Gotham: Winter Finale – Face Off (Review)

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Gotham‘s Bruno Heller pulled out all the stops for the second season’s winter finale.  Bruce Wayne comes up against Jerome, aka The Joker, and there is a face off between Penguin and Ed Nygma that ends pretty much as we expected it to. Judging by the teaser at the end of this episode, Nygma’s killing of Oswald has pushed him toward becoming that green question mark known as The Riddler.

This was a real tour de force effort. Not only do we have a crowning moment in the genesis of Bruce Wayne’s journey to become the future Batman but we have yet another rug pulling act with the death of Oswald Cobblepot.

“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” brings the Jerome Valeska storyline to a temporary close.  It not only allows Wayne to come within a grinning rictus of killing the future Joker but between Bruce’s pummeling of Jerome’s stapled visage and Gordon’s final assault on the mauled remains of Valeska’s face, the soon-to-be super villain has his face knocked off.

It is a crowning moment in this series and counts as one of the more grisly scenes in any of the three seasons on offer. Harvey makes a joke out of the whole thing but that split second shot of Jerome’s mangled face, with what appears to be hamburger leaking at the edges, was darned impressive.

(The face looked creepier and more realistic this week even before being smacked out of shape by Wayne’s furious attack in the hall of mirrors.)

Alongside the storyline of Jerome planning on finishing what he started in season two, the end of the Ed Nygma/Oswald Cobblepot affair came to a close.  Barbara and Ed underestimated Penguin’s love and despite proving that he really was able to sacrifice himself for Ed, the limping mayor of Gotham ends up being shot on the dock like so many others before him.

The acid vat over Isabella’s car and the melting block of ice was brilliantly funny as was the bumbling cop who stumbles over the scenario in time to save Cobblepot. Behind the two major storylines we saw the owl lady setting things in motion to have the Bruce Wayne clone take over.

Gotham also set up a teaser moment where we learn that Jim Gordon’s uncle is working for the secret organization.

This episode was full of chaos from its open. The GCPD fighting all those followers of Jerome and the station catching fire soon led to a series of riots in the city, not seen, and culminated at the Boardwalk Circus.

Great humor and the entire enterprise at the circus was  weird and wonderful allowing Jerome and Wayne to face off and indulge some character development.  (Another gruesome, yet amusing moment occurred with the poor guy fed to the tank full of piranhas.)

It was interesting to see Oswald justify killing Ed’s dream woman. Telling his former right-hand man and love interest that he would have killed Isabella just as he killed Miss Kringle may have infuriated Nygma but it may well have been true. Although that was not the real reason that Penguin killed the new woman in Ed’s life.

The bottom line was, that by the end of the episode, Ed did not care why Oswald killed his true love.  Penguin was going to die in the same manner as Fish Mooney and Theo Galavan. It seems certain that he will come back, though as did Fish, Theo, Jerome and many others.

One thing is certain. Bruce Wayne’s vow to “never kill” will become a major plot point when the series returns in April. The fake Wayne will most definitely mess up by killing someone and Alfred will naturally realize that Master Bruce is a fraud.

Gotham will be back later in the spring on FOX.

CAST:

Guest starring  Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska.

Gotham: Smile Like You Mean It – Darkness (Review)

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At long last, Gotham has seen the resurrection of Jerome Valeska with a little help from ineffectual Jerome copycat Dwight. In “Smile Like You Mean It” Dwight has some issues with bringing The Joker back from the dead and resorts to cutting Jerome’s face off.

Wearing it like a mask, a’la The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of a 1000 Corpses, or The Devil’s Rejects  Dwight gives a live speech via Channel 9 to the Jerome fan club. While the re-emergence of Valeska was the big storyline here, there was also the Penguin take down, by Ed, Barbara and Tabby as well as the Kyle storyline.

It is Selena’s tale that is the most far reaching in this episode of Gotham. We now know just what caused the falling out between the future Cat Woman and Bruce Wayne. (It was also nicely worked into the “spat” between the two as Wayne is getting better at the whole taking care of himself business. Kyle only hits him twice…)

Some of this episode required major suspension of disbelief for the thing to work. Tabitha, whose recently severed hand has healed incredibly fast, was able to dispatch Oswald’s former associates very easily.  Shooting Tommy Bones and the men in the nightclub with no hesitation or difficulty using that right hand stretched credibility a good bit.

Granted, Tabby’s incredibly healed hand was no less impressive than Jerome’s re-attached face. However…Jerome’s wincing performance while stapling back his visage was funny enough that one could ignore the lack of sag and drag around the eyes and mouth.

