Gotham has been a show that has become well known for its off kilter colorful villains and it’s unique flair to balance a tone of grim horror and gritty dark humor, and “Transference” not only makes a case for how truly interesting the heroes on the show are but also presents the perfect balance of all the tones the show is capable of. It has horror, humor, action, rich characters, and a developing mystery that promises to make the next season a truly exciting experience.
The penultimate episode of Gotham superbly closes the Ogre arc and sets the table for what appears to be an exciting grand season finale. The last couple of episodes have shown Gordon shaken and dead set on taking down the serial killer the Ogre, as he has threatened to victimize his loved one. The discovery that the loved one in question is his former fiancé only makes him more resolute on his undertaking. This episode does an excellent job at showing how determined he is and the wear it takes on him with Leslie and Bullock reminding him that he needs to take a break before he burns out, but Gordon doesn’t let up. Ben Mckenzie is in top form in this episode as he plays Gordon’s escalating fatigue subtly through his desperation, as he goes from violently interrogating a witness to aggressively asking a favor of the Penguin to when he faces the Ogre to gun him down.
The season returns in stride with this week’s episode that is full of Batman mythology nods with fun character moments that build momentum to the season’s subplots that are showing lots of promise and development. At the center of the episode is the relationship of Gordon and Leslie which is budding in interesting ways and is well integrated with the case of the week. The case of the week addresses two iconic Batman characters in one fell swoop, a bold attempt for the series that could’ve easily been a misstep, but it is done efficiently enough that it will hold interest in the long run, as there are more stories that they could mine with the character introduced here.
The search for Dr. Crane continues this week in a way that is notably off kilter with the beats of “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”. There are moments that inelegantly reset character progress that would’ve made more sense following an earlier episode, while dialogue bluntly attempts to integrate events that happened in the previous two episodes. As far as recent episodes go, this one appears to have suffered the most from the expanded season order.
This week’s episode of Gotham is a transitional point for the season as the events of the last episode changed the status quo for many of the characters. It is typically difficult for an episode following a climactic event to continue the momentum and also set up the stage for what is to come, but this episode manages to find enough interesting beats to play with only a few instances of padding.
The mid season finale of Gotham kicks off running with Bruce and Cat being pursued by deadly assassins which set in motion a tour through the shadowy spots of Gotham for Bruce with Cat as his guide. It’s always fun to see the kids together and this episode offers them in Cat’s turf which is vital for Bruce to see firsthand if he’s to grow into the hero Gotham needs. The reason they are on the run is because Gordon screwed up by putting his faith in Harvey Dent, who wants what Gordon wants and that is to take down the bad element out of Gotham, but he’s willing to risk anything or anyone to reach that goal.
The new story arc of Gotham continues to build steam by breaking up one major couple, creating curious alliances between heroes and villains, and introducing new players to the game. So far the series has focused on the darker side of Gotham City, with its citizens bringing justice through criminal means, but with “Harvey Dent”, we are shown the other side, with an episode that is a little brighter and a little more fun but that doesn’t lose the edge of the gritty reality Gotham has already established.
The season enters a new arc on Gotham as the fallout of last week’s episode, “Penguin’s Umbrella”, begins to take effect. Gordon tried to take down Falcone and failed, but managed to set an example of what a good cop is capable of and also shed a light on how inactive the Gotham City Police Department is, as none of his colleagues came to aid Gordon against Victor Zsasz. This brings out some interesting development between Gordon and Captain Sarah Essen, who regrets not braving the storm with him. The example that he has set has also affected Bullock, who’s now on Team Gordon, which is a highlight of the episode, in particular when Bullock gives a rallying speech to the GCPD.