Friday, 2 January 2015

Gotham Episode 9 Review 'Harvey Dent'

So leading in from last week, Barbara has left Jim and Jim has been left in charge of Selina Kyle. Gordon persuades Bruce to let Kyle stay at Wayne manor, much to the frustration of Alfred. Gordon wants to use Kyle as a witness to bring down the Waynes’ true killer, to do so he needs the help of a young attorney in the form of Harvey Dent. Meanwhile a master bomb maker, Ian Hargrove, has been broken out of a prison and is being forced to make bombs by a gang who wish to rob Falcone.

So as you can probably tell from the above paragraph this episode is a bit dense in terms of the amount of story strands it is trying to weave together. One of the advantages of an ensemble show like Gotham is that you have many weeks to develop character arcs. This allows you to frequently visit characters, each time being drip fed small updates to their respective arcs. This works brilliantly as long as you don’t have to impart a large amount of new character information to your audience.

Where this episode fails is that we have several characters experiencing distinct upheavals and no time to develop these strands. Selina Kyle coming to live at Wayne Manor is easily enough to hold an episode by itself. The introduction of Harvey Dent would also have been enough to drive a narrative. As it is we have the standard villain of the week, in the form of Ian Hargrove, to which all the narrative has to revolve around.

Due to the structural limitations that Gotham has forced on itself what could have been two fantastic episodes becomes one ok episode. Due to these time limitations, scenes with Selina and Bruce feel rushed, as if fast forwarded by a bored viewer. Given that Batman’s relationship with Catwoman is one of the most interesting in the Batman lore it seems a shame to present the Cliff Note version.

Similarly, Harvey Dent is introduced flipping a coin like a lunatic and within a very short time is showing his uncontrollable temper. The pathos to the character of Two-Face is that he used to be Harvey Dent, that’s what makes his character interesting. So in order to make the character of Two-face interesting you need to spend time with Dent, see him as a good man. You only need to compare the character given in Batman Forever to his portrayal in The Dark Knight to see why this is important.

It’s frustrating to see Harvey Dent’s arc being rushed as Oswald Cobblepot has been given time to develop into the Penguin and it has made him the best character in the show. As usual Robin Lord Taylor steals the show in his performance of the character, guaranteeing at least one part of Gotham remains consistently strong.

Gotham is starting to irritate me as a program. Just when I thought Gotham had found its place and niche it disappoints me. It seems to have used its success to get lazy and over confident. This episode has eyes bigger than its tummy and suffers due to being overstuffed. The cliffhanger of this episode also suggests that issues I thought resolved are about to be awkwardly dragged out once again, with the writers seemingly unable to understand what the problem was in the first place.

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