Gotham – Season 2 Episode 10
“Rise of the Villains: The Son of Gotham”
Gotham pleased me greatly last week with the best episode I’d yet seen but I’m glad I said “so far this season”, as ‘The Son of Gotham’ was even better. Last week we were given two end-of-episode teasers: Selina having proof that Silver was trouble and having a plan to bring her down and the brothers of St Dumas arriving to complete the final stage of the order’s plan. Both plots delivered gold.
Though the Dumas family’s cult are arguably the central plot I have to start with Selina’s plan and Bruce: Last week Alfred told him that he didn’t have the skills to deceive Silver and no matter how hard Bruce tried he proved Alfred right. However, turns out that with support from Selina he is spy material. Last week the costume department dressed Bruce as the Milk Tray Man – or James Bond if you prefer – and I liked it, as it showed up what Bruce is not. This week Bruce was dressed as Bruce, who of course he is, but behind that there’s the character that we’ve been teased with numerous times before. We’ve seen Bruce learning bits of knowledge, picking up the odd skill, that are the foundation of him becoming Batman. In ‘The Son of Gotham’ Bruce possibly first acts like Batman. There’s a scene – that I’ve taken for a picture from for this article – where David Mazouz shows us the choice not to spare the villain from harm; in this case Silver, who will likely face reprisal from her uncle for giving up the name of the Waynes’ killer.
Perhaps a quick related sidestep here whilst I mention Silver. I wonder if I was little harsh on the plot of ‘Tonight’s The Night’ when I said that the female villains’ plotlines hadn’t come to much. I think that I’d still have preferred to see Silver betray Bruce in the way that the Celestine Wayne betrayed Theo’s ancestor, given Galavan’s desire for theatricality. However, Cat confirms this episode that Silver was to help convince Bruce to sell Wayne Enterprises to her uncle and I can see how Silver getting Bruce to trust the family Galavan works towards that. So, I think I got that wrong.
Easy not to see everything sometimes though, and the top reason for why I enjoyed this episode so much was something that I did not see coming. I really thought the guys who kidnapped Bruce and Silver were hired by Wayne Enterprises’. It made so much sense to me that they wanted to step in and find out how much Silver – and Galavan – knew about the murder of Bruce’s parents – perhaps they’re the ones that ordered the killing after all. It made further sense to me when the main thug pulled Bruce from the room: Wayne Enterprises would want to keep Bruce alive and unhurt to manipulate in the future. This even gets round the problem of us knowing that the show was never going to hurt the boy would grow up to be Batman: the villains also have a reason not to. And then it turns out to be a big ruse; Cat’s plan, perfectly executed by Bruce.
I was taken in by the whole ploy as much as Silver, who got a good chance to show off her skills. I’d wondered if they’d go down the route of her actually developing feelings for Bruce, as far as her fear of her uncle would allow, and that this would be what saved Bruce in the end. We did see that here and well done: Using it now prevents it being easily predictable in a finale. And it didn’t undermine Silver’s power: under threat she uses her family’s own threat value in a respectable way. Once more for me she’s been more interesting a female character than Tabitha, showing a strength under pressure that’s more than just the leather-clad butt-kicking that is so common in modern TV.
Ultimately I’d give praise for excellent construction and clever plot development for this whole episode. There are so many other examples. The plot removes Alfred from Wayne manor for the final scene by having him believably come looking for Bruce at the Galavan household. Alfred’s threatening of Tabitha is exactly what you expect from him and the fight between them is well placed because of it. It’s not just an excuse to get two cool characters into a fight; and I say that despite myself actually thinking when Alfred arrives: “yeah, who would win in a fight between the ex. SAS and the ninjas?” Yes, I wanted to see it, I freely admit.
A third plot choice I’ll always want to see more of was in the scene with Gordon and the monk. I don’t want it thought that I’m against action and fight scenes. There were still plenty in this episode and action is part of Gotham and thrilling to watch. Galavan finally stepping up was definitely a scene to remark on for instance. More than that it adds threat value to the final scene with him and Bruce too. However, you see a lot of shows having the solution to the problem at hand being the physical defeat of the enemy when it so often doesn’t seem to need it, possibly even being a bit boring. Anyone watching Sleepy Hollow season 3 for example? Ichabod defeats the Secrets Demon using knowledge he’s uncovered but all that ‘defeat’ achieves is to manifest the demon so Ichabod has to fight it – why? He’s defeated the demon already.
