This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 2 Episode 5
The Court of Owls are a new and potent group of villains who were introduced into the Batman mythos in recent years and are now, seemingly, making their presence felt on Gotham. For a series devoted to the old, to the legends, to the classic DC iconography, it’s refreshing to see Gotham focus on a newer DC creation. If Theo Galavan is in fact representing the Court of Owls, and “Scarification” all but says he is, than we were privy to the first live action appearance of the Court and that’s pretty darn cool.
Now, if only the rest of the episode matched the coolness of the arrival of Batman’s greatest 21st century villains, we would have reason to celebrate.
Now, you’ll have to forgive me, I am typing this through a veil of nerd tears as I just watched the Star Wars: Force Awakens trailer thirteen times, but be that as it may, let’s try to focus on Gotham. The Court is very cool, yes, but the way the show introduced the Court, through an out of nowhere flashback, was about as hackneyed as it comes. See, we needed a flashback, they just introduced some old lady who talks like Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life and just so happened to have the exact information the Penguin needed?
Yeah, sorry not buying it.
Again, this old lady, Edwige by name, was brought in by Penguin so he could gather information about a dagger Galavan stole during an arson run. It was all so hamfisted that it took away from the rather cool flashback tale Edwige told about the Waynes’ betrayal of the Galavan family (they weren’t called Galavan at the time, but I have no idea how to spell the proper name, it was French). It established Galavan’s hatred for the Waynes and set up a season’s worth of conflict. The shame of it is was that the episode had no idea how to execute this all important exposition dump – which is just a microcosm of all of Gotham‘s problems, effective and gripping in theory but lousy in execution.
After one season and five episodes, the series still has no idea what it wants to be. Sometimes it is a loving tribute to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, sometimes it is a homage to the comics, sometimes it is a piss poor Tim Burton imitation and that’s where Edwige fell, bad wig and imitation Danny Elfman music and all. It’s a shame because the Court of Owls origin tale could have been legendary.
Gotham‘s multiple personality disorder was also on display with the Penguin this week. The story is great on paper with Penguin desperate to try and save his mother from Galavan. Penguin’s willingness to sacrifice his only true ally to save his mother and further his own ends should have been powerful. The whole cutting off Butch’s hand thing to make Galavan believe that there was a schism between Butch and Penguin, that’s great…but it was rendered impotent because the Penguin beat one of his own goons to death earlier in the episode.
If every scene is just going to be Penguin mutilating someone, it loses its impact and that’s exactly what happened. Butch’s mauling should have been shocking; instead it was just a rehash of Penguin’s violence. It’s desensitizing, and liked the Edwige stuff; it robbed a well conceived story idea of its impact. That being said, Penguin opposing Galavan adds an intriguing little wrinkle to the story and one can only look forward to Penguin and Gordon teaming to stop the (maybe) Court of Owls.
But let’s focus on some positives, namely the introduction of Michelle Ventimiglia’s Bridgit Pike. I’m not sure that Firefly really needs a legacy story, but here she is, in the role of the hapless kid sister of a crew of vicious arsonists. Pike’s story was desperate, tragic, and powerful with her just trying to please her brutal family and Selena Kyle trying to help her find her own identity. But Pike found power in the flames and built a really cool suit to help her in her arsonist tasks. This story also gave Selena some great screen time as she was now developing into a young girl who cannot and will not be controlled by others.
Firefly ended up having an impact as she accidently killed one of Gordon’s new Strikeforce allies. Last week, the series did a really good job establishing each member of the Strikeforce so it was powerful to watch a member die so violently, especially by a young girl who was so tortured by her own family. This was some good character stuff, but I’m not really sure Pike will be a long term addition to the show. Whether she goes out next week or not, at least, unlike so many other tacked n Batman villains, Firefly will be memorable.
As for the rest of the episode, Michael Chiklis was at his scenery chewing best. I do wish the writers would vet his lines a little more because some of them are just campy as hell, but Chiklis delivers them like a champ.
As for Gordon and the Riddler eating fondue together? Go home Gotham, you’re drunk.