Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Gotham Season 1 Episode 7 'Penguin's Umbrella' Review

Just when I thought I was out, ‘Gotham’ keeps pulling me back in! So up to this point, ‘Gotham’ has had a somewhat uneven output. For every good and interesting episode we’ve had one that feels lazy and indulgent. With episode 7 however, ‘Penguin’s Umbrella’, things are finally starting to fall into place creatively.

So Jim Gordon has been saved from jail but he is now at the mercy of Don Falcone. When Jim refuses to accept Falcone’s summons, he is targeted by Falcone’s key enforcer, Victor Zsasz. Now as I’ve said before, ‘Gotham’ works best when it largely ignores the more fantastical parts of the mythos. Now the character of Victor Zsasz is relatively strong and could easily be adapted into a more serious world, he could be but isn’t. Where we could have the almost religious Zsasz who believes he is ‘saving’ those he kills, we instead get another cartoonish weekly supervillain. To be precise we get the Kurgan from Highlander.

That being said, Zsasz is still a credible threat. One of the nicest scenes in the episode is between Gordon and Zsasz. Zsasz arrives at the GCPD to collect Gordon, Jim believes that he will be protected by the police but they abandon him. The power play between Gordon and Zsasz is well handled and they have good chemistry. The budget this week seems to have been raised along with the stakes. The ensuing gunfight between Zsasz and Gordon would be pretty impressive for a film, let alone a weekly television show.

While Gordon fights for his life, a fight is also taking place between Maroni and Falcone. Falcone wants the return of Oswald Cobblepot; Maroni wants to keep him at his side. The back and forth attacks are brilliantly staged and directed. These scenes also give Robin Lord Taylor more opportunity to shine as the Penguin. Every new episode allows his character to grow and develop yet more unpleasant shades of the crime boss he will one day become.

Jim Gordon, having been saved by Montoya and Allen, decides to make one last stand against the corruption of the city. Gordon, along with a drunken Bullock decide to arrest the Mayor and Falcone for their crimes, even if it kills them to do so.

Now the entire episode has been very heavy on twists, most have been nothing major and they have been well handled. The final big twist of this episode is great. It is fantastic but it is also kind of stupid. I suspect that future re-watches of the series will only undermine the twist more, hence why I’m not spoiling it. To say the final twist is contrived would be a huge understatement. To tie everything up in a neat bow in this way doesn’t really fit with the tone of ‘Gotham’. Having said that it genuinely surprised me and it has left me with excitement for how things will play out from this point on, everything a cliffhanger should do.

Now this episode of ‘Gotham’ is really strong, the strongest so far. It is brilliantly paced, wonderfully directed and was a genuine pleasure to watch. That being said it still has some issues. The handling of Victor Zsasz is not brilliant and Gordon’s unexplained friendship with Bruce Wayne returns. We are constantly shown that Jim Gordon is one of Bruce’s closest friends but we don’t know why, all we know is that Jim promised to find the Wayne’s Killers but that isn’t enough. 

We as an audience know that Jim is in the extreme minority in wanting to solve the Wayne case but Bruce doesn’t know this, or if he does we haven’t seen this reveal. If ‘Gotham’ is going to continue to pretend that Batman is as interesting as his villains it needs to make a lot more effort to establish the character of Bruce Wayne, a lot more. This week has shown however that Gotham is still growing, so hopefully Bruce Wayne is next on the list of things to fix.

No comments:

Post a Comment