Gotham’s latest episode “Welcome Back Jim Gordon” took a large step forward this week, but it’s another case of two steps forward and one step back. The script actually gives us a powerful payoff to the weekly police procedural, but the production – especially the shooting and editing held this episode back from really shining.
The ending with the crooked cop begging Jim Gordon for his life was an ending that felt well planned out and executed. To get to that interesting moment though, we had to wade through the worst corrupt cop scandal the show has created so far. Gotham has been searching for its identity through the entire first season and keeps falling back to the familiar confines of the corrupt Gotham Police Force like a child wanting a security blanket when it isn’t sure where else to go. In this episode, we find Pinky Littlefield, a member of the Uptown Assassins, was killed during a drug deal gone wrong. Bullock calls it a “Public Service Homicide” since the murder didn’t hurt anyone who was innocent. Gordon is left alone with the body, and notices that the heel of Pinky’s shoe is askew, and finds drug packets hidden inside.
There is an old janitor that witnesses the murder and Gordon and Bullock bring him back to the GCPD to give a description to a police sketch artist. While waiting in the confession room, he is stabbed in the back with an ice pick, and internal affairs rules it a suicide. While this scenario is improbable, even for Gotham, the way it was shot revealed the murderer to the audience. The cinematographer tried to use shadow and backlight, but you could tell it was Flass, and then it was further confirmed once he spoke. Each week we get a case where Gordon bumps against the higher ups in the broken GCPD, and is told he shouldn’t make waves. You can sum up the entire role of Sarah Essen as telling Jim he can’t fight the system. Here, she tells Jim that he can’t accuse Arnold Flass with the murder of Winkler, as he’s protected and the powers that be won’t allow it. This would have been fine in the first or second episode, or if it was the first time it happened. We are more than halfway through the season, and we’ve seen this happen over and over, and it’s getting ridiculous.
Gordon ignores all the orders to stand down and continues the investigation. He turns to Penguin to give him a lead, and makes Oswald promise that no one will get hurt. Oswald agrees to help Gordon, and says he will do this favor with no strings attached, as that is what friends do. Oswald gets his goon to get the murder weapon and a tape of a GCPD cop named Delaware, admitting that Flass, who’s been operating the stash houses he’s in charge of shutting down, is the one behind the killings. Turns out the confession was given only when Delaware’s wife had been tortured. At the end of the episode, Delaware begs Jim to leave his family out of things in the future. This is a HUGE opportunity for the writers of Gotham to play with the fact that Gordon’s moral universe has been compromised. Early in the season he was so angry at Bullock going to Fish for information while turning a blind eye to how that information is attained. Gordon now realizes the cost of the favor he called in, and hopefully there will be even bigger implications moving forward.
One of the bright spots through the whole first season has Jada Pinkett Smith’s character Fish Mooney. Fish has been captured and is about to be tortured by Falcone’s torturer named “Bob.” She is determined to not show pain or fear, even after having a plastic bag placed over her head, and the threat of a broken knee cap. I was hoping that Fish would find a clever way out of the situation, but instead it’s Butch that came to her rescue. Penguin has taken over Fish’s nightclub and gives him mother a tour, and then sends her home so he can get drunk and revel in his success.
When Oswald goes on his weird champagne binge, he drunkenly debuts his new nightclub to an empty room. His words: “My name is Oswald Cobblepot. Here we are at last. It is with deep and sincere pleasure that I bid you to the official grand opening of my newest night spot, The…” and I wonder if he was about to call it the Iceberg Lounge. Then Fish and Butch show up to smack him with a baseball bat a couple times. The way Jada Pinkett Smith commands the screen is one of the highlights of the show, and she walks the line of creating a larger than life character (that isn’t cannon) and chewing the scenery. We took a step back on the Fish storyline as she was kidnapped and escaped from Falcone in the space of one episode because Falcone has the worst henchmen, and Fish has the best in Butch. Speaking of which, I still don’t understand how he escaped the van he was in, as that was scene was poorly staged and edited. He would have to be almost supernatural to have completed that escape the way it was shown.
I like how Oswald has such a momma’s boy, and my guess is that Carol Kane’s character will be killed by Fish before the season is over as a way to try and break Oswald. This event will break Penguin, and cause him to take on Fish in order to become the super villain he is meant to be – because penguins eat fish you know.
Finally, we have to mention that Bruce and Alfred have returned after a two episode absence, and it turns out they were at a safe house in the Alps. Bruce has brought Selina a snow globe and he offers her shelter in his home. He’s falling for her, and wants to protect her…already shading the future Batman, but she’s overwhelmed, scared, and afraid of getting hurt, so she lashes out and lies to Bruce, saying she never saw who killed his parents.
I like the slow growth we are getting with Edward Nygma, as we see him ridiculed, dismissed, and rejected by his peers. It will be fun to see what eventually tips him over the edge, but I hope it isn’t any time soon. The scenes with him and Ms. Kringle have been very awkward and poorly written however. I like the overall feel of where they are going, even if some of the execution of the plan is poor. That pretty much sums up how I feel about Gotham overall. A great idea with enough interesting pieces that are keeping me interested, but I have major issues with the specifics of how it’s done.
Next week we are introduced to the Scarecrow – or more likely his father. Gotham City just keeps getting more and more crowded. In the coming weeks, we are getting the flying Graysons and Red Hood.
What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Sound off below!