Gotham Review – All Happy Families Are Alike
Well, so was that a race to the finish line or what? First off, Fish is dead! Finally. I mean, interesting character when introduced and definitely played for all she was worth by Jada Pinkett-Smith, but the time has long since come for her to shuffle off. She served her purpose, even though they killed off Maroni as well just for good measure. I must say, the direction that Gotham is taking with its villains is even more different from the comics than I suspected. Normally, Gotham is overrun by organised crime headed by several mob bosses of varying fame: Roman Sionis, Luigi Maroni, Rupert Thorne, and Carmine Falcone being the usual suspects. Then Batman comes along, smashes their operations and influence to smithereens, and the Dark Knight’s colourfully costumed rogues gallery steps in to fill the vacuum. Not so with Gotham. This time the mob bosses are being done away with prematurely and the rogues are stepping up to the plate before the Caped Crusader makes his début.
Selina embraces her darker half, Edward slides into his proto-Riddler persona, and Penguin seizes control of Gotham’s criminal element. We’re also apparently getting Clayface and Mad Hatter next season presuming Gotham is indeed renewed. This way, Bruce will already have a gallery full of crazy to take on when the Bat takes to the streets. Interesting, if dangerous. After all, these villains in the comics are hardboiled psychopaths that drop bodies left, right, and centre in order to fulfil their individual manias, meaning that Gotham could very well end up looking less like a bleak urban hive of crime and more of a circus sideshow with half its citizens driven mad by all the inmates running the asylum. Think about it, Gotham doesn’t fair very well with Batman around to keep the rogues in check, so if they start materialising before that, well, there may not be much of a Gotham left to save. Anyway, the mob war ends with Maroni shot dead (saw that coming from the first “babe” out of his mouth), Fish dead (saw that coming, period), Falcone retired (acceptable twist), and Penguin as king of the mountain (inevitable, though sooner than expected).
I was enjoying it all as well right up until that last fight scene between the Penguin and the Fish (wondering if the names are a coincidence at this point as well). Simply put, the whole thing was so wildly over the top and full of narm that it just became impossible to take seriously anymore. I mean, come on, Fish has fought tooth and nail with Somalian pirates and here’s this cripple that she had the jump on with an iron pipe and still lost. I’d maybe understand if her bullet wound from before was a factor, minus the pipe ambush, but it’s never once brought up. She got shot, she survived, the end. Minor detail I suppose. Then Penguin himself is shot and he still manages to charge her over the edge of the building. With a limp, a bullet wound, and an iron beating. No. Just . . . no. Then manages to clamber onto the balustrade and scream hoarsely about how he’s the king. Right, because that’s not melodramatic. Even if Fish had just ripped the stitches (that I’m assuming she has) on her first gunshot wound after the first pipe swing, that would’ve de-narmed it some.
Regardless, Butch’s internal struggle was very well done, that was the one saving grace of the last scene. I’ve always liked Butch. Meanwhile, moving along, we have the climatic therapy sessions between Leslie and Barbara, who seems to have slipped off the deep end entirely. And here we thought the big climax was going to be Barbara finding out that Leslie and Gordon are dating. But nope, not even a blip on the radar, with the big reveal being that Barbara killed her parents and not the Ogre after all. Jason having merely unleashed her inner serial killer. Kooky. I’m not exactly sure though how little Babs junior is supposed to be born now. I mean, a reunion between Barbara and Gordon seems unlikely at this juncture, and if Leslie is supposed take to her place, I have serious doubts about her letting Jim name their daughter after his psycho ex-fiancé. So unless Barbara is already pregnant from her and Jim’s time together (not much more likely but possible), it’s a bit of a sticking point.
Also, we can’t go without mentioning Eddie’s glorious descent into full blown psychosis. So Miss Kringle spots the hidden anagram in ‘Tom’s’ letter and confronts Edward about it, which he denies (wisely) as a coincidence, before, after her unconvinced departure, having a mental break worthy of a future Arkham patient. I especially liked the bit where one part of his fracturing psyche reprimands him for leaving a clue to his crime despite the risk, something the comics Riddler is well known for doing. Excellent. Finally, we have Bruce’s discovery of the Batcave, and in my humble opinion, too soon. What is the point of introducing the Cave this early? It can’t get used for anything significant until well in the future, unless they’re planning to bring in that old Silver Age story of Thomas Wayne being ‘the First Batman’ (hope not), so why the insertion? Otherwise it’s just a deep underground natural formation caused by water table erosion. With bats. Probably. Side note: the Dance of the Knights overture from the 1935 Romeo and Juliet ballet was a nice touch. I approve.
Anywho, still a decent season finale and an acceptable first season, if a little rocky from time to time.
Review by Joshua Jennings