Gotham, Season 2, Episode 7, “Mommy’s Little Monster”
Written by Robert Hull
Directed by Kenneth Fink
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on FOX
The season of Gotham comes to a turning point as more people are becoming well aware of Galavan’s evil plan, which may put things in his way. This is a fair time for this to happen, as Galavan has now become Mayor of Gotham City. Before having the power of the mayoral office, Galavan was already a force to be reckoned with, but now, with it, he may very well be unstoppable.
Galavan wastes no time either, initiating Marshal law for the interim until the Penguin is caught, which he does with the aid of Harvey Dent, who finally makes a return to Gotham. It makes sense that they would introduce more characters that are within Galavan’s sway, which is a good way to set up more obstacles for Gordon as he attempts to take down the new Mayor. Meanwhile, Galavan takes comfort in that the wheel continues to turn with Bruce, as he is ensured that no one else has his ear, by having his well-placed spy and ward Silver make sure that Bruce remains securely wrapped around her finger. The reveal of Silver’s active awareness of the evil plan takes away some complexity to her and Bruce’s relationship, which is a shame because Silver is not a villainous character in the comic books, but this is what Gotham wants to do, so it’s what they will do. There are some good interactions here, though, as Silver’s wickedness is discovered by Cat, which also brings an interesting development in the Bruce and Cat relationship.
Gordon is also starting to realize the truth about Galavan himself, as he puts the pieces together after his encounter with Butch in a truly fun shootout that is commandeered by Victor Szasz. The scene plays, again, like a western as Zsasz’s gang calls for Butch to come out, which leads to a brisk yet entertaining action set piece of Gordon and Bullock shooting machine guns through the bar doors. Some inconsequential and senseless violence is by all means a strong, tried and true Gotham staple.
“Mommy’s Little Monster” turns up the heat on the season, which although not revealing more about Galavan’s plan, puts the pieces into play for characters to finally take action against him. Soon enough we’ll discover more about Galavan’s evil secret sect and the wicked plans they have for Bruce. To what degree they want to utilize Bruce in their revenge against the city is still uncertain, but whatever it is, it is sure to be grisly and entertaining to see come to fruition.
It’s the moment Bruce and Cat shippers have dreaded, the meeting of Cat and Bruce’s new love interest, Silver St. Cloud. Gotham handles this by first letting the audience know that Silver is up to no good, showing that she is another conspirator in Galavan’s plan. Cat showing up at Bruce’s mansion is a moment of joy at first, as we find Bruce alone and they exchange some witty banter about why she never uses the door. Things quickly switch a beat as Silver returns, however, and awkwardness abounds. Having Cat visit Bruce plays well, as audiences know that Cat has had a rough week after the whole Brigit “Firefly” arc. She obviously would turn to Bruce to talk to about it, as there is no one else she can go to, being as much of a loner as she is. The scene of Cat meeting Silver goes as well as one could imagine, Silver pulling out the mean girl act on Cat effectively only to turn around and play the victim in front of Bruce; when Cat says, “You’re good”, it’s true. Natalie Alyn Lind is very believable and capable throughout these scenes. This brings Bruce and Cat to their little falling out, which works well enough, as this season will need to have Bruce turn against Cat before they can mend things once Bruce learns the truth about Galavan.
Meanwhile, Ed Nygma gets an evolutionary jump in his villainous ways as he comes to accept the beauty of getting away with murder. This realization is done well, utilizing visual cues from Fight Club to show the breaking down (or is it making up) of his mental state. The death of Kringle has had its effect on Nygma and it’s not quite what one would’ve imagined, but it gets us to where we need the character now. The riddle-making returns as he puts himself through the wringer in order to realize the truth about himself. It’s a good use of that aspect of Nygma’s riddle persona and Cory Michael Smith does a fine job portraying both sides as they finally merge. Hopefully now that they’ve fused together, the show will stop using the split personality trope and finally get us to more riddle-like crimes from here on out.
Things do not turn out well for the Penguin with his rescue operation to reclaim his mother. As one could’ve guessed, it turns out that Galavan had indeed undone the brainwashing of Butch and turned him against the Penguin for what could’ve been Penguin’s last stand, were the show willing to kill him off. Instead, Gotham does the next best thing and kills off his mother, making that be a driving force for him. It’s unfortunate that they kill off Gertrude Cobblepot, but not too surprising as Gotham never gave Carol Kane more to play other than dotingly oblivious mother who gets easily swept up by the charms of men. Kane gives Gertrude a grand death scene, as she continues to play the diluted Mother who cannot see her son for the monster that he is. Robin Lord Taylor is equally good in the scene as he profusely apologizes to her for all the actions that brought him to this moment. The grief weighs on Penguin throughout the episode and it shows in scenes when he watches Galavan on the television deliver very pointed words directed at him, describing him as someone that not even a mother could love, to when he pleads to Gordon why he needs to kill Galavan. Taylor makes excellent choices on how to play the Penguin’s grief that truly show that he was, indeed, Mommy’s little monster.
