With the creation of Haven as a safe place for refugees, Gordon hopes to stop the gang fighting in Gotham. Meanwhile, Selina is determined to find Jeremiah and she convinces Bruce to help her. Then, Penguin goes to Haven to reclaim his staff.
Gotham is having a little schizophrenic period at the beginning of its fifth and final season. An excellent opening episode (reviewed here) was followed a somewhat disappointing follow up (reviewed here). But it’s not a consequence of bad writing.
The show is facing the problem of all shows in their final season: how do we balance the end against the episode order. Given that this is a shortened season it’s so far showing a struggle to find the right pace to keep the story afloat.
Despite the missteps in “Trespassers” this episode shows the trademark excellent storytelling of the series. Once again there are two storylines at play with Bruce and Selina forming half the episode and the misadventures of Gordon the other.
There’s so many highlights in this episode its difficult to know where to start. Early in the episode there’s a great callback to a Selina moment from the pilot. This time around we see her leap from a rooftop fully costumed up and ready for action.
Their hunt for Jeremiah takes them deep in to ‘the dark zone,’ an area of Gotham we’ve not seen in this new landscape. Once we get there fans of The Dark Knight Returns will find a lot to get excited about. We get to meet several members of the Mutants, the gang glimpsed in the seminal comic series are brought to life in perfect form. The dialogue is on point as well as their visors and other visual cues.
Also, after nearly five years of teasers we finally get to meet Gotham‘s version Harley Quinn. Ecco, last seen back in season 5, has gone full on Harley now. She has the outfit and the attitude to boot, just as I said I expected her to say “puddin'” of course she went ahead and said it.
She doesn’t quite have the Arleen Sorkin/Tara Strong accent. There’s enough individuality make this Gotham‘s Harley but it’s still a great interpretation of the character.
Still no Jeremiah though, he’s clearly being saved for next week… we all hope.
Part of me wanted to comment that Gordon is taking a backseat to Bruce a little so far this season. But actually if this season is the end of Bruce’s transformation in to Batman then perhaps it’s only right that he takes the lions share of the spotlight.
The story surrounding Gordon is much more cohesive this week. There’s a clearly defined, linear storyline which makes “Penguin, Our Hero” a much more palletable watch.
The writers are cleverly pairing up Gordon and Penguin at every opportunity. Ben McKenzie and Robin Lord Taylor work very well together and have excellent chemistry on screen. The series is at its very best when it capitalises on McKenzie, Taylor and Mazouz.
Barbara seems to also be much more in the fold this season. I’m wondering if perhaps she has been brought back in order to have a slip-up with Jim which will lead to the birth of Barbara when the series jumps forward in time for its final episode.
Finally, for the first time this season, the episode ends on an excellent cliffhanger. The explosion at Haven is just the kind of movie-level ending which this final season should be utilising every week.
“Penguin, Our Hero” is an excellent episode overall. It brings the series back in to familiar territory following a bat s**t crazy second episode. It has a much more straightforward narrative but one which is till rewarding to watch.
This is the Gotham I want to see for the majority of its final season.
In the next episode…
Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock and David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne. The series also stars Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.
The series airs on FOX Thursdays at 8/7c.