The Butler & Knives
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Gotham ends the first half of its now full season on a wobbly note, which in retrospect the entire series has been doing up until this point. There’s a lack of consistency, characterization, and transitions so whenever it feels like Gotham is on an upswing, it hacks at its own foot and falls off of the proverbial ladder. Likely by mistake, the show also reveals various story lines that are far superior to their central focus, as if Gotham is unintentionally making fun of itself. Lovecraft continues the vapid trend in the show of naming episodes after characters who are barely on screen. The title is in reference to Dick Lovecraft, the shady underground presence who is presumed to be one of the prime suspects in the murder of the Waynes. Unfortunately for Selina Kyle, having witnessed the murder and now being in protection doesn’t help her cause very much and she barely survives an assassination attempt on the onset. It’s assumed logically that Lovecraft was behind it and that provides the impetus for the episode’s hour. It’s a bombastic start, easily the best story given to Selina, and it makes Alfred a badass. I’ve noted before that Gotham needs to condense and it does so here, to largely positive results.
Thankfully the things that work are so downright entertaining in comparison to everything else, the eye rolls are a bit under control this week. Alfred, the MVP this week, earns his keep by far more than just killing one of the assassins that comes into Wayne Manor. The team-up by the writers of him and Bullock is downright one of the most solid things they’ve ever done, ironically proving how weak Bullock and Gordon have been together. There’s a seriousness elevated by a campy comedic timing that doesn’t feel extraneous or tacked on as comic relief on this show so often does. One of the largest reasons this works is because Alfred’s genuine emotional connection to Bruce is one of the few relationships this show has given any serious thought to. That connection gives a propulsive beat throughout the episode that works.
What doesn’t work is something that really ought to. At this point, the search for the killers of the Waynes is becoming more convoluted than the maze on the island of Crete in which the Minotaur devoured prisoners. It’s an interesting storyline and earlier this season the show had given some semblance of intelligent writing when it was proposed that Wayne Enterprises was somehow responsible for the murders of its own founders because they were becoming far too charitable and digging into its profits. I hope we can get more light shed on that sometime soon. Right now, we have plenty of players who could have committed the deed and more than one are intriguing characters in and of themselves (Cobblepot and Falcone come to mind). Yet there’s scant of exploration of how those players were connected to the Waynes. A whodunnit only works when everyone or nearly everyone has semblance of a reason to commit the murder(s) and those reasons largely differ. Surely everyone can’t have just thought of bumping off the Waynes because they were more philanthropic than Andrew Carnegie? That’s simply lazy writing (and no, that’s not an invitation to automatically go the romance route if we get any additional explanations at all). But what frustrates the most is this super mystery that’s being stretched out like a super elastic wad of bubble gum. As soon as Lovecraft was intriguingly being set up to reveal more secrets with his relationship, he gets bumped off by way of Gordon’s guns. It’s hard not to feel that excitement when Gordon arrives at Arkham, even though the realization that it’s an oddly hollow move on the part of the show to set something up for the future.
There are a plethora of problems for Gotham to solve as it goes forward. It needs to stop trying to be the Batman show and be its own property. No one watching this show expects Batman to show up considering that Bruce is a child. We want to know Gotham, its characters, and the grimy underworld that gives birth to the necessity of vigilante justice in the first place. So far, the show has delivered on some of those fronts and I hope that the creative team sits down during the brief hiatus and analyzes the strengths and weakness of the show. There’s no reason to believe that the show can’t pull itself together and stop being so utterly scattered. There have been plenty of moments where I’ve felt nothing for anyone in this show and have thought about abandoning the show altogether. Yet the embrace Alfred and Bruce share gives me some semblance of hope for its future. See you in January.
Written By: Rebecca Dameron
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth