Gotham: Worse Than a Crime (Review)

Aw Gotham. How do I love thee? Worse than a Crime was season two’s most epic episode with everything being nigh-on perfect in every way. From the lovely twist(s) in relation to the Bruce Wayne and Silver St Cloud storyline, to the Sam Peckinpah “walk” where this Wild Bunch are made up of an army of shotguns versus four.

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Aw Gotham. How do I love thee? Worse than a Crime was season two’s most epic episode to date with everything being nigh-on perfect in every way.  From the lovely twist(s) in relation to the Bruce Wayne and Silver St Cloud storyline, to the Sam Peckinpah “walk” where this “Wild Bunch” are made up of an army of shotguns versus four.  Granted, it stood to reason that young Master Wayne was not going to die, Bruno Heller would not go that far, but the episode practically sang a pitch-perfect tale of madness and comedy.

Sean Pertwee, as Alfred got the lion’s share of the comedic moments.

  1. Hiding in the freezer only to have a ton of additional rubbish dumped on the lid after escaping Tabby and her henchmen, “Oh bloody hell…”
  2. Apologizing to the driver he has just pulled out of the car that Alfred wishes to commandeer only to be tased in the  puss by one of GCPD’s finest.
  3. Interrupting Penguin’s diatribe about how Galavan must die:  “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. Can we just stop the “Bunny” and get in there chaps?”

*Sidenote* In English (as in the Queen’s English) to “Rabbit on” is to talk too much or too long. It is also the name of a song by Chas and Dave (1981) titled “Rabbit” about a girlfriend who talks too much…

Nygma, played with such maniacal panache by Cory Michael Smith, also has his fair share of amusing moments. The duet he sings with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor)  with that smile and later when he tells Lee “Is your lover-man alive? Go to Grundy. 805.” In every instance, in this episode, Smith exudes a clear delight in his schizophrenic madness whenever he is on screen that is just so compelling. All the more so in his later scenes with Bullock and Fox.

Stand out moments:

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Lee: “Don’t speak.”

Lee arguing with her “lover-man” in front of Penguin and his evil minion:

Lee: “You’re on the run from the law. You want to attack the mayor with the help of a depraved sociopath. That’s not crazy?

Penguin: “I can hear you.”

Lee: :Shh! Don’t speak.” 

Tabitha “owning” Theo. Not once, but twice.

Young Bruce Wayne “owning” Silver.  It is obvious that Alfred clearly underestimated his young charge’s abilities dramatically when he warned the boy that he was not able to deal with Silver’s deceptive qualities. The kid is a “playa…”

Speaking of the ladies who are loyal to young Wayne, Cat’s helping to get the gang into Galavan’s lair was also special, that look she drops Alfred…

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Her look says it all…

Last, but not least, the shot of Galavan’s lifeless body being “unwrapped” by Ms, Peabody with Penguin’s umbrella shoved halfway down Theo’s throat.

While singing the praises of this particular Gotham storyline finale,  mad props go to director Jeffrey G. Hunt who “got it in one.” It also needs to be pointed out that despite Bruno Heller’s need to play fast and loose with the Batman verse, pre the caped crusader, there was no real suspense in the episode. Bruce Wayne was not going to die, nor was Alfred…although it was  bit iffy there for a little while.

Thoughts:

May Michael Chiklis’ character not wake up from Penguin’s perfectly timed bash in the head. Captain Barnes is getting old very fast, like the dinosaur he so resembles the new captain needs to be retired…yesterday.

Who is doing Morena Baccarin‘s makeup?? Was there a conscious decision to make her look like a younger Teri Hatcher? Morena is a gorgeous actress who does need to be remade into an “escapee from Desperate Housewives” lookalike.

Kudos on allowing Harvey Bullock the punch line of the episode. The gag; all the good guys and bad ones, having to take what looks like an eternal staircase up to save Bruce Wayne from being executed by the mad monks of Dumas.  Partway up, Bullock stops, breathing heavily and says he catch up.

After all the monks have been killed, or shot, the head chap leaps toward Gordon and is shot mid-leap by Bullock (Donal Logue) who has just arrived in the room. With a slight grin, Bullock says:

“That was a lot of stairs.”

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Harvey gets the punch line…

Bravo to Heller, the writers and the cast for killing it in this episode.  How can one not adore Ben MacKenzie’s Jim Gordon? At the end of the episode, before the umbrella reveal, Gordon is sitting on a bench with his paramour and in the least romantic way possible asks Lee to marry him. She smiles, but does not answer…

Does the dark man who shot Galavan, allowed Penguin to beat his mother’s murderer to a pulp with a baseball bat and teamed up with gangsters to save Bruce Wayne really think Lee will say yes?

Thinking about it, he probably does.  Heller and MacKenzie have given us a pre-role model that could have given a grown up Bruce Wayne lessons in being dark,  torn and twisted inside while fighting for justice.  One last observation/question: Did anyone else break out in goosebumps when Mr. Freeze showed up at the end?

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in for the madness and near perfection with an unforgettable cast of characters.

Gotham: By Fire – Killing Kris Kringle (Review)

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Things just took  a grim turn in Gotham. By Fire was an episode that turned out to be a bit rough on the female members of the juvenile criminal community.  Things also turned deadly for another female character who probably should have thought before freaking out in front of Mr. Nygma. Before the end credits roll things are very bleak and a particular bird-man is getting ready to take his troops out to rescue mommy.

Bruno Heller once agains teases us with his tendency to usher in characters that appear to be related to the DC Gotham verse. A female firefly was introduced and then, seemingly, discarded almost as quickly as Jerome “The Joker.” Although Bridgit Pike is not dead, the gender swap firefly has been sent to Indian Hill, a Wayne Enterprise facility where invasive testing, aka torture, of “monsters” is the rule of the day.

Poor Pike has been abused not just by her arsonist “family” but by Gotham’s finest as well. The kid looked to be ready to take on all those who bully and threaten the helpless only to get caught by Captain Barnes and the GCPD who wanted payback for the death of new Strike Force member Garrett.

The storyline for Pike (Michelle Veintimilla) was good. An abused and downtrodden girl whose adoptive family are a group of fire-bugs that bully her into submission. A little taste of power transforms the shy and awkward child into a homicidal human flame thrower.  Turns out the kid likes the power of the fire and the fear it induces and death it deals by her hand. 

Kudos to Veintimilla who pulls off the switch from timid victim to vengeful fire-starter effortlessly.  Her expressions give the viewer her thoughts and feelings, just as that one eye tells us that Firefly is terrified as she is being wheeled into Indian Hills.  This poor kid just cannot get a break. Just as she starts a little well-deserved payback to all those bullies, she is incarcerated with a fire proof body and destroyed visage.

Jim Gordon learns that his alliance with Captain Barnes is going to be an uncomfortable one. Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is a “black and white” cop. There is no grey in his view of the law, but as Gordon tells his new boss, “This is Gotham” if one were to look up grey in the dictionary, there would be a picture of the city in the definition.

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Cat tries to save her friend Bridgit.

Selena Kyle (Camren Bicondova) goes off the deep end when her friend Bridgit is kidnapped by her brothers. Getting tooled up she is approached by Gordon who promises her that if she lets the GCPD take care of things the girl will be protected. Sadly, Jim has made a promise he cannot keep, Barnes does not honor grey pledges. 

When the Strike Force head down to the meat market where Firefly is torching the owner/auctioneer and releasing the caged female captives, things go wrong. A stray shot, an angry youngster with fire at her disposal and an exploding police car means that Jim’s promise to Cat cannot be kept, even without Barnes’ insistence that Gordon was out of line.

