Gotham Season 1 Eps 11-12 (TV Show Review)
Fox’s Gotham had a very interesting mid-season finale in that it ended with Gordon demoted from being a Detective on the GCPD to a watchman at the Arkham facility, which had recently been the metaphorical scene for a war of control between Don Falcone and Don Maroni. Other characters weren’t all that well-off either, and it seemed that the show was going to take a rather dark turn, more so than expected, and that with the whole status quo shake-up things would get really interesting in that nothing was certain and there was a lot of chaos going on in everyone’s life, which works for me on one level.
But it seems that the writers aren’t really committed to making the new status quo stick for too long. Because while the mid-season premiere two weeks back was fairly solid and promised a lot, the follow-up this week (with a weird break in between) didn’t work so well for me. And that kind of highlights the shortcomings of the show in that the writers often put forward some really great ideas, but they don’t go the distance with them, coming up short to take things in a yet another direction. And that kind of rankles as a fan, particularly when one half of the cast doesn’t even get any screen-time in these two episodes! Criminal, I tell you!
Note: Some spoilers from these two episodes are mentioned in the review.
Episodes 11 and 12 of the show are a two-part story, and it is pretty interesting to see the writers go down this route in the middle of the season. Where I was hoping that we’d get something that looked into the many different inmates of Arkham and see how his time there really shaped Gordon into the man he would eventually become, the reality really is quite different. Of the two, Episode 11 is undoubtedly the far better one. This is where we see Arkham inmates performing a Shakespeare play as part of their extracurriculars, where the Warden is such a tight-assed hard-case that he blames Gordon for everything that goes wrong at the facility.
Basically, Gordon’s demotion has him pretty dispirited, though he still tries to make the best of a really bad situation. Which is kind of fun to see.
And I really did like the episode. There’s so much fun stuff to look at and appreciate here. Sure, there are some big plot-holes in he episode and “meetings of convenience” between characters, but if you look past all of that, then you see that the episode holds up really well. The full range of weirdness of Arkham is present here and though none of these inmates and caretakers are who they will eventually become/replaced by, once the crazies start setting in, their interdependencies are still of note. And there’s a clear power structure here as well, which definitely livens things up.
The best thing about the episode though has to be that Morena Baccarin makes her first appearance as Dr. Leslie Thompkins. From the Batman lore developed over the decades, we know that Leslie was a moral mentor for Bruce Wayne/Batman and that she kept him honest and focused on helping people first and foremost. She is an important part of the character’s background and the show seems to do well by her in the 11th episode.
But it is in this week’s episode 12 where things start to go kind of downhill.
Following the escape of two inmates from the facility, Gordon is back at the GCPD, trying to get his job back and to put the escapees back behind bars. And it is here that the whole Gordon-Thompkins dynamic started to really skew off, not to mention that the whole deal with Jim and Barbara’s estranged relationship also hit some new lows and really put me off that aspect of the story.
I find that now Barbara has become a stand-in for whatever the hell the writers want to do because they have no direction for the character at all. She is completely clueless and aimless in life and she just betrays everyone around her again and again, not to mention that in episode 11 her girlfriend Renee Montoya breaks up with her in the worst way possible, further complicating Barbara’s already complicated character. And I’m getting seriously tired of this. The writers can’t just stick with a plot and carry it through to a proper execution. They are content to bungling things, moving either too fast in some cases or moving too slow.
There’s a scene between Barbara and her rich, haughty, nose-up parents in episode 12 that I think is one of the worst scenes of the entire series to date, partly because Barbara is all caught up in her self-pity and putting herself through a misery that she really shouldn’t because it makes absolutely zero sense for her to do it as she is.
Barbara is one of the most promising characters on the show, particularly given the fact that she has often been portrayed on the show as a bisexual and that opens up a lot of diversity for the show, but the writers really need to do all aspects of the character justice to make her really stand-out. Otherwise it just doesn’t work so well.
However, the other bits of episode 12 were pretty good and worked in a long-running plot thread, which I’m surprised was “completed” this early in the season, since I was thinking that it would all work out over a few more episodes yet. But at the same time, it is nice to see that the writers are willing to twist some viewer expectations around.
And the plot-thread that I’m referring to here is the one where Fish Mooney has been planning Carmine Falcone’s downfall since the first episode. She chafes under all the restrictions put on her and the rest of the family and she just doesn’t like how Falcone carries out the family’s business. And her weapon Lyza is perfectly primed now to do what she was meant to do since she was introduced some episodes back, betray Carmine Falcone.
The entire plot-thread was one big mass of betrayals and excitement and tense anticipation and some really emotional moments that were done the justice they deserved. With Fish finally making her play in this episode, we got to see some truly outstanding scenes, since it allowed a lot of other smaller subplots to achieve their targets, and I liked how the writers executed all of it. There’s a reason that Carmine Falcone has been at the top for as long as he has, and this episode makes that perfectly clear. You don’t mess with Carmine Falcone and come out on top yourself. Nuh uh.
Ultimately, while both episodes had some good and bad, I think that I’m not on the verge of cutting it out as yet. One, I really want to see more of the “kids” of the show, such as Bruce and Selina and Ivy. Two, because Sean Pertwee’s Alfred Pennyworth is utterly delightful. And three, because Gordon promises Bullock at the end of the twelfth episode that he is giving up on being careful (Bullock’s reaction is priceless).
I just hope that the writers really get their act together here.
Posted on January 20, 2015, in Gotham, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged 2014 Fall Programming, Action, Al Sapienza, Alfred Pennyworth, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Aubrey James, Barbara Kean, Batman, Ben Edlund, 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, David Zayas, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dick Lovecraft, Don Falcone, Don Maroni, Donal Logue, Eagle Egilsson, Edward Nygma, Erin Richards, Female Crimelords, Fish Mooney, Fox, Frank Whaley, Genre Television, Gotham, Gotham Mid-Season Finale, Gotham Mid-Season Premiere, Gotham Season 1, Gotham Season 1 Episode 10, Gotham Season 1 Episode 11, Gotham Season 1 Episode 12, Gotham Season 1 Mid-Season Finale, Gotham Season 1 Mid-Season Premiere, Harvey Bullock, Harvey Dent, Ivy Pepper, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Gordon, John Doman, Joker, Noir, Oswald Cobblepot, Oz Scott, Pamela Isley, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Richard Kind, Riddler, Robin Lord Taylor, Rogues' Gallery, Sal Maroni, Salvatore Maroni, Sean Pertwee, Selina Kyle, Sue Chung, Superheroes, Supernatural, Supervillains, TV Show, TV Show Review, Two Face, Venom, Victoria Cartagena, Warner Bros., What the Little Bird Told Him, Women in Comics, Women in SFF, Women in Television. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.