After last week’s excellent episode, Gotham was a bit of a letdown this week. We got some really interesting moments with Harvey Bullock and Bruce Wayne, who both make strong moves toward deeper character development – one good, one a bit more troubling. Then again, we still have characters like Barbara Kean, who take us round and round in the same circles, and we never quite end up anywhere. I suppose these are the growing pains of a new show, but this week didn’t impress me as much as the last. Then again, we did get to see some Wall Street/Fight Club cross-over action. That was pretty fun.
After last week’s traumatic events, Barbara’s losing her damn marbles. She’s drunk, waving guns around and pointing them at Jim when he comes home because…it was dark? I don’t know, but Jim rightly tells her to stop getting wasted and playing with firearms. She’s whacked out. It’s kind of understandable – I mean, she was kidnapped and almost killed – but it’s also kind of annoying. Everything that happened to her, happened because she didn’t listen to anything Jim said. She’s the one who came back to Gotham against his wishes, she’s the one who confronted a mob boss (!!!) and nearly got them all killed. But okay, sure. Trauma, I get it. You’d think this event would bring her and Jim closer together. But when he gets wrapped up in a case and doesn’t return a few phone calls (side note: does Barbara even have a job?) she gets mad enough to leave him. Um, really? Barbara you idiot, you were supposed to leave last week, because- oh, nevermind.
Jim’s relationship issues aside, he’s dealing with a lot of crap. He’s back at work and facing the hard truth about the GCPD: they all abandoned him when his life was in danger. I mean seriously, every single one of them walked out, including his boss. Harsh. Jim’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the whole thing, which I think is pretty fair. Meanwhile, he and Harvey are tracking down The Mask, a Wall Street sociopath who runs his own Thunderdome job application process. Richard Sionis considers himself a warrior – for the comic fans out there, he’s also possibly the father of Roman Sionis, AKA DC villain The Black Mask – and he’s richer than sin. As metaphors go, this whole plot is pretty heavy-handed, even for Gotham, as we watch men fight to the death for power and wealth. However, Richard Sionis and his silly fight club do bring out a certain rage in Jim, one that threatens to boil over at any time.
Harvey really seems to be making progress on his Good Guy status. He gives a rousing speech to all his traitorous co-workers – one that calls them out on their chicken-sh*t actions with Jim and also reminds them how guilty they are of bad behavior. It’s not exactly Norma Rae, but it’s as close as Harvey gets.
Cobblepot tries to win back Fish Mooney’s good graces this week with a lovely gold brooch. Too bad she stabs him with it. After that, he’s no more Mr. Nice Guy, if he ever was in the first place. He kidnaps his replacement, AKA the guy who now holds Mooney’s umbrella, and beats some intel out of him. Cobblepot learns that Mooney has “someone close to Falcone,” although that’s all he says. We know he means Liza (did you know her name was Liza?) but Cobblepot is still in the dark about her identity. I guess it’s better than nothing, though.
She’s back again. Does she do anything? No. Do we care? No.
This week, Fish’s plot revolved around her little pet, whose name I only recently learned is Liza. Fish wants Liza to steal some very important information from a ledger in Falcone’s office, but Liza is spooked. She wants out. Why? Well, we don’t know. It might be nice to see a scene or two between Liza and Falcone, because I have no idea what she’s feeling or what their relationship is. Does she love him? Is she scared of him? Does he trust her or is he onto her? It’s a mystery! But Fish wants that ledger. She tells Liza a long, upsetting and completely untrue story about witnessing one of Falcone’s men raping her mother when she was a child. It’s pretty gross, as lies go, but it works. Liza is still on Team Fish, for now.
Bruce Wayne is now officially battling Oswald Cobblepot for Most Interesting Character. Since we obviously know who Bruce will become, his motivations and path aren’t much of a mystery – but the way they’re playing it out on Gotham has me hooked. Plus David Mazouz is playing a troubled young Batman like a damn pro. Can you believe this kid is only 13? But I digress. Bruce’s journey is troubling to watch and sometimes it breaks my heart. He confesses to Alfred, “I’m always angry,” and wonders if that rage inside of him will ever go away. Spoiler alert, little guy: no. But Alfred is willing to mentor Bruce and teach him to channel that rage, even if it means fighting back against a school bully. Tommy Elliot (AKA Hush) picks on Bruce pretty harshly, but it’s not as harsh as the beating Bruce gives him in return. I’ve read some reviews about this episode that criticize Bruce’s physical assault on Tommy, as well as Alfred’s support of it. And yeah, it’s definitely troubling to see a parent(-like figure) condone – even encourage – violence. But I think it’s pretty true to canon, and to the rage that Bruce holds inside.