'Lovecraft' Review: Can We Get Our Hopes Up About Gotham Yet?
It feels a little like trying to kick Lucy's football to say that Gotham has hit its stride. A couple of times now, most notably with Penguin's Umbrella, it seemed that the show had found its rhythm and understood where it needed to go, and then it would slip back into its self-destructive DC Easter egg habits and we'd be back to square one. That being said, "Lovecraft" was possibly the best episode of Gotham so far, and definitely the most polished.
The Bruce Wayne storyline started out as the easiest target for accusations of extraneous plotlines, as his Wayne Manor-bound stories felt irrelevant to the proceedings. But baby Batman's scenes were by far the strongest in this episode, particularly when they dealt with his relationship with Alfred. Bruce and Selina have a cute rapport (although David Mazouz either out-acts Camren Bicondova or is just given better material to work with), but Sean Pertwee was unquestionably the MVP of this episode (Robin Lord Taylor must welcome the break). The moment Bruce was in danger, he became an efficient and ruthless fighter, kicking ass and taking names for the entire hour. Then, he topped it off with a completely sweet moment with Bruce; their hug called to mind the moment in "Spirit of the Goat" when Bruce said "There's no one to take me away from." When first Alfred, then Gordon, openly expressed their relief that he was all right, you could see in David Mazouz's face that Bruce was realizing he was wrong.
The episode wasn't immune to all of the classic Gotham flaws, as the mob storyline was underdeveloped and felt extraneous, even though it's obviously central to the driving action of the season. But the DC Easter eggs were refreshingly under control, with Copperhead, Poison Ivy, and the Riddler all making relatively restrained appearances, at least for this show. There were no overt references to snakes where Copperhead was concerned, the awkward hug between Nygma and Gordon warmed my heart in a morbid way, and although there's still a lingering feeling of being overstuffed with villains, Ivy herself didn't disappoint. In an episode where Bruce learns that he is, in fact, loved in spite of his orphanhood, Ivy is truly alone. Her father died as an indirect consequence of the Wayne murders, and her mother killed herself soon after. Of all the villains presented so far, her backstory is possibly the most sympathetic, and sowing the seeds (no pun intended, don't hate me) for Ivy's reasons for hating Batman was extremely effective and sinister. Clare Foley, who plays Ivy, did a great job of portraying her as truly deranged, and the fact that the jaded, unflappable Selina is afraid of her only makes her more frightening.
Overall, it was a solid midseason finale, although it still doesn't quite feel like the writers have a clear focus or set endgame (besides, I'm sure, ending the show with a shot of Bruce putting on his mask or something like that). Hopefully they will continue to find their footing and figure out a way to make their disparate plotlines more cohesive, while still providing plenty of action and Penguin. And for the love of God, don't bring Barbara back.
-Yet another misleading title. Just as Harvey Dent didn't play a particularly pivotal role last week, Lovecraft was on screen for a total of maybe five minutes. "Copperhead" might have been a better title, if they needed to go with a character name.
-When the criminals "opened up" the hapless gardener at the beginning, was it really just so she could smear blood on her face? If so, then it was entirely excessive, they looked like they were trying to get cocaine balloons out of his stomach.
-I hope they're not ending the partnership between Bullock and Gordon permanently, as that relationship has been a highlight of the series.
-There have been rumblings about the Court of Owls showing up at some point, with executive producer Danny Cannon all but confirming at New York Comic Con that the Court of Owls will appear on season two of Gotham. Was this the organization that Lovecraft was so afraid of?