This week’s episode of Gotham follows up “Red Hood” just after Alfred’s wounding, which brings a reunion between Gordon and Bruce. But instead of progressing Bruce’s story, this episode prolongs their separation again for another week so that Gordon can make some genuine headway in establishing some order within the GCPD. This has been an ongoing process for Gordon in making a change to the corrupt system, and his effect on it has been gradual, as every time Gordon thinks he has made a significant achievement, he finds that he has only cured a symptom and not the cause. This has been a beat that Gotham has repeated a few times during this second half of the season, and it’s almost to the point of being overly repetitive, but it seems as though Gordon’s promotion to President of the Policeman’s union position may be the level where he can be most effective, and the season can finally move on without resetting Gordon back to the start again.
The episode also progresses Fish Mooney’s plot a bit, as we are finally introduced to Dr. Francis Dulmacher (otherwise known as the Dollmaker), a villain who has been stealing body parts from his prisoners in order to perform black market surgery for the wealthy elite, as well as indulging in his own demented experimentation. This story is as pitch dark as Gotham gets, as it often goes grim and gory for its more theatrical characters. Colm Feore portrays Dr. Dulmacher in the manner of an Anthony Hopkins-esque Hannibal Lecter, which feels like a natural fit within the Gotham rogue gallery of characters. Fish shows versatility in her allegiance, which only gets her so far, as it is revealed to her that there is nowhere to run. The prison where they are is an island, which will surely make it that much harder for Fish to find her way back to Gotham in the coming episodes.
As we head into the final four episodes of the season, there will certainly be more development with Fish, as well as Bruce and the evil board of Wayne Enterprises, which may even have Bruce and Cat teaming up at some point, as Cat says “You know how to find me.” This episode does a good job at escalating Gordon’s story, and also works out some dynamics between characters and Gordon in ways that shows growth, but here’s hoping that the following episodes develop the Bruce storyline further.
In this episode, there is some friction in the relationship between Gordon and Bullock, as Gordon learns that Bullock had given testimony to allow Detective Arnold Flass to get off on his crimes. Their dynamic has had the most change throughout the season, particularly on the side of Bullock, who has become full team Gordon. Gordon has been a little bit more reluctant in accepting Bullock, but after this episode, it seems like they are good as gold now. Ben McKenzie as Gordon and Donal Logue as Bullock have been at the center of the series and the driving force of at least the procedural side of things, and although Logue may be downplayed at times, both have done extraordinary jobs at defining these characters and making them their own. McKenzie plays Gordon with facial expressions that speak volumes without saying a word, and Logue is an expert at quip delivery and general charisma.
It feels as though the past couple of episodes has had The Penguin be the punching bag of the series, and though that aspect of the character does have its place, there are other facets to the character that are much more interesting, like when he has the upper hand, or is unfurling a plan, or exploiting information he has over someone else. This episode shows that side of him, and Robin Lord Taylor is delightful when he’s playing the Penguin as menacingly as he does in the final scenes of the episode. There is sure to be more devious Penguin power plays ahead, in particular when he finally turns in his chips to Gordon for that favor.
Although the Fish Mooney plot has set her off far from Gotham City, at least for the moment, it has been fairly compelling. The character alone has dimensions that are outstandingly demonstrated by Jada Pinkett-Smith. What is truly fascinating is that within these last few episodes, it appears that the character has had an evolutionary upgrade, particularly after she viciously scooped out her eye. Fish now has a new defining character trait of one brown and one bright blue eye. It seems like Fish is still coming into her own in her origin story, much in the same way that other already established villains on the series are. Jonathan Crane has been exposed to the fear gas and thus begins his journey to becoming Scarecrow; Jerome has homicidal tendencies and has started to act on them, which puts him on his path to becoming the Joker. Perhaps Fish Mooney is still becoming her own villain, and her full potential is yet to come. Either way, as this series’ original character, she is clearly one of the main threads that makes this show worth watching week in and week out.
The case of the week addresses the root of the of the GCPD corruption, and develops the relationship between Gordon and Bullock, as well as their partnership. The truth is revealed about Commissioner Loeb, as he is indeed in cahoots with Falcone, who is keeping the police in line by forcing them to do his group’s dirty work, such as murdering their loose ends, and then using that crime as leverage to keep the police under control. Gotham has often hinted that Bullock had committed crimes in servitude to Loeb and Falcone, and in this episode, they allow the audience to see Bullock’s conscience being filled with guilt and regret. The end result of the episode allows Bullock some kind of release from the corrupt control, and perhaps establishes him as Gordon’s true partner from here on out.
As the episode centered on the corruption of the GCPD and seemed to spotlight Gordon’s allies, such as Cpt. Sarah Essen and Harvey Dent, it feels like a missed opportunity not to include Crispus Allen or Renee Montoya among those on the side of good. It’s a real shame that they have well known characters at their disposal on the show, but do not utilize them. Maybe next season, they will finally get their due.
As far as Commissioner Loeb’s “Cobblepot” goes, it feels like a fairly weak one to have over him. It’s not like he committed the murder of his wife, more like he is just protecting his daughter. Gotham may have done this purposefully to show how far Gordon is willing to go in order to set things right in the GCPD, and that shows a lot of progression in his part. Another means to an end compromise that Gordon has to cross is making a deal with the devil in the form of The Penguin, which undoubtedly will test Gordon’s moral ethics in episodes to come. Strangely, this plot point feels also familiar, as this was a beat that was teased at in the end of an earlier episode, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon.”
This episode is written by Megan Mostyn-Brown, who also, strangely enough, wrote “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”, which hits a few of the same notes as this episode, such as Gordon getting a win over Detective Flass and getting aid from the Penguin, except the subsequent episodes didn’t follow up with those beats as much as downplayed them. This seems to be another episode that may have been added to pad out the extended season order, with the difference being that the writing is a bit tighter, and the seams aren’t showing as much. Along with the writing, the episode has fine direction by Bill Eagles that paces the story well, with some fairly extravagant scenes in the out of town cabin, unassuming characters that could be drawn from a film like Fargo, and Gothic imagery that seems straight out of a book like Jane Eyre. It’s a well made episode that feels like it’s mostly setting up the pieces so we can move forward into the next few episodes.
- The scene with Jeffrey Combs as a mass of mismatched stitched together body parts is so creepy.
- Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker in the same episode had me hoping that Miriam Loeb would turn out to be Lena Dunham, for the weirdest crossover between HBO’s Girls and Gotham.
- Hey, Ed Nygma! Here’s a riddle: What is between ‘T’ and ‘V’ and doesn’t have a chance with Kristin Kringle? Get a clue!
- Finding out that the prison that Fish is in is actually on an island brings to mind The Island of Lost Souls or The Island of Dr. Moreau.
- “I always hated that picture.” – Bullock, upon reading his own incriminating file.
- This episode also could’ve used more Morena Baccarin. Just saying.
- Gotham will return Monday April 13th, 2015. Same Bat time, same Bat channel!