Review: Gotham – ‘All Happy Families Are Alike’

So, we made it. First season done.

It’s been a bumpy ride getting here. When it comes down to it, the season ends on a note much like we started the show on – showing a lot of promise in some areas while still really needing to either retool or drop others.

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One thing I will give this finale – for a show whose biggest strength and weakness has been how much its wed itself to its Batman lore, this week did see a bit more willingness to break from some of the traditional Batman formula with certain character arcs.

Having relatively recognized mobster Salvatore Maroni getting killed off before Bruce Wayne even started developing facial hair was a twist I didn’t see coming, though it fit the narrative they’ve presented, and it’s a change- up I’m liking right on the basis of it showing a willingness to break from canon and blaze more of their own trail as a new interpretation of the setting.

You know, sort of what this show was being pitched as in the first place.

"Look, we made it to the end of this season. It's time to finally resolve some of this 'Will they or won't they' tension, so either I have you killed or this moment gets a whole kind of creepy level of context added."

“Look, we made it to the end of this season. It’s time to finally resolve some of this ‘Will they or won’t they’ tension, so either I have you killed or this moment gets a whole new creepy level of context added.”

Along the same lines, I must admit I’m really liking how this finale handled the ideological balance between Gordon and Falcone. It fits well with Gordon’s growth over this season that, for as much as he despised working with the mob at the start, he recognizes the dangers of letting Falcone be murdered in destabilizing the city.

The decision to then have Falcone retire and give Gordon an ‘it’s in your hands’ speech is one I’m still mixed on. For as many lines as he’s pushed in the second half of this season, culminating in confronting the commissioner for backing Maroni, to just have Falcone back out like that makes me wonder if the show continues to play to his willingness to operate outside of procedures, giving rise to the Jim Gordon we come to know later.

Of course, it’s not like everything’s in the clear at least. This ending now leaves the stage set for Oswald to rise to power. Thank God for that, too. His story this week was honestly one of the best draws, and Robin Lord Taylor is back in top form as a result. His big ‘king of Gotham’ moment at the end was arguably a bigger ‘end on a high note’ feel for me than Bruce discovering his father’s secret.

"Look, the writers are kind of at a loss where to go here...and since I already slept with Montoya, that option's off the table here. Nothing personal."

“Look, the writers are kind of at a loss where to go here…and since I already slept with Montoya, that option’s off the table here. Nothing personal.”

Having said that, the jury’s still out on Bruce. After a lot of hemming and hawing, the show is finally setting up to deliver on his story next season. With the reveal of the hidden stairway, this could make or break his character. I’d like it to be the former, since Mazouz is making a decent effort and I’m really liking Pertwee as Alfred, but I’m not gonna pretend we’re in the clear yet.

And meanwhile…I still have no idea where the Hell Barbara’s heading. After her ‘Badlands meets American Psycho‘ storyline these past two weeks, to have her admit to murdering her parents and then try to kill Leslie, while something I suspected the writers planned, still felt like a random turn for a character they’ve been uncertain on how to follow through on.

All around, this is a pretty good finale. Not amazing, but it hits enough notes to either close stories or leave them at turning points. Besides the above mentioned, Nygma’s moral crossroads set him up for an interesting shift next season, and likewise, Selina seems to be shifting gears in a way that could have either provide an interesting direction next season or backfire and lead to a lot of nothing. A lot of this will all depend on how things settle.

Like I said at the start, this finale is actually a pretty good example of how Gotham‘s first season has been as a whole. I know a lot of people wrote this show off pretty soundly early on, which is something of a shame, since it does have some good to speak for it. I’m not gonna pretend it’s a phenomenal show, however. As it is, it has some things it’s doing pretty well as well as a number of things it will need to fix in the future (if you’ve read my reviews, you already know which is which).

"Look, I'm not going to tell you not to do it. I'm just saying, the green suit with the questions marks all over it MIGHT be a little much..."

“Look, I’m not going to tell you not to do it. I’m just saying, the green suit with the question marks all over it MIGHT be a little much…”

As it is, I was pretty forgiving numbers-wise this season, since a first season usually tends to have a learning curve attached. In fact, it’s still pretty rare to find shows that really hit the ground fully running from the start, so this is to be expected. At the same time, this at least still shows some promise for what’s ahead if they can just build on what they’ve learned this season.

It’s not DC’s best offering this season, but it’s still not off to a bad start. I’ll be expecting more from them in the future, but for now, I’m seeing enough to bring me back in the fall.

We’ll see how things go from there.

See you guys then.

Pros:

-Great note to leave Oswald off on

-Some great character reveals on Falcone

Cons:

-aaaaaand now Barbara’s a psycho killer?

-While it’s progress for Bruce, the hidden staircase does feel a bit on the nose

Rating: 3.5/5

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Overall Season Rating: 3/5

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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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