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Gotham: A Day In The Narrows

Selina robs some people. Tabs and Babs kill some people. Jim saves some people. Bruce gets drunk.

As Gotham goes this is a rather unremarkable episode. There's nothing to complain about and nothing much to praise either, if you discount some nice acting performances - but we're used to David dialing it home by now, aren't we? For some reason, though, I found a lot to say about it.

The main takeaway of the episode is Gotham attempting to crossdress Jim in shining armor, with Bullock acting the role of the jealous and resentful antagonist.

We are obviously meant to see this as Jim disowning his earlier ways, with Penguin calling him out for being a dirty cop and Jim even admitting to some of it during his conversation with the disguised Pyg in the ambulance. It's certainly good that Gotham addresses it, but how can we take his reformation seriously when he's literally and figuratively in bed with a mobster? Not that we see any of that in this episode - the synopsis talks of how "Sofia's relationships with Penguin and Gordon continue to evolve", but she and Jim don't share a single scene.

She does speak to Ozzie, though, employing some neat reverse psychology to make him blunder into a comically dimwitted mistake as he and Harvey ignore Jim's warnings and order their people right into a trap. Then, in a childish fit of rage he murders his own henchman to quell the disappointment of his own failure. Actually, this is one of the least palatable developments. Harvey Bullock's always been portrayed a man of questionable morals and Penguin's certainly a villain, but none of them have been shown as downright stupid, and that's how they come across in this episode.

The death count of Professor Pyg's little war on the cops is coming along nicely. At least a dozen of our boys in blue have been butchered, leading to the eternal question of how the GCPD has any employees left - with all of them corrupt and no apparent loyalty to their posts, why would any of them willingly stay in Gotham? No matter, since none but Jim seem able to accomplish anything save frightening old ladies. This, at least, is something the show's sold us on - Jim might be a moron and a hypocrite, but he's a good fighter.

In summary it seems this part of the episode - Jim meeting Pyg, getting into a fight with Harvey and Ozzie and saving his fellow officers - sets the wheels in motion to hand him the keys to the kingdom. Ozzie's hold on the police department is broken as the men on the floor tear up his licenses and celebrate Jim's success. Harvey's in a downward spiral, in case you couldn't tell from him popping pills and drinking whiskey on the job, and the only question is how far he'll fall.

At the start of the installment Jim's only too happy to pass judgment, which is pretty rich given all the times Harvey's had his back in tight spots mostly of Jim's own doing, and at the end he seems either unable or too embarrassed to reach out a helping hand. They could've had Jim show some sympathy. They didn't. Is this deliberate?

Could the show have Pyg kill Bullock? I've never exactly been enamored with him, but he's a fan favorite, his relationship with Jim is probably the only remotely healthy one that Gordon's ever had, and the outcry would be deafening.

The part dedicated to Tabs, Selina and Babs only serves to have them kiss and make nice and give Selina an excuse to update her wardrobe and look even more like Michelle Pfeiffer, as she tries and fails to pull a heist and has to be saved by her "older sisters." It's a predictable series of events, with Tabs playing the "mother instinct" card and Babs playing the "IDGAF" card yet helping out at the end anyway. I don't have much to say about this. All the involved people sell their scenes well, but narratively speaking Selina hasn't felt this one-dimensional since early season one, and the adult women remain paper thin - Sofia somehow seems more nuanced after a mere five episodes.

Finally we have Bruce, who's a total mess after killing Ra's. I have to commend the show for not acting like that's nothing. As usual this is the best-acted part of the episode - the only exceptions to this rule have been early season one before he was given anything to do, and late season three while he was brainwashed. First he meets a rather bland girl named Grace who perhaps vaguely looks like Talia Al Ghul. Then he meets Tommy Elliot.

Far from the little bully who got his face rearranged by young Master Wayne back in season one, Tommy's hilariously been recast with Gordon Winarick, a 6'1" fashion model who looks like a suitable boyfriend for Maggie Geha - but hey, at least the show's consistent with their recasts, adding a decade or more on each character! Now, keeping the original actor would've been a great way to maintain continuity and show the viewers how much Bruce has really grown over the years, but alas, this is season four Gotham, who never saw a storytelling opportunity it didn't want to waste.

Add an unlikable jerk as the sacrificial lamb for Bruce's mean streak and off they go for a night on the town, buying a whole club on a whim, partying, making out and wasting brain cells.

