Gotham: A Dead Man Feels No Cold – Strange Takes Over (recap/review)

Gotham: A Dead Man Feels No Cold takes up where Mr Freeze ended, with Victor heading out to save Nora and Strange overseeing the rehabilitation of Penguin.

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Gotham: A Dead Man Feels No Cold takes up where Mr Freeze ended, with Victor heading out to save Nora and Strange overseeing the rehabilitation of Penguin. Ms Peabody, personally applies the treatment and despite Cobblepot’s threats, enjoys torturing the former king of Gotham.

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has returned to Wayne Manor,and Gotham, after his Alfred imposed break from the city.  An enforced rest period spent in a Swiss Chalet (“Castle in France” sniffs Selena Kyle later in the episode) and afterward  Bruce talks with Lee about his state of mind. 

Disturbingly, or perhaps prophetically, young Wayne is exhibiting the duality of nature, aka split personality, that enables him to become Batman when he grows up.  Another sign of Bruce’s future abilities appear when Kyle attempts to sneak up on Wayne and he tells her,  “I felt the air move when you came in the window.”

Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is annoyed that Bruce caught her out and she get more upset when Wayne asks her to get him a gun later. Also annoyed is Captain Barnes who rages about Mr. Freeze demanding his wife be released after he froze five cops to death. Barnes swears he will “Free his foot up Victor’s frozen a**.”

Barnes demands that Nora be sent to Arkham for her own safety and Lee (Morena Baccarin) accompanies the dying woman.  Meanwhile Oswald’s treatment turns him into a confused and eager to please inmate, briefly. 

He confronts Jim Gordon in the Arkham grounds and asks for help, his “friend” refuses and Penguin starts yelling that the future commissioner killed Galavan and that he, Cobblepot, lied. This exchange is observed by Hugo Strange (BD Wong) via CCTV.

Ironically, Nora is put in the same ward as Barbara Kean. Alfred brings Bruce the file on M. Malone and the two have a brief moment where the butler makes his charge agree that Alfred will kill the man who killed Bruce’s parents when they catch him.

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Victor removing Nora, and Lee, from Arkham

Victor frees Nora and brings Lee along. Gordon is put in a closet unharmed. Strange facilitates Fries’ entry into Arkham and sets up an escape vehicle and exit after Victor leaves some of his cryogenic solution for the doctor.

Fries takes his wife back home to freeze her and place her body in an container.  Nora (Kristen Hager) swaps the solution canister so that when Victor shoots her, it kills her. Consumed by grief, Fries uses the same solution on himself.

Lee confronts Jim about lying, she knows he killed Galavan and Penguin is strapped in that chair again for anther treatment. Ms. Peabody opines that he may be incurable and Strange disagrees.

Victor Fries wakes up in a frozen room, Hugo tells the man that he survived due to a cellular acceptance of the formula.  As Strange explains to the “dead man” about death only being the beginning the camera leaves the room.  It pans down to another section of Indian Hill and we see Theo Galavan and what appears to be the back of Jerome “The Joker” Valeska’s head.

These dead villains floating in glass containers full of fluid make it seem a certainty that as well as Galavan and the Joker returning to Gotham  Fish Mooney may also make a dramatic reappearance. All that remains to be seen is whether Oswald Cobblepot will be able to recognize her.

It should be noted that during the mid-season break, David Mazouz has shot up in height and lost some of that roundness of face from last year. As teenagers are wont to do  the actor has had a bit of a growth spurt. Since Bruce Wayne was not in last week’s episode, the change only became apparent in this week’s installment.

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Bruce Wayne, taller and leaner…

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX and while this semi-touching episode was  a little slow, the next episode should pick up pace as Bruce looks for a gun.

Gotham: The Son of Gotham – Cliffhanger (Review)

Gotham: The Son of Gotham, apart from its cliffhanger type ending, feels almost like a “coming of age” episode.

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Gotham: The Son of Gotham, apart from its cliffhanger type ending, feels almost like a “coming of age” episode where young Bruce Wayne learns about deception from Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and Silver St Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind). In many ways, with all those dangling plot threads, this would have been a brilliant mid-season finale.  With so many main characters in peril, along with the suggestion of looming death to a couple, it will be hard to wait for a week to see what has happened to who. 

By the time the end credits roll: Bruce is surprised by a gloating Galavan, Alfred is missing after having his clock cleaned pretty thoroughly by a shaken Tabby, Penguin saves a beaten and bloody Jim Gordon only to begin beating the semiconscious cop to learn the whereabouts of Theo.

It has to be said, Theo and Tabby have turned out to be very hard on the honest denizens of Gotham. While sis got a surprise when the butler turned out to be an almost deadly handful, it was Gordon who got the biggest jolt when her brother almost effortlessly beat the detective to a pulp.

Another revelation in Son of Gotham is that Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is actually a bit of a neanderthal.  An anachronism who may want to “clean up the city” but who is ultimately ill equipped to do so. Granted it has been shown that the man has an old fashioned approach but his snide remarks at Gordon’s rather impressive vocabulary, speaks volumes about the new captain’s intelligence level and attitude.

The monks of St Dumas have moved to the fore and started their campaign to clean up the city aka, reek vengeance for Theo.  It is interesting to note that the numbers of their sacrifices are made up of the criminal fraternity rather than the city’s hierarchy.  This episode had some very pleasing stand out moments.

Bruce’s playing of Theo’s littlest player, Silver was brilliant. Guest star Tommy Flanagan (Gladiator, Sin City) was spot on as the menacing thug, named Tom,  who threatens to cut off fingers until he learns what Wayne wants to know. This whole piece was perfect as throughout the entire interaction, the viewer keeps trying to figure out who really hired Tom to slice and dice his victims.

The reveal, that  the knife wielding threat was paid by Wayne and is an associate of Selina’s was priceless. As the crocodile tears dried on Silver’s face, Kyle repays St Cloud for her nastiness earlier in the season.  The scene also shows young Bruce Wayne taking those first steps to becoming the flawed hero later when he is older and more capable of fighting the criminals of Gotham.

The battle between Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) was impressively choreographed and highlighted the more pragmatic, and brutal, Pennyworth who is able to dish out the punishment to those who jeopardize his charge regardless of race, creed or gender. Unfortunately despite marking Galavan’s sister, she ultimately gains the upper hand as Alfred has underestimated his opponent’s madness and homicidal capabilities. 

On a sidenote, Alfred continues to underestimate Bruce (David Mazouz) and his abilities.  Although this most likely has more to do with his not understanding the boy’s deep issues and need for revenge. 

In terms of amusement, the uneasy alliance between Penguin and Nygma continues to provide chuckles although Nygma’s scene with Dr Thompkins was suitably tense. Jim Gordon’s girlfriend is unable to sense the madness beneath Nygma’s barely controlled facade and it makes for a suspenseful interaction between the future Riddler and GCPD’s M.E.

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Silver shows her inner Cyndi Lauper and shows her “True Colors.”

The wounded monk scene managed to give enough information to Gordon to worry him and this was followed by Alfred bitting off more than he could chew.

*Sidenote* Alfred, as played by Sean Pertwee, is a delight. Unfortunately, since Pertwee has made career out of dying, usually in quite horrific ways, on screen, the sight of the actor laying in the back of a garbage truck with a knife in his back and bleeding from other Tabby induced wounds, was disturbing.  Sure, Alfred Pennyworth is a major character, but as Bruno Heller tends to play rather loosely with the Gotham verse, one can easily imaging this “Alfred” dying and Bruce hiring an English replacement with the proviso that the new butler also be called Alfred Pennyworth. Wayne is, after all, a Billionaire with a few screws maligned after this parents murder. Only more episodes will reveal whether Pertwee manages to live after his encounter with Ms. Galavan.

The bit where Theo does his “super-villain” speech, revealing what his plans are, who he really is, yada, yada, works well.  While it is a bit cliched and stereotypical, as well as overly obvious as a bit of necessary exposition, it is acceptable.

