This review contains spoilers.
1.9 Harvey Dent
Holy elaborate plan to steal explosives, Batman! This week’s Gotham was of the disappointing variety, failing to do much with the aftermath of Bullock’s game-changing rallying-the-troops moment from last week. While we had our hopes up for the newly-invigorated GCPD to start properly digging into the Wayne murder case, instead we got a disjointed selection of narrative strands that didn’t really settle into a cohesive whole.
Things didn’t exactly get off to a dynamite start, when convicted-explosives-expert-turned-plot-device Ian Hargrove enacted the most predictable in-transit break-out of all time. The revelation that someone else other than Hargrove was causing trouble was incredibly tame, and anyone who tuned into that segment with no prior Gotham knowledge would surely have thought the show was overflowing with lazy writing and cop show clichés.
What unfolded in the next hour was hardly better, with a muddled plot loosely connecting Fish Mooney to the week’s incredibly weak explodey-wodey adversary, who was blowing-up targeted locations to enrage Carmine Falcone. Almost an entire episode was dedicated to this plot, presumably to showcase Fish’s growing desire to take the mob boss down.
However, Smith’s performance failed to convey any passion for the quest, and the script’s bizarre lack of Falcone actor John Doman made the whole endeavour seem pointless. The lack of charisma or interesting motivations for Fish’s foot-soldier Hargrove only served to make things worse. This was an opportunity for a guest baddie to shine, but this new addition really didn’t. The best thing about this whole strand was the coy Joker reference in the money-burning scene.
The episode was penned by Ken Woodruff, the poor chap tasked with making dull real-estate negotiations seem interesting in earlier episode Arkham. He’s the go-to guy for plot-lite filler episodes, it would seem.
A greater grasp on the strengths of the core cast could have saved things here, but all of our usual saving graces offered little to redeem Harvey Dent – Bullock was completely gag-free (unless you count that centre-parting), Gordon was back to having nothing to do, and, saddest of all, Oswald Cobblepot’s scenes lacked his usual tension and intrigue. The whole episode felt like a flat time-waster where none of the main screen-time sharers achieved anything or moved forward emotionally.
The title character of this particular episode, Nicholas D’Agosto’s Harvey Dent, was an intriguing new addition though. Although starting his arc with coin-flipping, split-personalities and standing with half this face in shadows seems a tad bizarre, D’Agosto’s opaque performance left us guessing whether or not he’s a friend or foe at this stage. We look forward to spending a little more time getting to know the character, and hope the show doesn’t rush through his development too quickly. With the next episode being titled LoveCraft (after the also-currently-unreadable Wayne family rival also introduced here), it seems we’ll be seeing Dent again shortly.
Despite the inconsequential feel of this episode, there was one shake-up we enjoyed – the decision, however illogical, to house Selina Kyle at Wayne Manor. Seeing Bruce spend some time behaving like an ordinary child was a welcome change to his premature quest to become a pre-teen Batman. Some more of these fun scenes would be very much enjoyed.
To echo our comment from last week, what on earth is doing on with the romantic sideplot here? Having barely had time to see any signs of love between Jim and Barbara, we weren’t particularly shocked to see her walk out last week. Now, we’re equally nonplussed to learn that she is having an affair with Major Crimes’ Detective Montoya. It’s worrying that, nine episodes in, the central relationship here still feels in need of an injection of passion.
There was a lot of missteps this week, so were hoping for some speedy redemption from Gotham. To be brutally honest – the less we remember of this one, the better.
One final thought: although Oswald was a bit ineffectual this week, we do wonder what he’s plotting now that he knows Fish’s secret.
Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, The Mask here.
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