This review contains spoilers.
Gotham: It’s like Game Of Thrones without dragons! Not really (if it was. Barbara would totes have dragons), but let’s give Gotham credit for creating this fiefdom-like struggle for the suddenly very medieval modern city. The No Man’s Land status quo of Gotham is one hell of a story engine that could add some great dénouements to the multi-season members of the huge cast. It allows for the final season to be so much more than a ‘baddie of the week’ type of deal and truly could turn the final season into a crazy ensemble piece. Gotham could be all that; but it isn’t. Not this week, anyway.
We start things off with Gordon and the GCPD going after a new gang called the Soothsayers. The Soothsayers seem to be some kind of Bane prologue as the group is led by a gas mask-wearing anarchist named Sykes. Is Sykes Bane? No. Sykes is played by Alex Morf while whatever form of Bane that’s going to appear on Gotham will be played by Shane West. Is Sykes connected to Bane? Sure, I guess. Sykes and his gang wear gas masks and inhale some kind of inconclusive vapour drug called smoke. Maybe they should open a JUUL shop. An evil JUUL shop. “After Gotham is in ashes, I give you permission to vape.” Where am I? Bane?
So yeah, Sykes and the Soothsayers are totally Temple of Doom-style enslaving a bunch of kids to dig trade tunnels under Gotham. Gordon races to the rescue, gets involved in a gang fight with Sykes’ S&M-looking thugs and a bunch of masquerade Hot Topic-looking thugs. Yeah, to defeat the Soothsayers and save the day, Gordon and company must enter the Joel Schumacher section of Gotham. No rubber nipples are present, but there are neon painted gangs aplenty! How does that work exactly? “Imma go out and rob some people, but first let me spend six hours carefully applying this very expensive black light paint.” It’s all kind of a mess and just serves to introduce more players in a series that is already choking on its humongous cast.
I do like Gordon’s dedication, however. He is unwavering in his civic duty and isn’t going through the usual “Am I a good cop?” routine. Gordon and Bullock are just trying to help as many folks as they can for as long as they can. Too bad the big foil of the season so far is a radio. Gordon is trying to beg the federal government for aid after Gotham’s been cut off from the rest of the United States. It’s all kind of very Under The Dome–like, so look forward to lots of scenes of Gordon yelling at bureaucrats on a ham radio. DRAMA! Hey, doesn’t Gordon know we’re in the midst of a government shutdown? I guess cutting off Gotham from the rest of the nation is very MAGA? Who needs those killer clowns, penguin people, and Ra’s Al Ghuls sneaking across the Gotham border?
Let’s check in on Bruce and Selina. Bruce’s hunt for the Witch continues. Last week, I speculated it could be Zatanna, but I’m a moron, because clearly the woman that can cure the paralysed Selina Kyle is none other than Poison Ivy! I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been watching the series for five years. What the hell is wrong with me? Anyway, things really get medieval as a group of angry Gothamites (complete with cockney accents. Really?) attack the Witch in her greenhouse and lock her in a salted, lightless, waterless room. Things take a very Universal Monsters twist as an angry mob is called to take down the plant-controlling witch once and for all. I mean, where did this ol’ blimey group come from, the Little Ye Olde England neighbourhood of Gotham City? I mean, Gotham has been cut off from the rest of the U.S. for five minutes, why has everyone reverted to ignorant agrarian villager mode, complete with pitch forks?!
Anyway, in a cool little moment, Ivy kills the villagers, acts all angry at Selina because of the future Catwoman destroying the last of the Lazarus water, but gives in and gives Bruce a magical cure of all seed. Well, that’s… convenient. Ivy gives Bruce the seed that will cure Selina but also unlocks the darker side of her personality. Gotham is just throwing shit to the wall at this point, isn’t it? So Bruce brings the seed to Selina, so why not just eat the seed the crazy plant witch gives you after she calls Selina a bitch and blames her for destroying the last of the Lazarus water? Scarecrow uses fear gas but is Ivy using stupid gas on these kids? But there you go.
After a pretty well done shootout between the GCPD, the pseudo-Bane people led by Sykes, and the masquerade mime people, the trend of characters acting stupidly continues in a creepy hotel. Gordon, Bullock, and the leader of the slave kids named Gabrielle end up at some kind of murder motel where Bullock finds plates filled with teeth and fingers (Oh, Gotham), and we are formally introduced to the character of Mother. Mother attacks the cops and kids, but Gordon fends her off as Gotham continues to careen from one thing to another in OCD-like fashion. Mother snarls a bit and acts like a PG-13 Scooby-Doo villain before our heroes escape and make it to a safe part of Gotham where Lucius Fox awaits. It all ends with the Bane people attacking, but Barbara shows up in a Mad Max dune buggy and saves the cops because she needs them to help in her war of vengeance against Penguin. Okay, we like Barbara, Barbara is cool. What was the point of all this? There were Bane people and then Mother and some well-dressed day glo killers, and fighting. Gotham usually somehow pulls it all off with sheer story guts and gumption, but this week is just loud and ponderous.
But hey, there’s more! Last week, we learned that Edward Nygma was caught between a war of personalities. This week, Riddler chains himself to the bed to avoid his somnambulist excursions but discovers he had kidnapped and tortured some member of a biker gang. Why? We’re not told, and Edward doesn’t remember. Okay, that’s kind of funny. But it adds another gang to the mix. Gotham is always at its best when it focuses on Riddler, Penguin, or one of the sorta’ Jokers, so let’s hope the Riddler craziness takes us some place fun.
And we end with Bruce delivering Ivy’s gift to the fallen Selina. Bruce’s unwarranted faith in Ivy pays off as the gummy seed thing does its curative job, and Selina can walk again. But now she has cat eyes because why not just convolute things further? I think Gotham is still a bit tipsy from New Year.
I think it’s obvious to say that while Gotham is usually subjectively fun due to the sheer amount of insane storytelling, this week was overstuffed and overwrought. Jeremiah and more Penguin are on the way, so I’m sure things will be fine. But oooof, this week carried a tonne of story baggage and stuffed in moments with characters acting stupidly for plot convenience. It’s only episode two, so I’m certain the fallout and continuation of No Man’s Land will satisfy. And hey, if not, we can at least see how many new characters Gotham tries to stuff in.
I’m holding out for Kite-Man. Hell yeah.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Year Zero, here.