Fox‘s Gotham Under the Knife TV Show Review. Gotham: Season 1, Episode 20: Under the Knife is a gallery of angsty pleasure. It’s ironic that after last week’s episode felt so needlessly dark, this one wears the macabre vibe so well.
Maybe it’s that this episode doesn’t devote any time to the plight of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith)–who may have died last episode, though I have my doubts–maybe it’s the artistic shots like one that films Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) through a circular, metal-framed window that gives the unmistakable impression of a sniper scope, or maybe it’s the many tense conversations between characters and the evident fact that things are coming ever closer to crisis, but it’s likely all three that make this a fun, albeit creepy episode to watch.
One of four subplots has Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) digging into the family history of the Ogre, Jason Lennon. (Milo Ventimiglia). Through interrogating his father, Jacob (Daniel Davis) they learn that Lennon’s misogynistic insanity began with his mother, who hated his originally-deformed face, and mistreated him until he killed her and declared war on all women that don’t love him. Meanwhile, Gordon urges Thompkins to get out of Gotham before the Ogre targets her, but unbeknownst to him, Jason is instead going after his ex, Barbara Keane (Erin Richards)…and making matters worse, they might actually be falling in love with each other.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) continues working with Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) in order to track down conspirators within his company; conspirators who, it seems increasingly clear, want him dead. During their collaboration, though, Bruce continues to condemn Selina’s having killed a man they tortured a confession out of, while she defends her actions as a “him or us” necessity. While it always felt fairly likely that the birth of Batman’s infamous no-kill policy would be born in this series, some may not like Catwoman killing being the start of it; her being established as someone who doesn’t have as much policy against killing, but still doesn’t relish it at all. Even so, it adds drama to a relationship, though I personally hope this part won’t be stressed too much.
We also see probably the definitive moment Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) transitions to being the Riddler here, but the few short-but-intense bursts are best left unspoiled.
The final thing going on in this episode involves Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and his continuing misadventures as a wildcard on the wrong side of the law. While we’re aware Penguin is looking for a chance to kill off Sal Maroni (David Zayas), it turns out that Maroni’s also been conspiring against him, and it involves hitting him where it hurts: His beloved mother, Gertrude. (Carol Cane) Maroni isn’t attacking her–yet–but he’s flirting while dropping some hints that her boy is a crook. As always, seeing Oswald and Sal spar mentally is a lot of fun, because both are so willing to employ anything they can against each other, viewers are kept thinking something menacing is about to explode onto the scene; similar to moments when the horror genre sets up jump-scares. Oswald ends the episode facing a double-dilemma; how to exact a ferocious revenge without her finding out.
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