A movie I really liked won lots of Oscars this year! And the Award for Best In-Universe Commercial goes to… Gotham’s The Sirens Club! Collect your trophies, Danny Cameron, Hanelle Culpepper, Erin Richards, Jessica Lucas, & Camren Bicondova! Despite its excellent club scene, the cast wisely wouldn’t live in Gotham City.
Since the season left off, I’ve found myself in Gotham withdrawal. As a show I begrudgingly sat through during season one, how did it come to this? Is (Green) Arrow so unwatchable this season that it makes Gotham look great by comparison? (Sometimes I think season six is punishment for me being the only person that hated season five.) Whilst perusing clips online, I came to the conclusion that it has progressively blossomed into a legitimutantly good show just like Agents of SHIELD! Gotham is nonsensical in a kookily entertaining way, whereas (Green) Arrow doesn’t make sense in an infuriatingly dull manner. It’s so despicable now that the boxing glove arrow not being a quiver staple no longer even makes my top five complaints. (The writers threw everyone under the bus in the worst Civil War ripoff because they were too stupid to notice that Black Siren didn’t have an opportunity to personally withdraw the extortion fund for herself! AAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!) Instead of breaking my keyboard in fury, I’ll thoroughly review the one I don’t currently loathe.
In addition to not feeling as formulaic, Gotham is a better directed series overall than The CW’s DC shows. For instance, “Pieces Of A Broken Mirror” began with with four separate plots geographically converging. We don’t yet learn if Sofia Falcone is managing crime better than Oswald Cobblepot, but there’s lots of other stuff going down. Even underused Lucius Fox gets in on it.
This episode debuted not only San Junipero Babs but Flapper Babs! I’d call her Barbara Queen more often if it didn’t make me think she married into (Green) Arrow. Most people emerge from the Lazarus Pit mad. Stabby Babs was so kooky that it made her sane. (Will it last longer than Hugo Strange’s therapy?) My favorite non-musical crazy ex-girlfriend has come such a long way since the first season! I kind of want to know which non-Harley Quinn character she was going to become, but I also don’t want to be distraught if they seriously considered Killer Moth or Gentleman Ghost before opting to crush my dreams. (Introduce them as new characters in season five!) If it was someone like Magpie or Nocturna, however, they made the right call.
Right after being mocked by Babs about his propensity to shoot first & ask questions later, Gordon fatally shoots Griffin “The Toymaker” Krank in the back. Jim Gordon is not a good detective! This is another installment of the GCPD killing the dads of future supervillains. (The exception was Tabitha slaying the future Black Mask’s dad. When will he show up wearing a mask carved from his father’s coffin?) Cosmo “The Toymaker” Krank is an obscure foe invented for The Batman. (Patton Oswalt was disappointed he didn’t get to voice a canon rogue.) At first I thought he was supposed to be a version of The Mad Bomber from “Beware The Gray Ghost,” but Bruce Timm’s character was apparently named Ted Dymer. Initially I thought it was a missed continuity opportunity not to tie both of them directly to the more famous Toyman, but I guess it’s realistic that DC has multiple evil toy aficionados. It’s just a good villain gimmick, providing their opponent isn’t one of the most powerful beings on the planet.
Ed Nygma remains a great deconstruction of Nice Guys. He’s made the progression from shy weirdo to having the confidence of a romcom lead while still being a murderous sociopath on the inside. His Riddler persona putting a hit on Doc Thompkins (who thwarted Firefly after starring on Firefly) suggests The Penguin was correct that he would’ve eventually killed Isabella himself. (The Toymaker isn’t a good assassin since his plan was to explode Lee when she was standing hazardously close to his client. Death spared him a bad Yelp review.) His riddles may suck, but Cory Michael Smith is delightful comic relief since this show has an functional funnybone.
Poison Ivy is back as a vengeful plant elemental! Instead of mere cyanide kisses, she can make poison ivy spontaneously grow throughout her victims’ insides Annihilation-style with a mere touch! I also realized you can tell Peyton List from Adrianne Palicki because she’s missing the telltale mole betwixt her eyebrows. Will they hang onto this Autumnal Ivy for the long run, or vanquish her by further transforming her into a Winter incarnation in need of a nursing home?
Despite Camren Bicondova saying she needs an excuse for a secret identity, I believe Selina Kyle is ready to become Catwoman. She just needs cat ears & claws on her costume. Since when has anybody needed a sane motive on this show? Have I mentioned how much I love the girl gang she’s running with?
Unlike Supergirl & his movie iterations, Bruce Wayne is displaying signs of psychological torment from doing a murder. He’s not quite as massive a tool as he looks. Improbably emancipated Batboy gone wild! Kid’s gonna destroy his liver in penitence. (He can always get a spare from from his clone.) Apparently David Mazouz has the same birthday as Batman!
Now we come to the fly in the ointment, Jim Gordon. Does anyone actually like him? At best he’s a well-intentioned dunce & an overbearing hypocrite at worst. His narrative function is to ruin more intriguing people’s days. While the rest of the cast get to explore dynamic new facets of their characters, he’s constantly dull. I know Ben McKenzie can be funny & charming, so I feel bad that he’s stuck playing this stiff.
An interesting aspect of having multiple villains in the core cast is they’re allowed to fail without becoming laughingstocks as they would be in a more hero-centric narrative. (The inept Court of Owls may be the series’ worst threat as a metafictional way to point out that insidious conspiracies that supposedly run everything aren’t actually compelling.) Villain setbacks here humanize them & spur character growth. Thank Arkham for certificates of sanity that act as pardons! It’s so refreshingly unpredictable that here’s so many candidates for the Big Bad of the back half!
Attention television travelers: Star City sucks! Go to Gotham City!