Gotham: Reunion

Bruce makes nice with Alfred, Jim makes nice with Bullock, Ozzie makes "nice" with Riddler and the supervillain that's supposed to be Ivy Pepper struts around threatening the lives of all in Gotham City.

Well, this is tons better. Will it be enough?

This feels like the final episode setting the board for what's to play out over the rest of the season. Except for Baby Batcat, all the old "power couples" are reunited, and those two are slated to get back together by the next episode. So, what the show promises us are Penguin and Riddler scenes, Bruce and Selina scenes, Jim and Harvey scenes, and Jerome. That's good. That's stuff that Gotham fans generally like.

Speaking of Jim and Harvey, this just might feature the best-acted Jim scene of the series. As you know I've been "mildly critical" of his performance in the past, but I've now managed to identify one emotion that Jim Gordon sells really well, and that's burning rage. That, and the contrition in front of Harvey, makes for powerful television.

About Ivy Pepper. Good for the show that it's managed to tie her back to her anger over losing her parents; that's about all the positive I have to say. Her motives for wanting to kill off all of Gotham - not in italics, but that could be taken as a metaphor - are flimsy in the extreme, and really don't go beyond "she's crazy." The character still doesn't sell any emotion beyond hate. At the same time she is very cartoonish, drawing on the environmentalist caricature from the comics, and that's something that makes her blend in with the general tone of the series, but all the good villains of Gotham have one thing in common - they're not just cartoonish.

Furthermore thinking of what makes this character so repetitive to me, I've come to realize just how many hypnotist or "mind-bender" villains we've had on Gotham. Dr. Marks in 'Spirit of the Goat'. Gerald Crane in 'Scarecrow'. The Scarecrow himself. Fish Mooney post-resurrection. The Mad Hatter. The Shaman. It's a really long list. It's an obvious power for a show like Gotham since hypnotizing people really isn't a superpower, and it's certainly not Ivy's fault, but if they wanted to have her character come across as fresh it might've been better not to overuse that trope so heavily.

Moving on to Lee and Sofia, Lee's presumably angry with Jim for boning her sister-in-law so she decides to try to tell on him to Sofia. I'll leave it to the audience to decide exactly how petty that is. Anyway, Sofia's just interested in making offers Lee can't accept and rejecting the ones she makes, which culminates in one of the most intensely uncomfortable gore scenes ever on Gotham with Sofia making steak tartare out of Lee's hand with a hammer. One of these days Gotham needs to tell me about their fascination with hands.

On one hand (no pun intended) Sofia's performance is amazingly menacing and the character really works well, but on the other she's coming across as insanely hotheaded and not all that clever, not only escalating the conflict with Jim but also turning both Lee and more importantly the Riddler against her. She really should know better.

Bruce's story is both Selina and Alfred telling him to fuck off, and him then making a public "I'm sorry" speech to Alfred and making amends with him in the closing parts of the installment. It's pretty standard fare but it's good to have the "real Bruce" back, the actors are selling it as well as ever and the Baby Batman scene with him killing the lights to attack Ivy's goons was really good.

The best acting and the best storyline of the evening, of course, is Riddler and Penguin. All those scenes - Eddie talking to himself, his haunted performance with Lee, attempting to kill himself then meeting with Ozzie at the end of the episode - are fantastic. At this point, Cory Michael Smith may be the most valuable actor on Gotham.

This is a rather fractured review, and as such it doesn't gel with the overall tone of the episode, which is well-acted, well-paced and pretty coherent. Most of the plotlines tie in with each other. There are some "wtf"-moments to the logic of events, but well, this is Gotham. We started with a terrible midseason pilot, but each consecutive episode has improved on the last one. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

2 comments:

Patryk said...

Maybe the writers of Gotham think that cutting off hands in each movie is what makes Star Wars so beloved by thousands. ;)

Diogo said...

"she's presumably angry with Jim for boning her stepsister so she decides to try to tell on him to Sofia." Lee is often a crappy character but I think in this case that is not exactly correct. She is indeed still pissed off at Jim, but if I remember correctly one of her lines indicates that the main thing on her mind when she offered to rat on Jim was protecting the narrows from Sofia's wrath, which is significantly more empathetic. Unfortunately Sofia's main priority was never about the narrows themselves but hurting Jim through Lee so she was always in a no scene situation, and boy, that hand smashing scene is probably the most disturbing one I've seen on Gotham. I mean we've seen hyperviolence before but the show's usually so cartoonish and over the top with it, and often it's against one-note characters that we have no attachment too. But that brutal scene played out in a lot more grounded way than what I'm used to in Gotham, and Morena's excellent acting just made it much worse.