him and Jim served to clarify and define Jim’s redemption arc, and gave Jim the chance to make a speech about how much he regrets murdering Theo Galavan. I appreciated that instead of killing Barnes off, the writers decided he could get locked up at Arkham- so, like Jervis, they can bring him back out at a later date. It never hurts to have an asylum full of monsters at your beck and call!

I’ve no objection to Ivy being the one to lead Bruce and Selina back into the Court of Owls story. It was set up in a fun and flashy way, with the jewel heist and the mysterious key. Sadly, during the episode I caught myself thinking: “Maggie’s doing her best, but she just doesn’t capture the essence of the real Ivy Pepper.” Clare Foley did such a great job with the character, she’ll always be “the real one” for me; if they wanted me to forget Clare, they should have found an actress who a.) looked 19, not thirty, and b.)worked so well with Camren and David that her presence didn’t seem forced.

“As for Isabella being dead, that's just... weird. We never got to know her motive or background, and I have a hard time believing she's really gone forever.” Truer words were never spoken! After all that build up, if Isabella turns out to be some nobody who just “happened” to be Kristen’s twin, and just “happened” to be perfect for Ed in every way-I’ll feel very cheated.

Aside from Barnes’ story, which was absorbing, the rest of the episode felt transitional. Meaning, it seemed like a way to carry the story forward from point “A” to point “B”, but there wasn’t much substance to it. That’s what I mean by lackluster; not a lot of it was memorable or even entertaining. There were a few good moments-Oswald getting his portrait done, or Bruce asserting that he and Selina are a couple while she denies it- but mostly, it felt like filler.

Oh-and can we please have Jim and Lee get back together, if that’s where this is going? They’re awfully cute, mooning over each other, but there’s zero suspense in the Mario/Lee/Jim triangle. I like to see the show get past that, and do what Jim and Lee seem unable to do-move on.


Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

That was my main take of the last couple of episodes - they’ve done a good job rehabilitating Jim, and him coming clean to Barnes about killing Theo was a nice touch. Also, as I suspected Barnes wasn’t killed; you don’t invest that much in a character only to throw it away just as it’s transformed. That would be like killing the Riddler in ‘Into The Woods’.

… which coincidentally makes me wonder what the hell is up with Isabella.

Marianna said...

I definitely can't argue with any of your complaints. The Penguin/Riddler plot was especially disappointing. Michael Chiklis was fantastic as always! One good thing that stood out was that Harvey had an amazing idea that worked! I love it when episodes don't waste Donal Logue!

hekates said...

New Ivy is just plain awful. A horrid actress. How the heck did she get cast?

mazephoenix said...

Chiklis has always been great, from "The Shield" to being Marvel's Ben Grimm. He's very intense and that suits Gotham well.
New Ivy is a loss, and I hate the implications of her being 15 in the body of a grownup.
The Penguin/Riddler/Isabella plot was just silly. All that buildup for nothing.