In the business of the Penguin and Nygma/Riddler “partnership” a less obvious act looks to set up some major discord between the two villains.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) has serious issues with Nygma’s keeping Kris Kringle’s specs. Later, when Cobblepot learns that Theo Galavan has been released, the “King of Gotham” crushes the late Ms. Kringle’s glasses with a convulsive clenching of his fist. 

Oops. This may prove to be the undoing of the new partnership as Edward has proven that his “crazy” is much more potent that Oswald’s.

It is now apparent that “The Son of Gotham” is Bruce Wayne and with Alfred “out of the picture,” Jim Gordon beaten to a bloody mess and Galavan with the upper hand, the future Batman is going to have an interesting next few episodes.  In the meantime, viewers may want to prepare for the “death” of this Alfred…

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Alfred (Sean Pertwee) fleeing the deadly Tabby…

Gotham airs Mondays on Fox. Tune in and catch up.

Gotham: Mommy’s Little Monster – Two Become One (Review)

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So, in Gotham’s latest episode, Mommy’s Little Monster, it turns out that Butch has indeed been cured and Nygma proves that two can become one, all it took was taking Ms. Kringle out of the equation. Before looking at the episode overall,  a short pause (and a tear or two) may be in order for poor old deluded Gertrude Kapelput (played by the legendary performer Carol Kane).  

Can there be a dry eye in the house after Penguin’s mother was reunited with her boy only to die at the hand of Tabitha Galavan? Speaking of Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), who’s a clever girl then? Not just a homicidal maniac with S&M tendencies and a gorgeous visage but someone well versed in breaking down brainwashed muscle, in the form of Butch (Drew Powell).

 Who knew?

Theo did and while he has a sister and a niece who “have his back,”  the trio have a bad habit of making enemies of all the wrong people. Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) may brag to her uncle that Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is wrapped around her little finger, but pissing off Selina Kyle, like Theo’s poorly thought out murder of Penguin’s mom, is going to bite someone in the butt sooner or later.

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This episode was the  highlight of Gotham’s second season. Butch almost getting whacked by Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) with Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock standing  the hitman, and his crew, off with giant machine-guns, hundreds of Penguin lookalikes attempting to create enough of a diversion that the real deal could kill Theo, Tabitha taking out another Strike Force team member with her high heel  and, last but not least, the transformation of Mr. Nygma into The Riddler.

Cory Michael Smith as Nygma gives a great performance that is not out of place  with the over the top theme and action of this episode.   Bruno Heller threw everything into this one. Selina and Silver “duking it out” (verbally) with Kyle losing round one by being too blunt with Bruce and that smug grin from St. Cloud, who clearly knows that Selina is watching…

A real “heart stopping” moment occurs when Dr. Thompkins enters her office to discover Nygma standing over the woman he murdered.  It does really look like Morena Baccarin as Leslie Thompkins was about to be checked out of the show. On a sidenote, the eyes of the deceased Kringle, were very impressive and disturbing;  opaque and blindly staring, younger viewers may just have nightmares…

Previous to finding the body, by following his  own “?” clues, Nygma’s  struggling to find Kris Kringle’s body,  that his “other half” hid,  was brilliantly done. All accompanied by some great music (Closer to the Bone by Louis Prima & Sam Butera & The Witnesses) The lady fingers gag in the vending machine was priceless. All of the events in the GCPD led to the split personality becoming one when The Riddler tells his other self some home truths.  By the time the end credits roll a new villain is born.

Jim Gordon proves, yet again, that he cannot be bought. While he and Harvey have to save the new mayor from Penguin, the first “crusader” declares war on Galavan. Gordon figures out what Butch did not say, that Theo killed poor old addled Gertrude and that the bit of information that  Oswald imparted before his escape means that Galavan is not a good guy after all.

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Selina upsets Bruce with her warning about Silver.

The two men are now adversaries and both men have made it clear that the gloves are now off. Gotham’s ending belongs to Nygma, however, and his transformation into The Riddler. The man has now become the truly insane murderer who will plague a grown Bruce Wayne later.

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX. Tune in and join the OTT fun and chaos.

