'Harvey Dent' Review: Gotham Takes Foreshadowing Way Too Literally
Yesterday, we told you six tweaks that would make Gotham go from a good show to a great one, in the hopes that last night's episode, "Harvey Dent," would continue the recent trend of beginning to fix their early missteps. But we were so very wrong, as last night's episode provided cringe-inducing examples of all of Gotham's classic flaws in spades.
Unnecessary DC Villain with annoying winks to the audience? Check!
Yes, Harvey Dent is introduced in this episode. When they dove right into a monologue about his the two-headed coin, I was a little disappointed with the lack of subtlety. But it's a trademark of the character, so I was ready to accept it, so long as they didn't get any cheesier than that.
UGH there's already a coin. At least half his face wasn't covered in shadows or something equally cheesy #Gotham— Outer Places (@outerplaces) November 18, 2014
Then, five minutes later:
If they hit us over the head any harder, we would all be dead by now. Yes, it's Harvey Dent. Yes, he will become Two-Face. Oh wait, do you mean to say that it's actually in DC Comics? WE GET IT.
Overstuffed with characters and plotlines up the wazoo? Check!
Two plots per episode. Three at most, and only if you've proven you can handle two. (It sounds like I'm talking about having children. Let's move on.) This episode had a fairly interesting A plot in which Harvey Dent gets caught up in a scheme involving a mentally ill bombing specialist. This storyline, like all the best stories on Gotham, had plenty of potential for social commentary But they didn't allow themselves enough room to explore this interesting issue because they just had to squeeze in B, C, and D plots about Bruce and Selina falling in love, Oswald sniffing Liza's clothes, and the unholy trinity (see below), respectively. Both the opportunity for social commentary and the talents of Robin Lord Taylor were largely wasted, and once again, because they're trying to do everything, nothing is making any sort of impression.
Rushing through important storylines so they have little to no impact? Check!
This goes hand in hand with the previous two points, but the overstuffing causes them to rush everything, even when they don't have to. It's a manic kind of storytelling, and they just need to calm down. Take Harvey Dent, for example. I'm actually a big fan of this character, so I originally didn't complain that they were adding yet another villain when they were already overstuffed. And even with the ridiculously literal foreshadowing, he could have been a worthwhile addition to the show. I thought the writers had an opportunity to add a different kind of character, one who is primarily an ally at first, one who actually has an arc to speak of. Instead, we see that he has evil brewing inside of him right away, so now it's just a waiting game. And, as fans of the comics point out, it's a waiting game that will likely never end, if they stick to canon, because he doesn't actually become a supervillain within the timeline of the show. It would have been fascinating to see a truly idealistic character, very much like Gordon, try to improve a corrupt city with nothing but goodwill, and then slowly see him give in to his worst impulses. This should have been an extremely complex, long-form character arc to go through, but they managed to do it within the first half hour that he was on screen. Good job, Gotham.
Schizophrenic tone? Check!
Granted, this episode was not as tonally uneven as some, but the transitions between the hard boiled cop/future Two-Face plot and the Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle plot was somewhat jarring. There were a lot of things to like about the scenes between the Batman and Catwoman babies: David Mazouz did a great job with Bruce's awkward schoolboy crush, and I like the idea that she teaches him how to be a little bit grittier on his way to becoming the caped crusader. But the dialogue, particularly Selina's, was bordering on painful, and while Camren Bicondova is capable, she wasn't quite up to the task of saving it. And although there were some sadder moments in which they talked about their respective tragic backstories, and I can see them possibly doing some interesting things with class differences in the future, the treatment was a little too goofy to fit into the overall tone of the show. I'm liking Bruce's plotlines more and more on their own, but the writers still haven't really figured out how to integrate them into the rest of Gotham.
Barbara acting like a cockroach? Check!
She just won't die. They cruelly teased us with her leaving Jim last episode, and we all cheered when he got his "Dear Jim" letter at the beginning of this episode. Their relationship was so terrible, I couldn't even begin to bring myself to believe Jim when he said he "needs" her. And then they decide to bring her back in the most annoying way possible: having her sleep with Montoya. Yes, it's nice to see a lesbian relationship/bisexual character on a mainstream show, even if they're probably only doing it as a cynical ratings ploy. But the love triangle is terrible, and this is coming from someone who is morbidly obsessed with Dawson's Creek and The Vampire Diaries. I like a well-done love triangle as much as the next person, but there is no chemistry in either leg, there hasn't been enough character development to understand why any of these people are in love with each other, and mostly, it's done in a very juvenile way that doesn't fit at all with the adult themes of the rest of the show. Honestly, at this point Bruce and Selina's relationship is more mature than Jim and Barbara's.
-The episode was called "Harvey Dent," and yet he was only in a few scenes. They pulled this stunt with "Selina Kyle" as well, which was not at all the detailed origin story that people were expecting from the title. It's another symptom of their undue attachment to the DC Universe.
-Sean Pertwee turned in a great performance this week, and Alfred's relationship with Bruce is quickly becoming the highlight of Bruce's sections. Pertwee's reaction to seeing Bruce finally play like a normal child was priceless, and broke my heart a little.
-Remember when Ivy Pepper was on the posters? Remember when that was a thing? They obviously don't need more characters, but if they're going to wait until they have time for her, they should do the same for the Riddler, who almost always feels out of place.
-Arkham Asylum is open, so maybe the show will focus on the more interesting aspects of DC Comics in future episodes, but at this point I'm not really getting my hopes up.
the riddler would be a gamergater. #gotham— josh lewis (@thejoshl) November 18, 2014