The female Firefly goes up in flames and later Gordon will tell Kyle that the girl is not expected to “make it.” Selena swears off making friends with cops and this  presumably pushes her over the edge into full villainy. Bicondova kills it in her scenes with Bridgit and her slow tears in the scene with Ben MacKenzie as Gordon was an emotionally underplayed powerhouse performance.

As expected, Mr. Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) blows it pretty spectacularly with Kristen Kringle and he ends up killing the woman, even as he swears his love for her.  This was a doomed relationship from the start, Nygma was too socially inept to carry on a relationship with anyone, let alone the woman he killed for.  This was heavy in the irony department and one felt sorry for Kringle, who really was  a bad judge of character all around.

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Chelsea Spack as Kristen Kringle, sic transit Kris mundi…

Kringle really was an odd one, seems her admission to Lee (Morena Baccarin) that she really liked a bit of rough, was not true after all. Once Ed confesses he murdered the abusive cop Dougherty poor Kris freaks out, despite that fact that she and Nygma just had sex in his bed.  Cue one short exit for the woman who had very poor taste in men.

Butch manages to get into the employ of Galavan and becomes the plaything of Tabitha and Barbara. Later, sporting a mallet for a right hand, Butch is caught looking for Penguin’s mother. After being punished by Tabitha, the “Tiger Lady” locks him up. Gilzean (Drew Powellescapes and reveals where Gertrude Kapelput is being held and Penguin rounds up his troops for a rescue.

One does wonder if Butch has been turned by Theo’s sister as the big man stands in front of the fireplace while Penguin ratchets a shell into his shotgun and gestures for his men to go.  By the end of the episode, before we see poor Bridgit being wheeled into a room surrounded by screaming “monsters” and  the city of Gotham is full of some very unhappy people. Selena and Nygma (who is cradling the women he just murdered, screaming) are two characters whose destinies have been shaped by this episode.

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in and catch the murder, madness and mayhem that Bruno Heller delivers on a regular basis. See just how Nygma’s killing of Kris Kringle turns out for the city and its denizens.

 

Gotham: Season 2 Premiere – Perfect Opening

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Gotham season 2 premiere, once it gets past the Bruce Wayne access code “blockage,” dives into the most perfect opening ever. With Lou Reed’s It’s Just a Perfect Day overlaying a montage titled “One Month Later” director Danny Cannon and creator Bruno Heller give us sheer bliss on screen. All before the opening credits.

As the episode opens,  Bruce and Alfred  go down the steps behind the fireplace and see the door to the “bat cave” complete with access keypad. Alfred tells Wayne that there must be a million possible combinations and  the “One Month Later” montage begins.

We see Jim Gordon getting dressed with Leslie “Lee” Thompkins helping, Harvey Bullock is tending bar (comically lifting a drunk’s head off the bar so he can wipe it and letting the appendage slam back down to the bar top),  Penguin now wearing the metaphorical crown as King of Gotham and dooming an underling to death and Barbara Kean arrives at Arkham Asylum complete with luggage.

Jerome Valeska (who is destined  to become The Joker) clocks the arrival of Ms Kean and is instantly interested. The montage, and the music, ends and we are introduced to Zaardon, the soul reaper, who drinks a beaker of blue liquid handed to him by Theo Galavan (James Frain).

Transition to:

Jim Gordon in a uniform directing traffic and Zaardon runs into Gordon who, in short order, overpowers the “soul reaper” pushes an overweight and late fellow cop back and gets fired by Commissioner Loeb.

Through the course of this season premiere opening episode:  Jim is fired and reinstated. Penguin does Gordon a favor and receives one from the future commissioner in return.  Bruce gets that door open, with some major help from Alfred.  Barbara shows what she is really made of and the Riddler (Nygma played with a glorious schizophrenic desperation by Cory Michael Smith) proves that he really is ready to make his criminal presence known.