 

 

Gotham: Knock Knock – Monsters Are Coming…They’re Here (Review)

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Season two of Gotham continues to go darker and episode two, Knock Knock gives us the Maniax (!) run by Jerone, the soon to be Joker. The episode was a brilliant mix of horror, dark humor, pathos and some tear-inducing bonding moments between Alfred and Bruce. Last week’s season opening set up the “new” Gotham City PD and this episode shot it to pieces.

Literally.

In short order, the Maniax explode into the news in Gotham and create havoc. A group of victims thrown off the roof of the newspaper building, a school bus full of cheerleaders doused in gasoline and almost set on fire and the Gotham police department shot to rag doll ribbons by Jerome and the rest of the Maniax, sans Barbara ensures some massive media coverage.

Away from the death and mayhem going on in the city, Alfred and young Bruce have a massive falling out after the butler busts up the computer in the secret office. Wayne fires Alfred, although they do later reconcile and things shift between the two. Pennyworth will now train Bruce, in earnest, and he must also repair the computer.

Once Wayne and Alfred “make up” the butler then convinces Bruce to put him in charge. Pennyworth then approaches Lucius Fox, first to warn him, then to request that the man fix the broken computer.

*Sidenote* The bar scene contained the most awkward sounding dialogue ever to come from actor Sean Pertwee. The whole “tuck you up like a kipper” scene sounded stilted and, to be honest, is not a phrase heard by this reviewer once in over 32 years in England. Whoever came up with this whole scene should do their homework on how former soldiers actually talk. Just saying…me old sausage.

After Lucius and Alfred reach an understanding, the butler buys a drink for Mr. Fox (Chris Chalk) and the bartender, a touch of jolly old English “pub etiquette.”

Nygma continues his transition into The Riddler and while his two halves fight for control, he is still in love with Kristen (Chelsea Spack).  Later he manages to impress Miss Kringle by saving her life in the Gotham City Police Department massacre.

Jerome (played with gleeful gusto by Cameron Monaghan, who appears to be channeling all of the prior screen jokers into his version of the  wonderfully catchy criminal) gets all the best lines of the show, and some of the best (blackly) comic moments.

The moment on the school bus where Jerome “leads” the cheerleaders in a very short chant:

“Give me an O.”

Jerome fires his gun.

“I said, give me an O.”

“O”

“Give me an N.”

“N?”

“Give me another O.”

“What does that spell?”

Jerome starts spraying gas all over the bus, “Oh No!”

The little question on “N” is comedic magic, albeit very dark comedic magic.

Knock Knock gives us an insight on many characters. The almost orgasmic  interest in the Russian Roulette scene by Theo Galavan (James Frain), Barbara’s sense of sadism (who knew that Erin Richards could be so much more fun as “Bad Barbara?”), Harvey’s realization that he really is a cop regardless of what he tells himself.

Overall, the dark humor  in this episode was well done:  Tabitha and Barbara are whipping the Mayor (who still has the “box” over his head) with cat-o-nine tail whips. They run him into a wall and he falls down and lays still. After telling the girls to leave the “poor mayor along” Galavan continues.

Theo: “You haven’t killed him have you?”

Tabitha: “No I don’t think so.”

She hits the prone mayor on the stomach with her whip and he groans.

Tabitha: “Nope, hanging in there.”

Season two is rolling out the mythos of Gotham nicely. On top of all the infamous baddies and their origin stories,  the series is setting up the Pennyworth/Wayne dynamic beautifully.  It may be a little schmaltzy but these two performers, Pertwee and young David Mazouz have a great chemistry together and do feel a little like surrogate father and son.

The death of Essen was grim, but what a fighter! Her seated head-butt to Jerome was worth a cheer and then she tops it with the “That’s gonna leave a mark” quip.  Major kudos to actress Zabryna Guevara who just  killed it in her scene with the future Joker. Effortlessly. 

By  the time end credits rolled, Kringle  brought Nygma an aspirin, Bullock  put back on the badge and gun, the Maniax are down by two and Jerome has his first public broadcast. As the madman says, “Hang on to your hats folks cause you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX, miss this and miss some of the darkest  and exciting  television on offer.

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.