This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham: Season 2, Episode 7
I have to hand it to Gotham: I didn’t think they would let Galavan and Gordon face off so blatantly so early in the season. Tonight’s episode ended with Gordon all-out declaring war on Galavan — to his face. Yes, this is a stupid move, but it is also an unexpectedly bold one for the show. “Mommy’s Little Monster” was an uneven episode, but it had some killer moments — not the least of which was
Galavan kills Penguin’s mother.
It’s fitting that Oswald and his mother’s final words would be so defined by denial. There relationship was the same way. They loved one another, but Gertrud’s perception of Oswald was so incredibly skewed. Her final words to her son? “You were always such a good boy.” In denial to the very last.
For those keeping track at home, this is the second week in a role one of the supporting female characters has died to further the storyline of one of the main male characters, which is pretty aggravating. Also aggravating was how stupid Penguin was in this episode. His assault on Galavan’s victory party was well-planned, but still reckless for a character who has always been a schemer.
Penguin goes after Galavan.
This narrative decision highlights a larger flaw with Gotham season 2: By letting Theo Galavan fill the slow scheming villain role Penguin himself filled last season, Penguin’s character is left somewhat purposeless — or, if not quite purposeless, then less interesting. If we didn’t already have an affinity for Penguin built up from his cleverness and ambition in season 1, season 2’s Penguin might not hold any interest at all. Penguin has always been one to let his emotions run away with him, but going after Galavan was just stupid.
That being said, Galavan continues to be one of the highlights of his season. Sure, he’s still a bit two-dimensionally evil, but he is serving his function as the driver of the plot in the best ways. And it doesn’t hurt that James Frain is an exceptional actor for the role. In the hands of a lesser actor, Galavan might fall incredibly flat, while simultaneously serving that antagonist function well. In Frain’s hands, he becomes one of the best parts of the season.
Penguin’s ill-advised assassin attempt also somewhat unexpectedly led to one of the best scenes of the entire season: a face-off between Galavan and Penguin with Gordon left standing in the middle. The relationship between Gordon and Penguin is one of the better developed, more complex ones on the show, so to see them pitted against each other in this way, just as Gordon was beginning to have suspicions about Galavan, was incredibly compelling.
Selina v. Silver
Gotham rarely ventures outside of stereotypical gender roles — especially when it comes to its female characters. This continues to be one of its most frustrating attributes, and is seen here in the cliche face off between Silver and Selina. Here, they are positioned as fighting for Bruce’s affections when, really, they are fighting for his very life. (Selina is trying to keep Bruce alive, while Silver is delivering him to the slaughter.)
This set-up might not be problematic given that these two young women have very real clashes when it comes to what they want for Bruce, if not for Gotham’s larger issue with this gendered patterns. Still, the awkward luncheon scene was one of the best of the episode, especially Selina’s line to Alfred: “That smell really does slap you in the face, doesn’t it, Alfred?” I’m glad Selina hasn’t let go of this moment anymore than I have.
This storyline — and Selina, in particular — also has dramatic irony on its side. We know that Selina is right to have issues with Silver, even if Bruce doesn’t. I’m eager to see how this storyline progresses and, inevitably, am waiting for the moment when Selina saves Bruce from Silver and/or the Galavans and both Bruce and Alfred is made to eat his words.
Nygma turns full-on Riddler.
Nygma spends the episode trying to find the body of his dead girlfriend: Ms. Kringle. His other half pulled a Jekyll and Hyde in the middle of the night, hiding the body and leaving clues for Nygma to find it. Eventually he does, but the reality of almost getting caught causes him to embrace his darker side. No more Mr. Nice Nygma. I continue to be less-than-interested in this storyline, perhaps because it is so segregated from the rest of the plot. Nygma is so often left to his own devices.
Or, perhaps, my lack of interest in this plot has something to do with the way the show so comically treats Ms. Kringle’s death. Gotham tends to devalue its violence and murder in general, but it becomes problematic when the victim in question is a recurring character we have come to know.