This review contains spoilers.
Holy mid-season cliff-hanger, Batman! This week’s Gotham ended the first half of the show’s debut run (to return next year) on a confident footing, pulling together all its narrative strands with a rare all-inclusive plot. As such, there wasn’t much room for performances to stand out, but the plot was solid enough to hold it all together.
After a Wayne Manor gardener met a cruel fate, we were met with young Bruce balancing on beams, and another charming look at how the camaraderie between Gotham’s central weirdo kids could go on to define them both as adults. For once, this scene of Bruce training didn’t seem forced. The same could be said of his roof-jumping sequence, which riffed on a popular superhero origin trope whilst offering some solid entertainment too.
While mansion-under-attack quickly became a recurring trope in Arrow, the attempted-kidnapping of Selina was the first time we’ve seen the tranquility of Wayne Manor interrupted in the show, and it made for a really fun sequence of events too. Having had plenty of hints that Sean Pertwee’s Alfred is a total bad-ass, it was joyous to receive some proper pay-off for that as he took on three baddies at once, hit them with sticks and later gave Fish Mooney a talking to. If Pertwee’s felt a bit underutilised so far, that was certainly remedied in Lovecraft.
Speaking of Lovecraft, Gotham really does love naming episodes after minor characters, doesn’t it? Despite only appearing in a couple of scenes, the character did make a decent impact though. We’re left wondering who ordered the hit on Selina, whether Bruce was actually ever a target and what the hell really inspired the murder of the Waynes.
Someone, potentially a character we already know, seems very keen to keep their secrets hidden. If it wasn’t Lovecraft, and it seems highly unlikely given his prompt murder, then who? The GCPD, Wayne Industries, the mob, or maybe an alliance between them? It’ll be interesting to find out, but we will surely be waiting until at least the season finale proper for that one.
This week though, Jim’s quest for truth (now with welcome added Bullock) and someone else’s quest for not-truth came to a head in a satisfying high-stakes show where all the key players had decent motivations and serious consequences – Bruce, Alfred, Cat, Jim, Bullock, Oswald, Fish and even Falcone all had something to lose this week, even if only Jim actually suffered in the end.
As ever, the role of the mid-season finale is to shake things up and ensure people come back for more when the show returns. It is also prime time for a soft-reboot, which we a saw a bit of this week. Bruce and Selina are now open to adventuring out of Wayne Manor, Ivy has reappeared as a potential threat, Alfred is now an arse-kicker, Bullock is now aware of the Wayne investigation, Oswald is no longer 100% trusted, Falcone knows something is up, Barbara is nowhere to be seen, Major Crimes have disappeared and Jim has told the mayor to kiss his ass and sodded of to Arkham Asylum as a security officer.
Of course, Jim will remain our protagonist, but putting him outside the nest of the GCPD surely opens him up to more direct danger from the mob. Arkham, now an actual setting, is surely set to include many mysteries for him to get his teeth into. We’d expect the Wayne case to remain prevalent, but it looks like Jim will be exploring this from another angle now.
Big kudos are deserved by Rebecca Dameron for coming in for her first episode as writer and really pulling it off. More in future, please.
One final thought: Anyone else think the score was markedly better this week? Flashes of the Oswald theme and the action-accompanying parps sounded great to this writer.
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