A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Gotham is back at last, but it appears as of now that the last two episodes were a rare bright light (they were still flashing a bit, but progress seemed to be on the horizon). The horizon is still a bit farther away than expected. The last two episodes had a thematic unity that resonated across multiple storylines, a cohesiveness that the show was actively missing. That cohesiveness was as fleeting as a human being on the streets of Manhattan. You barely notice it before it’s disappeared into the sea of other strangers. I’m honestly tired of how loosely constructed this show is. At a certain point one has to simply stop expecting any semblance of expectations at all when there is nothing but constant disappointment for the majority of a show’s run. Nineteen episodes so far, and I’ve had an enthusiastic response for maybe three, or four? If the final three episodes are in that vain, I’ll give the opening of season two a shot. Otherwise, with the season one finale, Gotham is going under my “TV Ended” file.
Beasts of Prey attempts to touch on a plethora of players in the narrative, but does so largely in the choppiest of manners. There’s one story thread that works and one that works for the most part, but their impact is diluted by clocking in on everything else. If Cobblepot isn’t necessary for the sake of an episode, then leave him out. Focusing on him for two minutes not only breaks the narrative stride with the other story arcs, it adds absolutely nothing thematically to the rest of the hour. Those two minutes could have been spent better trying to flesh out the story with Bruce and Selina, which deserved an episode of its own and doesn’t get nearly as much time as it needed here. The concept of the board Wayne Enterprises being the ones who ordered the death of Bruce’s parents was a a fantastic one and jolted the series with much-needed adrenaline. It’s bungled in the episode, like when Selena and Bruce’s street smarts tutoring that just comes off as being a bit cringe-worthy at moments. But seeing Selena push Ray out of the window and to his presumed death when Bruce hesitated was an admittedly awesome moment, brimming with subtle connections to the Batman mythology without the show trying too hard to go there.
The best part of the episode by far is Jim Gordon, surprisingly. Even more surprisingly so, Gotham is saved (sort of) this week by its villain of the week. Ogre is a fantastically creepy villain, every aspect of his personality built to make the audience’s skin crawl with goosebumps. Milo Ventimiglia is absolutely terrific in this role and sparing him was one of the few good strokes within tonight’s script. Ventimiglia has to occupy the roles of charming, terrifying, and silky without breaking a single sweat and he more than rises to the occasion. His methodology of killing is a fairly significant part of what makes him so terrifying to begin with. There’s no intricacies involved here but it’s the simplicity that adds the chill factor. He simply locks up his potential victim before he arrives at the conclusion that she isn’t really what he was looking for. He then kills her and anyone who tries to investigate him meets the same sticky end. In a rare stroke of genius for this show, it turns out that Commissioner Loeb purposefully involved Gordon with this particular investigation. That is one stroke of cold-blooded revenge, considering Ogre’s habit of not just taking out his investigators but their loved ones as well.
I never thought that I would say this, but Fish Mooney is the most problematic element in this episode. I am a fan of the character and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s performance is a good chunk of the reason as to why that is the case. But if Fish Mooney is no longer integral to Gotham’s underbelly, then what is the purpose of her character? Marooning Mooney on an island was an inspired choice and in its first couple of instances, it largely worked outside of the novelty factor alone (and the eye-stabbing scene is one of this show’s best). Fish’s escape plan by screwing everyone else over and catching a ride on a helicopter was as devious and sharply devised as one would expect from her, but it’s just too detached from everything else to connect. Tying in the underworld elements of Gotham who want Fish gone into the island escape shouldn’t have been a difficult job. It’s as if Jada Pinkett-Smith’s departure from the show just gave the writers the impetus to not make an effort here – the bullet in her gut is plentiful evidence for that.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You had me at ‘homicide.’”
+Some of the atmospheric shots are great as always, especially when the Ogre was involved
-Harvey: “Ed, question. Would you rather work more, or less?”
Ed: “Is this a riddle?”
-“I deserve a mute supermodel who likes pasty Irish guys and loves to cook.”
-The “Oh, I didn’t know I was supposed to be here” moment with Fish and Dr. Dulmacher was one of the dumbest moments on this show and that’s saying a lot
Title: Beasts of Prey
Written By: Ken Woodruff
Directed By: Eagle Egilsson
Image Courtesy: Comic Vine