Last week on Gotham, they trimmed the fat, concentrating on the war between two crime bosses and ignoring some of the more unnecessary side characters. It worked, making “Arkham” the most compelling episode of Gotham so far. This week, the writers continue to cut back, keeping Montoya and Allen out of the picture. Selina Kyle makes a quick cameo, but otherwise she’s out. Same with Jim’s fiance Barbara Kean, even though she left us with a bit of a cliffhanger last week. Just kidding, no one cares if she broke up with Jim, right? Right. I think getting rid of the excess is a good plan (hey, they could off Montoya and Allen entirely, and I’d be fine with it) but I think we need a clearer focus on some of the more central characters’ motivations if we’re going to bother zooming in. The only character I truly understand is Oswald, whose desire for acceptance and naked ambition make for a fascinating inner turmoil. I know what motivates him and I know why he screws up. But what about Fish Mooney or even Bruce Wayne? I know that they want – power, answers, respectively – but I want Gotham to show me, not tell me. That being said, the season is young and we’re only starting to build this universe – and this week wasn’t all bad. The introduction of the drug Viper – the drug that becomes Venom, which gives Batman’s enemy Bane his super abilities – certainly lays some groundwork for the future.
Harvey is a great character and Donal Logue is doing a fantastic job, but I wish they’d make Bullock just a little bit darker. He’s supposed to be…I don’t know. Grittier? More reckless, less affable. His lack of morals is supposed to be a little more disturbing, a foil to Jim’s unwavering sense of right and wrong. Maybe down the road, they can bring some of that back, instead of just making him talk about burritos and milkshakes all the time? Not that I have anything against burritos or milkshakes. I’m just saying. Donal Logue: stop wasting him.
Our favorite pick-pocket Cat shows up for just a brief moment, trying to swipe a man’s wallet in broad daylight. Jim Gordon sees her and he’s like, “HEY!” and then “YOU!” and she runs off and that’s the whole scene. It was…really random. If you ask me, Selina Kyle was like, “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”
Young Bruce Wayne does a better job at having a purpose this week, going full on Rust-Cohle-Carcosa with his living room wall. He doesn’t want revenge, he explains to a concerned Alfred. He just wants to figure it out – Gotham, his parents’ murder, the connection between the Arkham deal and Wayne Enterprises – all of it. Alfred thinks he should do more kid-like things, but Bruce is already an old soul. As he goes about his sleuthing, he uncovers some disturbing irregularities in the Arkham deal, something he brings up to a Wayne Enterprises executive. Though she claims she’s just “middle management,” she’s clearly hiding many secrets, including the creation of Viper itself under one of the company’s pharmaceutical subsidiaries. Bruce wants to be taken seriously, but unfortunately, he’s just a cute kid in a suit. She gives him the brush-off. Luckily, in the final moments of the episode, Alfred lets his guard down and decides to help Bruce in his quest for answers – a pivotal moment in their relationship.
Hey, did you know that Fish Mooney wants to take down Carmine Falcone? Let her tell you all about it! As usual, Fish doesn’t do much more than pull some strings this week. When she’s not pretending to hate her secret partner in crime (and lover!) Nikolai, she’s training new singer/waitress/possible assassin Liza in the art of seduction. Liza, it seems, will be Fish’s puppet in every way. Her first move? Learning an aria designed to catch Falcone’s attention. She hums the tune and he’s instantly enthralled. It’s a song his mother used to sing, which is a little creepy, but it looks like Fish knew just the right bait to reel Falcone in. Get it? Cause she’s Fish? Okay.
Earlier this season, Jim’s involvement with Oswald Cobblepot got him into trouble with mob boss Carmine Falcone. Now he’s facing heat from Cobblepot’s new boss, Sal Maroni. After getting a little cocky about his connections, Cobblepot finds himself in deep water and it’s only Jim Gordon who can get him out. Maroni thinks Oswald is lying and only Jim can validate his story. Fortunately for our friend the Penguin, Jim cannot tell a lie – even when it makes him look like a total dipsh*t. “I was a pawn,” he begins, telling the entire story of Cobblepot’s supposed death and thus saving his life again. Now he’s in the pocket of two mafiosos, which probably isn’t going to work out for him. In between all that, Jim seems to be handling his breakup with Barbara pretty well, choosing to solve the Viper case instead of moping.
The thing that’s so interesting to me about Oswald Cobblepot is his need to be accepted, even while he’s trying to overthrow everyone around him. He runs his mouth a little too much, trying to gain Maroni’s trust, and it almost gets him killed. Fortunately, his plan works out in the end – Jim backs up his story and he helps Maroni’s crew successfully pull off a hit on Falcone’s casino. Having those connections to Fish Mooney will become an asset, just as he hoped. But in the end, we know that the Penguin won’t be satisfied working for Maroni or anyone else. He wants control – over Maroni, then Falcone and Fish Mooney, too. Then over Gotham itself.