Goodbye To Gotham!

Screw Avengers: Endgame’s opening night! I watched the series finale of Gotham like a sane person! Unlike last week, I came through on my promise. This could be my final chance to ramble about Gotham, so I best make the most of it! (Ha ha! I will find ways to never stop.) Below are SPOILERS for the conclusion of Batman’s origin show! Whoops! Now you know Bruce Wayne is Batman! But will they finally answer who has got ham? Yeah, it’s Lazlo Valentin. (I have grave doubts as to whether he has the credentials to support his sobriquet.)

Despite being only half a season, Fox still managed to insert multiple frustrating breaks between episodes. There was an eight-month time skip with no title card since the last batch of I recapped.  So we still don’t know how necessities got restocked or if the GCPD actually made much headway against assorted crimesters carving up the city. This is why we needed a full season! It feels somewhat petty to complain about this since so many shows get abruptly cancelled on cliffhangers, but there was clearly a lot more story to cover than the amount of episodes it had to work with. In an era where it’s common for even streaming series are too long, that is a rarity! The writers had a seven season plan but only got 4.5. If they’d known at the outset they’d only be getting 100 episodes total, I imagine they would’ve trimmed a lot of fat from season one.

Sorry, but Batman & Robin still has the best live action Bane costume. (The more I stare at, the more impressed I am at the thought that went into it.) I don’t understand why The Dark Knight Rises & Gotham couldn’t have built respirators into a classic Bane mask. With transparent red lenses, Tom Hardy & Shane West would still be able to give the same eye performances. Sadly Eduardo’s drab costume doesn’t look any better in motion. It’s a shame since the series costume department has done stupendous work & he could’ve used something in his favor. As much as I want a continuation of DST’s Gotham Select toyline, he’d be at the top of my “do not waste plastic on” list.

The most intriguing of the many superstrong characters on the show were Dark Lee & Solomon Grundy because of how their personalities changed as well. Eduardo Dorrance is flat before & after his transformation. He jut says dull war aphorisms rather than making inspirational speeches. Shane’s Bane voice being less ridiculous than Tom’s is a double-edged sword. I would’ve expected television to be the platform to finally give Bane good characterization, but alas no! Since he can’t break Bruce Wayne’s back this close to the finale with all of Ivy’s magic plants used up, he (very briefly) cripples Alfred instead. He just smashes him into something like Kingpin did to Bullseye, which is less impressive than snapping him over his knee. (Nobody ever thinks about how sore Bane’s knees must’ve been during Knightfall!) He looks even less imposing compared to this season’s Mutant Leader & proto-Killer Croc. I had subterranean expectations & was still disappointed. Botched Bane is a Knightfail! He’s Project Gilga-mess! Eduardo Dorrance, you’re garbage! 

So Teresa Walker is actually Nyssa al Ghul. I guess they didn’t use Talia since Silver St. Cloud basically did her arc already. No offense to Jamie Murray, but Katrina Law is a better Nyssa on Arrow in every way. (She cameoed in March after birthing an heiress to The Demon in December!) Oddly the series’ polarity is reversed when it comes to Ra’s al Ghul. While this is better than randomly inventing a new character at the end, it’s still bad for the same reasons Miranda Tate being Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises was. If she cared about her dad so much, why didn’t she support him in Gotham City while he was alive? (This motive flopped when Arrow used it for Talia in season five too.) We need to find his will to determine whether she, Stabby Queen, or Bruce is the true inheritor of the League of Shadows.

The way the story is set up, it kind of needs an external foes for the city to unite against. The problem is they’re not very compelling. (Jeremiah would’ve worked better, but they opted to save him for later.) This was true the last time they adapted the story in TDKR, where the only legitimutantly good parts where the bat-back breaking & Ann Hathaway as Catwoman Selina Kyle. I still prefer this season, despite all its flaws, to that pretentious mess of a movie.

Back in episode five, the Wayne Enterprises board moved production of Viper to Santa Prisca. This was supposed to foreshadow Bane, yet there’s no direct reference to this or Project Gilgamesh. They don’t even name the green fluid Venom. So unless you were already a nerd, “Viper” was a wasted (albeit fun) episode because they didn’t connect the dots. Why does Hugo Strange give Gordon Venom before the mind control chip like a nincompoop? So is Shooty Jimbo going to be more indestructible than usual from now on?

