Gotham Season 3, Episode 16 Review: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions

Jim joins the Court of Owls while Bruce gets his martial arts on in a mediocre episode of Gotham.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham Season 3, Episode 16

You can see the shape of Gotham Season 3B in “These Delicate and Dark Obsessions,” but it’s not enough to know that all of these storylines might end up someplace pretty cool. In this filler of an episode, they’re just kind of predictable, with the audience one step ahead of the game every step of the way. Let’s break down the three major storylines of the night.

Penguin and Ivy became friends.

The most successful part of tonight’s episode was the Penguin/Ivy stuff. Picking up from where last week’s midseason premiere ended, Ivy is continuing to nurse Penguin back to health. Oswald handles it for as long as he can (which is not very long) before losing patience with Ivy’s adolescent company, literally laughing in her face when she says she thought they were friends.

Lucky for Oswald, Ivy is the forgiving sort. When Gabe turns on Penguin, Ivy agrees to help him, showing Oswald just how much he underestimated the “crazy plant lady’s” abiities. She is even a pretty good strategist. Not only does she sense that Gabe can’t be trusted, but she suggests Penguin refocus his recruiting efforts on the “freaks” who escaped from Indian Hill.

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This is a storyline I can get behind — and one that is fun to watch unfold from the very beginning. Maybe it’s the odd couple dynamic between Oswald and Ivy, maybe it’s the fact that every storyline Penguin touches turns to gold. Whatever the reason, this was the best part of “These Delicate and Dark Obsessions.”

Bruce begins his training with the Shaman.

The middle of the road storyline in tonight’s episode came with Bruce’s introduction to the Shaman. You gotta love Bruce Wayne who is so used to getting kidnapped at this point that he runs through his Kidnapping Question List upon waking up in some random temple.

As you might expect, the Shaman is not super forthcoming about what his plans are — though he actually does give Bruce some answers. (See? Sometimes you just need to ask your kidnappers what’s up in a clear manner.) Bruce finds out that Doppel-Bruce is pretending to be him back in Gotham. (Does anyone else think that Bruce has way too much faith in Alfred figuring it all out?)

He also explains to Bruce that he is there to make him ready to be Gotham’s protector. What does that mean exactly? It involves making Bruce relive the worst night of his life and fighting, Matrix/Doctor Strange-style, in this alternate reality. It also, presumably, will involve R’as al Ghul at some point. At this point, it’s unclear how the Shaman is related to the Court of Owls or what the Court of Owls wants exactly with Bruce. Like, are they just major Batman fans? Do they want to speed this origin story up? Are they us? Discuss in the comments below.

Jim Gordon joins the Court of Owls.

The least successful storyline of the night goes to Gordon’s continuing intrigues with the Court of Owls. (Does anyone else think the Court might have one of Malcolm Merlyn’s earthquake machines on their hands?) Like most of Gordon’s storylines, it’s unclear why the Court of Owls thinks Gordon is so special or why are they so obsessed with the Gordon family in general. Probably because Jim Gordon is the show’s protagonist. But that’s not a very good in-universe reason, especially in a city where it’s not that difficult to get officials or cops in your pocket.

The family drama worked a little bit better here, but not much. We’ve only just met Frank. He seemed like kind of a terrible guy. And his suicide was broadcast so heavily almost from the get-go of this character’s tenure on Gotham. That’s not to say it wasn’t affecting watching Jim watch his only (?) family member shoot himself, especially when what Jim really needs is a support system more than a membership in a super secret, super sketchy organization.

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Sure, the Court of Owls have cool masks and feathers, but they don’t seem like the types who will send flowers for Frank’s funeral. Or, if they do, they will come with a cryptic note inviting Jim to some secret masquerade or some such. Jim already has enough of that in his life. What he really needs more of is friends.

The bright light in tonight’s mediocre episode was the direction, undertaken by Gotham‘s very own Ben McKenzie. When actors step behind the camera, it’s not always a great fit. McKenzie proved himself more than up for the challenge. In a show that is consistently beautiful and an episode that had some tough visual moments, McKenzie offered some standout visuals. He imbued the graveyard scenes with an ethereal beauty and made Bruce’s frantic dashes through the labyrinth of the temple just as headspinning for the viewer. I’m not the biggest Jim Gordon fan, but that has never been Ben McKenzie’s fault. And this episode proved that he is a man f many talents.


2.5 out of 5