This weekend, I was binge-watching a great superhero noir series set in a corrupt city where the only justice to be had was by skirting the edges of the law. The show also featured a magnetic, compelling villain with a plan for full control.
But enough about Daredevil.
In fairness to Gotham, part of the reason Daredevil is so much better is that it’s only 13 episodes, creating a tight focus, doesn’t have network restrictions on subject matter, and doesn’t have the network interference which might be part of Gotham’s largest flaw: the lack of focus.
Gotham is so diffuse that none of its stories end up being compelling, especially when the characters stumble into things rather than being proactive. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Fish’s escape from DollMaker Island most this week: Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) not only has a goal, to escape, but a smart plan to accomplish it. Bonus: she even rescues the people she said she would rescue, while making sure she leaves dead enemies behind. Not to mention being able to play the Dollmaker for a fool and fly a helicopter after taking a bullet.
Who else showed competence this week? Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova), the mini-dynamic duo. When Alfred (Sean Pertwee) is obviously still too injured to look for Reggie (David O'Hara), his old mate who stabbed him, Bruce takes it on himself. (Aside: what doctor lets a man with a still open wound out of the hospital?) Bruce stumbles around looking for shooting ranges until he wanders across Selina, who clues him into the fact that “shooting gallery” means something far different than target practice.
Bruce and Selina find their quarry, high and seemingly helpless. They threaten to take away his drugs, an effective interrogation technique that results in receiving the name of his bosses, who are part of Wayne Enterprises. But then Reggie threatens the “silly little children” with exposure or worse. Bad move because Selina, who has a highly developed sense of self-preservation, pushes him out the window. No more Reggie. Bruce looks horrified but it’s unclear whether it’s because Selina killed someone (he has to be dead, taking a header like that) or because Bruce was about to do the same thing himself.
This is easily the best scene of the episode and one of the best so far in the show. Yet I can’t help wondering how it would’ve played out if Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) had been the detectives investigating Reggie. It would have given them a crime to investigate that’s more central to the focus of the overall story and would have raised questions about Bullock and Gordon’s partnership if Gordon covers up Bullock pushing someone out a window. As it is, it looks like young Bruce and Selina are better detectives than Gordon and Bullock.
I wish the show would decide if it’s about Gordon carving out some semblance of justice in Gotham or about Bruce stumbling around as a pre-teen Batman, or about Oswald’s rise to power. Pick one.
Where’s Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) this episode? He gets to torture someone this episode but it’s a dull sequence about him buying a dive bar. Why does he need it? He needs a place to kill Sal Maroni (David Zayas). Basically, the mob plot spun its wheels tonight.
And Gordon and Bullock? Gordon is the new head of the police union, but it’s unclear what that means, even to him. When Bruce asks Gordon what the President of the Police Union does, Gordon evades the question. However, Gordon can’t resist flattery, so when a uniform gives a song and dance about needing help on a murder case and how so many officers are pulling for him to make the department better, Gordon swallows the lure with one big gulp, though it’s obviously a setup by Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari).
Bullock gets dragged into it anyway, despite his objections. This murder turns out to be our case of the week, revealing a serial killed called the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia) who comes across as a thinly veiled Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey, though there are shades of Terry O’Quinn’s Jerry Blake from the original Stepfather movie too. You must be perfect and if you’re not, you die. Only this time, in the BDSM room. I hated this storyline, as it struck me as the worst kind of torture porn, especially with the flashbacks. But I need to get used to this as it’s a two-part storyline. However, I did love the hidden speakeasy. Those are actually a thing: I’ve been to one in San Francisco.
Other items of interest:
There is an Ogre in the comics, but he’s only tangentially related, as that Ogre was the result of a genetic experiment to create the perfect human. That opens up a chance to connect the TV Ogre to the Dollmaker, as his most perfect creation but, while that would be cool, I don’t expect the plotline to be that clever.
Once again, Eddie Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) proves the most capable person at police work, as he not only comes up with a list of bars that the original investigators missed when first looking into the murder, but also finds a piece of evidence that was “misplaced” by the original investigators.
The victim of the serial killer in this episode is named Ginger Fairchild. In the comics, Vesper Fairchild is the host of a nighttime Gotham radio show and Bruce’s girlfriend for a time. Same family, perhaps? Vesper’s story ends badly, too, as she’s murdered by an assassin.
Christian Grey gets away with killing over a dozen women supposedly because he kills the family of any cop who investigates him. So they don’t investigate. Hello! Cops, even corrupt ones, are usually vicious in those who attack their own. Gotham cops have no scruples, so why didn’t they band together and just go after him? This reasoning makes no sense. Unless they know Eddie is the only one who can do real police work, so they know they could never find him.
However, this whole plot does apparently put Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) in Christian Grey’s sights, probably because she hasn’t played damsel in distress for a long while now. I picture a lot of terrified looks from Kean next week.
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.