Stabby Babs became more responsible as she gave food & protection to the inhabitants, particularly women, of The Sirens’ territory. It’s kind of like Poison Ivy’s arc caring for orphans in No Man’s Land. (She’s still on her journey from overlooked healer to anti-human mass murderess since she got off to a late start.) BARBARA KEAN IN LABOR DOUBLE SHOOTING COMMANDOS WHILST BEING WHEELED AROUND! This was the most badass labor since Helena’s on Orphan Black! I can’t stress enough how much Erin Richards & the writers have done to give Batgirl’s mom personality. (Maybe one day Martha Wayne will get one too?) She still hasn’t done anything with the al Ghul grimoire though.

There’s some great monologues but they sap its momentum. The penultimate episode finally catches up to the army shootout that began the season, but this time it happens in the afternoon instead of night? It’s pointless because both sides apparently stocked up on Penguin’s defective ammunition. The only casualty is Oswald’s eye so he has an excuse to wear a monocle. (Glass eyes are a prerequisite for wearing them? No wonder my monocle just popped right off!) He ought to have left with Riddler aboard the full-size functional submarine he built by himself in nine months!

sub.png

We were robbed of Gotham-ized Commodore Schmidlapp!

Army helicopters bomb random areas of the city for a bit before the non-brainwashed infantry is supposed to manually exterminate its denizens? Bruce blows up Wayne Tower to delay the army, which doesn’t make a big difference because they just walk around. It should’ve squished Bane instead. I’m still disappointed we didn’t see Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Man-Bat, & Scarecrow pitch in to fight off the troops!

So Bruce never gets the bat through the window omen, yet Sabrina Spellman did? He’s not weaponizing his fear of them either. He just decides to become bat-themed because Lucius Fox’s stealth tech already attracts bats. When Bruce stuck Nightwing the bat-pager (Nightwing the human should be about four by now.) to Bane, the Groddamn Man-Bat should’ve swooped down & chomped off his punkass head! Sadly he’s not deathly allergic to bats mussing his hair.

Not even a day old, Barbara Gordon was already kidnapped. What an overachiever! Her mom killed a man with her calf without needing Venom! Nyssa somehow got the Blashi knife to kill Kean (presumably she snatched it from its safekeeping at The Sirens after slaying Babs’s girls), but the Stabby Queen of Gotham City slices up her stomach with it instead! Sadly it’s not as magically effective as on the elder al Ghul. Showing how far their relationship evolved, Babs hugs Lee & gives future Oracle her middle name! She gets her dad’s last name in exchange for him mostly getting walloped by Nyssa during the parental team-up.

I used to think yanking out Bane’s Venom tube was the most uninspired way to defeat him. That was until he was shot in the back in TDKR. Then he just surrenders when the army suddenly disobeys him rather than execute civilians. How completely unsatisfying! At least we were spared another scene of opposing sides charging at each other. Edward the dog sacrificed himself to slay Nyssa in the stolen submarine!

True to their earlier oath, Penguin & Riddler hug instead of stabbing each other in the back in the episode’s finest scene. It’s very meta to how these classic foes had slipped in the public perception because they’ve not been in movies since the 90’s. Since they were cemented in the rogue’s gallery in the ’66 TV series, it’s fitting this series brings them back to the forefront. Although frustrating to me, it was better for these two that the show didn’t have full access to the Joker as a little Mr. J goes a long way. Thrice-named thespians Robin Lord Taylor & Cory Michael Smith make all Nygmobblepot scenes riveting.

Bruce departs Gotham City, which is superfluous given the League of Shadows already brought the training to him in season three. He egotistically claims it’s to keep whackadoos from targeting his friends to get to him, but he’s shirking his responsibility to make the city less of a crime-ridden cesspit. Not even crutches are required as Alfred sees Master B off at the airport. Bane couldn’t even break a butler right?  Speaking off which, humongous jerk move not giving Selina adequate notice. He probably didn’t even leave her any of his fortune to live off. Surely she’d like a vacation too! So this Bruce is on his way to becoming as huge a prick as Batman tends to be!

The conclusion to No Man’s Land arc fizzles out. It wasn’t as audacious as something titled “They Did What?” ought be. Not only were Nyssa & Bane uncompelling, they weren’t catharticly murdered to apologize. Much like comatose Sofia Falcone, what’s the point in keeping either alive when the show is cancelled?