Gotham this week required a lot of forgiveness when it came to certain plot lines. Another problem arises with the Oswald Cobblepot and Ed Nygma story. Oswald has always been mad as a box of frogs but he is not stupid.

The teaming up of Barbara and Ed, along with Tabitha – who reminds her partner that Oswald will die by her hand (pun intended) when Nygma’s exercise is through – is coming to a close. It is hard to believe that Cobblepot has not worked out just yet that the whole thing is a ruse.

By the end of the episode, Jerome blows up Dwight and the Gotham power plant plunging the city into darkness. Valeska’s closing message is one of madness and mayhem, one that his fan club will act upon, and James Gordon is, quite rightly, concerned.

Selena has “gone off” Bruce Wayne. Her issue is his having not told the truth, which, as any man should know, is the same as lying to any woman.    Lee is also annoyed with Gordon, she helps out with the interrogation of the cop/mole but tells Jim to keep his mitts to himself and that he cannot tell her what to do.

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX.

CAST:

Guest starring Ivana Milicevic as Maria Kyle, Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska and David Dastmalchian as Dwight Pollard.

 

 

Fresh Off the Boat: The Best of Orlando – Loving Constance Wu (Review)

CONSTANCE WU

Season three of Fresh Off the Boat has made it easier than ever to fall in love with Constance Wu and her brilliant comic nuances. In “The Best of Orlando” Wu, as Jessica Huang is the clear winner in the story of Louis forgetting to thank her after winning Orlando Small Businessman of the Year.

Her displeasure at being forgotten, along with Evan’s expert advice to his father, make her journey, and Louis’, the funniest bit of the show. Not to denigrate the Eddie/Emery/Grandma Huang trouser business tale. It too was amusing and it shows once again just how different Eddie is from his brothers.

This episode did feel very familiar, there was one where Louis did something that either displeased Jessica, or along those lines; gave an incorrect account of something, and had to ring all the neighbors and admit he was at fault.

This time around, he has to go around the neighborhood and read his “acceptance” speech to each house. So despite Constance Wu killing it in “The Best of Orlando” this episode did have a deja vu quality.

Constance Wu has had more than her fair share of comic moments in season three.  The previous episode, “How to be an American” also allowed Wu to shine. The actress is at her best when she gets all shiny eyed at the thought of being an American citizen or when she is making money.

As Jessica, Constance is able to express volumes without saying a word. While she is able to knock it out of the park with minimal effort via her dialogue, usually a sound or her endearing, and oh so funny, “Oh Louis,” in other episodes, it is Wu’s visage and her expressions that drive the comedy home.

The double act that is Ian Chen and Constance Wu also plays extremely well. Although this ensemble cast all bring something to the comic table. This week Eddie and Emery do knock off “G” (for Gangsta, or as Eddie whispers, Grandma) trousers that they sell at school.

The principle steals their thunder by buying the newest “real deal” and they find that between keeping Grandma Huang in Green Blow pops and her share of the cut, they have not earned a thing.

Evan helps Louis make things up to Jessica after the Orlando GMA cuts into his televised thank you to her with news of a Fez of armadillo’s that block traffic on the main road.

The instant devotion of the youngest Huang is brilliantly funny, as is Jessica’s belief that Evan is the smartest of their three sons. Clearly, the youngest Huang is a cut above his brothers, but Emery is just as studios as his little brother.

This Fresh Off the Boat episode is not the best of the season, except for Constance Wu’s performance, but the show is double dipping this week with a special show tonight for Chinese New Year,

Tune in and catch the show tonight on ABC.

Cast:

‘Gotham’ Mad City: Ghosts – Destroying Penguin (Review)

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Gotham: Mad City “Ghosts” sees Ed’s plan to destroy Penguin, for his murder of Isabella, take root and reap a bountiful harvest. He uses Clayface to haunt Oswald, driving him to a murderous frenzy.

Cobblepot has moved on from his devotion to his mother and he is now focused upon his dead father, Elijah Van Dahl. His dad’s “ghost” reveals that his body been stolen and he cannot rest until it is returned and the thief punished.

The episode follows Oswald’s journey towards a complete meltdown, which culminates in his murdering his new assistant and then blowing the big live interview with Margaret Hearst.

Ed tricking Oswald into confessing his love was done very well. “I was talking about becoming business partners.”

Lee orders Jim Gordon killed and then, at the last moment reneges. Selina and her mother spend some turbulent time together and bond by the end of the episode. This process is aided somewhat by both Alfred and Bruce.

