Hard to believe that we are moving into the THIRD month of Gotham. How things change! When the show was announced, I didn’t care about it and thought it was all a big joke. But then the premiere happened and something fantastic and wonderful began that I haven’t been able to keep my eyes away from. In its first seven weeks, the show set up some really great things and delivered some pretty big moments. And now, it seems the show is moving into its second phase, introducing new plotlines while carrying forward a few of the old ones and continuing to show Gotham’s slow decline into insanity.
The villain in last week’s “The Mask” didn’t really work for me and I said as much in the review. I took far greater pleasure in seeing how previous plot-threads were carried on rather than what happened with the villain. And that’s kind of the thing here as well. There isn’t really one villain in this episode, more like a handful of them with none really getting any actual development. But once again, past plotlines really come to the fore here and in Nicholas D’Agosto, Gotham seems to have found a really, really great Harvey Dent, aka the future Two-Face. Kudos on that front!
This week’s “Harvey Dent” is pretty much just a filler episode since the writers decided to not focus on the titular character as much as they should have and because Ian Hargrove aka the future Firebug made for a rather poor villain. There’s kind of an interesting twist with him early on in the episode, but frankly, it is all rather pedestrian and since the focus is never on either Dent or Hargrove, the show didn’t feel like it was really hitting the mark this time. And this is surprising given how utterly good the first seven weeks have been.
Ken Woodruff decided to set up several new plotlines in this episode, and some of them worked and others didn’t, predictably. First we have the introduction of both Harvey Dent and Ian Hargrove. Then we have Gordon dropping Selina off at the Wayne Manor for protection while he carries on the hunt for Bruce’s parents with Montoya, Allen and Dent. Then we have the budding chemistry between Selina and Bruce, which ends in a rather cool moment towards the end. There’s also Oswald poking his nose where Fish doesn’t want him to and figuring out who Fish’s inside-man with Falcone is. And finally, we have the disaster of a relationship between Gordon and Barbara, which is kind of starting to annoy me a little bit now.
As you can say, that’s a hell of a lot of things that happen in this episode. For an episode titled as it is, we see curiously little of Dent. He gets an interesting introduction and fits right in with the “honest cop” trifecta of Gordon, Montoya and Allen, but apart from that, there isn’t much going on here. Sure, he confronts one of his top suspects in the Waynes’ murder and uses the threat of Gordon’s eyewitness to cow the man into revealing something, but it wasn’t his narrative introduction that was impressive as much as his visual introduction was. Karen Gaviola does this neat trick a lot in the episode where she makes sure that Dent’s face is either hooded on one side or that you often see him only from a side-profile. It happens for less than half the screen-time that Nicholas D’Agosto gets, but man, it is some nice subtle foreshadowing of where the character is headed and I loved that.
Narratively speaking though, I’m not sure what to make of Dent. He is a good lawyer, in Gotham no less, but the dark side of his that comes out, I’m not sure I buy that. It struck me as pretty random rather than something calculated or some such. I don’t have much experience with the character prior to him becoming Two-Face, but this struck me as unreal in some way and I just couldn’t buy it. However, D’Agosto gets helluva intense in those scenes and that was good. Shows that this white knight of Gotham has some bark and bite both to him after all.
The whole dynamic between Fish, Liza and Oswald was pretty damn great though, from any angle you look at it. Last week, Oswald had Fish’s new umbrella-boy murdered after he spilled the beans to him that Fish had managed to insert someone dangerous with Falcone, and this week Oswald tracks down said person, who we know is Liza. How he figures out that she works for Fish is the kicker of course, and involves something creepy that only Gotham‘s Oswald Cobblepot can do. I love this eccentric guy and really can’t get enough of him every week. Robin Lord Taylor keeps going from strength to strength.
The whole relationship between Bruce and Selina however, was quite interesting as well. At times it can seem rather pedestrian and cliched, but there’s definitely something going on between these two. Woodruff hints at their future romantic relationship in a really heavy-handed manner that I didn’t like, but the development scenes between the two of them were darn great and I liked that the show finally put its two youngest characters in the same room with each other. This all also segues into Bruce’s martial arts training Alfred, who is teaching him boxing, and Bruce’s own self-discipline tactics in terms of training to hold his breath underwater and so on. Good stuff going on there.
However, apart from all this, the relationship between Jim and Barbara really annoyed me this week. After having some good moments early on in the season, it seems that they are now stuck in a rut, the two of them. Last week Barbara left Jim because she couldn’t be around him for some inexplicable reason. Now, we see how she betrays him good and proper by negating the foundations of their relationship. That disappointed me. I thought that she was better than this, but clearly not. I kind of see how the writers are trying to develop this whole dynamic, but it confuses me since Barbara hasn’t had a consistent portrayal as yet.
Not all that bad an episode, for sure, but it is also a filler and can largely be given a miss, if I’m honest.