Gotham, Season 2, Episode 10, “The Son of Gotham”
Written by John Stephens
Directed by Rob Bailey
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on FOX
Gotham returns to form with another excellent installment that is set to bring the entire Galavan story arc to a truly exciting conclusion. Despite being mostly set up for next week’s mid-season finale, this episode has more than enough good action, great character moments, smart narrative turns, and interesting plot developments to make it more than worthwhile.
Following last week’s detour, “The Son of Gotham” picks up the momentum and brings Gordon up to date with the truth about Galavan’s surname of Dumas, something that viewers and The Penguin learned quite some time ago. Most of this episode shows Gordon putting the pieces together about Galavan’s connection to the Order of St. Dumas but without allowing Gordon any real proof to keep Galavan behind bars. The development of Galavan’s plan with all its twists and turns is making more and more sense, as we’ve come to learn that Galvan is a true showman who does have everything planned out in his favor. It is proven that the ruse of having Mayor James be rescued by the GCPD and allowing himself to be arrested was all in service of his plan to discredit Gordon and set all blame to The Penguin, all the while making Galavan appear as a forgiving and understanding man when he presents himself to Gordon to make amends. Galavan has made it so however Gordon reacts, it will be a win for him. If Gordon submits to his power by accepting his handshake or if Gordon takes out his frustration on him (and in front of the Gotham public, no less), either way Galavan comes out on top while Gordon is made to look like a madman, attacking the standing Mayor. Galavan has been a genius villain throughout the season, with James Frain’s portrayal of him as compelling as he is entertaining, especially when we get to peel back another layer of how threatening a villain he is, with a scene that has him giddily take a moment out of his schedule just to thoroughly kick Gordon’s ass for fun. The way Frain mocks Gordon is wickedly charming, especially considering how many times he allowed Gordon to just full-on sock him in the face in previous episodes.
The other main plot this week returns Bruce to trying to uncover what Galavan had learned about the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and it’s perhaps the strongest story of the episode. After last week’s undermining of Bruce’s prowess, we get the opposite here, where Bruce shows signs of the hero he will become. It is made clear that this is a change that has happened within Bruce and perhaps last week’s downslope may’ve not have been an entire needless beat. From here on in we should be seeing a less trusting Bruce that is a little more adept at lying to get what he needs.
“The Son of Gotham” succeeds in bringing lots of greatly staged action, amazing performances, and promising development that will place Bruce in peril at the hands of Galavan. Surely we know Bruce is in not truly in harm’s way, but the fun will come from seeing how he gets out of danger and perhaps finding that it may’ve come at some cost. After all, this is Gotham, where there are few that are truly safe, and this show is not afraid of dropping a few jewels from off of its crown. Because, like Bullock says, “just when you think Gotham has shown her last jewel, she reveals herself like a flower”.
The highlight this week, in an overall great episode, comes in Bruce’s plot, as he tries to press Silver for the name of the man who killed Bruce’s parents. The way this story develops is just about pitch perfect, as we are made aware that Bruce and Cat are planning to pull one over on Silver, but are not privy to the extent of the scheme until the turn is revealed. There is a interesting moment when Cat makes a point to remind Bruce that they still need to get the name, even after it being Bruce’s initial attempt to lure out the information from Silver. This beat is particularly notable because of when and how Cat says it: She says it with annoyance sometime after Bruce kisses Silver. Cat’s face appears to be irritated in a way as to say, “Aw, I thought that was our thing.” It’s also a reminder of sorts of last year’s mid-season finale kiss. We get a lot of strong moments from Bruce as he learns to deceive Silver and does so with such skill as coached by Cat.
There are also some really great Silver moments as we see both sides of her face, the one she showed Bruce and the side that is the truth. There is more to her story here, as it appears that Silver may be afraid for her life and she genuinely pleads to Bruce’s better nature. We may not know what exactly made her the cohort of Galavan, but this fear she has of him reveals her as possibly a victim, in a situation perhaps similar to that of Brigit’s. The most significant through line that we get here comes with Bruce and Cat, as they re-establish their friendship in the most beautiful of ways, with Bruce affirming his trust in her. There’s going to be more here between these two in episodes to come and there’s no doubt that it’s going to be really good.
Another element in the Bruce story line worth mentioning is the introduction of Tom the Knife, who interrogates the kids. Tommy Flanagan is excellent in the role and looks like a total badass when he’s shown carving an apple or smacking the crap out of Bruce. He’s got a no BS attitude that is really entertaining and when Silver finally shows her true face, his reaction is so very good, as he says “Hello!” to the real her. They also do a really good job at masking this character’s allegiance, as it is unclear who he’s working for until we need to know. He could be working for Galavan or the evil board of Wayne Enterprises as he claims. Tom the Knife is simply a great character that is fun to watch and hopefully there is room in Gotham’s future to warrant a return.
There is a brief arc of Nygma and Penguin interplay that is mostly done through phone calls. It’s not exactly the best display of this duos pairing, but it’s still nice to have in the episode. There are particularly some really great Nygma moments as he gives his cover story to Lee about what happened to Kristen Kringle. The cover story has its holes that’s for sure, but the way it’s presented here isn’t bad, and Cory Michael Smith does great showing Nygma’s deceit and escalating paranoia. The Penguin gets a few comedic beats to perform and they work well with good timing and delivery by Robin Lord Taylor. These two are good together but unfortunately it’s looking like they will be apart next week, as The Penguin has gone off to take his revenge on Galavan, which may put a hold on their odd couple pairing for the time being.
