Gotham Will Be Gone Soon

So my plan is to recap the four fun episodes of Gotham that aired since the last time I wrote about it. (I’ve actually received reader requests in the interim.) Then I can do another blog about the final three, perhaps two if I just want to discuss the series finale by itself. Of course this SPOILER-laden blog is going to be obscured by Captain Marvel hype due to overlapping schedules.

This series has benefited from progressively faster pacing each season. (They gave an entire season’s worth of plot to Alfred in a single episode last year, yet there was so much going on in the midseason premiere I didn’t even mention it!) With only half the normal amount of episodes, the plot points are now zooming by! This year they’re in the unenviable position of both having to to tell a No Man’s Land story & start wrapping up the whole series.

I continue to be gobsmacked at how bonkers Gotham remains despite lacking aliens, time travel, & alternate realities. (All are valid in a Batman adaptation.) Smallville had all those yet the handful of episodes I watched still managed to be bland. Not only is it superior to Fox’s other comic book show, It works better with “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” than Batman Forever footage. Where are my final season Broad City/Gotham mash-up vids at? Make it a threesome by throwing in Game of Thrones! What’ll happen when the the world runs out of the diverse array of indignant Penguin reactions?

It could’ve pushed the No Man’s Land worldbuilding further. Too many locales have working electricity. Despite being on heavy rations (save Oswald), the core cast still seems in peak condition. Although ammunition is now a hot commodity, the amount of bullets discharged this year feels barely diminished.

“13 Stitches” was originally titled “The Air Is Getting Slippery,” but they went with NoFx over Primus despite no wound stitching sequences. “A corrupt military unit? Aw, that’s cute.” The Gothamties squadded up & took them down in a single episode! (There was at least one scene shared by Bruce, Riddler, Babs, & Lucius, which means the cast lied to me! It yielded some excellent brain surgery aphasia non sequiturs like “Please do not habituate the curtain rod!”) Their biggest setback was Harvey Bullock actually solving the bomb hoax! (Is the pileated field mouse recently referenced by Riddler based on a real rodent?) Ben McKenzie directed lots of satisfying action like Riddler tossing a cleaver into a commando’s head.

Bane is actually a compelling antagonist when he’s written as Bruce Wayne with none of the privilege. Unfortunately it seems Bane is going to be  dark mirror to Gordon with superstrength, which sounds just as underwhelming as when they tried that with the thankfully forgotten Executioner. (Let’s all agree he bled to death from his hand being blown off.)  I was hoping Bane’s ugly costume was just a prototype that would get phased out for something up to the show’s standards, but it’s not looking great with the amount of episodes left unless he survives into the finale. Army radio guy said “Teressa Walker or whoever she is.” Does that mean she’s going to be a whitewashed al Ghul daughter or Lady Shiva?

Magpie is better than Bane? Gotham really is set on Bizarro World! The only time she was a substantial threat was when Beware The Batman substituted her for Catwoman, so this was a delightful surprise. She has a unique patter performed by Sarah Schenkkan & an explosive gimmick that translated well. Pitting her against Penguin & Catwoman was a fun diversion. Then she died because Cobblepot won’t let us keep nice things. Did they introduce a new Black Mask too?

Selina’s volatile ambiguity makes it plausible that she would align with Penguin. Of course it’s much more satisfying that she was merely playing him to set up a double cross. This does make it disappointing that Barbara doesn’t kill him for the second time  because plot armor. She at least realizes that Jim “ruins everything he touches” Gordon has no business raising their shamebaby, Tony. Playing Thunderpussy at The Sirens also tracks.

I would’ve enjoyed “Ace Chemicals” more if I’d avoided its trailer that compressed the entire episode. If Bruce won’t be his bestie, Jeremiah will just LARP some self-insert fanfic! (The LEGO Joker approves!) I thought Ra’s might have given him the Demon’s Head offscreen to explain his nigh-omniscience, but it looks like it’s just the regular type of Joker plot contrivance.