Back to Gotham – what did I like? Gordon tricks the injured monk into revealing his plan. Gordon knows the monks are almost brainwashed from a previous encounter. He knows of their need for ritual from this too, and from other research. He then uses that knowledge to defeat the monk, taking advantage of a known weakness, and tricks the villain into a reveal. It’s clever. It’s so much better than defeating the villain in a fight and then, say, reading the truth in the holy book on the altar because the character shows their intelligence. The Hulk would do it differently, yes, but we’re watching Jim Gordon, and the detective at his best no less.
Do people like to see Gordon doing police work? Going back to a daily grind? I’ve never minded it, as long as the police work relates to what’s going on and not to some distraction that later turns out to be connected. This episode holds to that principle well, I thought. Also, it was great to see Bullock back, with the office chat we might all want to use on the boss. He might not get too many lines but each one is just so… well, Bullock.
In fact I’ll take that a step further: I think everyone was on the best of all forms this week: Donal Logue’s delivery of irreverent humour; Natalie Alyn Lind’s terror and righteous anger; David Mazouz when Bruce was charming Selina – come on, that was smooth; Camren Bicondova with Selina’s response – ‘yeah, I’m flattered but I’m still older than you’; and James Frain for sheer, blindingly-confident evil.
Two great episodes in a row sets us up so well for an amazing mid-season finale. As ever perhaps, I might nit-pick here and there. Perhaps I wasn’t sure why we saw Nygma having flatmate trouble with Penguin, a little bit at odds with the more-serious plot; somehow Bullock’s blacker wit fitted better for me. Actually I think that’s it though, so overall, yes, loved this episode, really enjoyed it. Bring on the finale.
‘A Bitter Pill to Swallow’ may have been the best episode of Gotham season two so far for me, but ‘The Son of Gotham’ has been too, as it was even better than its predecessor. With two great episodes in a row, I hope this bodes well for an amazing mid-season finale.
The two teasers we were left with last week both turned into gold this week. First, Selina’s promise that she could prove to Bruce that Silver St Cloud was up to no good. I really didn’t see this plot coming when it did. I’d convinced myself that the men who kidnapped Silver and Bruce were Wayne Enterprises’. It made so much sense to me. They would want to know how much information Silver and her uncle had if it turned out that it was Wayne Enterprises that had ordered Bruce’s parents killed. I bought it even when they dragged Bruce from the room, as the company would want to keep Bruce unharmed so they could better use him in the future. But then it turns out to be Selina’s plan, perfectly executed by a Bruce, who shows us he does have the deception skills to trick Silver after all. I was completely taken in, with Silver’s terror that then turns to threat as she remembers her family does have power and then after the reveal with David Mazouz giving us Batman in look and action.
For a long time we’ve been teased with Bruce becoming the caped crusader. He’s been picking up bits of knowledge and the odd skill here and there but here we see him embrace Batman’s philosophy: He decides that Silver has made her choices and he has no need to save her from the consequences.
The rest of the episode matched the strength of this surprise for me. All the actors were on the best of all forms: Donal Logue’s delivery of irreverent humour; Natalie Alyn Lind’s terror and righteous anger; David Mazouz charming Selina – come on, that was smooth; Camren Bicondova with the attitude in response – I’m flattered but I’m still a little older than you; and James Frain for sheer, blindingly-confident evil.
Measure for measure with this were the plot choices. So much of what we were given this episode was so clever. Beyond Selina’s plan and Bruce’s execution I offer another two examples: Alfred being credibly removed from Wayne Manor for the purpose of the final scene and Gordon tricking the monk into revealing the Order of St Dumas’s plans.
In order to put Bruce under threat at the end of the episode Alfred needed to be out of the way. However, Alfred has every reason to look for Bruce at the Galavan household and his threatening of Tabitha is exactly what you expect from him and their fight is well placed because of it.
In order to give Bruce a chance in the finale Gordon has to discover that Bruce is the son of Gotham under threat. However, Gordon doesn’t just read this after a fight scene, in a holy book on the altar the monks were guarding, he learns it by outwitting a monk, using the monk’s need for ritual against him.
I railed so hard against episode seven (“Mommy’s Little Monster”) having characters make decisions because the plot needed them to. Here in ‘The Son of Gotham’ I really felt we saw the opposite: clever writing, where the characters show us the best and worst of themselves and plot moving on in intelligent ways that use what’s been set up before. This episode is the bar that I want the rest of season two to live up to. I loved this episode, really enjoyed it.