Last week on Gotham, it was (finally) a big win for the good guys. Gordon faced off against Barbara and managed to bring her in (albeit a bit battered and broken) and in the process learned all about Galavan’s scheme to take over the city. So Galavan was sent off to jail, and just in time to keep him from stealing away little Bruce Wayne’s company. It was also a fateful meeting for the bad guys, as a preoccupied Edward Nygma came across a wounded Penguin in the woods. This week takes a look at the motivations of the heroes and villains of Gotham, although fails to hit the mark when it comes to excellence. Scroll on for a brief visit to ‘A Bitter Pill to Swallow’.
We begin with Galavan’s sister. She’s pissed off at Jim Gordon for beating up his ex, Barbara (who also happens to be her bedmate). So she heads to the underground for some help in the form of an assassin or two. In the meantime, Gordon is busy searching for more evidence to secure a very long prison stay for Galavan. And when he heads over to his enemy’s old apartment, the first assassin springs. Gordon handles him in short order, of course, but that doesn’t mean that more aren’t on their way.
When Gordon goes to question the assassin about who sent him, he uses some rather harsh methods and his captain doesn’t approve. The very boundaries that Gordon used to hold sacred are now slipping from him as he falls into the mindset of your more typical Gotham police officer. But he doesn’t have long to think about it, since more assassins show up rather quickly. There’s a shoot-out and the good guys win, but not before the captain takes a knife to the leg. Since it’s a bad one, they’re forced to stick around. Of course, that also means waiting for the next wave of assassins to come.
The next assassin is a man by the name of Eduardo Flamingo. He’s got some ridiculous hair and a penchant for eating his victims. The captain and Gordon are in the middle of having a nice heart-to-heart about what it means to be a human being and fall into that trap of darkness which makes you do fucked up things, when here comes cannibal-man. Gordon, being the brave guy that he is, heads out to face him head-on. After whacking the crap out of Eduardo, he almost puts a bullet in his head, but chooses justice over vengeance. Unfortunately, the still-breathing Eduardo manages to bite one of Gordon’s fellow police officers to death before finally being dragged to his cell. How will this consequence affect Gordon’s mental future?
On the other side of things, the future Riddler is nursing the former King of Gotham back to good health. Of course, The Penguin isn’t too happy about being bedridden. In fact, he’s acting like a damned brat. The loss of his empire and his mother has driven him into a fit of self-loathing. He claims that he’s done with a life of violence and just wants to get out of the city, never to return.
But Nygma is pleased to have someone he can confide in. He explains the joys of killing to his temporary housemate in hopes that The Penguin can somehow act as a guru of murder. When that doesn’t break through Penguin’s depression, Nygma brings him a present – one of Galavan’s men for him to kill. That doesn’t work either, so finally Nygma has to give it to his buddy straight – they are killers and the ones that they loved only made them weak. Nygma is better off without Kringle and Penguin is better off without his mother. This seems to break the spell, and Cobblepot looks to be in high spirits by the end.
And back with Bruce, he’s chatting with Silver again, despite all the problems surrounding the man who introduced the pair. Alfred is none-too-happy with them hanging out together, but Bruce is damned if he’s not going to probe the girl and find out if she knows anything about the person who killed his parents. After a couple of failed attempts to chat with Silver in private, Bruce is finally about to sneak out when he’s interrupted by Selina. She apparently has some sort of proof that Silver isn’t quite who she says she is.
And in the end, Galavan’s monk buddies have finally arrived in the city. After murdering some poor security guy at the docks, they march off to do whatever evil it is that they plan on doing in future episodes.
Unfortunately, ‘A Bitter Pill to Swallow’ was one of the more underwhelming episodes this season. It’s not that there weren’t plenty of opportunities to play with some very interesting concepts and bring the actors to new heights with their performances. It’s just that no new heights were achieved. It felt like a solid script put into the hands of a director who didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with the episode. In the end, the entire thing was clunky and the emotions were muted, despite there being some amazing dialogue in there.
It was nice to see The Penguin and Nygma hanging out and learning from each other, but most of the crazy in them – the stuff that makes audiences love them so much – was ignored for the sake of some lesson that Nygma needed to teach the self-pitying Cobblepot. They came across like two 13-year-old kids comparing notes about something they’ve heard about but have never quite experienced. Since their lines were decent, I can only assume the director did very little to bring the intensity required of such scenes to the surface.
The problem was also true of Gordon’s so-called decent into the darkness. We get 20 minutes of generic and poorly shot action pieces to contain an emotional revelation that should have been at center-stage. It was a case of the formula winning out over the content, an error that many other shows commit on a regular basis but one I was hoping that Gotham had strayed away from. It looks like I was wrong.
Hopefully, next week will be a little better. Galavan gets out of jail (sure didn’t see that one coming!) and he and his buddies try to complete their plan to take over the city. So it’s up to Gordon to stop them and their evilness. Check out the trailer for ‘The Son of Gotham’ below.