Gotham Review: 'Welcome Back Jim Gordon'
The main plot, which involved a murder at Gotham Central that was sketchily labeled a "suicide" by Internal Affairs, was standard "everyone in Gotham is corrupt beyond believability" fare. From a writing perspective, you can clearly see where Gotham overplayed its hand. By establishing so early that corruption has not only permeated every aspect of Gotham's governance, but that it's 100% overt, there's no room to build. This season would have been so much more interesting if the writers had taken their time establishing the corruption, allowing Gordon to have a relatively normal career with a few ominous hints every episode that the police force isn't on the up-and-up. But since Gotham was completely corrupt from the start, there's no forward momentum. What is Gotham building to, exactly? Does anyone care anymore?
Although I still stand by the complaint that there are too many subplots and characters, the side stories actually fared better in this episode. I wasn't particularly captivated by Fish's plot, since we all knew she isn't going to die, at least not before the end-of-season climax. But Nygma's story was more interesting than usual. The "white guy in his 20s becomes a serial killer because girls laugh at him" is a tired stereotype, but at least the character was somewhat sympathetic and seems on his way to having some layers.
But the real Cinderella story here is Bruce Wayne. I expected his presence to feel shoehorned in and tiresome, as he won't be Batman for many years. But his plots have given us some of the most character-focused moments on Gotham, and I've unexpectedly found myself more engaged with his plotline than with almost any of the others. This is mostly as a result of the acting talents of David Mazouz, who managed to break my heart this episode multiple times. I don't even care that much about his relationship with Selina Kyle, but I do care about Bruce himself. When he played chess by himself, when he cried in front of the fireplace, when he pretended that he's not a heartbroken little boy and got back to his investigation, it all just killed me.
The two most interesting subplots in this episode- Nygma and Bruce, were both about loneliness and rejection. A better show would have focused on only these two plots and highlighted the ways in which baby Batman is a mirror image of the villains he will someday fight, but Gotham seems uninterested in living up to the potential of its premise.But as long as the show is committing to being campy fun rather than an actual drama, its greater sin is boring the audience. I was so incredibly bored during most of this episode, I just couldn't find a reason to care about what was going on. The show still has a great cast and production values, so I'm sure it will remain popular, but I'm losing hope that it will ever become more than a mildly entertaining diversion.
-I'm loving Clare Foley's Poison Ivy. She's so effectively creepy and sympathetic all at once, I predict that she will become the most interesting villain aside from Penguin.
-Bruce is adorable when he gives Selina a snow globe, but as many have pointed out, this is a truly terrible gift to give a homeless child. I didn't mind, though, because this kind of benign privilege is perfectly realistic.
-I could honestly see Gotham getting better if it just dropped the "case-of-the-week" structure. It's been so long since I cared about a one-off villain on this show. Thoughts?
-Next week: Leslie Thompkins! I missed her this episode.
-But on the plus side, no Barbara this week! It's a Snow Day miracle!