This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 4 Episode 2
The GCPD has never been known for its competency as a fictional police force, but, as a narrative body, it has generally maintained some motivational consistency.
These have never been the most dedicated police officers in the world — prone to corruption, laziness, and a general apathy to the most vulnerable in their city — but they have never been as outright insubordinate as they have been thus far in Season 4. In this, the second episode of the season, they actively refuse to respond to a call at Arkham Asylum. And Harvey Bullock, the current captain of the GCPD, sides with them. They lot of them, save Gordon, much rather let things fall apart and have Penguin, a criminal, pick up the pieces.
The current employees of the GCPD don’t even pretend to do their jobs, which I really feel like is the least you can ask. Gotham has dropped the bar so low for its GCPD background characters that they don’t even bother with the charade of being decent cops. Why are they even there? How could Bullock not fire them or the city’s citizens themselves not demand more. I know the city of Gotham is a mess, but this is an unrealistic lack of response from a setting that is, ostensibly, supposed to resemble a real-life city.
I suppose this is all in an effort to make Jim Gordon a more heroic character, but that is a very lazy way to do it. Pro tip: Rather than lowering the bar for literally every other character on this show, try raising the bar for your hero-protagonist. Like, maybe Gordon’s motivation for catching Jonathan Crane should be more about stopping him from terrorizing people and less about winning a pissing contest with Penguin? Just an idea.
Scarecrow has always been a great Batman villain because he is a character-driven one in the sense that he tells us something vital about the characters he attacks: what they fear. I am a fan of Charlie Tahan’s protrayal of The Young Scarecrow. Furthermore, the Gotham production team does a great job bringing the alternate reality of fear and paranoia he draws from his victims to frightening life. I am eager to see what kind of character-driven havoc his character might wreak in the coming episodes.
That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of how they used Scarecrow in relation to Jim Gordon. Basically, stop trying to make the Lee/Jim thing happen. It’s clear that Jim’s greatest fear isn’t losing Lee, it’s losing the GCPD and the city. Basically, his greatest fear is the thing that is actually happening in his reality. It would have been interesting for Gotham to play with that parallel. What power does The Scarecrow have when your greatest fear — being the only member of the GCPD who gives a damn — has come to fruition? Well, scary clowns, but that’s pretty much always true.
While Gordon faced his fear of bloody bathtubs, Bruce faced the inside of a GCPD prison cell. This was played for laughs — and to be honest — was pretty funny, but also says something about GCPD’s lack of process. Like, shouldn’t Jim at least question Bruce before letting him go? He was found standing in the middle of a burglary. Privilege, amirite?
Bruce hits the streets again, continuing his emo teen path of vigilante justice. While Alfred tries to help by pretending to let Bruce go out on his own only to swoop in at the last minute to save him from a bullet to the brain, Lucius Fox actually does something useful. A la Batman Begins, Lucius gifts Young Master Bruce with some bulletproof kevlar… for his “rock-climbing.” (I’ll admit, I did love this gimmick. It reminded me a bit of Season 1 Oliver Queen on Arrow.) Fine, Alfred contributes a very Batman-like mask.
While the GCPD storyline may have been a laughable, redundant bust for me and the Proto-Batman stuff hit pretty predictable story beats, I have only nice things to say about the burgeoning alliance between Barbara (surprise! She’s not dead!), Tabitha, Selina, and, hopefully, Ivy. This group of power villainesses is sick and tired of not being taken seriously by the men in their lives. The best solution? Remove the men from their organizational hierarchies of power.
Barbara has a plan to sell weapons to all of the licensed criminals in the city. While Penguin doesn’t seem poised to let it happen, at least not without skimming a sizeable amount off of the top of Barbara’s profits, something tells me this new, zen-like Babs has something up her sleeve. (And who is funding her? It better not be a dude… It’s R’as al Ghul, isn’t it?)
This group has come a long way since that time Barbara let Selina and Ivy live in her sweet penthouse apartment back in Season 1 (I really hope Gotham references this at some point this season). I am 100% in for Gotham‘s twisted Birds of Prey storyline. If you need pointers, Bruce Wayne and the GCPD. This is what poetic justice looks like on Gotham.