THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE GOTHAM EPISODE "MAD GREY DAWN."
Previously on Gotham ... Bruce ran away from home, Penguin's free to roam, Nygma's still doing ... evil stuff, and if I were a villain on Gotham, NO ONE would call me The Rhymer, that's for sure.
Now on Gotham ... t's a Nygma episode! You guys like that Nygma? He likes (to murder) you!
Cory Michael Smith hosted a Q&A on the Facebook before the latest episode aired, and, golly, he's cute. I asked him when he and Penguin were gonna make out, but he didn't answer. Spoilers, I'm assuming. Anyway, he was very excited for this episode, so let's give it a rundown and see if he was right to be excited.
- Bruce Wayne is on the streets with Selina Kyle. They meet up with Ivy (long time, no see) who is harvesting some "magic mushrooms." The plan is to steal money from the gang selling the mushrooms, but it all goes sideways when Butch's kid bro, Sonny, shows up. Blah, blah, yada, yada, Bruce defends Selina and pulls a straight-up Rocky Balboa by taking a beating while waiting for Sonny to wear himself down before taking his shot. Selina and Bruce escape, Bruce learns that he's stronger than he thought he was. Neat.
- Penguin's free! And it turns out that he really was reprogrammed (for now) by Hugo Strange. He basically goes on an apology tour for a bit. He visits Butch (who is nicer than he should be), he checks in with Ed (who just isn't that into him anymore), and then, ultimately, visits dear old mom's grave. Penguin -- sane, but still kinda creepy. It's here that Oswald meets Elijah Van Dahl (played by World's Greatest Human nominee, Paul Reubens). Elijah had "a thing" with Momma Penguin and becomes convinced that Oswald is his son. So, off we go to his enormous mansion, as you do. Elijah is excited to embrace Oswald as his progeny, but the rest of the family? Well, that's a story for next week.
- Nygma is convinced that Jim Gordon is about to discover the true fate of Ms. Kringle and hatches an unnecessarily elaborate plan to trick Jim into incriminating himself. That's pretty easy since, you know, Jim actually is a criminal and a genuinely terrible cop by every metric. But it's cool! Ed wears this very Riddler-esque window-pane plaid suit, he steals some art, sets off a bomb at the train station, and even kills a cop with a crowbar! All along the way, Ed's clues are leading both Gordon and Captain Barnes to an officer (now dead) that Barnes thinks is a key witness in the murder of Theo Galavan. Barnes sees Gordon over the cop's dead body, assumes Jim killed him to prevent the truth of Galavan's death from getting out, and carts Jim off in handcuffs.Gordon is sentenced to a few decades in jail, but not before:
a) he tells Lee to skip town
b) Bruce hears about Jim's sentencing on TV and swears he'll save Jim
c) Barbara Kean wakes from her coma
All in all, another solid episode. Really, the only glaring problems with Gotham at this point are the ones that have almost always been there. The real problem lies in how to fix them (hint - I don't actually think some of them can be fixed). But let's not skip ahead. First things first!
- Honestly (and I say this only partially because of a sad, reviewer's crush), Cory Michael Smith is really killing it as Edward Nygma. I wasn't sure about the characteriztion at first, but this might be Smith's most stand-out episode to date. Setting off a fake giant bomb, stealiing art, making a cheap riddle on the fly before murdering someone -- he really feels like a proto-Riddler. And you can tell Smith is reveling in the experience.
- The styling for Ed (and this episode that surrounds him) is great, too. Nick Copus (who directed this episode) and Crescenzo Notarile (the show's DP) really have an understanding of how to portray this world's through the lens of Nygma's mix of madcap humor and gritty violence.
- David Mazouz's Bruce has finally found a space in Gotham that suits both the role and the actor. Taking him out of Wayne Manor and putting him street level was a master stroke. All the focus on the intellectual was nice, but Bruce belongs in the thick of things and watching him take punch after punch felt necessary for the development of his character.
- Bless whoever convinced Paul Reubens to return to the word of Batman. I suppose there will lways be peopel who see him only as Pee-wee, but Reubens is just so good at playing this off-putting blend of well-meaning and vaguely psychotic. You genuinely can't tell whether Elijah is trustworthy or not and that's all down to performance. I'm sure he won't be around for more than a few episodes, but enjoy him while he's there. The man's a gift.
- Once again Lee has no chaacterization whatsoever. She's just a pair of hands wringing themselves. If Gotham isn't going to do something with her, I'd rather they just write her out. This is an embarassing waste of Baccarin's considerable talents.
- I honestly have no idea what Gotham is going to do about Jim Gordon. Originally, this show was supposed to focus on him, his rise to becoming commissioner, and how he kept his nose clean in a very dirty city. Instead we have a Jim Gordon who is a hyper-violent thrill-seeker that has killed multiple people unnecessarily. It's one thing to redeem a villain, a thing audiences love, but it is quite another to have a hero behave like a villain and still portray them as the hero. That is a thing audiences almost universally hate. How is anyone supposed to root for Jim Gordon when the only thing that separates him from Nygma is the high horse he rides around on all the time? How can he possibly be redeemed? For my money, that is not a question your audience should be constantly asking about your show's protagonist. Jim's doing wrong is no longer the exeption, it's the rule. And that, unquestionably, is Gotham's biggest problem by far.
- When Penguin visits Butch, there's this feeling that Oswald is going to get some comeuppance maybe. I mean, my dude chopped off his right hand man's hand. But instead of pulling the old hand-for-a-hand, Butch literally has Penguin tarred and feathered. That's it. "You chopped off my hand, Oswald -- NOW I'M GONNA MAKE YOU PAY BY MAKING YOU LOOK REEEEEAAAAALLLLLY SILLY!" Oh, Gotham...
- When is Nygma gonna learn to stop looming around when he's getting up to his bad guy stuff? How has he not been caught? He wears the most glaringly noticeable suit at the museum, he hangs around at the train station after everyone else has fled, and he literally stares at Gordon like he's going to kil him in almost every scene set at the GCPD. What's it gonna take for Harvey to piece thing together, Nygma growing a mustache and twirling it all day? Oh, Gotham...
- And the weird Batman nods just keep on coming. This time, it's as Selina stitches up Bruce's mangled face. "No one's unbreakable," she says. What a weird place for a Bane reference. Oh, Gotham...
That's it for this week! Next week on Gotham...Jim will face justice! I'm just kidding -- he's gonna get broken out of jail for some stupid reason. Oh, and Penguin's new family is gonna be super mean to him, poor guy. And, as usual, I'll be wasting my one shot at existing by live-tweeting as the show goes out every week right here. Won't you join me?