This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 3, Episode 8
This wasn’t my favorite episode of Gothamever, which is maybe unfair. It was perfectly competent in its exploration of Barnes’ final descent into madness as a result of his exposure to Alice Tetch’s blood. It was perfectly competent in its exploration of the complicated relationship that still exists between Lee and Jim. It was even perfectingly competent in the frustrating Ed Gets Vertigo-ed storyline. But it all just felt like things we’ve seen before on this show. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Barnes takes justice into his own hands.
Michael Chiklis did a great job selling Barnes’ official turn to the dark side, but he couldn’t overcome a lack of character depth Gotham has never been interested in fixing when it comes to the GCPD leader. What do we know about Barnes? He loves justice and yelling. That’s pretty much it. When we see him in his civilian clothes on his way back from a grocery run at the beginning of the episode it’s so damn jarring because I was half-convinced he was a police-bot who powered down at the end of the day and docked in his GCPD office. This is all a roundabout way of saying that Barnes’ turn to violent vengeance is sad, but not half-as-sad as it should be, given that this character has been around since last season.
Luckily, Gothamdoesn’t seem interested in dragging out this storyline too much longer. At the end of the episode, the dying plastic surgeon sticks around long enough to politely inform Gordon that Barnes was the one who literally threw her threw a many-stories-up wall. Sounds like the GCPD captain position is about to be open…
I want to feel bad for Barnes, but this guy should have reported himself on day one, before things escalated so quickly. He has always been a rule-follower who puts the people of Gotham above all else. So why, when he knew from both Lee and Tetch that the blood would slowly drive him into violent madness, did he keep bopping along like nothing was wrong? I’m not saying it wasn’t realistic — who wants to admit they stood under a drip of toxic blood and looked up? — but it would have been the smart move.
It’s particularly unfortunate watching this storyline in the context of the current police brutality conversation that is currently going on in America. On its best day, the GCPD is pretty much a walking, talking example of why police departments need checks and balances, but watching Barnes’ beat up/murder people who are begging to be arrested rather than physically assaulted hits a little too close to home and distracts from what I think this storyline was trying to accomplish. Better luck next week, Gotham.
Lee throws an engagement party.
Seriously, this was a subplot this week, and did I care? No. On a show that once saw someone bazooka someone else, it’s hard to sit through an entire episode semi-dedicated to an awkward engagement party. We had to listen to Mario’s toast to a big-haired Lee. There was even a “cutesy” joke about cats being girls and dogs being boys. It was horrible.
The whole point of the subplot, as far as I can tell, was to a) drill into our heads for the umpteenth time that Jim still loves Lee (I know, and I’m sad about it) and b) to give Mario a sinister edge that wasn’t there before. Mario punches Jim out and vaguely threatens him, which means that next week, he’ll probably be pushing someone threw a building’s wall, too. Because we can’t let Lee be happy and make the reasonable choice. Because Mario, as Lee explained to an ever-wonderful Barbara after she crashed Lee’s engagement party, is a better option than Jim.
Lee will take Mario over Tortured Jim any day of the week, and that seems like a solid choice to me. Of course, this also means that Mario will inevitable turn out to have a dark side… Because why else would Lee ever go back to Jim? I love you, Jim Gordon, but you are not a catch.
Penguin kills Ed’s new love (or so it seems).
Oh, Gotham. I really was hoping you weren’t going to go here. It was bad enough that you threw a Kristin Kringle lookalike into the path of Ed and Oswald’s burgeoning romance, but then you had to go and kill the lookalike, too? This actress cannot catch a break. First Kristin’s violent death, now Isabella’s?
The thing is: I was kind of looking forward to the Vertigo reveal that Isabella was secretly working for Butch, as a way to drive a wedge between Ed and Oswald. Whatever happens now, the Nygmobblepot relationships — platonic or romantic — seems doomed. It’s only a matter of time before Ed finds out what Oswald has done and, even if he didn’t, it’s hard to root for a relationship so centered around deceit.
These two had something going before, strangely, as the healthiest relationship on the show — and there was something strangely subversive about that. The idea that, while Jim couldn’t hold down a healthy relationship, the villains of the show were actually capable of emotional intimacy. Those halycon days are now over. Long live Gotham‘s reign of nihilistic terror.