Gotham: The Fear Reaper

In typical schizophrenic fashion, after its best season premiere Gotham moves on to a tie for the worst episode of the entire show.

Before 'The Fear Reaper', I considered the low point of Gotham to be 'Prisoners' - an episode I described as "a well-acted, well-paced and well-directed uninspiring mess."

'The Fear Reaper' is the absolute reverse yet it's equally terrible. While Prisoners was empty and derivative, tons of stuff happen on Gotham this week, and they aren't even necessarily all bad decisions. They're just executed so poorly, and the logic of events is so nonsensical, that the result doesn't even end up looking like a work of a professional script writer. It looks like a 12-year-old gamemaster playing Dungeons & Dragons with the characters rolling alternate 1's and 20's on their Charisma checks, stacking one dramatic failure on another and turning the show into the worst type of self-parody.

Barbara Kean is back from the dead with a new hairdo, because reasons. (Actually, we're not given any reasons. The only reason being that the people in charge wanted to keep her on the show, in which case it might have been better not to kill her.) She apologizes to Tabitha for murdering her boyfriend and wants her and Selina to join her selling weapons, because reasons. Tabitha threatens to cut off her hand, only she doesn't, because reasons. Then she accepts to join her anyway because reasons.

I hate to state the obvious, but none of this makes any sense. Tabitha has significantly more reasons to hate Barbara than to hate the Penguin, and Barbara doesn't have an "or-else" card. In fact, the only character serviced by this development is Selina, since her only apparent goal is to rise in the ranks of the criminal underworld.

Moving on to Ivy... Ivy is grouchy. In her first incarnation, Pamela Isley became Poison Ivy by getting poisoned by a criminal co-conspirator. In current canon, she gains her powers from illegal experiments performed on her by her professor. Perhaps, none of these felt like the most stellar origin story... until we compare them with 'The Fear Reaper', where she's angry about not getting any attention and decides to rob a pharmacy to eat supervillain pills.

Bruce? Bruce gets into another narratively pointless fight with some gangsters, Lucius gives him a suit and he jumps between the rooftops. That's the cliffhanger. The season three finale ended with him on a rooftop, the season four premiere opened with him on a rooftop and now the second episode ends with him on a rooftop, only this time he's got a fancier costume. The well has run dry.

Jim's story with Oswald and the Scarecrow is so boring and contrived I can't even bear to walk you through it. Watch it for yourself.

It's easy to see what the writers wanted to do with this episode. "We want Tabitha, Selina and Barbara to start an enterprise together, we want Bruce to get a costume and we want Ivy to be a supervillain." So... yeah. They just did that.

All the actors try their best to save this confused tripe to no avail. The dialog is bad. The pacing is horrendous. Every single climactic moment falls flat.

I love you, but better luck next time, Gotham. I can't think of anything to praise this episode for.

4 comments:

Trey Pharr said...

It did feel like a lot of hasty plot patching.

Vicendum said...

"I can't think of anything to praise this episode for."

The visuals? I mean, I know Gotham is always pretty to look at, but I thought this episode went to another level.

Other than that, I agree- pretty bad episode.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree about the whole Jim and Scarecrow part of the episode, but I feel that you went a bit too hard on the Tabitha, Barbara and Selina part.

Barbara wants them in because she needs allies, and also she still cares about Tabitha. Speaking of Tabitha, she doesn't hate the Penguin. He's just competition. He blocks her way to the top, so she wants him gone. That's why she's ready to swallow her personal grudge towards Barbara and team up with her.
Lastly, she didn't cut off her hand because the whole thing was a test and Barbara passed it.

To me, their dealings were the best part of the episode.

Patryk said...

Characters coming back from the dead with only a "deal with it!!!11" explanation from the writers is enough to ruin any episode. It was Butch who was supposed to return as Solomon Grundy not Barbara...

The Batsuit is almost complete, I guess Bruce needs some fear toxin to become what he fears and that's where the storyline is heading.