Despite another round of Jeremiah’s extravagant psychological torture (Film Freak is gonna be furious Jeremiah stole his shtick & made it better! All Burt Weston has is being a terrible Basil Karlo knockoff!), Bruce infuriatingly still hasn’t become inspired to be Batman. I blame Mr. Valeska for blowing up his house too soon. Now how’s a bat going to crash through the window of stately Wayne Manor? Or did Sabrina Spellman kill the bat meant for Master B?

JeremiahValeska

Can his japes overcome the gravity of the situation?

Being sprayed with a special dose of Smylex already turned Jeremiah Valeska insane & alabaster skinned, so giving him a chemical bath is gilding the lily. It did make him melty, but I would’ve rather it just made his hair a more vibrant green. He ain’t pretty no more! Serves him right for not wearing a red hood! The Joker is not a character that should look hideously disfigured, which suggests this is a compromise for not getting to Two-Face. Season five Jeremiahker (doesn’t roll off the tongue like Jeromeker) was the best looking Joker since Jack Nicholson. Hopefully the brain damage will make him as funny as his brother when he gets out of his “permanent” coma. It’s a bummer that after finally completing the Joker’s origin, we’ll only get to see him in action in the series finale.

Unlike Jason Todd’s eggshell skull, Gordon can take a crowbar robinwhacker beating. I suspect he may have secret metahuman recuperative abilities. Recovering from a croquet mallet to the cabeza would be more believable & on brand for Harley Quinn. When she’s not done up as Ecco, Francesca Root-Dodson resembles Christina Ricci. If you shave Jervis Tetch’s facial hair, however, it turns out he looks like BVS: DOJ’s Lex Luthor.

It must have taken enormous willpower to avoid having anybody say “At least the city can’t get any worse!” Too bad it the rockets weren’t filled with Smylex to get a complete Batman ’89 bingo. Is this the only time diverting bombs into a body of water has had any realistic environmental consequences? Is the toxic spill in the harbor how we get the laughing fish?

One of my biggest questions at the season’s start was why Gothamites just didn’t leave by boat. It turns out the government had the harbor mined, which says a lot about its priorities! They’ll also shoot down any aircraft that departs the city because somebody warned them of dirigible crime. It’s become so bad the crimesters want to pull an Escape From New York & start livin’ la vida viking! Is the Riddler really going to have to build an entire submarine all by himself?

The two additional episodes greenlit when most of the season was already in the can are slotted in next. They’re stand-alones that offer some compelling character beats & foreshadowing. They’re technically filler, but I wouldn’t skip them just to get a tighter season. While I wonder how they would’ve been different if they’d been included in the original order, I’m just very glad neither of these “bonus” installments are clip shows! You wouldn’t realize they’re rushed afterthoughts from watching them. Makes you wish they had ten more to play with!

Thanks to the extra two episodes, we got Scarface & the Ventriloquist after all! I’m unsure if this is technically the first live action version of the character, but it’s definitely the better one for not being dead at the outset. This is an instance of casting someone as a brand new character only to realize they’d be perfect as a canon one ala Solomon Grundy. Fans told Andrew Sellon he looked like Arnold Wesker (kin to Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker), so he asked if Mr. Penn could become the Ventriloquist. (Batman routinely battling a pensioner with a dummy is one of the reasons I’m dubious he could defeat the entire Justice League. His foes have scads of personality to compensate for them not being formidable.) They didn’t even know he could do ventriloquism when they hired him. Sellon operated & voiced Mr. Scarface himself! Making things up as you go often gets a bad rap, but it worked out in this instance. I’m surprised that not only did it happen, but it worked magnifcently!

