Gotham: Under the Knife review

It's round two with the Ogre as Barbara returns and the Riddler continues to evolve. Here's our latest Gotham review...

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

“Under the Knife” is about what we’ve all come to expect from an episode of Gotham is the second part of a multi-episode arc the likes of which this show hasn’t really attempted before. It’s ambitious, and its core “case” is one of the more reasonable that it’s attempted. 

Well, I’d better get on with it. Time for a walk down…

Park Row

David Mazouz, who has been excellent as young Bruce Wayne all season, may be the real standout this week. While I’m often annoyed by the force-feeding of the Bruce/Selina angles, I have to confess that the dynamic of their “date,” particularly Selina’s not thrilled demeanor over dressing up, was pretty charming. Even something as simple as Bruce introducing himself to (the dreaded) Barbara is a moment that just feels completely in keeping with how this haunted young man would conduct himself. There’s always that element of sadness there.

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“The Ogre” case really could have/should have been the highlight of this season, and in many ways, it’s closer to what I wish Gotham was more often. This is a case with no obvious ties to Batman, he’s a villain with a unique (if unbelievable) M.O., and it’s something that is forcing Gordon and Bullock to do some actual detective work on. 

I’m not sure where they’re going with the plastic surgery angle, but it’s all suitably Batman-y, and it’s nice to see this show trying to work on its own mythology rather than teasing things that won’t matter for another decade. Also, the old “corpse in the bed” routine, while a regular staple of procedural television, was suitably skeevy. Plus, damn it, Gotham is supposed to be a police procedural show first and a Batman show second, so I’d rather see them deploy those tropes more often and more effectively like they did here.

Even though I maintain that the Penguin’s arc has run out of steam, I have to confess that the moment with Maroni and Gertrude was pretty intense. The thing is: hasn’t it been implied more than once that she knows, even encourages, the fact that her son isn’t an angel? If she’s just playing dumb with Maroni, why does she keep up the act at home? Unless she’s even more formidable than we suspected. 

uh-oh…put that map away, you look like a tourist, because now we’re on…

Crime Alley

I’m willing to bet that if there’s one thing that Gotham lovers and Gotham haters can agree on, it’s that Barbara Kean is an utterly loathsome, terribly written, ridiculously underdeveloped, insulting stereotype of a character, and every time she shows up, the show is surely off to nonsense land. Well, here’s the bad news: not only is Barbara back this weekm she’s a crucial component of the episode, and likely of the remaining two after this one, as well.

Also, why the hell is Selina Kyle still living with Barbara? They’ve been roommates for, what, weeks? Months? Bruce introducing himself, outing himself as a friend of Jim Gordon, while Selina looks on in the background is basically everything wrong with the conveniences of this show spelled out in one handy, three minute scene.

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Oh Riddler/Kringle romance arc, let me count the ways in which you are vile and intelligence insulting. Wait, I can’t keep track. Needless to say, the idea that the thing that finally tips Ed Nygma into a life of crime is continued romantic rejection in the workplace wouldn’t fly on a Scooby-Doo episode (as in, a bad one from from the Scrappy-Doo era, because I won’t tarnish the name of good Scooby-Doo episodes) and it sure as hell shouldn’t be done to one of the greatest villains in Batman history.

Y’see, Ms. Kringle’s Dean Ambrose lookalike boyfriend/cop is actually an abusive douchebag. So, of course, Ed murders him, with a stabbing that is so overtly sexual (after we had just learned that he’s a virgin) that its subtlety would have been right at home in a freshman student film.

Even though the Ogre case itself is interesting, it doesn’t change the fact that adding the police cover-up layer to the story just makes things impossible to swallow. We’re meant to believe that this guy has offed more than one cop’s loved ones and that abject fear has kept the entire freakin’ GCPD in line? I mean, we know they are corrupt on a good day, incompetent on a bad one, but now they’re cowardly, too?

Gotham Central

– I’m sure this has been mentioned before, but the gallery where the Wayne Enterprises charity ball is being held is the Fledermaus gallery. Fledermaus is “bat,” which is obvious enough. But in Batman Begins, the Waynes were offed right after they went to the opera…Die Fledermaus.

– By the way, I can’t hear the words “charity ball” in the context of Batman without hearing Robert Wuhl’s voice referring to Bruce Wayne’s “big charity balls.”

– Oh, look…Edward Nygma wears a green smock during his investigation. Oh, and he drives a green car! Oh, and watermelons are green! You know who else is green? The Riddler! You knew that already, but Gotham wants to make absolutely, positively, certain that you know that, because god forbid anything should develop normally on this show.

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– Something goes down at “Grant and 80th.” Grant could be a reference to Batman writer extraordinaire Grant Morrison or a different Scottish Batman writer, the tremendously underrated Alan Grant, who did some tremendous work on Detective Comics in the ’90s.


2.5 out of 5