This whole opening episode works like a well oiled machine. Each part coming together perfectly, seamlessly, to become a major signpost of both who is whom and why. Several important things happen.  One scene, however, is a turning point which changes the direction of three characters.

Wayne and Alfred (The brilliant Sean Pertwee who commands scenes almost effortlessly by his ability to be both sternly in-charge and  instantly turn  domestic “I’ll put the kettle on.”) have just rushed to clean up after finding the hidden door behind the fireplace. Jim Gordon shows up to announce he has been fired from the Gotham police force.

The former cop wants to apologize for not being able to keep his promise and he reveals that there is a way to get back his job, but it, “it’s too  ugly.”  He implies that he cannot pursue this avenue of reinstatement. Young Wayne, after a short Q&A session then asks if Gordon is not sacrificing the greater good for his own code of vain ethics.

Bruce makes a harsh point:

“Surely, sometimes, the right way is also the ugly way.”

Alfred rebukes Bruce, who then apologizes to Jim. This little meeting results in Jim doing the favor for Penguin (collecting from Ogden Barker) and  the new King of Gotham then gets Loeb out of the commissioner position and Jim is taken back as a detective. Later, Bruce takes his own advice and blows up the entrance to his father’s secret “lair.”

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The King of Gotham in his throne…

This event is the main thrust of the episode. The tiny “cameo” of Nygma talking to himself in the mirror and the parallel storyline of Galavan’s beginning of the “super criminals” he is designing all work together perfectly. As does the story thread of Harvey Bullock working as bartender while staying sober for “32 days.”

Bruce Wayne’s continued journey toward manhood and “becoming” Batman is still wonderfully paced. Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred are the “odd couple” to match Jim Gordon and Bullock’s version.  The young Wayne is slowly leaving his boyhood behind him although we know that it is still there. The scene where Alfred brings the wire behind the end of the sofa where Bruce waits shows that both the butler and Wayne are “childishly” excited to blow open the door.

After the “ugly” scene, Jim takes that final step, Alfred becomes more advisor and less guardian, and Bruce takes another purposeful stride toward becoming the adult who becomes the “caped crusader.” (Three major characters all taking a particular fork in the road to fulfill their destinies.)

Once Alfred and Bruce enter the secret office, after Wayne decides to take the “ugly way” to  get past that locked door,  he learns the truth of his father.  Bruce’s dad has left him  a letter explaining what he was doing and the final line of the note reveals something very important:

“You can’t have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose. I beg of you, my son, please choose happiness. Unless… Unless you feel a calling. A true calling.”

This final line, which Bruce alludes to earlier in his conversation with Jim Gordon, is the crux of the series, all the more so in season two. All the players have a “true calling.” From Theo Galavan and his new band of villains to Jim Gordon and his relentless quest for justice in Gotham.

From the mouths of babes, as they say, comes some pretty in-depth wisdom. Wayne’s own true calling is still coming to fruition but the “child,” as Alfred repeatedly refers to Master Bruce, knows that truth is not pretty, not in Gotham.

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Bruce learning his “true calling.”

Robin Lord Taylor is killing it as Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin and Ben McKenzie  as Jim “I did a bad thing” Gordon is magnificent as the square-jawed hero. Anthony Carrigan is back as the terrifying enforcer Victor and new female bad-a**  character Tabitha Galavan, played by Jessica Lucas, looks to be a great addition to the baddie ranks. As does James Frain as brother Theo.

Gotham airs Mondays on Fox, even if you are not a fan of the comic verse, this is compelling television and features some great performances from all concerned.  Tune in and enjoy. 

Gotham: Prepping for Season Two

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As September 21 rapidly approaches and the season two premiere of Gotham waits to air, it seemed prudent to revisit the back end of season one. Prepping, if you will, for the start of  the second installment of “Rise of the Villains.” Rather interestingly, it seems that the removal of Falcone as the King of Gotham, leaving Penguin to stand on the edge of the pier loudly shouting that “I am the King of Gotham” while surrounded by a thunderstorm, has indeed left the city wide open for this season two of the “big bad” rise.