Dwight Pollard is busily rejuvenating the dead and it looks like Jerome, whom Galavan killed last season, will be making a return to the city. A face from Maria Kyle’s past turns up demanding money. He is told to ask Bruce Wayne for the cash.

The episode ends with a close up on Jerome’s resting face, his mouth stretched into a disturbing rictus sans any real color.

Gotham “Ghosts” was a good follow on to last week’s episode. While that one did have a good bit of humor, Jim Gordon speaking in rhyme to force Tetch to reveal who had Alice’s blood was beyond brilliant, this episode allowed Penguin to deteriorate spectacularly before the end credits rolled.

(Speaking of humorous moments, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean last week  killed it with her Isabella death scene mime.)

This week’s episode also seemed to indicate that Lee does still love Jim, she gets Carmine to call off the hit, and Zsasz (Carrigan) provided some more amusing moments. “I’m going to miss you” and “Good shot on Mario, I never liked him,” were funny as was the bright smile and his “okay boss” when told the job was cancelled.

The uneasy alliance between Tabitha, Butch, Barbara and Ed will be interesting. Although not as interesting as the resurrection of Jerome, who  will, at last, be allowed to become The Joker.

Kudos to Michael Chiklis and his “guilty” rant at Lee. That actor can do enraged madness like no one else.

Gotham: Mad City airs Mondays on FOX.

CAST:

Guest starring Ivana Milicevic as Maria Kyle, Jan Maxwell as Margaret Hearst, Brian McManamon as Clayface, Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska, David Dastmalchian as Dwight Pollard and Paul Reubens as Elijah Van Dahl.

Fresh Off the Boat: How to Be an American – Jessica & Ferris Bueller Times 3 (Review)

 RANDALL PARK, CONSTANCE WU, ZACHARY KNIGHTON

In Fresh Off the Boat “How to be an American” Jessica finally gets naturalized, the three boys plan a Ferris Bueller day off and Louis learns a lot about Jessica he never knew.  Most importantly he learns why she made him ask for her hand in marriage five times.

At the start of the episode Louis has to take Jessica down to the office of immigration for an interview in order to get her papers in order. Once there, the two take a trip down memory lane. Which includes the way they first met after getting food poisoning from the octopus they both ate at the same restaurant.

Doug, the interviewer, reveals that, among other things, Jessica’s first job was as a teacher and that she has a criminal record.  She reveals that her student visa was about to expire so she applied to be a teacher. Louis is shocked to learn his wife worked in a profession she hates.

After a long process of revelations from Jessica, she finally gets the approval she needs to become a citizen.  Along the way, Louis learns that his wife did indeed fall in love with him “at first sight.”

Meanwhile, Eddie has talked Evan and Emery into taking the mini-van out for a spin. Evan tells his brothers that AAA gives its members 5 percent off entry fees and the boys run in the house to get their suits. When they return the empty van has rolled into the street and they are locked out.

AAA comes to open the van for them and the technician tells the three to set the van back the way is was before. Grandma Huang has caught the boys trying to take the van without permission and blackmailed them into helping her organize her perfumes.

Fresh Off the Boat continues to showcase its performers and allows them to make the most of the comedy on offer. Constance Wu is still the obvious hero of this show, her “audition” to Doug’s “brother” for a special ability visa was hysterically funny.

Randall Park’s reactions to the secrets revealed by Doug (played perfectly by Zachary Knighton) were spot on and once more we can see just why Park and Wu are one of the best double acts on television.

The three Huang children were all brilliant in this episode. Hudson Yang continues to make Eddie a rap-star wannabe who wants the world to belief his first words were “thug’s life.” Lee Chen and his high pitched screams were laugh out loud funny and Forrest Wheeler plays his middle child with effortless aplomb.  These three are beyond perfect together.

Lucille Soong is still making Grandma Huang a comedic force to be reckoned with and the writers continue to make her a fascinating character who is slowly becoming one of the best things about the show.

Park and Wu have the perfect chemistry to make them a match made in heaven. Jessica with her determination to appear unromantic and Louis who is romantic enough for the both of them are just brilliant in this episode.

When Jessica takes her oath, all shining eyes and huge smile, the Huang family watch from the back of the room, it is a real tearful moment.

Fresh Off the Boat is in its third season and shows no sign of losing its comic touch. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC.  Do not miss this one as comedy shows just don’t get much better than this.

Cast:

Guest starring Zachary Knighton as Doug