Case File: Election Party Massacre
After the Penguin breaks away from Galavan’s hold, he decides to put the GCPD to work apprehending the villain for him. Gotham has done a great job showing Galavan’s Machiavellian capability of manipulating people to do his dirty work for him and he continues to do so here using his power as Mayor-to-be to initiate Marshall Law in Gotham City. For Gotham this can hold a pretty bad precedent as Gordon notes, which smartly leads him to suspect Galavan of having ill intentions. The characterization of Galavan is done exceptionally well in both the writing and performance by James Frain, as he instantly notices that Gordon’s trust is wavering and confronts him head-on about it. Gordon on Gotham has always been a straightforward kind of guy and has never been able to keep his cards too close to his chest; that’s just not how Gordon plays cards, which is often to a fault. It’s always thrilling when Gordon decides to lay all the cards out on the table and there is a great instance of this when he reveals to the Penguin in front of Galavan that he knows who killed Gertrude Cobblepot, and then another grand moment when he basically tells Galavan to his face that he knows he’s up to no good. Although being so forthcoming is not the smartest way to go about confronting your enemies, it is the most honest, which is somewhat honorable and fitting a stance for Gordon to take. Ben McKenzie does a great job of selling Gordon’s self-righteousness with amicability, as he steps up to the task of taking down Galavan.
The attack on the Mayoral election hall sequence is done well, both displaying a grisly scene and creating a strong showdown between Penguin and Galavan. The concept of having the Penguin hide amongst a rookery of Penguin-garbed goons is a very clever use of a seemingly campy idea. That the goons are meant to protect the Penguin by putting their lives at risk and actually end up getting sniped down is where it becomes the Gotham tone that they aim for, which tends to hit the target of fun that is most fitting of black crust comedy over the cheese.
“Mommy’s Little Monster” is scripted by Gotham newcomer Robert Hull (former credits include Once Upon a Time and Veronica Mars). Hull handles the material well and makes certain to have the appropriate amount of humor and grit, with enough violent set pieces to fill the Gotham quota to the brim. There is a fair amount of exposition that recaps the season so far, and it is handled well, with Gordon reaching the appropriate conclusion about Galavan. It really helps to catch up the audience with the significant events so far and this episode could serve as a good entry point to the season as things start to come to a boil with Galavan’s plan with Bruce. The direction by Kenneth Fink fits great within the visual tone of Gotham and has really strong use of composition. For example, the scene in the GCPD where Captain Barnes rallies the troops before the Mayoral inauguration has Barnes perfectly centered, and in the scene when Galavan hides behind Gordon with only a peek of his head shown, making him look like a Devil whispering in Gordon’s ear to shoot the Penguin down. There is also a both comical and morbid use of the song “Closest to the Bone” by Louis Prima in the Nygma sequences, where he looks for where his alter-ego hid Ms. Kringle’s dead body. It’s very effective during the search and also telling of the character’s state of mind when the song makes a reprise post Nygma’s conversion. The episode officially dissolves the team-up of Galavan and Penguin and fully sets them at odds, and puts Gordon in the know of Galavan’s evildoing. It will be very exciting to see just how Gordon goes about taking on the newly instated Evil Mayor of Gotham.
- Strike Force? More like Strike-Out Force. One probably should’ve started a Strike Force: Unit Alpha death counter earlier as it seems they will be killing all the members off this season. First there was Luke Garrett burnt to a crisp by Firefly. This week it’s Sal Martinez, gruesomely maimed through the throat by Tigress. Now it’s just Josie Mac and Carl Pinkney left to go.
- “No honor amongst scumbags, huh?”—Harvey Bullock.
- “Do you even have a place?”—Lee to Gordon. This is hilarious because Gotham has never really showed Gordon’s own living space. Before Lee’s place, he’s either been at Barbara’s high-rise apartment or just at the GCPD.
- “That smell really slaps you in the face, doesn’t it, Alfred?”—Cat.
- “Questions like that are above my pay grade and below my sense of wonder.”—Bullock. This and Bullock’s statement about how little interest he has in whether Galavan is actually a villain, showing how Gotham City is blind to the corruption at the top and would rather focus on dealing with the scum that are on the streets.
- I know it’s a necessity that Tigress miss every kill shot on Penguin, so I could give it that maybe she shoots like a Stormtrooper when it comes to close range firing with a pistol, but she should’ve been able to make the shot with her sharpshooter rifle. Maybe she broke her heel after she stuck it through Martinez and was off kilter.
- “Alright, we’ll take that as a no.”—Victor Szasz. So there is a way to reason with an assassin; you just have to be more heavily armed than them.