Season One, Episode Twenty-Two — “All Happy Families Are Alike”
By Jarrod Jones. “I know. I’m letting you down.” Oh, Don Falcone. You’ll never know how right you were. Y’know, it’s funny. Gotham‘s first season finale has so many nods to how tragically terrible this whole debacle actually was that’s it’s next to impossible to believe that it wasn’t on purpose. It attempts to act as a springboard to its next season, but it also adopts an “all or nothing” approach that utterly decimates any hope for what’s to come. Barbara Kean becomes a knife-wielding psycho. The Penguin develops an odd twitch. And two players in Gotham City’s mob war die, though one of them probably shouldn’t have. I suppose Bruno Heller’s show feels it can deviate from the Batman’s legend because they think they can do better. Now that’s pretty funny.
WHAT WORKED: Nope.
WHAT DIDN’T: We all knew that the aftermath of the Ogre’s (Milo Ventimiglia) stabby parade would leave behind consequences for Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), but I don’t think anyone was really prepared for that moment when she pulled out a knife on Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Manifest destiny? Well, sure, and in retrospect, I suppose a life of emotional and mental instability was really the only place the series’ writers could take Barbara Kean. But a knife-wielding psychopath who stabs her parents to death and tries to kill Jim Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) latest squeeze? Either Bruno Heller never read a Batman comic book in his life, or worse, he did, and hated it.
Fish Mooney’s (Jada Pinkett-Smith) return to Gotham City was a foregone conclusion, but having the woman bump into Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) for no reason whatsoever before her tastefully trashy heels could even touch the ground is the epitome of Gotham‘s “just make it happen” narrative attitude. We know Selina Kyle is going to grow up rough. But slapping the future Catwoman with a pompadour and an assault rifle because she likes the cut of Fish’s jib is an exquisite example of how tone-deaf Gotham truly is. Ick.
If you believe a single goddamned word Gotham tells you, Jim Gordon is supposed to be the morally compromised man at the center of a criminally depraved hurricane. But Gordon’s complicity in abetting Carmine Falcone (John Doman, who appears to have ceased faking a horrible Italian stereotype) in the face of a bloody mob massacre — on top of being totally fine with threatening the life of his jerkoff commissioner (Peter Scolari) — just shows that Gordon is a part of the problem. “Don’t salute me; it makes you look like a rube,” he tells a rookie cop who attempts to show some solidarity during one of the GCPD’s most strenuous days ever (though the rest of the police force, including Zabryna Guevara’s Captain Sarah Essen, utterly vanishes for the rest of the show). Gordon isn’t the hero he’s made out to be; he’s the chump who’ll presumably be the one guy a certain vigilante will come to rely on some day. And isn’t that hilarious.
While all this mob buffoonery goes on (where David Zayas’ Sal Maroni takes a bullet between the eyes, which, whaaa — ?!), Li’l Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) spend all of Gotham‘s finale leafing through books and generally getting pissed at each other. They’re searching for Thomas Wayne’s little secret (which, spoilers, is the goddamned Bat-Cave), but we’re still not exactly clear on what the hell Bruce’s dad actually did, other than act complicitly in whatever the hell Wayne Enterprises is up to (and was Thomas a surgeon? Because I’m beginning to think the show changed that too). It’s a subplot that goes nowhere except down. Literally. And doesn’t that make total sense.
“Butch, my baby, what did they do to you?” – Fish. “Nothing good.” – Butch.
“Hope? It’s for losers.” Loeb. Boy, you said it.
BEST MOMENT: The credits roll. Even when Fox made an attempt to foist another “edgy”, “different”, potentially just-as-disastrous series our way (M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines), there was a final peace that came with knowing that — even though a second season is right around the corner — I will never, ever have to watch another second of Gotham. And for that, I am truly grateful.
EPISODE’S MVP: Looking back on the series in full, Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot, Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma, and Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock were the only stand-outs of the series, and the careers of all three men will endure. But as for this episode? You get the hell out of here.
TO THE BAT-CAVE:
– “You’re all twisted up over what happened to Barbara.” – Bullock. “Yeah, maybe.” – Gordon. No, definitely.
– I suppose ambulances in Gotham City are bulletproof? That would make sense.
– And then Barbara pulled out a knife.
– Now that Barbara is (presumably) getting tossed away in Arkham, it’s safe to say that Gotham isn’t gonna be working that Batgirl angle. Odd for a show not known for restraint.
– Don Maroni is dead. I guess Harvey Dent is going to be just fine?
– Is it just me, or wasn’t Richard Kind in this show?