Gotham: I Am Bane

Eduardo: "Eduardo is dead, Jim. There is only Bane!"

How fitting that the title of this week's episode is 'I Am Bane' – because this episode also turned out to be the bane of my week.

To understand where I'm coming from, I need to preface this review briefly with my take on the character itself of Bane. First introduced into DC Comics in 1993, Bane's origin is wonderfully rich and distinguished as elaborated upon in Batman: Knightfall. Fans of Batman that aren't immensely familiar with the comics who dismiss Bane as a one-note villain whose only defining trait is his super-strength can be forgiven, because every live-action adaptation of this character simply fails to live up to the layered, dark-parallel of Batman that's featured in the comics. And a big reason for this is due to the major retoolings of Bane's origin with each adaptation. To put in other words, I don't mind that Gotham wants to shake up Bane's uprising, I just mind very much so that he's actually really boring by the end of it all. He doesn't feel much like somebody who is nuanced or unique when compared to other gunslinger characters, and at the end of the day, all Gotham has given us is a brooding hulk with a stick-up-his-rear who's put briefly at the mercy of Hollywood Healing to get his powers.

Not-Amanda-Waller (Jaime Murray) squirrels Eduardo away and has Hugo Strange, who's essentially Gotham's walking deus ex machina now when it comes to surgeries and resurrections, grant Eduardo his signature super-strength. Eduardo goes on to lead an arsenal of goons to interrupt a gathering between Gordon and the U.S. military, quite easily wiping the floor with trained policemen and soldiers all just to get to Gordon and Bruce. As far as suspensions of disbelief go, Gotham's finally gotten me to draw a doggone line in the sand and say "You know Gotham, I like spending time with you and all, but you really didn't think you could just show essentially Bob Parr in a Cruella de Vil coat tossing a few gas canisters, and effectively subduing at least a dozen serviceman who possess firearms and the training to respond rapidly to calamities like this, and not think I wouldn't raise questions?"

Yes, as it turns out, Eduardo is but another cog in the grand scheme of Not-Amanda-Waller's plot to plunge Gotham City into absolute destruction and ruin, relying on the aid of her mysterious organization that supposedly has eyes and ears everywhere, and...oh for goodness' sake Gotham, I get that you so badly want to be The Dark Knight Rises, but couldn't you at least be a little bit more subtle about it? I've seen disguises sported by Count Olaf that were more low-key than this episode's allusions.


Not-Amanda-Waller reveals herself here as Nyssa Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul. From there on, any remaining trace of threat Nyssa exuded was eradicated. To begin with, I don't really care how much Nyssa wants to babble about how the League of Assassins or Shadows (or whatever they're calling themselves in Gotham) is on a mission to actually protect the world by destroying Gotham City, because once she reveals that she has a vendetta against Bruce and Barbara, this is all her entire undertaking ever seems to feel about: she hates Bruce and Barbara because they are directly responsible for the death of her father. Which only compounds my issues with this episode even further; wasn't it explicitly stated over and over in Season 4 that Ra's wanted to die? It was the whole reason he needed that unique dagger Barbara and Bruce were competing to obtain, wasn't it? Secondly, if I'm expected to at least get a sense of understanding for Nyssa's motives and anger, I don't, simply because Gotham never took the time to ever explore what kind of dynamic Nyssa had with her father; what kind of relationship did they hold, did she idolize her father, was Ra's training both Nyssa and Barbara to become possible heirs to the League which has led Nyssa to resent Barbara? Who knows? Thirdly, how does Nyssa even know it's Bruce and Barbara specifically that killed Ra's? Last I checked, Ra's death in Season 4's finale was only witnessed by Bruce, Barbara, Jeremiah, Tabitha, and Oswald.

What's even more amusing is that before Nyssa even identifies herself, she has Eduardo torture Gordon just as a way to get Bruce to try and figure out for himself who she might be. And as heart-wrenching as David Mazouz's performance is, it's too easy for the audience to side with Bruce as well, and wonder aloud in bewilderment at our television set over who this woman is, when we haven't had any buildup or hints whatsoever to her identity. Of course Bruce can't figure out who you are sweetie, your dad never even mentioned you to him!

While all of this is unraveling, a very twisted rendition of Gilligan's Island – consisting of Oswald, Ed and Barbara – is about to set sail aboard their newly-configured submarine, but the excursion is cut short when Barbara goes into labor. This is where I was kind of hoping Gotham would give us an indication of where we are in the timeline because wasn't it only four episodes ago that Barbara even dropped the bombshell that she was with child? I admit I've also never been present around what an actual childbirth is like, but Erin Richards absolutely is convincing enough, to the point that I'd even say she had the best performance of the entire episode. Once Nyssa sends Eduardo to kill Barbara, the dynamic duo of Ozzie and Ed cobbles together a few traps to buy Barbara enough time to escape, complete with endearing screaming fits from Ozzie, and Ed's pettiness needing to get the last word in to Lee ("For the record, you stabbed me first!")!


This fustercluck of an episode ends with Barbara successfully giving birth to her and Gordon's daughter, a genuinely touching moment, while Eduardo, just to further remind the audience that he is indeed Bane, breaks Alfred's back. Once again, all of my sympathies just go out to poor Alfred, for so many of the horrific injuries and torment that Bruce had to go through in the comics just seem to get shifted on to Alfred in Gotham. Apart from Erin Richards' performance and Ozzie and Ed always being a ton of fun together, there's not much else in this episode that gets me eager to see this merit-less conflict's resolution, in four weeks no less. I used to always remind myself during prior seasons that things may have to get worse before they get better, but with Gotham nearing the final curtain call, perhaps this episode's final scene of Gotham City being air-bombed is appropriate symbolism for the end – perhaps things only get worse.

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

2 comments:

Diogo said...

Wow they took one of The Dark Knight Saga's weakest plot developments and somehow they made it even weaker (at least Miranda Tate/Talia had some build up, foreshadowing and we get to see glimpses of her relationship with her father, as well as her connection to Bane). This show is stuck with making bad choices till the very end.

Anonymous said...

Ed and Ozzie are gold. Babs giving birth was awesome. The rest was boring. I wish Nyssa had been around before so it didn't come out of the blue. Arrowverse's Nyssa was better, sorry Jaime Murray.
mazephoenix