Review: Gotham: ‘Harvey Dent’

Well, I can’t really blame them for making an effort now, can I?

After having called out Bruce Wayne as being one of the weaker points of Gotham on a week-to-week basis, the showrunners finally decided to make him a focal point for this episode. It’s a game effort, but unfortunately, it can only do so much to save a “not bad but fairly- unremarkable” episode.

GothamTitle

This is one of those strange cases of an episode that manages to accomplish a fair amount while not feeling like it’s doing that much at the same time. We get some exploration into the conspiracy idea, there are further machinations of Gotham’s criminal underworld, we get more time with Bruce, and the case of the week. All of this story, but not much of it lands.

I should probably start with the episode’s title. Yes, much to the concern of some audience members, the show did bring in a young Harvey Dent as an up-and-coming assistant D.A. While this has raised all manner of questions about the idea that this will make Batman-era Harvey THAT much older than Bruce, I’m honestly willing to let that part slide for now. It wouldn’t be the first time liberties have been taken with Batman, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. My bigger grievance is, for being the subject of this week’s title – Harvey’s barely a player. We get his iconic coin toss, we get a flash of his anger control issues, and he sets up a storyline that attempts to tie a crooked businessman (Al Sapienza) to the Wayne murders. All of this in under a third of the show’s run time. Nicholas D’Agosto does a decent job with what time he
has to make an impression – putting out the likable public image before letting the mask slip later in private – but the script only lets us ever see a glimpse of the character, which makes naming the episode for him something of a pointless gesture.

"Okay, how's this - tails, I continue my meteoric rise as the best DA in Gotham's history, heads I get horrifically maimed, go insane, and become one of the city's most infamous criminals. Sound good?"

“Okay, how’s this – tails, I continue my meteoric rise as the best DA in Gotham’s history, heads I get horrifically maimed, go insane, and become one of the city’s most infamous criminals. Sound good?”

Bruce’s story fares a bit better. A bit. Following up on last week’s ending, Gordon has officially put Selina under police protection as a witness.
Distrusting the GCPD, he puts her the one place he thinks she’ll be safest – Wayne Manor. I’ll admit I can take a lot from the show in stride and keep moving, but this one felt like a very calculated move on the writer’s part and it somewhat hurts for that. The whole arc feels like fan service (as it were) to play on the idea of who these two children will eventually grow up to be. Though to their credit, the cast members have some decent moments as a result. Pertwee’s increasing irritation with Selina is actually funnier than I had anticipated, and while some of the writing isn’t optimal, Bicondova and Mazouz have a good rapport between them. It’s actually somewhat funny that, for as much as the show (and Bruce himself) want to hammer in that he’s no longer a child, his best moments have been when he forgets about that and enjoys himself for a change. As silly as it is, the food fight between him and Selina is probably one of the better scenes offered up this week for just that reason.

Compared to Bruce and Selina, no one else feels like they progressed that much. Gordon and Bullock are investigating a case of a kidnapped bomber that, to its credit, at least makes for an interesting upset in its second act. Rather than being some sort of criminal mastermind, we learn fairly early on that the man (Leslie Odom Jr.), despite having a natural penchant for making explosives, is actually being forced into making bombs. The storyline peters out, with little accomplished but the reopening of Arkham Asylum (Gotham historians will later recount this to be a mistake) but I will at least commend them for breaking expectations on that front. Otherwise, about the only other thing I can say as far as Gordon and co are concerned this week is that Barbara did in fact leave. The show pays that a nominal amount of care, though given how stock her character has been so far, it’s hard not to side with Bullock’s ‘she’ll be back, just wait it out’ mentality here. Yes, even with the fact the show made this week’s stinger the reveal that she’s back with Montoya. Guys, when I said you should be doing more with both characters, I meant like showing they could be more than just one-note personalities. I mean, if that ending was meant to actually be a stepping stone into seeing more of each of them and how this effects them, great. Otherwise, right now it’s hard not to see it as a bit of drama for drama’s sake.

Well...drama and fanservice.

More accurately, drama and fanservice.

The crime syndicates seemed to take the week off here. Sure, Mooney has a role in the case of the week, but ultimately the job turns into a case of ‘tell, don’t show’ for the oment, which is a let down. Meanwhile, Oswald only gets to piece together that Liza is a spy for Mooney, and he intends to let it continue for the time being. While Lord Taylor does a good job with the overall creepiness, like a lot of elements this week, he’s only allowed to do just so much before he’s pushed off to the side again. We’re told this week is supposed to be a blow to Falcone, but given it’s a visual medium, I’ll believe it when I see it. So hopefully the show is planning to take this somewhere.

Because even the delightfully creepy Cobblepot shenanigans are taking a hit now.

Because even the delightfully creepy Cobblepot shenanigans are taking a hit now.

As critical as I’ve been of this episode, I can’t say I disliked it. It disappointed me, sure, but I don’t feel like dropping the show or punching the screen. I’m mostly just let down by the fact that, for all its faults, the show has usually had some watchable elements, and it’s coming up empty this week. Then again, this week’s episode was also written by the man behind the similarly lackluster episode Arkham, so this may just be the writer in question. Still, a “just okay” episode on the heels of probably two of the show’s best is not doing this week any favors.

As of yet, there’s no word yet who’s handling the script for LoveCraft, next week’s episode. So here’s hoping they get someone good to help pull the show out of the slump it’s been risking sliding into.

Come on, guys. I know you can do better than this.

Till next time.

Pros:

-Some good performances in the Bruce storyline this week

-This week’s ‘criminal of the week’ does a decent job subverting expectations

Cons:

-Despite what the title suggests, Harvey Dent isn’t a particularly notable player in this

-In fact, a lot of this episode amounts to ‘not that notable.’ Even the Barbara reveal isn’t as shocking as they want it to be.

Rating: 2/5


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This is what happens when a man takes a degree in English and the excessive analytic skills therein and chooses to use them for... ...is this evil? I'm not sure. But there are monsters and potentially robots, so there's potential for evil. ...we'll get back to you on that.

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