Gotham, Season 2, Episode 11, “Worse Than A Crime”
Written by Bruno Heller
Directed by Jeffrey Hunt
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on FOX
The midseason finale closes off the Galavan arc with a bang and kicks the doors wide open for a second half of season two that will take the Rise of the Villains to the next level. The season has been building up to Galavan and his family getting their revenge on Gotham City through the ritual killing of Bruce Wayne, bringing us this week to a fatal showdown between Galavan and a motley crew of police detectives, a crime kingpin, a military trained butler, and a street smart cat burglar, all of whom come to Wayne’s rescue. It’s like watching a western, where a group of lawless rogues unite forces against one common enemy, Theo Galavan.
All this season Gordon has been struggling with crossing the line of committing murder in order to prevent a maniac from continuing a spree of senseless murders and it has been a meditation that Gotham has not taken lightly. The series began with Gordon going against the corrupt system of Gotham, the system that allowed for a breeding ground of criminal activity on its streets as well as in its high-rise enterprises. In that first season, Gordon learned that the law needed to bend in order to function in Gotham City, which forced him to develop an unlikely alliance with the Penguin in the beginning of season two. Gotham did well last season showing how the city had become such a festering pit that the law could no longer handle the chaos the villains could bring, so when Captain Barnes was introduced this season (as a representation of a non-corrupt law system) it was clear that not even a reinforcement of the true system could work anymore. The reason the law doesn’t work is because the villains are evolving and becoming more powerful. The series is leading up to an escalation of super-powered criminals the likes of which the city is unprepared to handle, making Gotham City like a Wild West town that is ill-equipped to deal with its outlaw bandits.
Gotham isn’t quite there yet, but they have built a very steady bridge this season to that Wild West scenario of super-powered criminals as hinted at in the teaser for next year, which is very exciting to see. Instead what we’ve gotten this season, with Galavan, is the final flickering of a time where villains are not enhanced by super powers. Although not power enhanced, Galvan is still a master manipulator with his power coming from the influence of his wealth and his ability to render the law incompetent. Galavan is the kind of villain that you would find in a vigilante justice drama, the type who can get out of jail on a technicality, eluding the clutches of the law to commit his crimes again and again. If the law, as it stands, cannot contain a monster as devilish as Galavan, what good can it do when faced with a criminal that would carry an ice gun? These are the questions that Gotham appears poised to answer soon.
The line that Gordon has crossed here in killing Galavan, albeit chilling, is one that Gotham has done enough legwork to make understandably be Gordon’s only option. The actual murder sequence is careful to show Gordon as merciful rather than vengeful, a moment that isn’t one of triumph but one that puts a dark weight on his shoulders and soul.
“Worse Than A Crime” is brilliant in how it balances two ideologies of heroism, the notions of the Hero and the Anti-Hero. While Gordon is the Anti-Hero facing the corruption of Gotham criminals in the way that is fitting of a gritty police drama, the show is also playing on the idea of the incorruptible Hero with Bruce. Bruce is truly learning how to become the Batman we expect, as he is showing signs of his empathy and his ability to see the good in people, even those that have been as corrupted as Silver has. This first half of the season has been incredible so far and “Worse Than A Crime” is the perfect capper to the Galavan story line, which represents the continuing decline of the reach of the law and the uprising of a brand of enigmatic (Ed Nygma-tic?) criminal that will overtake Gotham and beacon a new hero to champion the city.
This season has really stepped up the Bruce story in recent episodes, allowing him to outsmart Silver in last week’s episode and influence her in this week’s. Here we find Bruce with his back to the wall and facing death with a truly Zen attitude. This shows Bruce looking towards the good in people and playing into their humanity. There is a strong parallel here as to how Galavan also tries to manipulate Silver to become more ruthless and void her humanity. Bruce puts a lot of faith in Silver and in some small part she does come through for him in the end, giving Gordon and company enough time to intervene.
While Bruce’s narrative is strong and poignant, it is heavily dependent on Silver’s ability to change, and this requires a capable performance to show the layers of duplicity that is required. Natalie Alyn Lind gives Silver the depth needed in her scenes with Bruce, able to show an honesty throughout all the lying. Her face of genuine surprise when Bruce says, “I love you” in order to spare her Galavan’s wrath is a very potent moment. The arc that we get with her compassion threatening her place in Galavan’s favor is a good one and offers some interesting places to go with her character if she were to return. As Silver’s arc is tied to Bruce, Tabitha’s is to Silver, only much more thinly defined. Tabitha’s arc has had her become lackadaisical through her having feelings for Barbara and growing tired of Galavan’s ruthlessness. It’s a weak arc considering, but a fine moment when Tabitha makes the turn and betrays Galavan in the end.
The Gordon and Lee relationship gets taken up a notch this week, as Lee’s fear for Gordon’s mission has made her more worrisome as of late. Though Lee’s recent concern for Gordon’s safety has progressed appropriately, the show gives a motivation behind it anyway by having her be pregnant with Gordon’s child. This is indeed a surprising, yet superfluous, turn for the series to take and brings up some questions for fans familiar with the source material. Can this child grow up to be the masked heroine Batgirl? Does Gordon give her the name as a tribute after Barbara selflessly sacrifices herself to save him and Lee at some point? The implications are palpable.