It didn’t fulfill the promises made by the previous season finale. Mr. Freeze & Firefly degenerated into lackeys since their introductions, so I was really looking forward to seeing how they adjusted to holding power. Were their exotic weapons still viable in environments with reduced resources to power them? As much as the Penntriloquist subplot of “Nothing’s Shocking” was perfect, the rest should’ve been about them. Since we didn’t see them defeated, I maintain that the GCPD still has done nothing to unseat them or Scarecrow. We don’t even see what happened to Arkham Asylum during this period. (They could’ve easily shown Strange had reclaimed it.) I specifically asked the writers for a scene of Victor Zsasz disco dancing with an updated look at his scar tally, which didn’t manifest. Amidst all the one & done baddies, they still couldn’t work in Killer Moth? All that Twitter spamming for naught!

Firefly

She now has a jetpack in my headcanon too!

Then there’s a decade gap into the series finale, which aired the same night Avengers: Endgame (& She-Ra & the Princesses of Power season two) premiered to ensure it was obscured in the pop culture zeitgeist. Had Fox & its new owner not botched the scheduling, the finale could’ve aired during Batman’s eightieth anniversary week. (“Batman’s Birthday Dance Party” omits Tim Drake, Batgirl Orphan, Batgirl Spoiler, Batwoman, the Signal, & Batwing. Alfred let all the villains into the Batcave without inviting any Justice Leaguers?) Instead it earned its all-time lowest ratings. Now here’s the episode leaked photos have been spoiling for months!

At least it was a full yet economical installment as opposed to Smallville’s coda. (Wouldn’t in-universe Smallville comics expose The Blur’s Superman’s secret identity?) Despite being set in the future, it seems like everyone was in stasis. Even Richard Kind is back in the mayor’s office again! The villains rehash old schemes. Alfred & Babs haven’t aged a day because they were blessed by the the water of the Lazarus Pit. I don’t know what everyone else’s excuse is. If they didn’t want to put gray streaks into hair like a CW DC show, they could’ve had a shorter timeskip. Commissioner Gordon’s moustache was so expensive they could only afford it for two scenes!

Six months after the last episode, Nygmobblepot were arrested amidst their spiteful crime rampage & imprisoned separately for a decade. (Note that Gordon didn’t bust baby mama Babs for all her outstanding crimes so she could become a real estate tycoon.) Now that they’re free, Penguin is finally adorned with a comics accurate monocle, top hat, & waistline (He ate well in Blackgate!) while Riddler is finally festooned with question marks despite not speaking in sucky riddles! Sadly there’s nary a question mark cane nor weaponized umbrella. After spending much of the season as a mind-controlled cats-paw, it’s disappointing Riddler is now being manipulated by Valeska. The duo’s bumbling doesn’t make it seem like the city needs a caped crusader.

Camren Bicondova chose not to be in the finale. I respect her reasoning, but it feels like a bummer so close to the finish line. After years of stupendous work as Selina Kyle, she deserves to officially become Catwoman. (Since we saw so little of aged up Bruce Wayne, perhaps it was the right move. On the other paw, nobody else looks much older.) The new Catwoman is Madelaine Petsch Lili Simmons. The resemblance is uncanny! I’m glad she’s not returning the diamond.

Harvey Bullock takes the blame for one of Jeremiah’s patsies committing suicide in the most baffling subplot of the episode. Ballistics would not corroborate that lie. What could they possibly threaten Bullock with? If he’s worried about spies listening in, couldn’t he pass Jim a note? Why even waste precious finale time on this?

Cameron Monghan’s ability to synthesize arresting performances out of various Joker aspects remains a highlight no matter how little the screentime. Jerome had taken visual inspiration from the defaced New 52 & white suited Dark Knight Returns Jokers. Jeremiah was ’89 movie Joker before becoming The Dark Knight version mixed with Arkham City or any of the stories where future Joker is sickly. I’m really not a fan of the Joker looking gruesome. (I’ve ranted against TDK’s Glasgow grin as the death of subtlety.)

Using Joker magic, he’s improbably set in motion a decade long plan without anyone noticing he wasn’t catatonic. Of course, lovesick Jeremiah wouldn’t have imperiled the city again if Bruce hadn’t returned. He’s anticlimactically defeated with two batarangs, which is as realistic as most Batman fights would be. Their first fight at perpetually unsafe Ace Chemicals was much more gratifying. Wait, is the Joker dead or just unconscious?

No justice for Tabitha Galavan? (Perhaps she’ll be the Tabitha foreshadowed on Legends of Tomorrow? She won’t.) It looks like Babs forget to avenge lover & friend. Although it’d be depressing if Babs killed Oswald or vice versa, it’d provide some closure. If she couldn’t get murder him in the finale, she could’ve at least been the one to remove Ozzy’s eyeball.

