Gotham recap – Ep.20 – ‘Under the Knife’

Gotham - Under the Knife - Barbara and The Ogre2

‘Gotham’ is the biggest roller coaster ride on network television. And no, that’s not a compliment.

One week ago, the show returned from a momentum-derailing hiatus to deliver one of its most promising episodes. This one picked right up and was rolling along like we’d finally get two back to back good episodes, but then midway through, ‘Gotham’ went and ‘Gotham’ed’ it up again horribly botching the landing. Most frustrating was the now familiar sense that the writers feel afraid of delivering the ‘Gotham’ viewers would want to see and toss in some idiotic subplots to keep everyone from setting their expectations too high. Mission continually accomplished.

Gotham - Under the Knife - Lee and GordonPicking up from last week, Gordon is still leery of The Ogre going after his loved ones in retaliation for investigating him. This is a great storyline for Gordon, but the writers have gone overboard portraying the rest of the GCPD as sniveling, corrupt cowards. To an extent, I get the concern the cops would have with the mob, but The Ogre is his own man and it’s silly that every officer is too afraid to go after him.

Gordon warns tells Lee about The Ogre, but she’s not going anywhere and isn’t afraid of the big bad Ogre.

Gotham - Under the Knife - Barbara and The OgreThe Ogre is back on the prowl and this time he may have found his crazy match — Barbara. Gotta think it’s never a good thing when even on a teeny tiny level you’re kinda rooting for the serial killer in this case. Proving she’s even nuttier than we thought, The Ogre decides she may be too crazy to kill. Think about that for a sec.

The writers keep proving they’re reliable for one other non-Gordon subplot each episode. This time, it was Bruce and Selina’s junior investigation into Sid Bunderslaw, the Wayne employee who ordered Reggie to steal Bruce’s research. Bruce chews Selina out for killing Reggie saying that’s a line he’d never cross. This was great tension and showed the eventual difference in philosophies between the two.

Gotham - Under the Knife - Bruce and SelinaBruce figures Bunderslaw has all his info in his office safe (naturally because why leave sensitive material like that at home?) and Selina says she can snag his key provided Bruce can get her close enough to him — like the Wayne Charity Ball. Save one goofy segment where Barbara tries to teach her roomie how to dress for the high life, this subplot remained engaging tonight as Bruce distracts Bunderslaw as Selina makes a copy of the key. I’m digging the junior vigilantes subplot.

Back to everyone’s favorite forensics stalker as  Kringle getting beat on by her officer boyfriend Dougherty. Nygma stakes out Kringle’s apartment and warns Dougherty to leave her alone, but when Dougherty starts beating on him, Nygma pulls out a knife and stabs him to death.  I didn’t get the point of this one. Are we supposed to be horrified that Nygma would kill a domestic abuser because I was perfectly fine with it.

Gotham - Under the Knife - Oswald and his momEarly on Oswald Cobblepot had become the show’s security blanket for the writers guaranteed to save even the most middling subplots, but their over-reliance has gotten to the point where Oswald is just a crutch and his scenes lack their earlier impact. This week, Oswald is recruiting Falcone’s No. 2 hitman to kill Maroni, but Oswald’s old boss is one step ahead and is at the nightclub saddled up with Oswald’s mom. Maroni and Oswald have been responsible for some of the show’s best moments, but there was no salvaging this silly scene, which ends with Maroni outing Oswald as a murderer to his ‘clueless’ mom.

All of these filler subplots came at the expense of the main plot, which felt like it went backwards as Bullock and Gordon learn The Ogre had plastic surgery to fix his disfigured face to resemble the man long ago established as The Ogre. The writers set it up like it was this big payoff, but it felt very anticlimactic. One minor annoyance: Why does Capt. Essen always asks Gordon and Bullock what’s next? Shouldn’t she be the one coming up with the plans and they carry it out?

The Ogre calls Gordon and warns him to stay away unless he wants his loved ones killed. It was kinda on the nose to have The Ogre actually say his mission statement, but this dynamic is fun enough that I’ll forgive them. Gordon finally makes sense of The Ogre’s cryptic warning as it referenced a picture of him and Barbara in the newspaper.Gotham - Under the Knife - Gordon and Bullock investigate

Reconnecting with her at the Wayne Ball, The Ogre brings Barbara back home and reveals his room of pain/pleasure. At least the show is trying to be topical.

I can’t imagine many viewers on the edge of their seat wondering if Barbara will survive, but kudos to the show runners for giving Gordon a case that lasts longer than two episodes. With two more episodes to go, this looks to be the main focus as we head to the season finale.