Gotham: All Will Be Judged

Gotham is building to a climax, but that really doesn't make this standalone installment any better.

Over the course of this season, the writers of the show have laid the groundwork for a payoff that could be very rewarding at its conclusion, and that should mean the show is well set to deliver here, in its nineteenth hour.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

If we're to talk about the good parts of the episode first, the fight between Alfred, Selina and Thomas was great. Alfred's reaction to the circumstances, going temporarily insane with worry over having lost Bruce, was great. In fact, everything about Alfred was pretty great.

Selina turning down Alfred's (rather brusque) plea for help, I found... a bit odd. Yes, we know that Selina neither trusts or likes Alfred, and that she has good reason not to trust or like Alfred, but her cold and dismissive attitude towards Bruce in this scene felt significantly off, especially after we saw her reaction to the news of Bruce's abduction, and how she said she was going straight to tell Alfred. It's anyone's guess how this will go down, but I'm sort of assuming she'll get on board one way or the other. I'm not sure if we're supposed to believe that "coming back to life" has changed Selina, but we'll probably know the answer to that question soon enough.

As for Bruce, I assumed that last episode meant he was finally being put back into rotation in Gotham City. Again, I assumed wrong. He and the Shaman are simply doing exactly the same things they were doing at the temple, except they're doing it in Gotham, and frankly, it's a drag, with dream scene after tedious dream scene. Not even David Mazouz can truly save this. This episode only further underscores that Bruce, as of now, is practically brainwashed, having let go of all the grief that's come to more-or-less define his humanity. Also, we get proof conclusive - if any such was needed - that the Court of Owls was behind the Wayne deaths, that the Shaman knew about it, and (if we are to believe the vision to be accurate) he was very angry about it, stating that the Court must be "cleansed" as well as Gotham itself.

A fair share of the episode consists of the cartoonish adventures of Barnes trying to kill Jim but only ultimately succeeding in beheading Kathryn, and it wasn't one minute too soon. This wasn't a character whose role was sold with a lot of gravitas, and both the Shaman and (ultimately) Ra's Al Ghul will undoubtedly be much better chief antagonists. Oh, and Nate gets his hand blown off. Gotham has a thing for hands. This is hardly deep level entertainment, but it sort of works as an action story, even if Jim's plot armor means we're never worried in the slightest for his safety.

The other main event is Oswald having to work with Eddie to escape the Court of Owls, which, of course, they eventually do. These scenes are all very well-acted - anything short of that would be a major surprise - but there's not a lot of depth to the dialog here, with the show restricting the conversation to murderous banter. I guess in a way it makes sense for both of them to be "shields up", and really pouring their hearts out might've come off as weird, but that also means it's not a very juicy sideplot.

Rounding that off, we get Lee's infuriating excuse for a storyline, and the less said about that the better. At one point, she comes to the realization that she has to shoulder some responsibility for past events, at which time I practically screamed "Halleluia!!!" - and then she proceeds to do just that by injecting herself with the virus?! I simply can't. Yes, I'm using teen-speak. This development isn't worth taking seriously, it's not worth writing anything profound about, and her relationship with Jim is a cancer on the show.

This is a late and short review, and the reason for that is it wasn't a very good episode, and there's even less to say about it. We all know the show can perform, but this time, it didn't.

14 comments:

Trey Pharr said...

The only thing I can figure is that Selina has pretty much done things her own way since the start of the show and doesn't like taking orders from people. Alfred didn't really ask her to help find Bruce, but told her to in a rather undiplomatic way (understandable to be sure, but still).

One way the writers can clear this up is to have Selina go looking for Bruce in her own way and later telling Alfred she did it because she wants to and not because he told her to.

I really hope something similar to this is what can explain the events of this episode, because it did come off as odd when I first saw it.

On a separate note, we really haven't seen Selina very much since her 'fallout' with Bruce in 3x13. She needs more screentime IMHO. If this is a mood change for her, I feel like it could've been done more methodically to make it more believable and less confusing.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Well: Selina this season at least has a viable reason for her mood swing, unlike the season one finale wholly-unexplained one-episode-personality-transplant. :)

But maybe we should expect more of them by now, I certainly do.

Trey Pharr said...

Yeah true, we still haven't gotten an explanation for Isabella's sudden appearance either, which was the catalyst for breaking EdxOswald up.

I haven't really noticed any real changes to Penguin's character after Ivy patched him up, so I'm not really convinced Ivy's healing methods are that impactful yet. We shall see, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this wasn't a very good episode either, but I'd defend the whole Bruce and Shaman part of it.

In the last few episodes, the Shaman has been convincing Bruce that he needs to let go of his pain and anger to be stronger and a more effective protector of Gotham. The fans disagreed because we know that this pain and anger is what fuels Batman's crusade to begin with. This episode went straight there. Once Bruce seals away his pain, he just becomes a pawn and not the self that he's destined to be. That, I believe, is a good moment in his development into the Bat.

As for Lee... I have a feeling that her taking the cure wouldn't feel so forced and out of character if it wasn't for the two breaks the show had after Jim shot Mario. We're probably supposed to see Lee taking the cure as her finally succumbing to her breakdown, which is fully understandable after all she went through. Instead, with all the breaks, her grief and anger lost all of its momentum.

millicentcordelia said...

