“You must either conquer and rule or serve and lose, suffer or triumph, be the anvil or the hammer,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said. As a poet, playwright, novelist, and philosopher, I doubt even Goeth could understand a show like Gotham. Its insufferable triumphs of the weird kind week after week are what, somehow, are bringing me back.
It’s hard to know just how we got to where we are – at least since doe-eyed serial killers started bringing the sexy back in kidnapping. I know, I know. Ask a silly question and Gotham will give you, well, whatever we got this week. I’m beginning to think that The Anvil or the Hammer confirms my deepest fears: the crazier Gotham gets, the more I can’t look away.
A week prior, I had an admittedly perverse curiosity of just how the Ogre and Barbara’s relationship would play out. What would you know? It really didn’t. Funny for a gal who didn’t shy away from a Batcave worth of whips and chains just hours ago. As it turns out, Barbara loves bondage masks but doesn’t like big vault doors so much, so naturally, her arc shifts gears from kinky playtime to kidnapping.
So instead of having Barbara become a weeping, traumatized victim last week, they dragged it out so that it happened here immediately. Granted, they certainly upped the ante as far as “horrible things happening to Barbara” went. It should follow, as much as is possible for Barbara’s arc, that she inadvertently play tagalong too following the Ogre’s demands to pick a target for him in exchange for her freedom. No, don’t bother asking him to kill Cobblepot for you and no, don’t bother with the dozen gangsters of the city. No, why not kill your parents? After roughly a minute of seeing the two snootily brush her off, the elder Keens are knifed to death as their daughter looks on. We barely knew you, folks.
I’ll never guess how this show’s got away with having what are still arguably its two lead antagonists, Don Falcone and Don Maroni, survive three or four assassination attempts this late into the season. I will admit that the Penguin’s a clever little bugger, though. Having Penguin stage his own mock-hit so that his two rivals would go to war (again) is something more diabolical than I’ve given the character credit for lately, but “again” is a word I could use a lot for The Anvil or the Hammer. Jim owing Penguin another favor, friends not buying the obvious betrayal of a friend, or Bruce learning about *gasp* another Wayne family secret is so ten episodes ago. In its freshman year, Gotham already seems to be nostalgic for its pilot.
It’s Jim (and Harvey) to the rescue on cue as you’d expect with one of the more engaging fist fights Ben McKenzie’s enjoyed this season. But I guess Jim’s responsibility to Barbara only extends to saving her life, not sticking around to see if, you know, she’d gone completely insane because of what had happened. I guess Barbara should be flattered that she should still be considered enough of a “loved one” of Jim’s to fit the Ogre’s MO of killing cop kin – or maybe exes too? Oh, and I suppose I might as well contribute my obligatory “Barbara’s Harley Quinn!” theory to the show’s growing lineup of Joker stand-ins.
Anything having to do with Ed Nygma’s side of the story usually comes off overly-goofy and cartoonish, even murder. Despite its corny caricatures, it’s almost a relief that the show finally initiated Ed’s journey to the dark side. But then this week worked to undo all of that by giving us a bunch of truly terrible sequences involving Ed lugging two giant suitcases filled with body parts…to the precinct! No other police officer seemed to care that Dougherty had gone missing, meanwhile. Nor will they think anything’s wrong with a guy quitting his job as a police officer to go somewhere and only leaving a note for his girlfriend, apparently. And that Dear John bit where it spelled out “Nygma” is just so hilariously Gotham.
It’s episodes like these that remind me just how far Gotham is from an “adult” show. It’s got more than enough nudity and swearing, but it’s so juvenile, as evidenced by our mandatory “Gotham Kids” bit that saw Bruce attempt to break into a super secret vault, get caught, and offered a shut-up cookie, like a good little Batman.
And another major case was cracked by a visual clue with Jim and Harvey got the Ogre’s first victim to remember a neon building sign for them. And not without a tour of Gotham’s very kinkiest TV-PG BDSM den hosted by…Oprah Winfrey?! Sound effects CD noises of a pig, a chainsaw, and a whip were supposed to represent the disturbing stage show? Ugh. It’s so appropriately Gotham that the “Foxglove” club debuted on the same episode that Chris Chalk’s Lucius Fox made his series debut. That’s just Gotham being Gotham for you.
After such a lackluster season, it’s almost deserve that Gotham kick off its shoes and put on its crazy for a change as it heads into the increasingly probability of an absurdly absurd season finale. A laundry list of familiar beast couldn’t stifle the nutty antics for too long, but time’s probably not on the show’s side to come up with much to hope for in a second season.
Gotham airs Monday nights on FOX at 8/9 Central. Catch all the latest episodes at FOX.com and all the latest reviews here at BagoGames.