We’re at the mid-season finale already? Man, it feels like this one’s flown by.
While this isn’t a great spot to leave off on, it’s an improvement over the last two weeks, so I’ll take it.
The show has decided to commit itself further to the conspiracy storyline this week. This further helps and hurts last week’s episode overall. On the one hand, it does offer some substantial follow-through for Selina’s stay with Bruce. On the other hand, it also further adds to just how pointless Harvey Dent’s role is so far, since the hunch that was his sole reason for being in last week amounts to a lot of nothing this week.
This week runs on one big unsolved point: someone wants Selina dead. REALLY dead, based on the caliber of assassins they send to Wayne Manor. The episode begins with them launching an attack – which does lead to some nice bits of combat from Alfred – before sending Bruce and Selina on the run, and leaving Alfred, Gordon, and Bullock to try and figure out just who wants her dead badly enough to go this far.
Probably the strongest part of this whole episode is that it provides some long overdue moments of character interaction. Part of it further builds on the Bruce and Selina interactions. Now that they’re past that awkward phase, they have a good rapport for a lot of this episode. Even some of the scenes that feel a bit too “Eh? Eh?” regarding who the two will become in the future are saved from being too thickly laid on by the abilities of Mazouz and Bicondova.
The other winning combination here – and this is one I really didn’t expect and now I want more of in the future- is Bullock and Alfred. Determined to protect Bruce, Alfred makes himself a part of the investigation. Given Gordon’s running on information Bullock hasn’t been made privy to, this means the latter is working with the butler on this job. The result is the kind of team chemistry that I’ve been wanting to see with Bullock and Gordon and only been getting sporadically. Between Pertwee’s dry and polite take on the butler and the show’s decision to employ Alfred’s history as a former soldier, he offers a fun blend of quietly reserved while also holding his own in a fight that further plays into Bullock’s sarcasm and “are you kidding me?” levels of reaction. A scene in the climax where Alfred charges into a building gun in hand, leading to a frustrated “am I the only person in this town who waits for backup?” from Bullock was already enough to give this episode a boost over last week.
The crime families are still in the reduced role this week, though they’re at least leaving off in an interesting spot. Falcone’s responding to the money hit from last week, and his anger is a decent payoff to make up for the lack of a sting last week. He sees it as a betrayal by Oswald, who’s convinced of Mooney’s hand in the hit but can’t prove it. Based on what we see here, we can expect him to lean on Liza in the back end of this season, which could end badly for one or more players in this plot line.
Gordon draws the shortest straw this week, although he makes up for it somewhat at the very end. Playing on Dent’s hunch, he decides to hit up Dick Lovecraft (Al Sapienza) for information. What he finds is that Lovecraft was a red herring, albeit not an entirely useless one. He gives a few more clues to the conspiracy the show has been slowly building, and pays for those with his life before he can give too much away.
Which leads to the interesting hook for Gordon out of all of this: thanks to the efforts of this episode’s main assassin (Lesley-Ann Brandt, making a lot out of a cypher role), he’s implicated in the death of Lovecraft. Where the show has managed to find ways to keep his head above water for being the good cop before this, it finally comes to roost this week. Thanks to Lovecraft’s connections, Mayor James needs a fall guy to account for his death – and so it comes to Gordon, who’s summarily drummed out and put on guard duty at the newly opened Arkham Asylum.
It’s a relatively short part of the episode, but it’s the part that overall makes this one a big improvement over last week. Last week’s episode felt like a lot of build up without really going very far with it. This week sees more an impact care of James’s decision to throw Gordon under the bus – a scene further added to by a wonderfully slimy turn by Richard Kind. The show’s formula has been shaken up. Even though he now has some friends in the force care of Bullock and Nygma (whose farewell is an oddly touching scene), he’s still going to have to take the hit, and how he lands now that his old rank and support are gone may be the shift his character has sorely needed from here out.
Overall, this isn’t the best episode of the first half – that honor still goes to Penguin’s Umbrella -but after the last two lackluster weeks leading up to this, it’s a welcome step back in the right direction. I had been starting to feel rather uncertain if the show was going to really step up to the plate again after Umbrella, but this week has convinced me that wasn’t completely a fluke after all.
So I’ll admit it, guys – you’ve got me back for the rest in the spring.
Just please don’t disappoint.
In the meantime, I’ll still be at work on The Flash and I have a few other titles down the line until Gotham comes back.
-Some great interactions between Bullock and Alfred and Bruce and Selina
-Gordon’s demotion an interesting note to end the first half of the season on
-The demotion aside, the episode feels underwhelming for a mid-season finale
-Combined with last week, Harvey Dent’s involvement in the first half of this show was prettymuch a wash.