There is a brief instance of Ed Nygma and his evolving into his Riddler persona, which is a little off. It is understandable that this sequence was needed to bring Bullock, Alfred, and Lucious together with Gordon, but it’s still a beat that shows Nygma as a very bad keeper of secrets, something he has been pretty good at doing lately. He now has a flaw of compulsive riddle making. He tells a riddle in order to cover up his lies, which hasn’t happened before. This new quirk can be problematic for the character if it continues but if it doesn’t then it will appear as a strange moment that only exists as a narrative point. Hopefully the show has a plan for this quirk, otherwise this could be a sign of the writers not knowing what they want to do with Nygma.
Case File: Rescue Bruce Wayne
The case of the week is an off the record search and rescue mission, with a side order of taking down Galavan. As was expected, there is no further insight to the actual Order of St. Dumas, other than continuing to show that they are a cult of ritual murderers under the sway of Galavan. Now that Galavan is gone, will there be another Dumas family member to take his place? Tabitha doesn’t seem interested at all in taking up that helm, so possibly not.
What we do get is the uniting of Gordon with Penguin and a team of misfit heroes. This episode marks the return of Lucious Fox, who apparently has been in Thomas Wayne’s secret room fixing the computer all this time. There’s a lot of fun in the interactions between these characters as they agree on a plan to infiltrate Galavan’s tower. It is particularly interesting to see Lucious enter this dynamic, with all these capable fighters, and see how he seems to be the most sensible in every way. Chris Chalk really gives Lucious an air of pragmatism in these scenes without seeming condescending. He simply does what he believes is right and of course he would see this group of misfits go into this rescue mission half-cocked and decide to go to the proper authorities to make sure it doesn’t all go to hell. I will be looking forward to more of Lucius to come, if and when Gotham allows.
“Worse Than A Crime” is written by showrunner Bruno Heller, who started the season off strong with “Damned If You Do”. Heller’s script is charged with strong thematic elements that contrast the development of Bruce and the dark path of Gordon, has an effective final sequence with Gordon crossing the line, and impressively concludes the story that began the season, with a teaser ending in India Hill that shockingly hints at what is to come. It seems as though we may not have seen the end of Galavan just yet. The episode is superbly directed by Jeffrey Hunt, who also worked on the season one episode “The Blind Fortune Teller”, also scripted by Heller. The action sequences are fairly minimal in this episode, but the characters’ emotional truth is ever present and strong in each scene. In the scene where Gordon and Lee are sitting in their car with plans to leave, only to find Bullock and company arriving to enlist Gordon to rescue Bruce, Lee watches from the passenger seat as Gordon meets with the mass then after a beat, solemnly looks down as she moves herself over into the driver’s seat, knowing that she will be leaving alone. The scene where Galavan is killed is also beautifully photographed and framed, capturing Ben McKenzie’s excellent performance. This has been a pretty remarkable first half of a season of Gotham, full of dark trodden beguilement and shards of bright hope and “Worse Than A Crime” encapsulates both sides amply well.
- Okay, I guess we’ve found out now what happened to Fish. As it turns out, she did die from her dive into the Gotham Harbor, but there is still a possibility for her to return as there appears to be a “resurrection” program going on at India Hill. This may also mean a return of Jerome as well, as we never saw the slab where his dead body was taken. Also, Professor Hugo Strange appears to be the one behind this particular program.
- Gordon’s dream about Barbara having a butterfly escape her mouth is pretty interesting. There is clearly some symbolism at play here. Perhaps it’s an optimistic view of Barbara still having some good in her. Somehow it seems mostly reminiscent of the butterfly imagery in The Silence of the Lambs. Perhaps it’s foreshadowing another Barbara transformation.
- The song that Penguin and Nygma sing together is a song introduced in “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” written for the show by the show’s composer David E. Russo and recorded by vocal artist Suzanne Waters. It’s not currently available, but in time it may be.
- “How do I know you’re not a Martian in a rubber suit?”—Cat
- “Au contraire, Mr, Fox. Failure is not an option.”—The Penguin
- Lee to Gordon: “You’re on the run from the law, you want to attack the mayor with the help of a depraved sociopath, and that’s not crazy!?!”
Penguin: “I can hear you.”
Lee: “Shh! Don’t speak!!”
- “Thank you both for your help but I had a totally feasible escape.”—Bruce. This was great moment, with Alfred and Cat looking at each other in disbelief.
- “I have many regrets. This won’t be top of the list.”—Gordon
- So Gordon asked Lee to marry him and we didn’t get to see her respond. Does anyone think she possibly said “No thanks”? Also, will Gordon even try to change, considering things are only going to get harder for the GCPD when India Hill gets fully up and running?
- Gotham returns with its spring premiere on Monday, February 29th, 2016.