Based on its pattern so far this season, tonight’s episode should have been the good one and next week should have been the one that makes you question if you really want to stick with the roller coaster ride of consistency that has been “Gotham.”
At times, the show had some interesting moments — the return of Harvey Dent was understated, but further strengthened the bond between Gotham’s untainted (for now) lawmen; Gordon’s wavering morals and the secret Commissioner Loeb’s been hiding in his attic. But again, the writers’ pesky bad habits — cramming in too many characters; this ridiculous Fish subplot and inconsistent character behavior — overwhelmed the positives leading to another uneven outing.
After a pivotal testimony, the charges against the corrupt Flass have been dropped. Gordon goes on the warpath and Loeb shows him a videotape of Bullock confesses that he planted evidence to link Flass to the crime. Amazingly, Gordon restrains himself long enough to get an explanation from Bullock. Back when he was learning the ropes, Bullock’s partner pointed a gun at him and made him choose between proving his loyalty by killing a small time crook or take his bullet. And Loeb has information like that on the majority of the GCPD officers. “Everyone has a Cobblepot” Bullock explains. The series has veered away from Bullock’s shadier past and it was good to see some repercussions from his old ways. Anything to give Donal Logue more meaty scenes to work with the better.
Unfortunately, the episode’s writer Megan Mostyn-Brown uses that as an opportunity to revert to one of the show’s least likable characters — overly self-righteous Gordon. Unsure of his trust levels with Bullock, Gordon asks Dent for help tracking down Loeb’s blackmail files and destroying them. Their investigation leads them Loeb’s old partner, Griggs, who thinks they’re trying to get him to reveal some dirty secret on how Loeb’s wife died. He’s not biting on that, but directs them to a bookie, whose charges are less than impressed with Gordon’s gun despite them only carrying knives. Leave it to Gordon to be the guy to get shook despite bringing a gun to a knife fight.
Just as Gordon and Dent are about to get caught by the knife-wielding goons (again Gordon, you have a gun!), Bullock drives in for a last-minute rescue. Bullock’s got a more effective way of making Griggs talk — hanging him out of a speeding car just inches away from the pavement. This was one of those rare moments in the show where a character can do a Batman-type move without feeling like a Batman stand-in and the fact that it was Bullock doing it made it even sweeter. Griggs spills that Loeb and Falcone are paired up to keep the files secret. Gordon reasons Penguin can help track them down and Oswald is willing, providing he gets a favor from Gordon and can have five minutes with the files on any non-police officer business. Bullock warns against it, but Gordon agrees to the deal. Gordon clearly has high standards for everyone except James Gordon as he’s compromising his values every time he speaks to Penguin now.
Penguin finds the files under protection by an older couple pretending to be the kindly owners of a bed and breakfast type establishment. Gordon is on to the trap before it’s sprung and shoots the man and has Penguin keep the woman at gunpoint while he and Bullock investigate a noise from the attic. There, they meet Miriam — Loeb’s daughter. She’s not quite all there and details how she makes jewelry out of bird bones. Gordon’s seen all he needs to and returns to Loeb’s office with one of the necklaces. Loeb gets the message, but Gordon says he has leverage on Loeb and doesn’t want him to go anywhere. He has a few demands though — Flass gets a fair trial, Bullock’s files are clear and Loeb will back Gordon, not Flass, for president of the police union. While smart, it really felt out of character for Gordon to blackmail someone in the name of justice.
Bullock warns Gordon that it starts with one compromise here that will be countered by all the good he’s going to do in the future, but he cautions it’s never enough. This was a real standout performance this week from Logue and he was the episode’s MVP.
Now for what didn’t work:
Nygma and Kringle. This is the one treading water subplot all season. We get it, he’s crushing hard on Kringle, who rightfully considers Ed a creepy, slightly stalker-ish weirdo and no, that’s not going to make us feel bad for him when he brings flowers to ask her out only to meet her new cop boyfriend.
Just to remind us that Alfred did manage to survive the stabbing from last week, Gordon checks in on him and to get Bruce some snacks from the vending machine. The show keeps forcing this fatherly figure/son dynamic with Bruce and Gordon and it’s unnecessary. Adult Bruce trusts Gordon because he’s a good cop trying to make a difference in Gotham, not because he got him some Twix that one time Alfred was laid up in the hospital. And to wedge in another character, Selina drops by after hearing from Ivy that Alfred was in the hospital. This seemed a cheap excuse to have a Bruce/Selina scene especially after he reveals his big plan of figuring out who at Wayne Corp. hired Reggie to attack them. Selina offers to help when she’s not out giving Barbara life lessons, but Bruce doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt for him. Why tell her your plan then, boy blunder?
The most annoying though was the silly Fish subplot. The writers are banking on the audience having a real attachment to Fish and will be willing to go along with any crazy situation she finds herself in simply because she’s such a fascinating character. I still see Fish as Jada Pinkett Smith vamping it up in every scene and overacting each line of dialogue. After gouging her eye out last week, Dr. Dulmacher (Colm Feore) did a little digging and gave her a blue eye. It was very underwhelming that there was absolutely no patience in letting Fish run around short an eye. Like everyone else who talks to her for a moment, Dulmacher is perfectly willing to go along with Fish’s plans of being his right-hand woman. She holds up her end of the bargain and sacrifices her most loyal lieutenant to Dulmacher’s organ farm, which really should have killed all of her credibility with the other prisoners, but Fish somehow convinces them that their sacrifice was for the greater good. Dulmacher reveals to Fish that he knows he can trust her because there’s no where for her to go as he shows they’re on an island. But is a polar bear and Desmond there too?
In the End: The Gordon/Bullock/Dent scenes were fantastic. Gordon’s deteriorating moral state will be interesting to see play out, but the tacked on Fish and Nygma scenes need a few weeks rest.