Gotham: Stop Hitting Yourself

For the first time in God knows how long, it's actually Jim's storyline that's the best written.

If we disregard the "central storyline" of the episode, almost everything in 'Stop Hitting Yourself' is a cartoonish pastiche done in the flamboyant manner that's become part of Gotham's trademark - seriously, take a second to click that picture on the right and notice just how stunning it is! Precious little makes any sense at all with allegiances literally shifting by the minute, but at least it's all quite well-acted and entertaining.

The central plot is Jim Gordon's ascendance to the captaincy of the GCPD, and for fans of Jim and Harvey's friendship it's a world of hurt, with Harvey too much of a coward to own up to his mistakes and look the men and women he got maimed in the line of duty in the eye, leaving it to Jim to fill his shoes at the "Bullethole Club" ceremony. It's a beautifully shot sentimental scene, and in fact the whole gimmick - handing over the bullets to the cops shot with them - is a pretty clever one.

We play all the expected angles here - the mayor offering Jim the post, Jim's reluctance to "stab Harvey in the back", Sofia's possible involvement, Ozzie going mental about the news (to be fair, he's going mental about a lot of stuff in this episode,) and Harvey leaving the station in a furor at the end - but all things said it's a pretty solid and consistent story, and Jim and Harvey's interactions are the true highlight of the episode from an acting perspective.

I do not feel people have much ground to stand on when criticizing Jim simply for accepting the post. From what we see in this episode, Jim's already "acting captain" of sorts and Harvey's a total mess, perpetually drunk and seemingly incapable of performing his duty. Getting in bed with Sofia to get things done, well, that's another story. As usual when it comes to Jim, after he's got what he wants he tells his co-conspirator to beat it without even entertaining the thought of paying her back. No matter the moral standing of his allies, this isn't an endearing character trait. Not that Sofia is going anywhere, thankfully - she's actually proven a strong character and a real success for the show.

The only real question mark I have about these developments is exactly why Harvey's fallen so hard and so far. I get why they felt they had to make it happen, but nothing that Harvey has done over recent episodes has been that out-of-the-ordinary for him - cutting deals with the mob has been the way of life for the Gotham police for ages, and it never seemed to get to him in the past. Certainly, after the epic failure of the attack at the courthouse he's shaken, but this has been going on far longer than that.


If we move over to the B-plot it's a total mess, with Eddie acting the showman mocking the Penguin in "a crude commedia dell'arte" revolving around Grundy maiming and killing people in the ring. There are so many plot twists to this story that going over them all would make this review as confused as the episode itself. Suffice to say it serves as the backdrop for Tabitha's one-second reunion with Butch, Barbara killing Cherry, Lee shooting Firefly and taking over the club, all the girls generally and predictably "being bad-ass" and Lee and Ed somehow striking up what seems the most unlikely friendship ever in Gotham, though I guess the jury's still out on that.


The main positive takeaway is how absolutely spectacular Eddie looks as the conférencier of the night's events, and how it seems like he's now galvanized the Narrows under Lee's rule - as Ozzie states in the single-best line of the episode, "leave it to Ed Nygma to find a way to turn his own idiocy into a tool for revenge," though it's unclear what's so "idiotic" about Eddie's actions in this episode. Effectively this hands them both a platform and probably spells even more trouble for Penguin.

Also, Ed and Lee's interactions are really well done, and Lee is far less grating than she used to be. It's a strangely rootable friendship and they work great with each other. Eddie's on a clear character arc here, but it's hard to know exactly where it's going. I'd guess it's all to do with him finally realizing he is in fact more than just his "wits", and the way he's been damaged actually, somehow, makes the character a bit more likable on a personal level, which may explain Lee going soft on him - it's only fun to kick a man while he's down for so long.

Regardless, the way Ozzie stubbornly continues to deny Ed the respect of calling him by his proper name all but guarantees he'll eat those words. This is just a temporary setback.


The main negative is how, well, yeah, little of it makes sense. Firefly being cool with murdering Selina makes no sense. Lee being cool with Eddie, aforementioned reasons notwithstanding, still makes no sense. Lee going "Jim who?" makes no sense, though thank you, Gotham, for delivering us from that trainwreck. And that's just a few of the tidbits.

Oh, and Eddie actually names Tabby "Tigress". That's the very first time we've heard that monicker on-screen, so I guess it's official.

This episode set out to do three things - promoting Jim to Captain, promoting Ed and Lee to the de facto leaders of the Narrows and cluing Ozzie in to the fact he was being played by Sofia. It did all three things and did them well, so I'll forgive a lot of wackiness, but please... a little more nuance next time, Gotham?


Also, apparently Ozzie adopts a child. "Emperor Penguin"?

3 comments:

Diogo said...

I really like Penguin's new sidekick! It doesn't look like he's from the comics, but he's exactly the sort of creepy yet oddly endearing entertaining character you expect to pop out of Gotham's odd little world.

Anonymous said...

What exactly did you dislike so much about Sirens being badass? Their screen time was full of fast action and fun humor, what's not to like here?

I loved that Selina was the one to nab Eddie and try to get the job done after Babs and Tabs went off to chat with some old acquaintances. The Tabs vs Grundy fun had a nice stakes of "will he remember or not".
Lee stopping the Firefly and Barbara shooting Cherry were both good twists. What do you dislike about any of it?

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

I think I pointed out what I disliked in a little detail above, but I could elaborate. It's not so much that I "dislike the girls being badass" as that I dislike how their storytelling is either predictable or completely nonsensical, as well as how the arc is turning Selina into a two-bit villain. "- Selina, what are you doing with these two? - Looking for trouble." She's reduced to soundbits. This has been the case for them all season.

* Oswald forgiving Tabitha for killing his mother at the start of the season made no sense.

* Tabitha agreeing to work with Barbara after she'd murdered Butch made no sense.

* Penguin sending three people he doesn't trust as far as he can throw them to exact revenge in an important personal matter makes no sense.

* Actually Babs, Tabs and Selina accepting the assignment instead of simply killing the limp little guy outright as he threatens to feed them their own eyes makes no sense, but I guess we're assumed to think he's surrounded by a literal army at all times, though we never see it.

* Cherry informing on Eddie and Grundy to the Penguin and risking losing her main attraction makes no sense.

* Firefly, who the show has built up to some kind of supervillain, being defeated by a single shot in the back from an ordinary woman with zero combat training makes no dramatic sense.

All the dialog is all snark and banter and no content. What, if anything, was Lee's talk with Barbara about? Morena and Cory somehow manages to inject emotion into their scenes, but what was their talk at the beginning about?

I don't think these are good twists, I think they are false. The only personal motivation that rings true in this whole plot is Tabitha wanting to reconnect with Butch, and the only endearing aspect of it this whole season is Selina wanting a family.