For the final episode, you’d expect WB & DC to ease off the arbitrary restrictions they’ve put on the series. Nope! (The Flash must be relieved & insulted that he’s not considered valuable enough to strip the names off his TV show in a misguided attempt to maximize movie profits.) Not only does Selina’s cat burglar gear still lack kitty ears, she’s not called Catwoman. Jeremiah runs through some possible new names but doesn’t land on the Joker. After killing Ecco, he says she’s replaceable so they have plausible deniability that she’s not Harley Quinn. (It’s too late to introduce the real deals in this continuity, so they’re official by default!) A bat silhouette isn’t added to the GCPD searchlight. Despite putting on the Batsuit with asterisk abs & no Batnipples, Bruce never declares “I’m Batman!” The final episode isn’t even called “Batman.” We’ve been watching this for four & a half years; it’s most assuredly not “The Beginning…!”

Although this was the series finale I expected, it’s not the one the series deserved. (I prefer the last episode filmed out of the three possible this year.) Batman has always been the least interesting part of the show next to Gordon. (He keeps shouting “GCPD!” like a Pokemon!) Focusing on Batman while simultaneously concealing him so much wasn’t a winning combination. (It’s very suspicious that this Batman arrives in Gotham City the same Bruce Wayne returns to dodge all his social engagements.) The series is at its best when it’s doing unconventional moves. Teasing it’s just going to revert to a standard Batman story undercuts five seasons of kookiness. This might’ve been thrilling if it aired as the conclusion to season one. We all knew a Batman reveal was the endgame, so there weren’t any fireworks to the perfunctory one we got. Maybe it would’ve been more dynamic with Danny Cannon directing as planned? This needed more oomph to celebrate the end of an era, by which I mean giant sound effects onscreen!

The series finale isn’t as disastrous as Lost’s, but it could’ve been more satisfying. A major fix would be to not have a huge flash-forward. If this story was set soon after the penultimate, there’d be less need to exposit the new status quo. There’s no reason Bruce can’t start dressing up as Batman in his late teens. Him leaving the city at all was a mistake. Recasting Catwoman & hiding Bruce would be non-issues. Instead of Barbara Lee Gordon being kidnapped again, Joker could’ve nabbed Harvey Dent & sprayed half his face with acid from a lapel flower. We could’ve had a sequence where Batman takes down the remaining supervillain strongholds. An open-ended conclusion would work better in this instance instead of directly foreshadowing Batman pummeling crimesters past their prime.

So this review sounds pretty negative, but I still recommend Gotham! It just unfortunately ended with three less than extraordinary episodes. I LOVED season four, so it’s disappointing that the final season’s hamstrung ambition doesn’t match it. The preceding episodes this year remain solid. (I wasn’t wild about “Trespassers” either, although it sets up some important stuff. It did give us Poison Ivy’s best costume & The Babsmobile!)  I would’ve preferred to say the series went off on a high note. Even with a deflated conclusion, I still appreciate having twelve more episodes of this guano mad show. When it was first announced, I thought Gotham was beating a dead horse when there were so many DC properties yet to be explored. Now I don’t want to say farewell. How is this the Batman adaptation WB dosn’t know how to keep milking? This is not a series whose quality can be accurately gauged by viewers skipping to the series finale. Gotham really is one of those series where the journey is much more important than the destination. Goodbye, Gotham!

~

Tze Chun had to join ASCAP for writing “Penguin, Our Hero” for the Gertrud Kapelput Memorial Choir.

Fish Mooney probably didn’t even spend any fish money cause she got her seafood free.

Here’s how Michael Maddi made Jerome Valeska the clown with a tear-away face!

This mash up of the Gotham City girls got me pregnant. Halestorm’s “Vicious” has big Barbara Kean energy.

This Gotham zodiac is wrong since their Riddler is an Aires. Unless you look at this officially licensed set of ID badges asserting he’s a Leo, Jim is a Virgo, Harvey is a Capricorn, & Lee is a Sagittarius. (Where was the props continuity when those were made?) Also both Bruce Wayne & David Mazouz were both born on February 19. I think we can all agree that there are so many better characters that deserve to be Aquarius over Bane.

Pennyworth looks like a show I’d enjoy more if it had no tangential ties to Batman. If I get around to watching it, I’ll just be imagining the resources could’ve gone to more Gotham episodes.

season one: “Mother, there was no hussy only betrayal & savagery.”

season three: “The hussy’s name is Ed.”

~

Okay, next time we’ll talk about how Steppenwolf dies in Avengers: Endgame … unless I get distracted by She-Ra first.

9 thoughts on “Goodbye To Gotham!

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