Gotham: Harvey Dent review

Harvey Dent comes to Gotham, and it signals bigger changes for things down the road. Here's our review.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

I can safely say, without hesitation, that “Harvey Dent” is the best episode we’ve seen from Gotham. It’s the most balanced, least gimmicky (mostly), sensible hour that they’ve managed to produce. It’s good enough to make me forgive and forget some of the earlier missteps, and I think, given the general trajectory of the last few weeks that maybe, just maybe, they’re starting to work the kinks out.

For an episode entitled “Harvey Dent” we really don’t spend a whole lot of time with him. Still, we do meet Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto) this week, and I’m pleased with how they introduce him. Harvey is still only an Assistant District Attorney, but he’s one of the few who are genuinely on the side of the angels…even if he seems to have a bit of a, shall we say, gambling problem. Usually I call this show out when it beats us with the foreshadowing too heavily, but I can handle the coin-flipping, if it was good enough for Batman: The Animated Series it’s good enough for Gotham. I do wish they would have waited at least another episode before showing us his temper, though. It’s like the show isn’t confident enough in its own material or characters to let them do the work. Harvey could have benefitted from that.

But now, with Gordon, Dent, Montoya, Allen and (to a lesser extent) Bullock and Essen, we have the core of some real “good guys” on the side of the GCPD. It’s like Gordon finally has his own Untouchables. I’ve made Serpico jokes in the past, but as Gotham goes on, they could do worse than to look at the exploits (real and fictional) of Eliot Ness for a little inspiration, too. They just need to stop rushing things!

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On the subject of rushing things, the case of the week actually did a fine job of advancing a larger story that Gotham will have to get through, regarding the need for Arkham Asylum. John Hargrove is a mad bomber, broken out of prison for nefarious purposes. The thing is, he doesn’t necessarily want to hurt anyone, but he wasn’t getting the mental care he needed at Blackgate. Fair enough, and this was a nice way to work us towards the re-opening of Arkham. Did we need that to happen by episode’s end, though? No. That’s the kind of thing you build to over the course of a season.

On the other hand, they’ve finally taken their foot off the gas with Edward Nygma, much to that character’s benefit. I’m now genuinely looking forward to his appearances each week, rather than worried about whatever ridiculous “riddle” he’s going to pepper the grown-ups with. Just remember, this has to stay Cobblepot’s show for at least the rest of this year (although we didn’t spend as much time with Oswald as we have in recent weeks). Let Nygma smolder for awhile, please.

Even the overall production design seems to have found its groove this week. I’ve complained in previous episodes that sometimes the show shifts gears visually from scene to scene, creating an awfully jarring experience. Not so, this week. Gotham has definitely settled into the more stylized end of its equation, but that’s alright. It genuinely looked like a Batman show pretty much start to finish. No Bats, of course. I was really digging the score this week, too, particularly during Penguin’s creepy creeping in Stepford Hitgirl’s apartment.

All these niceties aside, I found Barbara’s “Dear Jim” letter just this side of hilariously awful, and if anyone, and I mean anyone, was the least bit surprised to find her in bed with Montoya at episode’s end, well, I may have a bridge over Gotham City’s east river with your name on it. There were other problems, too. Which brings us to this week’s installment of…

Life With The Waynes

I can think of few things lazier than forcing Selina Kyle to go live with Bruce Wayne. It’s not only an impossibly convenient plot device, but…Jim Gordon is supposed to be a smart cop, right? How does putting the only eyewitness to a murder with serious What’s more, what if other folks finally figure out that the Wayne case isn’t really closed? Then what? Now we’ve got both the witnesses in one spot for your one-stop whacking needs. It’s bad writing, but it’s worse police work.

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I mean, seriously, any time in any prequel, where the folks in charge feel obligated to give you a “look how they first met, they’re even introducing each other by name” moment, you know you’re in trouble. This episode was full of ’em. Look, David Mazouz is a great young Bruce Wayne. This is the most time we’ve spent with Camren Bicondova’s Selina Kyle, and she’s holding her own. But putting the two of them together like this is really ill-advised.

That being said, I am now so totally all in with Sean Pertwee as Alfred. He handily gets all the best lines this week (as he did last week), and I really hope we get a totally Alfred-centric episode or two at some point this season. The guy clearly has a history, and I want it. Pertwee is such a fun actor, but I was turned off by the thoroughly irritating and unfunny version of Lestrade that Elementary foisted on us last year. It’s nice to be reminded that I still enjoy this actor’s presence. Seriously, does his deadpanning of lines likeĀ “Ooh…a trustworthy lawyer. In Gotham.” or “You cheeky little minx” get any better?

Gotham Central

Despite a whole bunch of names getting dropped this week, from the Hargrove brothers to the Russian baddie behind it all to Dick Lovecraft, I failed to trace anything directly to the DC Universe. That being said, Lovecraft will always recall horror author HP Lovecraft, who loved the subject of madness, and Arkham Asylum is named in honor of his stories.

My memory is faulty, though…was this the first time we really saw Blackgate Prison?

Please let me know what else I missed, and I’ll keep the signal burning for you all…

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3.5 out of 5