This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham: Season 2, Episode 8
Jim Gordon may be the worst cop ever. There, I said it. His poor judgment has reared its ugly head before, but his “righteous indignation,” as Barbara so lovingly calls it, hits new heights in “Tonight’s The Night,” the latest episode of Gotham. Here’s everything that went down…
Here comes the bride…
The bulk of this week’s episode of Gotham revolved around the relationship between Jim and Barbara, which was kind of a problem because, even in its healthy-ish state in the beginning of season 1, these two were never particularly compelling together. Getting emotionally invested in Barbara’s plot to bring Jim down, despite her feelings for him, called upon a sentiment for this relationship that, unless I’m completely misjudging the Gotham fanbase, has never really been there.
In the absence of a true sense of betrayal (because betrayal first requires investment), the viewers’ mental energy was left to be directed at Jim’s sheer incompetence as a police officer. Now, I’ve been willing to let some of Gordon’s less-inspired decisions slide before in the interest of creating dramatic tension and resolutions, but I can only suspend belief so far and there is no way Gordon should have been allowed — or let himself go — anywhere near this trap. The entire setup reaked of dramatic contrivation, which is never a good thing.
Though I felt for Leigh in this circumstance (though I’m unsure how she got kidnapped from the GCPD — not that the place is particularly secure, but she tends to be more vigilant than that), I couldn’t help but feel like Gordon deserved getting captured. (Sorry, Jim!) Or, in the words of Barabara: “Please don’t act all surprised and aggrieved. You knew from the start that this was a trap, but you thought: hey, let the bad guys take their best shot.”
I wish I could say this was a better week for Barbara. Though she was supremely quotable, Gotham continues to have a problem writing female characters. Barbara’s turn to madness last season was abrupt, though somewhat welcome as it gave her character a compelling direction, but Gothamhas done little to suss out her motivation moving forward. We get it, she’s crazy, but where does that craziness stem from? What are her goals?
We’ve been told again and again that Barbara wants to both kill Gordon and marry him, but why? What turned this woman to madness and, outside of her obsession with Jim, want gets her out of bed in the morning. If it really is just Jim, then the Gotham writers room needs to work on painting a few more dimensions on this character.
Side note: it’s supremely telling that Barbara’s nightmare in the opening of tonight’s episode was not so far away from what later happened in this show’s climax — so thin is the line between absurd nightmare and reality on this show.
“People often underestimate me.”
Can this please become Bruce’s tagline for the rest of the season? Because, compared to the hot-headed, terrible decision-making of Gordon in this episode, Bruce looked like a frakking paragon of reason-headed determination. And, while I was left unclear as to how Jim or Barbara actually feel (or have ever felt) about each other, my understanding of Bruce’s motivation were crystal.
We’ve always known Bruce to be a controlled, single-minded, strategic teenager, but tonight we saw the side of him that, despite his yearning for justice and revenge for the deaths of his parents, still wants to be a kid. It’s what made him almost sign over his company to Theo Galavan and, with it, the power to truly destroy both Gotham and Bruce.
It’s probably no concidence that this revelation comes after Bruce has been spending so much time with Silver. Though it is just an illusion, she represents the “typical” teen experience Bruce could be focusing his time and energy on. Instead, he carries the weight of the world — or at least the weight of Gotham city — on his still-growing shoulder.
For many people, Gotham is at its least interesting when it is telling Bruce’s story, but — at least for me — it is at its best. While the line between nightmare and reality increasingly blurs elsewhere in this story, Bruce’s character arc makes perfect sense to me. More than that, it has the most potential to make me feel — a goal in all of my television-watching.
When Nygma met Penguin.
It’s the odd couple comedy you never knew you wanted! OK, so we haven’t actually seen how the interaction between Nygma and Penguin might work, but I am so on board with this development — if only because it is the unexpected thing that could make me care about Nygma as a character.
I have long lamented the Nygma storyline as too isolated from the rest of this story and too confused about how much “dark” and how much “humor” it should be. But Penguin has the tendency to make any character he comes into contact with that much more interesting. I am more than ready to see how this plays out…