Title: Gotham “Unleashed”
Air Date: May 9th, 2016
Genre: Crime, Drama, Action
Well, that ending scene with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and Butch (Drew Powell) may be one of the most memorable moments in the entire series. “Unleashed” was a show that very much had almost every single road leading towards Galavan/Azrael (James Frain,) which was a largely successful concept. Too many times does Gotham feel overly disjointed with the various character arcs, as many of them simply serve as nothing more than maintenance. Thankfully, this week’s episode felt like a faster-paced show, as action far outweighed any sense of true character development. Not that I’m complaining, Gotham has always been a show that felt oddly paced at times as it tries to balance the zany action scenes we expect from superhero series and actual narrative development. Sure, there were still some exceptionally dumb choices by characters and some of the finer points were left unexplained, but “Unleashed” was one entertaining ride.
If there was anything wrong with this week’s episode, it would be that Gotham has been dragging out the “secret” of Indian Hill for way too long. While the concept was fresh several episodes ago, this still hiding behind some weird veil of the unknown is becoming increasingly more frustrating. We know as an audience what is happening or at least the general idea, but Gotham has such a weird way of depicting this through their characters. Why did we need Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) dancing around what he saw like it was some big reveal we still have yet to see. It’s obvious what’s happening down in the lab, so having characters tap dance around the issues, especially once they’ve seen it, is a tad frustrating.
This coupled with the still one dimensional Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) makes for sadly some of the least interesting scenes. Hugo is a character that can offer so much, yet it always seems as if the writers relegate him to just being a mad scientist and nothing more. His motives for all of this are still vague at best and the experiments really only seem to serve as a way to get some of the more eccentric DC villains to enter the fray. I have to admit, though, the glance at Killer Croc was pretty cool. Also having Firefly return, even for one of those “will she live” endings, was really cool to see.
Selena (Camren Bicondova) will obviously live to steal another day. I seriously doubt Gotham is about to kill one of their leads off in a ball of fire. That being said, giving Selena a story absence of Bruce was a fantastic choice. She has not had the chance to really grow on her own and always seems conjoined at the hip with future vigilante; which honestly hinders her growth as a character. Though Nygma once more felt shoehorned in, their exchange in the ducts was an enjoyable moment for sure and it’s interesting to really see the length Selena will go to save a friend. Her character needs more alone time, as honestly Selena Kyle is a complex villainess in the DC universe. Hopefully once she escapes death because she totally will, they let her continue to stand on her own feet and not lean on Bruce so much.
I have to admit, I have had my reservations about the Azrael storyline and worried that they’d drag it out too long. The entire idea of bringing Theo back from the dead seemed like a bit of a clunky concept, but the short two episode mini-arc worked out nicely. Azrael was a fun and interesting villain, offering both trademark dark DC humor and an intimidating presence. His battle with Alfred (Sean Pertwee) was the height of the action tonight, as it’s always fantastic to see SAS Alfred kick some ass. Especially when it comes down to a damn sword duel between them, too bad it was short-lived. Even the crypt fight was interesting, though I am getting quite tired of Gotham not committing to killing characters off. This is the second person in a row to be stabbed by Azrael and somehow still make it out alive. Galavan isn’t very good at this whole knight thing…
The stabbing did, however, lead to one of the best character moments of the night, if not the season. Butch is a character I have always loved, as he is a fairly complex villain. Between his ever-changing allegiances, to being literally mind controlled by Zsasz; watching him develop from just Penguin’s right-hand man has been great. It culminated in a scene I really didn’t expect, as Butch’s confession to Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) was surprisingly heartfelt. It showed that Butch is more than a funny crime boss, but someone who really just wants to be accepted by others. The man, in simple terms, is pretty much a freak. Yet, the fact that he cares so much for Tabitha really helped flush him out as a character and helped him truly stand on it own. I look forward to seeing how this develops further and hopefully he is not just relegated to a henchman once again.
However, the second best speech of the night had to go to Harvey (Donal Logue), who seems to be filling in for Barnes as he lies in the hospital – maybe Tabitha and he can get adjoined rooms! Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as a whole, really didn’t do much to really progress the plot forward. Yes, I understand he is the star and Gotham would be remised to not include him for a single episode. I mean what was the actual point of finding the ancient sword? What were they actually planning on doing with it, since it was quite clear Gordon had no plans to set up a trap for Theo. I understand there is some suspense of disbelief needed for Gotham, as I am fully okay with not know just how Butch and Penguin knew exactly where Theo was. Yet, if you’re going to have big plot points and villains just show up for the sake of convenience twice in one episode, at least try an explain how they figured it out.
“Unleashed” was a pretty entertaining, action packed episode of Gotham. Yet, some dumb moments at Indian Hill and the feeling that Nygma is being forced into every episode held it back from perfection. Though Butch, Selena, and Harvey stole the show tonight as among all the set pieces was some really good development for these normally neglected individuals. Also, come on, Butch blew up Galavan with a damn rocket launcher! How is that not the most ridiculous thing that’s happened on this entire show?! Hopefully, we will get more bazooka toting Butch in episodes to come.
- Characters: Butch and Selena received some great developments and character moments that helped them flush out these normally neglected characters. Sadly Hugo still has wooden as ever and Nygma is apparently required to be in every single episode.
- Story: With all stories leading to Galavan/Azrael, this had to be one of the most action-packed episodes in recent memory. Thankfully, this was buffed by a fairly interesting arc involving Selena and Indiana Hills.
- Cinematography: Nothing special this week, but nothing that really hampered Gotham as well.
- Acting: Some great performances by Logue and Powell far outshined any of the other cast members this week.
- Butch Hospital Scene
- Azrael Conclusion
- Solo Selena
- Action Packed Moments
- Indian Hill Secret Dragged Out
- Nygma Not Needed
A recent graduate of Arcadia University, Collin MacGregor is a freelance video editor and writer. He covers video games, television, and film for The Nerd Stash. Collin currently is the head film/television reviewer for the site.