INTO THE WOODS – 5/10.
Watching Gotham is an often frustrating experience, the show has great potential that it seems completely determined to squander. The writers just can’t seem to make up their minds and any time anything even remotely interesting happens it is almost instantly undone. Take Gordon’s recent incarceration in Blackgate prison for example, this had the potential to be a highly engaging storyline. But within the space of one episode Gordon had managed to escape by means so contrived that it didn’t just insult the viewer’s intelligence, it pushed it into a puddle and stole its dinner money as well. So now Gordon is on the run and despite being Gotham’s Most Wanted he is determined to clear his name by finding the person that framed him.
He holds up at Harvey’s apartment while they try to work out who set him up. All evidence seems to point to Loeb, but something doesn’t sit right with Gordon. Bullock reveals that Internal Affairs secretly records all of their calls and quite literally uses a ‘hook up’ to help Gordon to gain access to their files. Gordon steals the recording of the anonymous tip that pinned Galavan’s murder on him but as he is making his escape he stumbles across a mugging. Ever the Boy Scout, Jim fights the muggers off but ends up getting spotted by the police in the process. After a narrow escape he finally listens to the recording but the voice has been digitally altered. He decides to ask Ed Nigma for help solving the riddle, which isn’t the best idea considering that it is Ed’s voice on the tape.
Ed is panicked by Gordon’s presence and the cracks soon begin to show. Gordon describes the real killer as a psychopath, this offends Ed and his reaction makes Gordon suspicious. His suspicions are confirmed when he recognises the familiar sound of Ed’s cuckoo clock in the recording, however Nigma manages to pacify him with an electric shock. Gordon wakes up as Ed is loading him into the boot of his car; he escapes but gets shot in the process. Wounded, wanted and with nowhere else to turn, Gordon seeks refuge with Selina Kyle where he is surprised to discover Bruce Wayne. Wayne has been staying with Selina, stealing money from mob bosses to help him understand the criminal mind. Of course Gordon passes out before Bruce can explain any of this to him.
After vanishing for weeks, Bruce calls for Alfred and they bring Gordon back to Wayne Manor to tend to his wounds. While Ed was hunting him he had rambled on about Kristen Kringle, tipping off Gordon to the fact that he had killed her and buried her body in the woods. Gordon uses Selena to draw him out, getting her to report a fake sighting that fools Ed in to thinking that Penguin has revealed the location of Kringle’s body. In a panic Ed returns to the woods to move the body, leading Gordon right to him. After a lengthy confessional monologue Ed finds himself surrounded by Barnes and the rest of the force, who were presumably hiding in the branches or something equally ridiculous. Gordon is promptly acquitted and Baby Riddler finds himself in Arkham Asylum.
Bruce prepares himself to return to the streets with Selena; however his plans change when Alfred informs him that Lucius Fox has finished repairing his father’s computer. He sends Selena away in an attempt to protect her, but she doesn’t see it that way. Back at the GCPD Barnes offers to reinstate Gordon but he claims he has something he must do first. To Barnes’ surprise it isn’t tracking down Lie, but rather discovering who hired Matches Malone to kill the Waynes. But a spanner is soon thrown into the works when Barbara Kean shows up at his door. Having awoken from her coma, Gordon’s clearly still psychotic ex is released back into the world by Strange who is curious to see how she behaves. Meanwhile another of Strange’s ‘experiments’ is about to fail.
Strange reprogrammed Penguin to be completely docile but the death of his father sends him into a tailspin. With nowhere else to go, he begs his father’s lover and her vile children to take him on as their servant so he might remain in the house. They torment Oswald but he remains placid, it is only when he discovers the poison that they used to kill his father that he takes his revenge. He cooks dinner for the mother, when she complains about the taste he reveals that she is eating her own children and then proceeds to brutally stab her to death. Whatever it was that Strange did to Penguin it appears that the effects have now worn off, although perhaps that was what Strange had intended all along. With his father avenged, Penguin now has an empire to reclaim.
Like the prison storyline, Penguin’s arc was a mishmash of ideas that failed to land. Gotham’s writers often fail to commit to their own ideas and both storylines were prime examples of this. Thankfully this was not the case with The Riddler, whose evolution was handled perfectly. Over the course of two seasons we have seen him go from a mild eccentric to a full on psychopath in a way that was engaging and made total sense. But this is a rare exception for the show, indeed it seems Gotham has once again hit the reset button on its own concepts; Gordon and Penguin are more or less back where they started as characters. In fact character growth appears to be somewhat of an irrelevance for a show that seems satisfied to simply trundle along while endlessly repeating “hey look, it’s that guy from Batman” to its viewers.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Oswald now has control of his father’s estate and the financial means to reclaim his empire. Also his father hinted at something meaningful inside his own father’s office. Will the show explore that or simply leave it as another loose end?
- The white stitch in Selina’s leather coat was a nice nod towards Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume in Batman Returns.
- This show requires the suspension of disbelief at the best of times, but why would anyone keep a decanter full of poison after they have used it to murder someone. Stop it Gotham! You are making my brain hurt!