Season One, Episode Nineteen – “Beasts of Prey”
By Jarrod Jones. We’re finally in the last stretch of the first season of Gotham, and somehow — inexpicably — the show feels pretty confident that it can squeeze one last major-league villain into the proceedings. Milo Ventimiglia gets shoehorned into the show via a series of patently stupid flashbacks because there’s only four episodes to go and time’s a-wastin’. Nevermind they had a whole goddamn season to subtly introduce the serial killer known as the Ogre, but there needed to be that time Jim went to the circus, so y’know. Priorities. Now we have to suffer more cat-and-mouse (and Bullock sass) that will ultimately mean nothing and go nowhere.
WHAT WORKED: Heh. That’s pretty funny.
WHAT DIDN’T: Milo Ventimiglia certainly has the dapper charm and simmering malice to be an effective foil, but Gotham isn’t the type of show that takes advantage of its assets. Instead, the manner in which Gotham chooses to introduce its latest big bad is a trainwreck that’s wholly indicative of its notoriously poor narrative planning. That we have to sit through three separate flashbacks (which, who was having those anyway? us?) in order to meet and grow to understand the Ogre just shows that this series’ crew of writers simply do not know how to plan a season’s worth of show. In order for the Ogre to matter, it might have helped if he’d popped up here and there in the ten years Gotham‘s been on the air. (Wait, what? Only one season? Get the hell out of here.)
Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) went from one of Gotham’s most powerful mobsters to becoming a white-robed revolutionary within nineteen episodes. I don’t know if I’m too biased against this show to see brilliant character building, or if the show just made all this shit up as they went along. Either way, her particular plot-line not only squandered the use of two brilliant character actors (Colm Feore and Jeffrey Combs), but it’s gone absolutely nowhere in spite of the fireworks the show provided this week. Guess they had to wrap up the Dollmaker subplot in order to get Fish back to Gotham City asap, because there’s only three episodes left, and we need to hurry up and probably kill her off.
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) goes on the hunt for the man who betrayed Alfred (Sean Pertwee) this week, and guess what: Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is coming along for the ride. Thematically, having Selina act as Bruce’s guardian angel during these crucial formative years is an inspired narrative choice, but let’s get real: the series’ writers don’t know what those words even mean.
Oh, and in case anybody forgot: The Penguin was in this episode too, in a downright surreal subplot that included a pissed off, rolling-pin toting Italian mama (I shit you not). The end game? To use the lady’s bar in order to stage a coup d’état on Don Maroni. Imagine if Michael Corleone had to go rescue a young woman for her virtuous, God-fearing mother in order to be allowed to kill Sollozzo and McClusksy in the middle of Godfather One. You’d think that was pretty stupid, yes? Underwhelming? Surreal? Well, you’d be right.
BEST LINE: “Oh, what wonders I’m going to make of your parts.” – Dollmaker. When there is so little to work with, you take what you can get, aim for the sky, and hope for the best. But really, holy cow, somebody said that out loud.
BEST MOMENT: Gordon telling Loeb what’s up. Ben McKenzie’s cartoonishly pensive, square-jawed Gordon (think Dick Tracy mixed with your high school girlfriend’s dad) doesn’t get a whole lot to do but sit dumbfounded by the insanity that surrounds him, but when the show eases up and let’s the man push himself, I remember why I got so excited to see him cast as the Commish in the first place.
EPISODE’S MVP: Bupkis. With the episode stretched so thin over all its disparate plotlines, there’s absolutely nobody who stood out this week. Milo Ventimiglia’s character is such a laughably insipid cliche and so completely derivitive that any level of performance is completely eclipsed by the fact.
– I’m guessing the producers told Fish to leave the Dollmaker alive. Y’know. For the next season.
– By the way, when everyone’s telling Gordon that the Ogre is likely to target Dr. Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) as his next victim, all I could think was, “naw, only Barbara’s dumb enough to get roped up by that maniac.” I had a good chuckle and tried to move on with my life, when… Well. Just watch this. *sigh* All too easy.