Age aside, at least Winarick seems a charming if limited actor perfectly cut for the young-mischievous-yet-likable-playboy role of Tommy Elliot. In contrast, Grace actually looks Bruce's age - don't worry, she isn't - but has no real charisma or personality. If she's to be a lasting presence, the show must fix that, but it should be noted that this is Samia Finnerty's first role on television, with the actress formerly most known as a punk-rock singer and front girl.

In order to address all speculations, is Grace actually Talia? Maybe, maybe not. Given Finnerty's Lebanese heritage and Gotham's care in finding an Arab actor for Ra's, the question is obvious.

Digging up Tommy again after three seasons means the show has plans for him, with a "devious plot" and confrontation probably waiting down the line. Would they throw both the future Hush and Ra's Al Ghul's daughter after Bruce at the same time? Gotham is certainly brave and crazy enough, but I don't know if it's a good idea. Also, Talia's supposed to be a fighter, and Grace looks no more physical than Silver, whereas Camren's a legit ninja and David's only looking stronger by the episode. Finally, any chemistry between Grace and Bruce right now is mostly sold by David - as an example, the "you'd have to be pretty bored" line is delivered perfectly.

Of course, none of this means Grace can't be Talia, and her not managing any sparks with Bruce down the line doesn't either. I used to have religious faith in Gotham's casting department, but that was before recent atrocities. I'll reserve my judgment waiting for events to unfold.

The show does a great job conveying Bruce's despair in all of these scenes; be it his attempts to control his rage against the world or to escape it. He's never looked as lost or as sad as he does on that dancefloor, in a stupor at the brink of unconsciousness. Yet his best scene is at the start where he snaps at Alfred. This is rather common fare but in the hands of Sean and David it's dynamite. He wants to confess about the murder - "I should feel bad... guilty... " - but Alfred interrupts him, presumably not wanting to hear - "You're just angry." If I'd wager a guess, Bruce wasn't to say he's just angry - he was to say that he felt good about it.

Gotham's made much noise over Gordon's "great darkness", to the point where it often feels comical. Yes, Jim's morally ambiguous and he's a murderer, but he's no devil, and I could never take it seriously. It's a fitting irony of this show that in a town filled with crooks, rapists, thieves, bribed cops and sadistic psychopaths, its most believable demon hides behind the face of a teenager.

iMDB: Gordon Winarick
Punk Rock Princess Samia Finnerty On Her LA & NY Inspo

1 comment:

  1. The Sirens story was clich├ęd and predictable, but I thought Bruce’s scenes were wonderful. We rarely saw Bruce getting a chance to be a child-it’s refreshing to see him act like a real teenager, relate with a few peers, and have some fun. Even if we assume he spent the next day throwing up.

    What happened with Oswald/Sofia and Jim/Pyg was fascinating. It highlighted how Jim and Oswald are so much more alike than Jim would ever admit-they’re both stubborn, and motivated by ego & power. If you want either of them to do something-just order them to do the opposite.

    Sofia manipulates Oswald into doing exactly what she wants-making a fool of himself in public, so he’ll realize what a good advisor Sofia is, and listen to her next time. She’s setting him up so he’ll do what she says in the future. She’s also doing exactly what she promised Jim- leveling the playing field between Oswald and Jim. Oswald’s embarrassed, while Jim gets to be a hero.

    Tonight’s million dollar question is: how did she know that Pyg’s lair was a set-up? Nobody else figured it out, and Jim only caught on when Pyg called him and spelled it out for him. Did she have inside information? The only place she could have gotten it is from Pyg. Are they working together, or is Pyg someone Sofia hired to help execute her master plan?

    Pyg managed to do something else that I assume fits Sofia’s agenda of getting close to both Oswald and Jim, while planning to stab both in the back: separating Jim from his best pal, Harvey. Harvey’s at the end of his rope, physically and mentally: he’s exhausted; he’s in pain, from the injury Pyg inflicted; he’s drinking, he’s not thinking clearly, and he screws up. Looks planned, doesn’t it?

    So, when the synopsis said that “Sofia’s relationships with Penguin and Gordon continue to evolve”, perhaps that really is what we were seeing. Maybe it is with Pyg’s help that she sets ‘em up, so she can knock ‘em down.


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