Or the Knife
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Gotham is a bit solid this week in comparison to the disasters of a large portion of the season that felt more like cheap Batman service to the fanboys than anything else and the occasional bright lights are often snuffed out by the darkness of the abject stupidity that surrounds them. This week is brighter than it is dimmer, but it’s still fairly difficult to arrive at anything remotely resembling legitimate enthusiasm for this show. I do apologize for what has mostly been a negative coverage of Gotham. I have wanted to like this show for a really long time, especially after being a bonafide Batman mythology fan for quite some time. I had gone from liking the Batman mythology to loving it with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, garnering comics and older films as quickly as I could afford them. I approached the show with hesitation that I always approach prequels with, but somehow it managed to take all of my expectations and just throw them out of Arkham’s tallest window. What this episode does is take Gotham even further away from becoming a complete subsidiary of Law and Order and thank goodness for that.
Ogre’s continuing survival is a great example of that because it allows for a villain to truly embed him or herself into the narrative without being killed off at the end of every episode. At the onset of the series, that’s exactly what happened time after time and at a certain juncture, that feels stale. Every narrative wants to avoid falling into a pattern of predictability. It saps all of the dramatic tension out, leaving behind no surprises outside of the story doing exactly what people expect it not to. Game of Thrones, for example, has largely avoided this because it doesn’t always kill off a particular brand of character (although the nicer you are…). Ogre’s survival had given the show and the characters in it a sense of urgency that really has largely been absent so far. It also doesn’t hurt that Ogre, in large part due to Milo Ventimiglia’s performance, is an utterly entertaining, watchable character who never has a dull moment. But while Ventimiglia is wholly entertaining, the writing behind is arc is not.
That writing apprehension primarily relates to Barbara, who has been over the course of the series been seemingly written out of the script entirely until everyone realizes that they forgot to actually give her lines. Last week I expressed some intrigue with Barbara and Ogre bonding together (pun intended), but while in the second week that pairing initially remained promising, it felt a little stiff because Barbara before last week was less important than the backdrop scenery. And then it just ends. In tonight’s episode, it’s a bit problematic that it feels far more like a plethora of characters are being affected by this storyline about Barbara than Barbara herself, in the sense that despite being a narrative centered around Barbara, the show is still having an incredible problem giving her any semblance of actual agency. Barbara the victim has been done to death, but if this leads to Barbara finding some impetus to becoming the new Gotham City serial killer or something, I am totally okay with that. That doesn’t really make much sense, but whatever. This show doesn’t do logic.
The underground war of Gotham that has been its most appealing segment since the pilot and likewise Cobblepot has been the show’s most appealing character. Sure, the writing for him from time to time is more haphazard than the world’s most dangerous bridges whose images everyone has seen on Buzzfeed, but his stories generally have been filled with a genuine suspense. It also helps that at this current juncture Cobblepot has largely been an underdog in the Gotham crime war and to see him actively trying to, excuse me, cobble his way upwards has been enormously fun. We know from the Batman lore that unless Gotham had the guts to heavily change a well-known piece of it (which it doesn’t), the Falcone versus Maroni fight isn’t necessarily going to end in certain death. The writers’ twist of essentially turning Cobblepot into Lord Petyr Baelish from Game of Thrones is one of the most clever subversions of the story they’ve managed to write. Cobblepot smartly has no intention of ensuring the rise of one underworld heavyweight over the other. His primary interest is served in ensuring that the two destroy each other so he can take advantage of the ensuing chaos.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The Wayne Enterprises aspect of the show is fairly decent. It just requires more decent focus.
+“I think I saw some donuts outside with my name all over them.”
+Leslie: “I would never try to change you, Jim. Your sense of mission–it’s part of what I love about you.”
Jim: “I thought it was my devastating good looks. That’s a joke.”
+/- “You think you know who I am. What I’m capable of. You have no idea.” Yeah, in this case, I don’t either.
-Poor continuation of Nygma’s kill from last week
-Foxglove. Really? Really?
-Why is Lucius Fox in this episode? What purpose does he serve at this point?
Title: The Anvil or the Hammer
Written By: Jordan Harper
Directed By: Paul Edwards
Image Courtesy: Gotham Site