Gotham Season 3 Episode 1: Better to Reign in Hell – Doppelgänger (Review)

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Gotham starts the third season with Jim Gordon in, unsurprisingly, a very bad mood. Episode one “Better to Reign in Hell” shows Lee having moved on and Gordon hitting the bottle.  He is also working as a bounty hunter, dragging in Hugo Strange’s evil creations to “pay the rent.”

All of the Arkham Asylum escapees are walking the streets of the city and one in particular is searching for drugs. Fish Mooney is suffering every time she uses the power that Strange added to her DNA.  Looking for some relief has pushed her even further over the edge.

Now she wants Strange to “fix” her and create an army of more DNA altered villains. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to see the return of Jerome as The Joker.

There is a new reporter in town. Valerie Vale, auntie of Vicki and Batman’s romantic interest when he finally reaches maturity in Gotham. She is interested not only in the crimewave in the city, but  it seems that Val also has a thing for Jim Gordon.

Bruce Wayne has a doppelgänger and this longhaired monosyllabic lad has a thing for Selena Kyle.   The future Catwoman gives the boy some money and it brings out the stalker in him.

Kyle is still playing the game as only she can. Stealing Butch’s wallet, selling information to Vale about the Indian Hill gang and avoiding the Gotham PD. She has temporarily aligned herself with Fish but after the attack on Ivy this may change.

The soon to be older Poison Ivy was touched by Marv and then jettisoned into an open sewer pipe. Mrs. Peabody also gets the “fountain of age/death” and expires after telling Fish that Strange can sort her problems out.

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Fish Mooney

Bruce tells his board of directors that there is a skunk in the woodpile and that he plans to flush it out. Shortly after, the leader of the covert group orders a masked man to “quietly take care of Wayne.”

Meanwhile Butch tries to get Tabby back and this results in a comic highlight in the episode.  After Barbara has beaten the mobster sent by Gilzean to a pulp Oswald and Butch show up to negotiate.

The gangster cannot say club due to his injuries and instead says “cwub.” Kean finds this hysterical and mocks the soon to be dead villain.

“Cwub? What’s a cwub? I mean, can anyone understand him?”

Cobblepot allows the two women to run their “cwub” but reminds Tabitha that she is on borrowed time. The minute, he says,  Butch gives him the nod;  Tabby is his.

Bruce is taken after Alfred lets the side down once more. (For a tough old geezer, Pennyworth has been getting his backside beaten on a regular basis.)

This season seems headed to a Alexander Dumas theme here. The Man in the Iron Mask territory where the new Bruce Wayne look-a-like will step in for the kidnapped future Batman.

“Better to Reign in Hell” has a more confident and powerful Penguin.  Cobblepot really does want Fish Mooney out of the picture.

The continuing friendship between Nygma and Oswald is interesting.  Cobblepot sees Edward as his BFF, after all who else could do an origami penguin and remind Oswald that “penguins eat fish,” in a matter of seconds.  Can he really be trusted?

Definitely not.

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Oswald pointing a finger.

Thus far Gotham has a snotty Jim Gordon and an enticing new reporter.  Harvey has resumed his cowering act in front of the barely recovered Capt. Barnes and Bruce has stepped things up only to be taken in the night.

Selina may not stick with Mooney too long after the “apparent” demise of Ivy and Butch is clearly still besotted with Tabitha.

Gotham: Mad City also has an ailing Fish Mooney who is desperate to find Dr. Strange.

The opening salvo in season three is interesting and a little transparent. Of course the twin of Bruce may not be used as a temporary replacement at all but if he is not, what is the point.

James Gordon as bounty hunter is annoying. Sure he can work outside the law and get paid, but the future commissioner of Gotham is, deep inside, a cop.  This is a poor fit for Gordon and hopefully will end soon.

As another reviewer pointed out, “we already have a Batman” and they are right. Although the future hero has not transformed from Bruce Wayne boy millionaire to caped crusader just yet.

Apart from the introduction of Ms. Vale  and the partnership of Barbara and Tabitha, the only really interesting thing about the season premiere is Mooney’s gang of “monsters.”  One of which hastens the transformation of Poison Ivy.

