Gotham: Into the Woods review S2, E17

After its return from winter break, Gotham showed encouraging signs that its days of yo-yo like consistency were over and it was settled on being a really strong show. With Into the Woods, Gotham firmly established itself as a legitimate contender for best comic book based show. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a show that so often was struggling to find its identity. With that discovered, Gotham now is in rare can’t miss territory.

In a very daring gambit that paid off tremendously all of the numerous subplots set up over the past few weeks were neatly wrapped up in the most satisfying manner possible.

The ‘Fugitive Gordon’ subplot had legs and could have been milked for several weeks, but for a show where the characters regularly react pretty stupidly, it was great actually seeing the characters smartening up. Barnes knew Bullock was in cahoots with Gordon, but Bullock stuck to his story even at the risk of getting busted as well. Bullock’s genuine devotion to Gordon has been one of this season’s best character developments of the series.

Perhaps the biggest concern with Nygma outsmarting the GCPD and framing Gordon was it was going to unfold way too slowly and be dragged out. Instead, we get the opposite with Gordon quickly realizing it was Nygma who set him up and taking him down in one episode. That was a nice twist and made everyone — from Gordon to Nygma to Bullock look smarter.

Nygma was instantly on edge when Gordon arrived asking for help cleaning up an Internal Affairs recording of Gordon’s allegedly killing his fellow officer. In a welcome change from the too often clueless Gotham characters, Gordon picked up on that and realized Nygma set him up — but didn’t expect Nygma to booby trap his chair.

Gotham_Into the Woods - review - Nygma and Gordon

I didn’t even mind Nygma not immediately killing Gordon and just placing him in his trunk. Nygma had a system down for his homicides and was getting cockier with each successful effort so it made sense for him to get sloppy. Gordon managed to get away though and set Nygma up with an assist from Selina.

The cinematography throughout the episode was exceptional and the showdown with Nygma and Gordon looked all the more stunning as it occurred in the snow. I loved everything about this confrontation from Gordon’s dejection of his supposed friend being a psychopath to Nygma having that a-ha moment in realizing where he screwed up. This was a learning experience for the future Riddler and definitely hinted that the worse is yet to come.

With his name clear, Gordon still isn’t ready to return to his desk. He wants to finish what he started — finding out who ordered the hit on the Waynes. Barnes agrees to turn over the file provided Gordon give Lee a call.

Gotham_Into the Woods - review - Alfred and Bruce

Bruce was learning the ropes of being a street urchin with his helpful tutor Selina even though he wasn’t completely on board with the whole robbing people — even crooks. But with Gordon needing his help, he ditched his Vigilante 101 coursework to aid his ally and called in Alfred for assistance.

Alfred had news to share as well — Lucas got Thomas Wayne’s computer working so Bruce could explore his father’s secrets. Alfred only had one catch. He didn’t want Selina potentially being harmed so Bruce could continue learning that street life or explore Batcave Vol. 1. This won’t be the first time Bruce’s obsession derails a future with Selina. The foreshadowing has become so much better as this is a common theme explored in the comics.

Penguin’s subplot also seemed ripe for an extended run, but it too had a brief, but memorable payoff. Initially playing Cinderella to his wicked stepmother and step siblings, Oswald’s therapy cracked once he found the poison Grace used to inadvertently kill his father. Again, this subplot benefited from the quick reveal and resolution. In a nice subtle moment, Oswald had his hair disheveled again as he laid out a meal for Grace before revealing she was eating her children. Oswald didn’t let the moment linger long as he immediately stabbed Grace to death. The violence can be way over the top on Gotham, but in this case, Oswald’s snapping felt appropriate considering what the Van Dahl’s took from him.

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Awoke from her coma, Barbara was placed in Dr. Hugo Strange’s care. Despite Miss Peabody’s protests, Strange allows her to be released. Strange isn’t sure if Barbara is faking her rehabilitation, but he’s not all that interested in her recovery so much as naturally curious as to what she’s going to do once she’s back in society. It’s true, nutty Barbara is super unpredictable and can’t help but do something completely bonkers. It’s amazing how she went from being the show’s worst character to one of the more enjoyable simply because she’s such a wild card. And to prove that point, Barbara shows up at Gordon’s door decked out like a happy homemaker. Oh, this should be good.

Rating: 10 out of 10

The aggressive attack on subplots that could have dragged on endlessly was a bold step for the series resulting in Gotham’s most satisfying episode yet.

Photo Credit: FOX

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