Case File: The Order of St. Dumas
Although the case of the week centers on Gordon’s need to keep Galavan imprisoned, the investigation is taken up by the serial killings of several victims by the Order of St. Dumas. The killings are very conspicuous ritual murders that Gordon is certain are connected to Galavan, judging by a peak behind a painting in his penthouse apartment that reveals he has monk garb. These are pretty far reaching threads to tie together but we go along with it so the momentum is not dragged down. Here we also get Captain Barnes trying to shoo Gordon away from the Galavan case, which leads to Gordon going against commands in order to continue his investigation. Insubordination has been common practice for Gordon since the beginning, which made more sense when he was disobeying a corrupt system, but under straight-laced Captain Barnes this appears less noble. This has been Gordon’s arc this season though, as he continues to cross the line to get his man. But also Gordon is learning from his mistakes, as seen in this episode with how he handles the wounded monk. Instead of torturing him for information he needs, Gordon finds another way by tricking the monk to think he is one of brotherhood. In practice it’s a bit unbelievable but it works symbolically as Gordon, instead of shedding the blood of his victim in order to gain information, sheds his own.
There is not a whole lot of insight given into the actual Order of St. Dumas monks, as they are more like faceless goons whose sole purpose is to commit ritual murders. Although it is a very intriguing moment when the monk that Gordon fought in the Chinese Massage Parlor pulls out the knife from his side without flinching in pain, this brings up more questions that Gotham doesn’t seem interested in answering. There is hopefully more to these cult followers than meets the eye, but with only one episode left and so much going on, it doesn’t seem very likely that we are going to learn all that much more about them at this time.
There is a fine point placed on the death of Officer Parks from the last episode, clearing up the muddled message some; it’s good that the writers do address it. It is made implicit that Gordon’s decision to not kill Flamingo was the right one, and that had he done so he would’ve crossed the line of becoming a murderer himself, instead of doing his duty of enforcing the law. This season has really utilized moments between Lee and Gordon to hash out significant exposition in a very useful way without seeming too much like a recap of events. These scenes are helped by the strong performances of Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin, who play well off each other and make these scenes feel necessary. Clearly, they are a better couple than Gordon was with Barbara in many ways, as they appear to work things out together.
This episode is written by one of Gotham‘s regulars, John Stephens, whose last entry was the Jerome arc closer “The Last Laugh”. Stephens plays on his strengths of good dialogue and creating great character moments, as well as his tendency towards overstating things at times. Stephens’ strongest skill is clarity, which often belabors the point of the themes in his scripts and here it’s appreciated in first clearing the air about Officer’s Parks death, and also in scenes with Galavan, who asserts the obvious that within a day the wheel has turned that he is now free and Gordon is a prisoner. The reason it works so well is that Galavan is such an over-the-top villain that he would want to put a fine point on a situation like that. Rob Bailey directs the episode with grand aplomb, in particular in every one of the fight scenes. First, there’s the fight between Gordon and a St. Dumas monk which is high energy and fun. This is followed by an excellently choreographed fight sequence between Alfred and Tabitha. She is in full Tigress mode, whip in hand, and Alfred has his fists clenched and pinky out holding his own against her really well. To the last fight scene where Galavan gives Gordon one last chance to save Gotham and full on shows what a force to reckon with he truly is, by ceremoniously beating Gordon down. Apart from the fight scenes, there is good pacing and editing that refines certain scenes that are strongly effective, such as when Cat and Bruce are talking then see Silver’s car approach and Bruce tells Cat she better leave, only to find she had already disappeared, a trick that Bruce will one day master. From top to bottom, “The Son of Gotham” offers a lot of great moments in a season that has been delivering fairly consistently, leading to a mid-season finale that appears certain not to disappoint.
- The Waynes’ murderers name is M. Malone. This is interesting because it’s very similar to the pseudonym that Batman would use when infiltrating crime organizations. He went under the name of Matches Malone who had street cred as a small-time criminal.
- “Billions, that’s with a ‘B’!”—Tom the Knife, laying emphasis on the ‘B’ brings to mind the significance of the ‘B’ in Batman.
- “The best liars always tell the truth.”–Cat
- Weird, how Captain Barnes pronounces himself “five by five” health-wise. The other culturally prominent time that phrase was used was by Eliza Dushku’s character Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- “Gabe, when I gave you this address, I was not inviting pop-ins!”–The Penguin, it appears that Gotham has Seinfeld within its pop culture zeitgeist.
- Silver: “Bruce, you can’t do this. It isn’t YOU!”
Bruce: “That’s what you think. But you’re wrong.”
- “I told her, I’ve never met anyone like her. I told her, I trusted her with my life and that I felt tied to her in a way that I couldn’t explain but wouldn’t change…ever.” –Bruce, David Mazouz totally knocked it out of the park, delivering this speech to Cat.
- That’s interesting that Harvey Dent is now prosecuting Galavan, when not so long ago he was endorsing him as Mayor. Oh, how the wheel turns.
- “It’s good that you’re changing. But don’t change too much.”–Cat to Bruce.
- “I’ve got my own cases, Gordon!”–Detective Alvarez. J.W. Cortes has been a pretty standout GCPD background character since at least “Arkham”. It’s really nice to see him get more screen time and get to interact with Gordon, now as his steady go-to guy.