Gotham S01E13 ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’

David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth in 'Gotham'

Gotham S01E13 ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’

David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth in 'Gotham'
David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth in ‘Gotham’

It’s the return of Bruce and Alfred this week in ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ an episode that seeks to bring about a change in power in ‘Gotham’.

Another heavily serialised episode of the freshman show which picks up very quickly after the events of previous episode ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ (check out our thoughts on that episode here) with Fish Mooney being held captive by Don Falcone and Penguin riding high on his most recent successes.

Happiest of the bunch his Jim Gordon who has made a triumphant return to the GCPD after helping capture Jack Buchinsky.

The most recent episodes of ‘Gotham’ have stuck to the interwoven stories revolving around Fish, Falcone and Maroni and the consequences of their fight for power of the city. That still exists here but it’s shifting towards the fall of Fish for it’s next arc whilst Bruce and Alfred return to the periphery of the story.

Returning from Switzerland Bruce is instantly eager to get back in with Selina, his motivation in this episode is purely to get a message to her but when the two meet it’s hardly a follow-up to the kiss which ended their last scene together.

There’s no smooth road for Bruce and Selina as a pairing and as fun as it was to see them together in ‘Harvey Dent’ almost enjoying the company of the other it was never to last and we’re already seeing them come undone.

David Mazouz has some big shoes to fill following Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale and unforgettably the voice of Kevin Conroy. Yes okay we left out Adam West but nobody can follow him. Oh yes we forgot Clooney too… the less said the better. His approach to the character is not one of all out anger or that of an emotionally stunted teen. He sits somewhere between the two and at times it can be a little confusing but for a fourteen year-old appearing against some much bigger names he’s carving a niche for himself in the world of ‘Gotham’.

There’s a big story this week involving the character of Arnold Flass, played by Dash Mihok, who fans might remember as having appeared in ‘Batman Begins’ and in many of the comics stories over the years. He had a larger role in the ‘Batman: Year One’ comic series in which his feelings for Gordon are made abundantly clear soon after his arrival in Gotham. This episode doesn’t quite go to those lengths but it’s clear that Gordon and Flass are not going to be the best of friends any time soon.

‘Gotham’ has touched upon corruption within the GCPD force before but it’s starting to come in to focus more as the season is progressing. We already know the mayor is in the pocket of the mob and much of the city is also under control but we’re beginning to learn just how deeply these problems go.

There’s key moments for Nygma, Ivy and other supporting characters just to remind us that they’re still out there in the wider ‘Gotham’ world.

The writers are clearly beginning to mix things up for poor Fish, she spends much of the episode held captive but her most interesting scene comes right at the end of episode where a kiss shared with another major character though not unpredictable still serves its purpose in softening her character a little. Are the writers really going to make us feel sorry for such a character? I think they are and I think its going to work.

This episode does a have a little more of the case-of-the-week feel despite the fact it’s still involved with the overarching story so for those late to the part this could be your entry way to the ‘Gotham’ mythos.

4 stars

 

 

 

4 stars

Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney and Drew Powell as Butch Gilzean in 'Gotham'

Gotham S01E12 ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’

Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney and Drew Powell as Butch Gilzean in 'Gotham'
Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney and Drew Powell as Butch Gilzean in ‘Gotham’

‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ continues a run of strong episodes for Fox’s ‘Gotham’ pushing the serialised elements of the show further to the forefront.

I remain a little baffled that ‘Gotham’ is allowed to proceed with such a heavily serialised storyline when ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is continually criticised by Fox execs and so publicly being pushed in the other direction.

Picking up where ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ (reviewed here) left off Jack Gruber and Aaron Danzing are rampaging through the city after escaping the confines of Arkham and with the help of Edward Nygma; Bullock and Gordon quickly work out that Don Maroni is their target.

After his short tenure of one episode at Arkham Gordon is given a 24hr reprieve and re-instated as Detective in order to find the escapees. It’s not necessarily a smart move on the part of the writers to manoeuvre Gordon back in to the GCPD so quickly but given the late order to extend the series to a full 22-episodes perhaps a change was required in order to lengthen the arc of the season.

In the absence of Barbara there’s a burgeoning relationship between Gordon and Dr Thompkins which makes an interesting change to the show. Both Ben McKenzie and Erin Richards haven’t been given a huge amount of screen time together in order to make their relationship believable and yet we’re to understand they have years of pre-series history. In stark contrast in the last two episodes we’ve seen every interaction between Gordon and Thompkins and there’s a much more tangible connection between them. Perhaps this is a case of Thompkins being the woman he needs and not the woman he deserves… quick TDK quote for you there.

‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ has a huge amount of exposition for the mob storylines. We already know that Penguin is aware of Liza’s true allegiances but sadly Fish is unaware. She makes a move on Falcone by kidnapping Liza to safety and offering a ransom. Meanwhile the titular Little Bird steps in to inform Falcone of the betrayal and a coup takes place.

By the climax of the episode Liza is dead; Fish and Gilzean are held prisoner and Penguin finds himself in charge of the club and leading the remaining Mooney gang.

