Title: Gotham “Pinewood”
Air Date: April 18th, 2016
Genre: Crime, Drama, Action
Oh look, Mr. Freeze is back, neat. After giving an impressive showing in Gotham’s last episode, this week buckled under the weight of trying to balance too many stories with too many interlocking characters. While Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) finally got some more, and much deserved, screen time; the rest of tonight’s episode just lacked the energy of “Into The Woods.” Gotham has always had a problem with pacing issues, but tonight was arguably the most glaring offense of this. Character’s felt forced into the plot for the sake of convenience, character revelations felt inorganic, and the big reveal at the end felt like more of a cop-out than big, impactful moment.
Starting out with Barbara (Erin Richards,) I complained last week that her character arc felt rushed for the sake of convenience and that still is slightly true this week. It’s not that her storyline was bad, as it was by far the most interesting one this week, but it just fizzled out near the midpoint. Barabra’s relationship with Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has always been a fascinating one to watch grow, as she still stands as the physical representation of what will happen if Gordon crosses that moral line. They have an interesting chemistry together and it does make up for some of the better emotional turmoil (which is a lot in this series) that Gordon has to go through.
That being said, her plan at the club was too predictable. It was hard to believe that she would betray Jim so openly for the sake of her own gain, even if she is crazy. Her affection for Jim is essentially the center motive and conflict built around the character, so finding her ability to just offer him up to kill was too out of character. Though this obviously robbed the “twist” of any shock and awe, but that didn’t make the scene any less entertaining. However, am I the only one that felt Jim’s interrogation montage felt too out of character for him? I mean, it was entertaining, but he hasn’t been one to be excessively violent unless absolutely needed. This didn’t feel like one of the scenarios.
However, this week was Bruce’s (David Mazouz) show and man what a weird, slightly useless story it was. Bruce’s search for the truth about his parents has pretty much made up his entire character’s purpose on Gotham. Though this makes for some interesting emotional build up, the running search has produced very little in the way of big revelations. With his story this week, I hoped that finding out that Hugo Strange and his father were friends and that hs started the Chimera Project would be more impactful on the story as a whole. Yet, it felt like we just went back to square one and Bruce is kept just enough out of the light so Gotham can continue to keep this already dragged out story going. That brings me to the character of Karen Jennings (Julia Taylor Ross,) who on paper must have seemed like an interesting addition. I enjoyed the body horror, Frankenstein-esc look that she had, but her entire purpose this week felt like nothing more than an exposition dump. Her entire purpose was to basically just to reinforce that Thomas Wayne is a good person, his work is noble, and Bruce should be proud to be his son. It was unneeded and didn’t add anything of value to the story itself.
The big moment this week had to be the return of Mr. Freeze (guest star Nathan Darrow) who felt just kind of put in the show for the sake of being in the show. Now I like Darrow’s portrayal for Victor Fries, as he is arguably one of the best interpretations of the cold villain (Not like his competition is especially high.) Yet, his character’s motives have pretty much vanished outside of petty revenge. Given Mr. Freeze’s entire motivation was saving his wife, the absence of that makes the character feel a bit hollow. I get that he is angry about Nora’s death, but his motives are never readily defined. Now he just kind of acts as a lapdog for Hugo, which is a big let down for such a major villain. I will admit, his suit was pretty awesome despite the fact you could just shoot him in the head and be done with it. (Something that apparently alludes Gordon and Alfred.)
Finally, let’s talk about the big reveal at the end of the episode. Ever since we got to see Jerome hovering about in a tube near the end of the mid-season premiere, I have been quite curious what exactly Hugo had planned for them. Reanimation seemed like a no-brainer as the Batman mythos has had tons of dealings in this specific realm. Yet, Theo Galvan’s return, while cool, just felt shoe-horned into the plot. His entire narrative arc with Jim was completed in a rather satisfying way, so bringing him back seems like a cheap way to extend that plot point. Side Note for the week, if Barnes (Michael Chiklis) doesn’t try to arrest Gordon for freeing a prisoner transport then there is something very wrong.
Despite the obvious setbacks, this week’s Gotham was at least an interesting one for seeing returning characters like Barbara, Freeze, and Galavan. Though I wish Bruce’s story had more impactful moments, it at least delivered us some fun action set pieces to watch. I wish the second half of the show was as good as the first portion, but not every episode can be stellar. Hopefully Galavan’s return ends up being more meaningful than “Look Gordon’s rival is back, isn’t that cool.”
- Characters: This week was a slightly underwhelming in terms of character development, especially on the Bruce Wayne side of things. Yes, it’s cool to see Freeze and Galavan back, but the only character who really shined this week was Barbara.
- Cinematography: While some of the shots in the abandoned Asylum were cool, nothing especially stood out this week.
- Story: One step forward, two steps back this week with Gotham. Bruce’s story didn’t produce any meaningful moments or big emotional moments and Barbara’s just sort of fizzled out.
- Acting: Generally solid performances all around, though Hugo’s assistant is a little too cartoonish in her portrayal for me.
- Barbara/Gordon Dynamic
- More Hugo Strange
- Return of Mr. Freeze...
- ...Even If It Was Underwhelming
- Bruce's Lackluster Story
- Karen Jennings: Exposition Dump
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.