Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gotham Episode 13 'Welcome Back, Jim Gordon' Review

Detective Gordon finds himself on the trail of a drug ring which runs through the core of Gotham City Police Department. Will he be able to bring it down or will his continued attempts to root out corruption in the police force yet again fail? Meanwhile the fallout from last week’s episode finds Penguin in charge of Fish’s club and Fish being menaced by Falcone’s torturer.

So this episode of 'Gotham' is pretty unpleasant. 'Gotham’s' tone is somewhat inconsistent at the best of times, with some episodes being notably more violent than others. ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ has a lot of brutal, realistic violence in it. Weirdly 'Gotham' seems to hang primarily at a teenage drama level of ‘young adult’ content. It occasionally seems to swing into noticeably more adult territory. Ideally a tonal middle ground would be best for ‘Gotham’, the more extreme violence feels out of place when the episodes in question also feature younger characters such as Bruce Wayne.

So Jim Gordon goes after corrupt officers in the police force, again. Although well handled the police drug ring plot feels like a re-tread of earlier episodes. Gordon won’t let the status quo stand and finds himself under pressure from his fellow officers. Entire scenes seem to have been lifted from earlier scripts. This includes Gordon “making a statement” by locking up a police officer in the novelty cell they keep in the centre of the GCPD, much to the chagrin of his fellow colleagues. As I said this police corruption plot feels as if it is being handled with a bit more care in this episode, I just wish it could handle it with a couple of new ideas thrown in also.

The Fish Mooney plot is handled very well. Much of the episode shows her traveling with Butch as her protector, having lost the rest of her employers. These scenes are nice but they feel a bit lacking dramatically. I’ve never felt that Fish and Butch have as good chemistry as ‘Gotham’ seems to think that they do. The scenes with Oswald and his mother conversely are very strong, with the pair of them coming across as a genuine mother and son. Any scene which shows the more childlike side of The Penguin is a plus in my book, hopefully we will get more family moments as the show continues. Although I suspect that this strong relationship is being set-up for motivational character tragedy later.

So ‘Gotham’ seems to be getting better at balancing out the multiple strands of its story. Although primarily dealing with the Gordon/Mooney plots, this episode also manages to throw in other characters without undermining itself. In this episode we get a continuation of both the Bruce/Selina relationship and that of Edward Nigma/Kristen Kringle. These diversions do not feel entirely linked to the episode thematically and don’t add much to it but they don’t take away from it either.

It would be fair to say that ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ is not one of the strongest episodes of ‘Gotham’, but it is very competent. To call it competent is not a knock against it however. ‘Gotham’ has been enjoyable before in-spite of itself, succeeding sporadically against self-imposed problems. A feeling of professional consistency seems to be finally coming to ‘Gotham’. With the correct support structure in place, ‘Gotham’ should go from strength to strength…. I’ve jinxed the next episode by saying that haven’t I?

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