Cautious side of optimism fading…fading…
Okay, so it’s not gone yet, but all the same, I get the sense Gotham has finally found its voice. It still seems to be deciding what to do with some of the stories it set up and has left hanging, but by and large, it’s lost a lot of the clumsier, dead fumbling of the earlier episodes and feels more focused now. Even the overt nods to future Batman characters are blending in better.
With that as a lead-in, and since it’s something people had been questioning from this show before this point, no, the title isn’t suggesting a kid Jonathan Crane. Instead, the titular doctor in this is his father, Gerald (horror veteran Julian Sands, not getting a lot of scenes but making what he has memorable through presence).
Fear is the family business, as Gerald is the criminal of the week, terrifying his victims and then killing them for his research purposes. Once again, it seems the show has found its place in balancing the straight procedural with the weirder comic-style crimes. For the record, yes, Jonathan is seen briefly, but he’s not treated as a particularly major player in his father’s project.
One of the nicer surprises on this one is,while Gordon is definitely an active part of this episode, it’s Harvey we see getting the more direct involvement in the case. he gets particularly nice moments when he takes a liking to one lead (Maria Thayer) who knew the victims from a group dealing in phobias.
Logue has done a great job to this point playing the sarcastic and sometimes sloppy Bullock, and it’s made him a highlight of the cast. So seeing them attempt to show a nicer side to him could have backfired in its execution, but thankfully Logue handles it well. He’s definitely soft on her, but the show doesn’t overplay it, and as a result their interactions are just enjoyable moments to watch.
Gordon, meanwhile, spends what time he isn’t investigating this week closing the book on old plotlines. After how last week played out (as well as the mid-season opener), the show looks to be hanging up the Barbara and Bruce storylines for the time being. They’re definitely not over, but between nudging things further for Gordon and Thompkins, and the fact Bruce is releasing Gordon from his promise to find his parents’ killer, it seems the show wants to set them aside for now.
Which I’m honestly okay with. Where Barbara’s concerned, I feel like the show needed to take some time off of her to re-evaluate what to do with the character. Bruce, meanwhile, I’m liking more in this version, but I also don’t feel we need to check in with him every week. Future developments are fine, but they shouldn’t feel obligated to do them regularly just because Gordon got involved.
One last note for the Gotham PD: Nygma’s storyline is continuing its gradual and strange growth. For a character that can be a case of a ‘little goes a long way’, the series has done a good job of meting out his arc bit by bit, between his awkward flirtations with a coworker (Chelsea Spack) and his feud with the PD’s medical examiner. He’s grown into an interesting character along the sidelines, and it’s a nice touch for the writing.
Finally, the mob storyline continues to be a highlight of the series. Oswald’s plan to play both families against one another has finally come back around on him this week. Fortunately, if there’s one thing the character has been counted on to this point – besides a great performance by Robin Lord Taylor – it’s a survival instinct to rival the cockroach.
Prior to the backfire, however, we also get a great dose of tension care of Maroni’s confrontation of Oswald. David Zayas has been solid support as Maroni, but this is really his episode to shine, feigning friendly even as he slowly ramps up the malice, gradually hinting at just how much he knows of Oswald’s plans.
Fish, meanwhile, is left in a strange spot. After last week’s suggesting she planned to skip town on Gotham, we see that was only partially true, waiting off shore for her chance to come back. The decision to end this episode with her ship getting hit by pirates was a strange one, admittedly. At the same time, between that insane final shot of her charging one head on, and her own strange survival instinct, I’m willing to let the show run with this and see where it goes.
This makes for an interesting transition on the show. We see a number of characters changing courses in their trajectories, but the changes aren’t bad ones. In fact, several have the potential to improve where the characters go from here.
The fact the episode ends with Gerald still free has me interested to see the follow-up next week with The Scarecrow.
I think you may be finally out of the woods now, guys. Fingers crossed you can keep with it.
Till next time.
-Crane family is actually not a bad way to float Scarecrow into this telling
-Bullock’s softer side is actually a better time than I expected
-Fish’s storyline could either go insanely good or trainwreck. Too soon to say
-So…are we still following Bruce or has he just been shown the door?