Gotham Season 1 Ep 4 (TV Show Review)
After a slight introductory stumble, Gotham has really started to find its footing and has been developing into a show that I could really get to love and enjoy week after week. And much as the showrunners announced at first that the show was going to follow Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they tried to clean up Gotham City, the show has been developing instead into the rise of Oswald Cobblepot as a major villain and ganglord. But that doesn’t mean that the other characters are getting the short shrift, because the cast assembled for the show really is incredible, especially as of last week’s episode.
This week’s episode, “Arkham” finally gets around to dealing with one of Gotham’s most infamous landmarks, the Arkham Asylum. Since it is still very early days and the costumed freaks have yet to make an appearance, AA at this time is just a mental health treatment facility rather than a supervillain prison. Cobblepot’s earlier pronouncements to Gordon about a war coming to Gotham take root in this episode, which I would consider a big step-up for the series, with some great character development across the board and also the rising stakes by the end of the episode.
This week’s episode isn’t so much high on the procedural aspect as it is on the politics of the ongoing silent war between Dons Maroni and Falcone, who are fighting to take control of Gotham. And their first major chosen battleground is the Arkham District, one of the most neglected of Gotham’s many districts and also a place where the deceased Waynes had planned several projects to uplift the district and make it a progressive part of the city. The many aspects of the war between the two crime bosses are what this episode is all about and it is great to see Gordon caught up in a real web of deceptive politics on all sides, with Mayor Aubrey James also getting to feature heavily this week.
This week we got to see a lot more of the young Bruce Wayne than we have before, and his eventual development into Batman also seriously took root in this episode. Before, we’ve seen that he is someone driven to master his fears and his pain, to turn it outwards eventually. We’ve already seen him take some weapons training from Alfred, and also got to see the more philanthropic side of his character develop a couple episodes back, two things that are important for the future Batman and Bruce Wayne alike.
In this episode we got to see how he is trying to play detective and link the various murders of the City’s councilmen to the deaths of his parents, an event that still haunts his dreams. David Mazouz has been absolutely brilliant in the previous episodes and “Arkham” marked a major upswing in his character. Not a whole lot of “action” in his scenes, but they still pack a punch. And the thing is that his performances plays off so well with Ben McKenzie’s performance as Gordon, the only true honest in Gotham.
And speaking of Gordon, last week’s excellent cliffhanger involved Cobblepot making himself known to Gordon at the latter’s own place of residence, and all this after Gordon warned him to never come back to Gotham when he “killed” him in the series premiere. But Cobblepot has some great plans of his own, plans that involve taking a hand in the battle of control between the two Dons, and Robin Lord Taylor really thrives in the role as Cobblepot. Honestly, the show just wouldn’t be the same without him, and he serves to make a great foil for Gordon, often also doing the same kind of things that Gordon is doing from the outside, weakening the grip of the Dons on Gotham.
But more than any of that, one of the best moments in this week’s episode was Barbara Kean telling Gordon to come clean with her about the secrets that he has recently started keeping, such as Cobblepot’s death. In the previous episodes we’ve seen that Gordon’s fellow officer Renee Montoya has taken it upon herself to warn Barbara off him, and in this week’s episode we learn the truth of what that has all been about, especially their relationship together. It is great to see that the characters involved are so unbiased about the whole thing. Gordon’s reaction to Barbara telling him about her relationship with Renee wasn’t to chastise her for being in a relationship with another woman, but that she kept a secret about him. And that’s great since two women being in a relationship together really is no big deal and it is great to see the characters treat it as such.
And Barbara Kean, well, Erin Richards thrives in her scenes the same as Robin Lord Taylor. Honestly, I love this version of the future Barbara Gordon Sr., because she is someone who is both strong and determined, while also being compassionate and emotional at times, dealing with real problems in a “make-believe” world. Erin Richards is absolutely fantastic as Barbara Kean, and I would love to see more of her in the coming episodes.
Still, as I’ve said before, she isn’t the only major female character in the show. There’s also the series mainstay Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. We all know by now that Fish is chafing at the restrictions imposed upon her by Don Falcone and that she really wants to rise to the top herself. This week, we see how she plans to do it, which is her “Plan B”, as she remarks to Harvey. It is a great subplot in this episode since it also hints at the utter ruthlessness of the character while also moving the story forward of how she plans to take over from Falcone. Which is certainly not going to be pretty at all, not one bit, and that’s entirely fine with me.
By the end of the episode, we see some pretty crazy stuff involving various characters, and one of the great things is that the show continues to improve with each episode. It is beating pretty much all my expectations of it by this point, and this is very pleasing. I’d thought that the concept just couldn’t work, but the showrunners seem intent on proving me wrong, and that is a state of affairs that I really do not mind. More great comic book shows on television are a good thing, and that’s that.
There was no Selina Kyle this week, unfortunately, we haven’t gone back to Ivy Pepper, the future Poison Ivy, either, but we do get to see Edward Nygma again, and the character is quite delightful. But I would still like him to have some sort of a concrete path to follow on in the series, and I just can’t wait to see how Edward is turned to a life of crime from a life of forensics.
All said and done, this was a great episode, and I’m absolutely hooked on by now.
Posted on October 14, 2014, in Gotham, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged 2014 Fall Programming, Action, Alfred Pennyworth, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Aubrey James, Batman, Ben McKenzie, Bruce Wayne, Bruno Heller, Camren Bicondova, Carmine Falcone, Catwoman, Comics Tie-In, Cory Michael Smith, Crime, Crime Drama, Crispus Allen, Danny Cannon, David Mazouz, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Don Falcone, Don Maroni, Donal Logue, Edward Nygma, Erin Richards, Female Crimelords, Fish Mooney, Fox, Frank Whaley, Genre Television, Gotham, Gotham Season 1, Gotham Season 1 Episode 4, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Gordon, John Doman, Joker, Ken Woodruff, Lili Taylor, Noir, Oswald Cobblepot, Penguin, Renee Montoya, Richard Kind, Richard King, Riddler, Robin Lord Taylor, Sal Maroni, Salvatore Maroni, Sean Pertwee, Selina Kyle, Superheroes, Supervillains, TJ Scott, TV Show, TV Show Review, Victoria Cartagena, Warner Bros., Women in Comics, Women in SFF, Women in Television, Zabryna Guevara. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.