Gotham – Season 1 Episode 19
“Beasts of Prey”
Gotham returns from having a few weeks off and I can honestly say I didn’t really miss it. It’s no secret that I have been incredibly underwhelmed by this show on the whole. It has good elements but is really missing out on some obvious potential.
This episode is no real exception to that with a plot that never quite manages to take off. The idea that Gordon is starting to inspire younger cops in the Gotham City Police Department is a good one and if done well it could easily help to build on the diseased nature of Gotham City and develop a sense of hope within there. It gives Gordon hope and helps encourage him to keep up his crusade since it seems to be working.
I even like the idea that it’s a bluff orchestrated by Commissioner Loeb as it really tests Gordon’s resolve when he finds that he’s not really inspiring others and is merely being set up for a substantial fall. Unfortunately there was something of an underlying falseness to the whole thing that made Gordon seem a little too self righteous. There was something about the way he was speaking to the young cop that really irritated me. This show really has a tendency to beat the audience over the head with the message and this was a really clear example of that. It would have been more complex if the younger cop had at least been reluctant to follow Loeb’s orders but didn’t quite manage to be brave enough to stand up to him. It would have developed the undercurrent of fear that permeates the city and at the same time given hope that there are people that want to do good but aren’t quite courageous enough at this point.
The villain story was really well handled for the most part with Milo Ventimiglia’s Ogre being a really engaging presence in the story. His psychosis was a simple one and the obsession he had with finding the perfect woman to fall in love with worked really well. There was an unsettling tenderness to his performance that made him really stand out among the villains we’ve seen so far. I’m glad that his story wasn’t concluded in this episode as it’ll be interesting to see what more comes of this character.
Ogre does bring something of an increased threat level to Gordon personally. It turns out that he likes to go after cops that are investigating him as well as their loved ones. It’s bound to cause him some personal issues as he inevitably threatens Leigh. I’m guessing she’ll be the woman he turns his obsession to and it’ll be a race against time to save her. Not necessarily a bad thing if done well and I’m willing to bet that they might pull this off.
It’s clever how this ties into Gordon’s complicated relationship with Commissioner Loeb. In the last episode Gordon managed to play the game slightly to further his own agenda by blackmailing him with information that would be incriminating if revealed. It looked like it was setting up an uneasy working relationship between the two of them but this episode tears it apart. When Gordon finds out that it was Loeb that put him on the Ogre case he goes straight to threatening him. It’s a reasonable reaction considering the danger it puts Leigh in but I was hoping that their working relationship would continue for a bit longer. Seeing it brought to an end so quickly is a shame as it had a lot of potential as a story. It appears that Gotham has sunk into old habits of depriving stories of any development potential.
Sadly the Fish Mooney plot isn’t getting any more interesting. The recent knowledge that she’s leaving the show at the end of this season makes the whole affair even more redundant. Having her on Dollmaker’s secret island means that she’s off pursuing her own story with no apparent connection to the rest of the show. I find myself constantly wondering what she’s even doing there or what purpose her story really serves.
At times her story does manage to be somewhat entertaining. I thought her escape plan was quite creative and as always she comes across as a resourceful and intelligent person. Dollmaker just seems a little too bumbling to be a credible threat to her so it doesn’t quite work.
I did manage to get some amusement out of the Bruce and Alfred story. Alfred hasn’t been magically healed yet so the consequences of his stabbing are still apparent. Bruce is desperate to get to the bottom of it which is fine and I like that Alfred is eager to get back into action. My amusement came when Bruce went to an actual firing range when Alfred said that Reggie was holed up in a shooting gallery. Oh how naive our young Batman really is.
It does remind me of another problem with this show though. Bruce and Selina teaming up to look into this feels like the writers are trying to give us Batman without giving us Batman. There’s a weird sense of inevitability to everything and it does feel like Bruce is being rushed through a lot of life lessons so that he can become Batman.
A fairly mediocre episode that misses some notable opportunities for solid character development.
The idea that Gordon might be inspiring younger cops to follow his example is a good one and I wish the show had spent more time exploring this as a viable option by having the cop be reluctant to follow Loeb’s orders but being too afraid to stand up to him.
Having Gordon’s investigation of the Ogre be a bluff orchestrated by Commissioner Loeb in order to get him out of the picture was reasonably clever but it’s a shame that Gordon and Loeb’s uneasy working relationship has been brought to an end so soon. There was plenty of potential for this to cause more friction between them so to see that wasted is a definite missed opportunity.
The Ogre was an engaging villain played well by Milo Ventimiglia who imbued him with an unsettling tenderness that made his psychosis more subtle. I’m glad that he’s not a one shot villain to be used only in this episode and the personal issues he will cause for Gordon have the potential to be interesting.
Fish Mooney’s plot isn’t really going anywhere interesting. The knowledge that Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t returning for season 2 makes it seem all the more pointless. Basically her story doesn’t have any connection to the overall narrative and the Dollmaker is a bit toothless as threats go. At least her escape attempt was somewhat entertaining.
Bruce Wayne’s part in this episode was somewhat amusing. I got a kick out of him going to a firing range when Alfred suggested that Reggie would be holed up in a “shooting gallery”. Seeing a naive young Batman is a little entertaining but the problem lies in the fact that he’s inevitably on his way to being Batman. It’s all a succession of life lessons that will shape the man he is due to become. It’s a little heavy handed for my taste.