This was in fact the real Arthur Penn, not his twin or a clone. How’d he survive being killed? He just kind of did. (There’s a lot of that going around.) When Penn pulled out Mr. Scarface, it became tragicomic gold!  Sadly after serving as an unwitting couples counselor for Nygmobblebot (Penguin had especially pointy hair horns like Klarion the Witch-Boy), he received a patented Gotham double death. The final season is so hardcore it graphically murders puppets! Thank you to Andrew Sellon, writer Seth Boston, & director Kenneth Fink for a delightfully perfect Ventriloquist & Scarface! If only co-creator Norm Breyfogle had lived to witness it! Long live the Penntriloquist! If Batwoman uses the character, they ought to cast Sellon too!

Fan were asking for the returns of Harvey Dent, Renee Montoya, & Crispus Allen. We got surprise Detective Dix instead! (I just learned Dan Hedaya’s Cheers character had his own spinoff, The Tortellis!) Rather than bringing back Clayface (he gets referenced), they introduced Jane Doe. Nobody had her in the betting pool! In exchange for no longer looking like Julia Cotton in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, she gets legitimutant superpowers. (Hugo Strange is owed plenty of thank you notes & Nobel Prizes.) Much like DCAU’s Calendar Girl, she hides ironic body dysmorphia behind a featureless white mask. Rather than check if she qualifies for Mud Pack membership, Jane chooses suicide by cop. (Why bother keeping C-listers alive if all the “Save Gotham” petitions haven’t worked yet?) I like seeing obscure characters get attention, but it does seem odd not to write an episode about Clayface since he’s barely done anything (unless they’ve given him something for the final three).

Is the proto-Killer Croc in “Nothing’s Shocking” supposed to be the same one glimpsed at Indian Hill in season two? This one is covered in burns instead of scales & has metal claws, so he’s got a lot of mutating to do if he is the real deal. He’s also not black. Fortunately Gotham City has enough cannibals that there’s plausible deniability. (Hopefully Killer Croc has a meatier role to chew on in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad sequel.) Now that they’ve introduced a bunch of new one-off villains, can we check in with Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, & the Goddamn Man-Bat?

“The Trial of Jim Gordon” was written by Jim Gordon & directed by Barbara Kean! It’s not as funny as the previous episode McKenzie wrote, but Erin Richards aced her TV directorial debut. This was the final episode filmed & technically #100!

This one shows the gangs (not led by name villains) react to the dissolving borders of Gordon’s, Penguin’s, & Babs’s territories. Gordon gets shot during a ceasefire negotiation while idiotically eschewing a kevlar vest by Poison Ivy-controlled Zsasz. (He’s immune to the manual reset?) While she’s not wearing her excellent leafy dress, it’s good to see Ivy less distressed than her last appearance. We still don’t see Zsasz disco dancing with his tally scars exposed, but Sean Pertwee did get his wish to deck him. (Would Zsaszlepot becoming canon in season three have staved off a lot of conflict?) The Stabby Queen is unsurprisingly a better peacemaker than her moralistic baby daddy. Catwoman is smol but fierce!

Jim winds up in another hallucination that’s not as intriguing as prior ones despite Riddler on piano & a Professor Pyg cameo. It’s the second kangaroo court of the season & they still didn’t work in Harvey Dent! It ends with Gordon marrying Leslie Thompkins in a ceremony that isn’t legally recognized! I don’t even care about them as a fictional couple, but it still gave me FitzSimmons wedding feels.  Art imitating life is an appropriate conclusion to the production.

Can McFarlane Toys do figures of all the Gotham characters DST didn’t? (I suddenly need a Ventriloquist.) It’s a longshot, but it’s still worth letting WB, DC, & McFarlane know interested buyers still exist via social media & whatnot. They can make all the CW DC characters DC Collectibles didn’t make too!

Gotham’s fifth season will be stretched out until April 25. That’s when Avengers: Endgame debuts. (I don’t understand why films open on Thursday now.) So this seems like a royal dick move by Fox’s new owners. Screw you, Avengers! Disney also flew Thunderbirds for the Captain Marvel premiere during Ben McKenzie’s Jimmy Kimmel interview just to show off. Speaking of which, the next blog is a Captain Marvel review!

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