You’re not often disappointed with an episode; and you made some good points here. We’ll have to agree to disagree a bit-I enjoyed the banter with Ed and Oswald!

I’m also not put out by Leslie’s storyline, although you’re not the only person I’ve found who dislikes it. I saw her injecting the virus as a brilliant idea. She didn’t get it from Mario’s blood being splattered in her face, or through the Court’s poisoning of the city. She did it to herself, which is appropriate-it speaks to how miserable she is, how guilty she feels. “Good Leslie” probably thought it would lead to her death, as it did with Mario. Instead of Death by Cop, the new promo shows her becoming “Bad Leslie”, and I find her to be fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I think that we can all see the pattern here. In season one, the show shoehorned in a romantic subplot with Barbara. It was dull, annoying, and everyone wanted her gone. So, what did the writers do? They turned her into a villain and now she's loved by the fandom - a basically new, awesome character.

Now what do we have here? Jim/Lee has become just as insufferable as Jim/Barbara once was, so the writers, taught by experience, turned Lee into a villain.

Granted, her injecting herself doesn't feel all that believable, but it may be the best thing they could do with her at this point. Boring Lee could become a badass Lee. Maybe the dark side will redeem her just like it did Barbara. We may yet come to love her new self in season four.

Speaking of season four, I think we can all agree one one thing: NO MORE LOVE INTERESTS FOR GORDON!

Trey Pharr said...

I think Lee as a romantic interest for Jim could've worked if she was given something else to do (like maybe developed into a mother figure of sorts for Bruce), and their romance was more in the background.

The problem is the writers gave her basically one role and milked it to death at the expense of more interesting characters and their development.

mazephoenix said...

Yeah, and look at poor Valerie. She narrowly escaped death by Jimbo.
I enjoyed Ed/Ozzie and their chemistry is very good.
Evil Lee might be the ticket.

Diogo said...

Trey, I second that. I think Leslie's conic book counterpart was actually a mother figure for Bruce, right? We see Bruce's relationships in terms of father figures like Alfred and Gordon, but mother figures tend to be absent in his life.
Like so much on the show, it's such a waste if potential.

Patryk said...

All the Bruce scenes felt repetitive because they were, didn't he already put his paretns death behind him in the previous episode only to have to do it again? Of course the Shaman is manipulating his memories about finding out the Wayne's were killed. I bet he even ordered it.

Apart from Penguin and Ed escaping not much noteworthy happened. You are right that Lee's sotryline should not be spoken about. Kathryn getting killed was funny though. :)

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

It's a bit amusing to me that the shortest and worst Gotham review I have written is the one with the most comments. ;)

The real problem with Bruce isn't that they "went there", so to speak; it's that they essentially went there the last episode, teased his return to Gotham, and then didn't put him back into circulation at all. Anything that happened could've happened in the temple. The other problem has nothing to do with him being brainwashed, it's how they are robbing this Bruce Wayne of agency by the Court being the one to suggest he should be a vigilante. As I've said, they are copying one of Nolanverse's biggest mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Why was it such a big mistake? In the Nolanverse, the League of Shadows gave him the general idea and trained him for it, but he rejected their core philosophy and created his own. It doesn't rob him of his agency, and Gotham isn't doing it either. That Shaman guy wanted him to be a mindless tool in service of somebody else's agenda. We know that he'll be freed from under their influence and find his own path. They might have supplied the suggestion of becoming Gotham's protector, but Bruce's way of going about it will be completely different.

Is it really so aggravating to give Bruce some menthor figure that he'll eventually break away from? Granted, it wasn't done in the comics, but is it really such a bad idea?

Diogo said...

In the Nolanverse Bruce was already training to be a vigilante when the League found him. The League just gave him a particular set of skills (he he) and helped to further define his role, but he was already on the course to become Batman out of his own agency before they found him.

I'd also like to take this chance to mention how much I hate that old evil mentor guy in Gotham. His scenes are lousy, generic and uninspired cliches we've seen a thousand times. Cliches aren't necessarily bad WHEN THEY'RE DONE RIGHT. But Evil Old Mentor feels to me like a cross between Ducard on Batman Begins and Stick on Daredevil, while also reminding me how much better the role of the morally questionable mentor was handled on those other stories.

Gotham is just repeating Smallville's mistakes: they wanted to do a prequel, but at the same time they realize that Batman's actual stories are much more interesting, so they're trying to have it both ways, and in the process they create a messy hybrid of a show.
We don't need any more Batman or Superman TV prequels (I'm looking at you, Krypton!). Just give us a real Batman and a Superman TV show already, just like they gave a successful one to The Flash and Supergirl. The episodic nature of comics just means that they are much better suited for a TV adaptation than a movie one.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. There are many things you can do with a kid Bruce that wouldn't work with a full-fledged Batman. He's a clever kid with lots of money, faithful buttler, and a street smart ally. He doesn't have his assortment of gadgets or the level of martial arts skill that his adult self will master. That means that when an obstacle appears in his path, it's much more challenging for him to deal with it. He has to think more, struggle more. Young Bruce has to use brains when older Bruce would just fight his way out of a jam.

Remember how he fooled Silver back in season 2? I wish Gotham would use him like this more often. I wish they gave him more chances to do this sort of thing.