This review contains spoilers.
1.22 All Happy Families Are Alike
Holy plot twist, Batman! Indeed, Gotham’s season 1 finale was full of them, and it was hugely enjoyable to feel wrong-footed at every turn by a show that hasn’t always lived up to expectations.
From the pre-title scene of Falcone’s car being blown up by a bazooka, you could just tell that this was going to be an interesting ride. And while not everything worked perfectly, a large number of the strands were brought to satisfying end-of-season conclusions this week.
For all its teases, we do wish that the mob war had lasted a little longer, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t thrilling viewing. Fish’s return was handled well, with her subsequent indoctrination of Selina a nice touch, too. The fulcrum of the episode was undoubtedly the scene where Fish and Maroni had Falcone, Oswald and Jim tied up in an old warehouse, and it was a great eye-of-the-storm sequence.
There was a real sense here that anything could happen, with Jada Pinkett Smith and David Zayas both showcasing how far they’ve developed their roles. Neither of them were our favourites to start with, but their ‘babes’-based power struggle was one of the most tense dialogue scenes the show has ever produced. As a result, it’s a bit of a shame that they both shuffled off their mortal coils by the end of the episode. Well, Fish could return at a comic-book-sized stretch, perhaps, but it seems unlikely.
One of the best moments of the series came with Butch’s indecision when faced with the impossible choice of which would-be mob boss to kill. Again, here the dialogue of rapport between supporting characters was really beginning to shine, and it felt a shame that the episode had to wrap things up quickly in order to juggle all the other arcs.
Regardless, making Butch – a thankless lackey of a role from the start – the character on which Gotham’s future hangs was an inspired choice, and it paid off nicely with Oswald’s ‘I’M THE KING OF GOTHAM!’ victory yell. It would make sense for Jim to be the one pointing the gun, but the fact that the show sidestepped somewhat and gave us a less predictable turn of events was very welcome indeed.
Let’s just mention one more time how ruddy excellent Robin Lord Taylor has been all season, too. He went from loveable creep to unhinged obsessive this week, and he handled the transition very well. We can’t wait to see what he does on Gotham’s mob throne.
A little less successful were the other ‘time to refresh things before season 2’ transitions that took place for Selina, Nygma and Barbara. It made for a heck of finale having all these big character changes, but aren’t we rushing things a little if Gotham wants to be a ten season show like Smallville? That being said, Cory Michael Smith was delightful in his solitary scene this week, so it’s hard to complain too loudly about shoe-horned-at-the-last-minute character development.
It’s worth mentioning the action as well, especially Jim’s shoot-out in that scabby-looking hospital. It felt like Gotham’s version of a western-style shoot-out, and it makes sense that Jim’s attempts at guerrilla law enforcement would be bloody and dramatic affairs, seeing as he lacks the tactical nous and wonderful toys of Batman.
The handing-over of that symbolic knife on a sort-of rooftop was a great fan-pleasing moment, too, and brought to mind memories of The Long Halloween and The Dark Knight trilogy. Although Jim got a bit short changed in terms of character moments this week, it looks like he’ll be back in a bigger way next year.
One final thought, then: what do we think Bruce will find in that Bat Cave? Answers on the back of a postcard, please.
Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, The Anvil Or The Hammer, here.
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