Gotham Season 3 Episode 9: Executioner Review

On Gotham, you either die a morally-questionable character or live long enough to become a straight-up villain.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham Season 3, Episode 9

Gothamis a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to character development. On this show, either you die a morally-questionable character or you live long enough to become a straight-up villain. (That’s how that quote goes, right?) For Barnes, the latter came to full fruition in “Executioner,” thanks to a little help from Alice Tetch’s blood. 

Barnes v. Gordon.

The problem with Gothamtrying to sell the Evil Cop plot is that it looks a lot like its Hero Cop plot, i.e. the main character tension of one Jim Gordon. To be fair, the show seems to be aware of how uncomfortably close Barnes infected by a blood virus is to Jim Gordon’s just another Tuesday. Barnes and Jim have several conversations about the similarities while Barnes is holding Jim at gunpoint.

I’m not sure how good of a job Gotham does at articulating the difference. The script leaves a lot of the pressure of the execution of this storyline on Ben McKenzie’s acting ability, which the veteran leading man pulls off. “I’ll decide who I am,” he tells Barnes, resolutely, right before refusing to join Barnes’ justice-seeking mission. And that feels earned. It’s about time Gordon stopped with the moral angst and got down to the business of making some changes in Gotham. The kind of change Barnes is offering belongs to Gordon’s past. Jim isn’t that man anymore. (At least for this episode.)

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For me, this storyline would have had a lot more power if Jim were still a bounty hunter, implying that the resolution to this larger identity issue Gordon has been struggling with since season one is not resolved by the inconsistent, unhelpful GCPD, but rather by Jim’s own moral compass and painful self-reflection. In a city where corruption is systemic, institutions are often the enemy, but Gothamnever quite gets there with its critique. It’s all blood viruses and incompetence. In a country in the midst of a serious identity crisis about some of its most powerful institutions, Gothamis missing some serious opportunities to discuss the limits of a corrupt police force in a world that desperately needs certainty. 

Ivy reunites with Selina.

I have been dreading the reintroduction of aged-up Ivy Pepper into the main plot and that day has finally arrived. I could spent this entire recap ranting about the creepiness of this narrative decision, but I will try to move past that… for now. I will say that seeing Ivy with Selina and Bruce, aka characters who are the same age as her brain if not her body, was a relief. It was nice to see these three reunited, especially because Ivy worked as the perfect nosy friend to ask Selina and Bruce about their relationship status. (Bruce things they’re a couple, Selina does not.) It worked well as a source of humorous tension, while not relying too hard on the young, adorably awkward Bruce/Selina dynamic. I am cool with Gothamtaking it slow on this one.

Plot-wise, there was a lot going on here, too. Ivy sought Selina out only after she stole the wrong thing from the wrong person, leading some crossbow-wielding goons right to Selina’s hideout in search for the necklace-key that may or may not tie in with the larger Court of Owls plot of the season. (Because, seriously, who else would have crossbows but the Court of Owls?) Whomever is after the key hidden within the necklace, it’s got Selina and Ivy to move in to Wayne Manor a la that time they moved into Barbara’s apartment and I am for any plot move that consoldiates some of this show’s many, many characters into one place.

Ed comes to the wrong conclusions.

Ugh. It’s hard to watch this storyline play out. Not only because it’s heartbreaking for Gothamto seemingly throw away a chance at a riveting queer romance that feels more organic than any of the romantic relationships Gordon has undertaken (not to mention the week-long romance that was Ed/Isabella), but because it feels lazily predictable. It seems inevitable that Ed will eventually find out that it was Oswald who sabotaged Isabella’s breaks, effectively killing Ed’s girlfriend, rather than the suspected Butch. And, in the mean time, the secret casts a pall over the entire dynamic. Which is sad because we got the most adorable of hugs between these two in the aftermath of Isabella’s death.

That being said, it is still infinitely enjoyable to watch Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith play these beats. Oswald is trying so hard to be a good friend to Ed, despite having murdered his girlfriend and there’s something tragic about that character tension — at least when the ever-watchable Taylor takes it on. So pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in for the long run with these two. This is probably going to get worse before it gets… yeah, it’s just going to get worse. #Nymobblepot


3 out of 5