Testament to the strength of the writing and the characterisation in ‘Gotham’ is the fact that Jim Gordon can take a back seat and the show without the quality being affected. Each week since ‘Harvey Dent’ the show has been on the up consistently better itself in its complexity and its writing. In the beginning this felt like a show I SHOULD watch but wouldn’t rush to watch but now it’s cemented as a show I HAVE to watch at the earliest possible moment.

There’s no sign of the serialised nature of the showing coming to an end any time soon and I’m happy with that. I’ve said previously that I don’t know where this show is going in terms of a season ending arc and I’m still very comfortable with that. Where comic book properties can often come unravelled is in the adaptation of story arcs from the comics which means any familiar fans are already aware of all the major story beats and the eventual outcome.

With ‘Gotham’ the ultimate end-game is still clearly Batman but the journey to get him to is entirely unknown and that makes the show extremely exciting.

4 stars

 

 

 

4 stars

Ben McKenzie & Donal Logue in 'Gotham'

Gotham S01E11 ‘Rogues’ Gallery’

Ben McKenzie & Donal Logue in 'Gotham'
Ben McKenzie & Donal Logue in ‘Gotham’

This week our new favourite show ‘Gotham’ returned to screens in the US with it’s first new episode since November ‘Rogues’ Gallery’.

When last we left our hero James Gordon he had been dismissed from the GCPD after the death of Dick Lovecraft – see our review of ‘Harvey Dent‘ & ‘Love Craft‘ for more – and shipped off to the newly opened Arkham Asylum to live out his days on guard duty.

Picking up after the break we find Gordon watching the inmates of Arkham putting on a show which unsurprisingly ends in attempted murder. During this sequence we get a quick nod to other characters in the franchise who are struggling with this new status quo:

  • Selina is back on the streets, left out in the rain
  • Bullock is alone and drinking
  • Barbara is still with Montoya and heavily medicated

These are not happy times in ‘Gotham’ but when are they? We meet Arkham warden Dr Lang – what no Quincy Sharp? – and are then quickly introduced to Dr Leslie (Lee) Thompkins who is working at the asylum in the capacity of a medical doctor. Thompkins and Gordon work together to solve the mystery of multiple assaults taking place within the asylum, along with a little help from Bullock.

Outside the asylum things are not working out for Barbara and Renee. It’s quite hard to tell where these two are geographically as Montoya seems separated from the action with the mob and Barbara is not around to interact with Jim but the two still pop up sporadically. Barbara has already seen her relationship with Jim crumble and now her relationship with Renee is ending too.

‘Gotham’ needs to explore more of the history between these two. We understand their background together was unstable and clearly included drug use and that almost relapse is what causes Renee to end things in this episode but it still feels like the writers have used this as a way to shoehorn in the sexuality of the Montoya character from the comics whilst also finding something for Barbara to do.

The character of Barbara has to exist because she’s the mother of Batgirl. She can’t just be written out of the franchise but comics fans will know she has never been a major character and really only enters and exists the comic storylines as required. That works fine in the medium of comics but for TV she needs a purpose and currently she is sadly lacking that.

After the excitement of the mid-season finale both Bruce and Alfred are missing in action for ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ but there’s still room for a little Selina Kyle along with her new partner in crime Ivy Pepper. The writers promised an injection of more Ivy for this second part of the season and with the two of them moving in to the vacant Gordon apartment this seems to be laying the ground work for the two to have more screen time in future episodes.

Of all the changes to characters from the comics I’m most concerned about Ivy. She’s just a little bit too weird, which in the context of ‘Gotham’ is a little scary. Nygma is weird. Oswald is pretty odd. Ivy is just too off the wall. She doesn’t portray herself as being able to become an accomplished botanist in her future but we’ll see how she develops over time.

Bullock is a little lost without Gordon which is a shame because his character has always been one of the strongest on the show. The writers do a good job of placing him in the action but clearly Gordon’s tenure at Arkham will not be long lasting. Bullock and Gordon will soon find themselves back together at the GCPD.

There’s a lot going on with the various mob factions and I love it. It’s reminiscent of stories from the comics like ‘Long Halloween’ where the so-called super villains mix in very well with the mob aspects of the show. Bruno Heller and his team have done a great job of bringing a realism to ‘Gotham’ whilst allowing the more fantastical elements to bubble away in the background.

Penguin lands himself in hot water this week when he’s arrested for trying to extort already extorted dock workers. It’s a life lesson at the hands of Maroni that is typical of this version of the character. There’s a cockiness to Penguin right now because he feels untouchable. His character yo-yos between exuberance and anxious and for the past few episodes with his star on the rise he needed to be brought back down to Earth and that happens here perfectly. Maroni does need to learn you shouldn’t annoy the Penguin however.

As expected the asylum setting allows for some great imagery. This episode features a brilliant prison break with crowds of crazies on the run. Its perfect comic book fare and I’d like to see more of it in the future.

‘Rogues’ Gallery’ is easily one of the best episodes of ‘Gotham’ so far.

4 stars

 

 

 

4 stars