Yet Another Cameo
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Two-parters on television are tricky, kind of like the recent fad of turning every final entry in a movie franchise into two films just because Harry Potter did it well. If the first half is a consistent element of build-up, then the second half has to espouse the ability to provide some solid payoff. The build-up becomes pointless otherwise. It would be like if The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 ended with Katniss deciding that she doesn’t want to fight Panem after all because, who really gives a ****? Gotham being itself isn’t capable of providing brilliant storytelling, fooling me with some flashes of brilliance while it tries to convince me otherwise. I’m not sure where the problem truly began with this show, where it decided to just flounder about instead of committing to a decent trajectory. FX forewent the traditional pilot process and went straight to a full season order. On a business level, I can see that making sense. Gotham City is a proven landmark and it can bring in the business. On a creative level, it might have been a mistake. The extremely flawed pilot was still bustling with promise and perhaps feedback then would have been able to solve the issues with the rest of the season. I truly want to write an amazing review of this show with a knockout episode, but if Gotham continues on this path of mediocrity, that day might never arrive.
Gotham is able to capture the weird, pulpy nature of some of the Batman mythos’ villains but the main problem lies with its inability to present a compelling story that matches it. By this point, nothing surprises you except for how consistently lackadaisical the show is about the narrative that it needs to create. Take the case of this week, for example. Dr. Crane is one of the most mysterious, shrouded figures in the entire Batman lore, but here is quizzically reduced to another little street villain. The set-up is so good that it becomes even more irritating when the execution is so heavily flawed. Dr. Crane, as one sees, has an undeniably creepy habit that would be right at place in the most demented episode of Hannibal. He enjoys creating injections from the adrenal glands of his victims in order to cover for the extreme human flaw of fear. It’s a twisted rational and in the hands of a good show, it could have been ripe not just for thrilling narrative execution but also for a fairly decent amount of allegory. Unfortunately the script shows almost none of the intelligence required to execute it well and instead just flounders about, basically repeating the same information we already know about everybody and trying to present it as nothing new. And now the first season is twenty-two episodes.
Suspense is a key element in basic storytelling that becomes even more vital in shows that tackle procedural elements. If you telegraph everything that is going to happen a kilometer away, you earnestly cannot expect the audience to have any attachment to the narrative whatsoever. It’s like showing the murderer in the cold shadows, hovering about creepily so hat is the first person the audience suspects. A semi-clever, quirky plot is executed and you’re thinking that yes, perhaps this entire endeavor can be saved if they pull a twist. But they don’t and it turns out that creepy guy in the corner was the killer all along. The whole “aha” moment never arrives, but Gotham tries to make the twists appear so, rendering the entire endeavor to be that much more ridiculous. Fish Mooney and Cobblepot, two of the show’s best creations, are treated with the same callousness as they consequentially meander about. Only Bruce gets a touching scene and it’s a wonder how the very team that created that beautiful little sequence created everything else around it (note: subtlety helped). Perhaps at some point there may be a realization of everything that is wrong with the vast majority of these characters’ trajectories. Maybe because the team had to expand the episode order, we might find sudden gems in the last six episodes. But I’m not holding my breath for it.
Title: The Scarecrow
Written By: Ken Woodruff
Directed By: Nick Copus
Image Courtesy: Movie Pilot