On the D/L – Gotham
Season 1 Episode 10 – “Lovecraft”
Gotham hits the mid-season finale with a strong entry that utilises many of the show’s strengths in really interesting ways. Bruce Wayne is forced to put his training to the test and survive in Gotham City when separated from Alfred.
The episode does a really good job of putting the characters in situations that initially seem to be a little outside their comfort zone. Nobody faces a bigger change than Bruce Wayne who has been relatively sheltered up to this point. Prior to now he has spent most of his time in Wayne Manor having Alfred protect him in some way or another so it’s instantly interesting to see him on his own far removed from the supportive Alfred.
His scenes with Selina Kyle as she shows him around her life after having seen his when living at Wayne Manor are the strongest aspects of the episode. I like how Selina challenges Bruce to rethink preconceptions about life and the city in general. The way he reacted to seeing how she lives and seeing how things work felt really natural for him. It’s clear that Bruce had a very black and white outlook on Gotham City and how he fits into that but has realised that much of his thinking is completely wrong. Seeing that level of significant personal growth in him over the course of this episode was really fascinating and will no doubt inform his development into Batman in some significant way.
That’s not to say that the execution in these scenes was perfect. For one thing the dialogue was very awkwardly written, to the point that I never believed a real person would actually talk like that making their conversations feel entirely forced. Bruce and Selina being young children only made this so obvious. David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova are very good young actors and managed to work well with what they had but some of it was just unsalvageable.
Another thing that struck me was that there was no real payoff to anything that was established in regards to their characters. For instance, the episode opened with Bruce practicing balancing which meant I expected there to be some kind of dramatic payoff in the climax of the episode that unfortunately never came. Similarly a point was made about him being out of breath after a short bout of running without it coming to anything later. Nothing that’s really a big deal on the face of it but I did expect these things to become important.
It was great to see Alfred get some extensive screen time for the first time since the series began. There have been massive hints that he’s had some kind of colourful past before now but here we actually get to see him be a complete badass as he works with Bullock. To Bullock he must have seemed a bit like Liam Neeson’s Brian Mills in Taken in that he seems to be an unassuming guy who has all these skills and training that make him a force to be reckoned with. Seeing Alfred taking down the assassins was a really exciting scene and Sean Pertwee really sells the commando side of him.
His methods seem to complement Bullock really well and the two make a very natural pairing. More so than Gordon and Bullock do but I guess that’s the point of putting them together. I really enjoyed how cold and suave Alfred was about the investigation by enticing information with a simple financial incentive or making Fish cooperate with one sentence. There’s a suggestion that Alfred knows how to manipulate people to accomplish how own ends which makes it even stranger that he can’t seem to get Bruce to listen to him half the time. I hope we see more of Alfred doing these sorts of things as it was a refreshing change of pace.
Gordon’s story was probably the weakest aspect of the episode with him striking out on his own to investigate this home invasion. He comes across the villain behind this in Gotham’s version of DC villain Copperhead (Lesley-Ann Brandt) who switches gender for this incarnation. She’s an effective villain who seems skilled, driven and threatening. She’s certainly more than a match for Gordon in a fight and has an interesting twist to her character in that she won’t kill anyone unless she’s being paid to do so. It’s not something her associates seem to adhere to but giving her some kind of personal boundary makes her a more interesting character.
Some of the execution of that story left a lot to be desired with her framing Gordon by using his gun to kill Lovecraft and that being the reason he was being transferred to work security at Arkham. I’m not sure that evidence was needed or really holds up. I would think Gordon’s word would count for something here but the corruption in Gotham city leads this to make some kind of sense given that it’s possible that any excuse was being looked for to remove Gordon from the GCPD. I’m just saying there was probably a better one than what we got here. Also, how does it work that a police officer can be transferred to work security at Arkham? Can the Mayor just make people entirely change occupations on a whim? Surely the GCPD and Arkham security would be completely different entities. It’s not as if your average prison security guard could suddenly start doing detective work. I understand that this will be used to give Gordon more information on the Wayne murder but it just doesn’t stack up that this change in career is something that can be imposed on him. Being fired or demoted to desk work sure but not this.
This episode did a lot better with the winks to the audience than prior outings. Young Ivy’s appearance was the most awkward beyond the poor actresses less than stellar acting. The entire conversation really had nothing to do with the rest of the episode, it was more likely included just because these references seem to be mandatory. Mercifully Bruce and Selina didn’t hide in some cave beneath Wayne Manor despite how difficult that must have been to resist. Though judging by what he learned this episode he’s on track to being Batman sometime around season 2. I also felt that Harvey Dent was used better this week in that he was part of the tapestry that makes up the show rather than overt references to him flipping coins or making bets. In short, more of this.
A strong outing with some lingering issues that show signs of ironing out. Taking the characters outside their comfort zones was a good choice and produced some entertaining results.
Bruce Wayne being taken out of Wayne Manor and learning the ins and outs of life for the underprivileged in Gotham City was a great choice and had some really interesting dramatic heft for the character. Their scenes were marred by some horrendous dialogue and some awkward execution but some really strong stuff here.
Alfred working with Bullock was a lot of fun. It’s great to see Sean Pertwee with more time to shine as Alfred and his investigation methods were a lot of fun. If we see more of Alfred doing this we will be onto a winner.
Gordon’s side of the episode was pretty badly done but featured a capable introduction of DC character Copperhead who is reimagined as a woman here. It was ultimately a means to an end that has Gordon placed in Arkham Asylum in a baffling plot point that I just can’t get my head around. I can see why they’re doing it and what the eventual aim is but how they went about it left a lot to be desired.
That is it for Gotham this year so I’ll continue reviewing it when it returns next year. So far it’s a bit clumsily handled but it is getting better and I hope the next part of the season will continue to get stronger.