Fox‘s Gotham Damned If You Do…TV Show Review. This season picks up more or less where the last season left off; giving development (if not resolution) to its finale’s cliffhanger wherein Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) locate a secret room behind their fireplace, and probe into the late Thomas Wayne’s past.
Sadly, not too much more is given, because this episode also continues the last season’s trend of having too much going on in an episode, and its dramatic themes are not particularly innovative, either. That is not to say there are no signs that the show could be moving forward. The dreaded “Villain-of-the-Week” shtick is absent here; while there is a humorous bumbling anti-villain (David Fierro) early in the episode, he is quickly taken out by Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), and the episode gives way to developing those characters people actually want to see developed…it just doesn’t develop them enough.
The sickly symbiotic relationship between Gordon and Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) still inhabits center-stage, and its philosophical subtext, in large part, has yet to move–or maybe the issue is it’s moved back. Once again, Gordon is butting heads with corrupt Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari), and once again, he opts to get his hands dirty as a means to the end of bringing down the crooked cop; asking Penguin for yet another favor and falling into perhaps the most tragic misadventure yet.
While the themes explored, whether it’s sometimes desirable or even necessary to deal with a devil, whether it’s possible to be an ethical man in a city of madness, or if, like Michael Corleone, even the good get suckered in eventually, could be meaningful if only characters ever settled on a position, instead they’re locked in what borders on negative-continuity. Gordon just keeps looping; beginning episodes sulking about how put-upon he is by the dilemma of doing what’s ethical vs what’s effective, going on to choose the latter, and ending up in an ideal position to either say “no more” or conclude it’s no longer worth wasting time with morals–which, of course, he doesn’t. There may have been no better time than the Season One Finale, where he found himself in a fight against Penguin, and even Don Carmine Falcone (John Doman) concluded that Gotham needed a clean cop at that point, but still, the cycle continues.
Watching the much-heralded “Rise of the Villains” is more interesting, though here it’s in its infancy and, as noted above, spread thin. Whether chronicling Edward Nygma’s (Cory Michael Smith) surreal descent into madness, or reminding us that Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) is there already, it seems like in this regard, Gotham is finally telling the stories longtime Batman fans want to hear. Monaghan is particularly impressive. This series may have provided a disappointingly tame origin for one of the most iconic villains of all time, but his passionate performance makes up for it; his ability to channel Jack Nicholson’s Joker outstanding for any actor, let alone a young one. Meanwhile, the show’s take on Victor Szasz (Anthony Carrigan) continues to evolve into an awesomely comical villain himself. The villains aren’t just hamming it up, either, but to note what exactly goes down would constitute too much of a spoiler.
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