Gotham – Season 3 Episode 9
“Mad City: The Executioner”
Though the central plot in this week’s Gotham was Jim Gordon’s chance to prove he’s serious about returning to the straight and narrow it was Ivy and Nygma’s plots that really caught my attention, not least because I was wrong about Isabella surviving her accident.
I really thought that she was in for the long run. In fact I’d gone so far as to key myself up for her being a plant by either the Court of Owls or Butch trying to control or depose Nygma. I’d quite talked myself into her gaining Nygma’s confidence and then luring him into some over commitment that her employers would take advantage of. But Isabella is very dead and so Chelsea Spack was just back for a short cameo.
Or was she…? I can imagine that she was just used to start a war between Nygma and Butch and so we’ve seen the last of her but surely Butch could have started that war all by himself? Is there then another possibility that needs a Kringle lookalike on the scene?
Maybe she was a clone? Perhaps the Court of Owls have access to Strange’s research and grew their own Nygma trap to either test or disrupt Mayor Cobblepot’s operation? Might we then see another clone turn up in the future? That would really mess with Ed’s head. This would definitely make the instigators of the whole affair the Court of Owls, as it seems well above Butch’s pay grade, but surely something like that is happening? Surely Isabella’s appearance, Oswald’s feelings and Nygma’s obsession are not just part of a grand cosmic co-incidence?
Colour me intrigued still for now, as there seem to be many open questions remaining and I think a Butch vs. Nygma power struggle could be very interesting.
Ivy’s plot this week was in equal measure a setup for future intrigue, which in her case will lead to some reveal showing who the masked crossbowmen chasing her were. Her mark referred to these people simply as “them” but my Google skills led me to the Whisper Gang, of which I know very little. I’d wondered if they were going to be in the employ of the Court of Owls, leading up to the mid-season finale. This is still possible perhaps but largely unknowable until next week.
Ivy herself though, does choose to enter centre stage this week, and does give the female Gotham cast that boost I was hoping for. Valerie Vale was pulled entirely into Gordon’s plot but so far Ivy seems to define herself.
Does she have any superpowers as yet by the way? Or is it that she’s very knowledgeable about plants and is a precocious chemist? Not that it matters – the plot works well enough – but I’m always curious.
Either way, Ivy has been very interesting as a child in a grown-up’s body – moreover as a street kid, with no strong moral guide to stop her from toying with the adults around her. It’s also good to see her balanced out by her inexperience with what counts as a large amount of money and total wonderment of the power adults can wield over each other – something that might well lead her into danger.
Also, though it may seem like a small thing, I’m equally as pleased with the writing that was Cat so quickly accepting the change to her friend. With everything that goes on in Gotham City, growing up overnight is almost every-day fare now and someone as smart as Selina should be able to deal with it all, just as she understood the deal behind Bruce’s clone.
In my mind then, this week’s episode was a strong one, be it for the episode’s own plot or the possibilities it offers for future plot, but also for a third reason that I wasn’t expecting.
I’m a firm believer that you bring your darkness – or light – with you. By that here I mean if you’re in a bad mood then you’ll more likely find things you don’t like in a TV show and if in a good mood you’re more likely to enjoy it. However, I’ve really not been feeling at all positive these lasts few days and yet I found I enjoyed ‘The Executioner’ simply because it’s fun moments.
I’d easily believe that people who’ve read more than a few of my Gotham reviews will think I often miss this element out of my writing – that I don’t give the show credit for its pure entertainment value. I wouldn’t challenge this too heavily but in my defence I do just spend more time looking out for the meaning behind the plot that gives a show its ongoing purpose and value. I just like the meaning and the message – I don’t expect a single, all-guiding purpose throughout, it’s just that I do get a bigger thrill from those moments when you realise what the consequences of a character’s actions will be.
Despite this tendency then, the fun of this week’s episode broke through to me somehow. I loved Oswald’s hidden, pouty face when he answers “no” to Ed’s “did she suffer?” Equally I loved the different looks the two girls give Bruce when he agrees that Ivy does indeed look nice. Was it that the jokes seemed more relevant or in character to me this week or was it just great writing and delivery?
Whatever the truth, the humour was on top form throughout the episode, extending into Gordon’s plot. Bullock is, as ever, on top form with his “I was gone for like, an hour” to crown Jim’s fall into total disaster. Then there was Jim’s grudging acknowledgment that Barnes’s interpretation of last week’s events “makes sense”. … On reflection I think I’m happy to accept that it was just the writing and delivery.
In small but noticeable contrast to the strength of the humour and the side plots though, I don’t think I enjoyed Jim’s adventures quite as much. I don’t want to say that they were bad, especially given how much I go on about liking plots about morality and ideology. Further, Jim’s “I’ll decide who I am” is a perfectly reasonable answer to my opening question: is Jim truly going to return to the straight and narrow or will someone be able to pull him back of it? I think it’s more that Jim’s choice has been spread over several episodes that’s diluted the strength of the plot for me.
I’d rather have seen Jim’s hallucinations from ‘Red Queen’ get more screen time, really covering Jim’s past choices up until now and leading to one big decision. As it was, having Tetch question Jim’s morality, forcing him to make a decision, followed by Barnes testing Jim’s resolve did work. However, I wonder if spreading Jim’s plot across several episodes had a smaller impact than they would have had if they’d been combined into a single punch?
Jim’s plot from ‘Red Queen’ was stronger in my mind than any individual plot from ‘The Executioner’ but considering the episodes overall I think I enjoyed ‘The Executioner’ more. Each and every plot within it had something I really enjoyed and notably it was just fun to watch throughout.
- Ivy not being defined by anyone but herself
- Ivy’s childlike view on adult life
- Oswald’s pouty response to ‘did Isabella suffer?’
- Ivy and Cat’s response to Bruce complimenting Ivy
- Bullock’s despair of Jim being able to get into so much trouble so quickly
- Jim’s struggle to catch Barnes out
- Nygma’s superpower that allowed him to summon a witness to Isabella’s murder, just when he needed it
- the stereotype of a blind witness providing crucial evidence because they’re so in tune with what they can hear