Looking back at the final few episodes of season one, it is amazing just how much was crammed into the last few episodes.  One serial killer called The Ogre, played with stunning menace and disturbing charm by Milo Ventimiglia, The Dollmaker aka, Dr. Dulmacher, Barbara Kean turning into a homicidal maniac, the return of Fish Mooney, Nygma’s move toward becoming the Riddler and Loeb’s little secret. Of course the big power play for the crown of Gotham underworld ruler changes heads as well.

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Dr. Thompkins and Barbara Kean, when trauma counseling sessions go bad…

Crime runs so rampant in the first season of Gotham that even the big guy overseeing all the action in the town, Falcone, tires of the day-to-day struggle and decides to step down.  The return of Jim Gordon, back from his security detail at the Arkham Asylum, saw many things escalate and most of these came to a head in the last five episodes of the season.

Guest stars included Ventimiglia and Jeffrey Combs (who played Dr. Dulmacher’s office manager) and Dash Mihok (who as Detective Arnold Flass gets his comeuppance) but sadly did not have any Diz and the Fam tracks to drop for the show’s soundtrack. The appearance of horror genre favorite Combs was just brilliant.

At one point, the girl/woman Selina Kyle (played by Camren Bicondova) got to “grow up” twice. (Three times if one counts her decision to kill Reggie by pushing Alfred’s old Army chum and attacker out of the shooting gallery window for Bruce.) Once at the Wayne Charity Ball and again after Fish Mooney got hold of her. The latter was quite shocking as suddenly this little vixen was really grown up and carrying a shotgun.

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Selina Kyle ALL grown up…

Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is driven over the edge after the woman he adores is mistreated by her new beau. The future Riddler takes things into his own hands and disposes  of her brutal new boyfriend and as she begins to piece things together Nygma loses his cool.

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Cory Michael Smith as Nygma

On top of the side stories; The Ogre, Ed Nygma’s move toward becoming the Riddler and the death of Reggie, as well as Fish Mooney’s escape back to Gotham, there was Bruce Wayne caring for Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and trying to get the goods on Sid Bunderslaw. When young Wayne is caught in Sid’s office, with the empty safe, Bunderslaw has a chat with Bruce and offers him a cookie.

Another Wayne employee,  Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) comes to escort Bruce back to his tour guide and Fox drops a hint to the young man about his late father, Lucius calls Wayne Sr. a stoic.  This prompts Bruce to search his father’s office at Wayne Manor where he finds, at the very last of the final episode, the entrance to the “bat cave.”

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Bruce Wayne and Alfred searching the office…

The biggest moment in season one was the final struggle for control of Gotham’s underworld. A triumphant Fish Mooney springs a trap on Falcone and as she keeps Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Oswald Cobblepot and Falcone captive, Don Marconi comes in to talk sh*t and claim the crown.

Just before Marconi comes in, Fish tells each of her prisoners what their fate will be. Amusingly, Bullock is given a pass. Gordon tries to talk the “new” and grownup Selina into helping them. When Marconi arrives and starts trying to put Mooney into her “rightful” place, it does not take long for her to respond in a very final way.

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Fish about to put Marconi in his place…

Once Mooney puts a shot into Marconi’s forehead, things heat up and apparently Selena passed that knife of Falcone’s on to Bullock. He helps everyone get loose and as the two factions, Fish’s troops and Marconi’s, brace each other, Oswald makes his move.

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Oswald Cobblepot taking out the competition.

As the first season ends, Penguin roars his triumph (while sending Fish Mooney to an apparent watery grave) and Bruce finds his destiny. Things are now ready for act two of Gotham. The second season airs Monday, September 21. Fans who want to catch up, or prepare for the next offering from FOX should head over to Hulu now before the last five episodes go away.