So by the end of the first episode, Alfred is unconscious, Peabody is dead and Bruce Wayne is taken before the butler can turn on the alarm system for Wayne Manor.

If the Dumas angle continues one can either congratulate show creator Bruno Heller for an interesting sort of homage or take points off for lack of originality. What do you think? Has Heller made the right move with the doppelgänger twist?

On a closing note…

Did anyone else notice that both Barnes and Penguin were using canes in the episode open? And, did anyone notice that the canes were being used on opposite sides of the body?

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX.

 

CAST:

Howl (2015): Terror Courtesy British Rail (Review)

Poster for Howl

It is hard to find fault with the British horror film “Howl.”  It delivers some delicious terror courtesy of British Rail, or its imaginary equivalent,  and it has some familiar faces and names from the world of horror.

(The company logo appears to be an “A” and the only rail service that start with that letter is Arriva in Wales.  As not one passenger speaks with a Welsh accent and since there is no Eastborough in Wales, the company must be imaginary.)

Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler (both better known, somewhat amazingly, for children’s telly) and directed by Paul Hyett “Howl” hits all the right notes.   This was Hyett’s second film as director, the first being “The Seasoning House” which starred  Rosie Day and Sean Pertwee

Hyett’s directorial debut was a brilliant thriller where Pertwee was a baddy and Day won Best Actress for her role.  This second  feature from the director does not disappoint as it takes the myth of the werewolf, or a hybrid of the creature, and places it in the English countryside.

The plot deals with one of those tiny rail lines with about five cars that empties out the closer the train gets to its final destination.  The vehicle hits a deer and stalls out. The driver (Pertwee) gets out to check and dies; ripped to shreds by a werewolf.

Joe  (Ed Speleers) has been passed over for promotion and is bullied into doing a double shift for the Eastborough line.  When the driver (Pertwee) goes missing Joe is in charge of the reduced number of passengers and he tries to save everyone. 

Another actor from Hyett’s past also appears in “Howl;” the splendid Shauna Macdonald who was the main protagonist in both “The Descent” and The Descent 2. Paul was the makeup supervisor on both films.  

The film switches from a claustrophobic  setting to a more open one and back again.  The characters range from the snooty young teen who calls Joe a perv to the smarmy financial expert with a house in the country and a flat in the city.  The successful businessman is a snot and calls one young man on the train “ASBO boy.”

“Howl” is atmospheric and very English in its delivery.  There are no guns to fight the monsters who are attacking the train.  Weapons include a huge spanner (wrench) a fire axe and a crowbar.  There is a bit of the “stiff upper lip old chap” attitude combined with a sort of “MacGyver” (or even the “Dawn of the Dead” remake) ingenuity.

The creatures look very convincing and quite scary. They also appear to be practical mixed with a bit of CG and they work very well.

There are a few things that do not ring true.  The carriages are far too clean both inside and out. Another issue is the PA system, it is far too clear and concise with an adequate decibel level and no static. In other words everyone can hear each announcement clearly. Anyone who has ridden the rail system in England will know that reality is much different than what is shown here.

(At the risk of being really picayune, the “guard” did not punch a hole in the tickets either. Just saying.)

Small complaints aside, “Howl” works brilliantly.  This is what English directors do best. Make horror films that entertain and give a nod and a wink to the genre. Sean Pertwee appearing, and then dying before the film’s midway point, is almost horror tradition. The only film, to date, that Pertwee’s character survives in is the 2010 horror film “Devil’s Playground.”

(A small bit of trivia: This is Pertwee’s second werewolf film. The first being “Dog Soldiers” where he is also attacked by the creatures. Arguably Pertwee’s character could also count as having survived.)

“Howl” is a cracking good film with enough gore and edge of the seat viewing to entertain the pickiest horror film fan.  A solid 4.5 star film (it loses a half star for those clean carriages and for killing off Pertwee far too quickly) that is streaming on Hulu and Amazon at the moment. Check it out and see if you too fall in love with this film.

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: 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: 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.