Friday, 10 July 2015

Gotham Episode 20 'Under the Knife' Review

In this episode Gordon and Bullock continue their attempts to bring down the serial killer known as 'The Ogre'. Meanwhile Bruce and Selina work to bring down the evil lucking within Wayne Enterprises and the Penguin receives an unwelcome visitor at his club.

So 'Gotham' seems to have become a lot darker in the last few episodes. The tone of the show has been a constant issue throughout this first season, with it drifting between dark horror and comedic nonsense with little concern for consistency. The Adam West 'Batman' showed that the universe of Batman could be more comedic. The Frank Miller take on Batman showed how gritty the source material could become. 'Gotham' previously seemed fairly happy to switch between these two states, depending on what the uneven scripts required.

'Gotham' seems to have decided to go down the grittier path, to an extreme level. 'Gotham' is not only more consistently violent in these episodes but the violence feels far more graphic. It is not merely the physical violence that has increased, with two multiple stabbings in this episode alone, but also the suggestion of violence.

Edward Nygma discovers that Kristen Kringle is being physically abused by her boyfriend and the Penguin's mother is threatened by Maroni. To go off topic for a second, 'Gotham' up till now has been reasonably even handed about the victims in its universe, with both genders getting a bad time of it. Having a two parter focussing on a serial killer of women, while women are getting mistreated for the B plot seems particularly lazy. I appreciate I should probably complain from a moral point of view but 'Gotham' usually does better than this in terms of gender representations (Barbara not withstanding), this reliance on damsels in distress is really lazy storytelling.

This darker take of the show brings with it the consistency I sought so desperately but I find myself wishing for the show to be more like its idiotic old self. Firstly because an unrelentingly dark universe isn't interesting and secondly because 'Gotham' is not a good enough show to get away with really dark storytelling. Possibly if the show had always been this dark it would work better, but using characters developed in the jokey show, dealing with serious situations really doesn't work well.

The sad thing is, the stupidity of the show remains. Gordon spends the entire episode making moves to protect Dr Thompkins from The Ogre. He has been told that those that he cares about will be at risk but doesn't connect that maybe Barbara, or even Selina will be in danger? I would hope that a detective given that threat would protect everyone he even half cares about but Gordon doesn't think that far ahead. He realises it in time for the cliffhanger, as he always has to. It also seems weird that they keep saying that they do not have a picture of The Ogre...despite having a picture of him. I appreciate he had plastic surgery after it was taken but his eyes/ears look the same, does photoshop not exist in 'Gotham'?

Maybe the police Sketch artists just have a really good union or something?

Where's Cole Phelps when you need him?
This cliffhanger has got to be one of the most pointless the show has done. We see Barbara being abducted by The Ogre a good ten minutes before Gordon realises, so it doesn't really shock us. I guess it's a shock that he's that inept a cop but that's hardly an endorsement for next week is it? “Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel and see Gordon not eat paste as much!”

I've criticised this episode a fair bit but it has a few really great scenes in it. The moments between Oswald and his mother are genuinely sad. Maroni informs her of every bad thing her son has done and he is unable to convince her of his innocence. I really like these moments, even if they do somewhat fly in the face of the earlier attempts to suggest that his mother is as insanely violent as he is.

I am curious how this situation with The Ogre will play out so 'Gotham' remains engaging I guess. As usual this is entirely down to the quality of the cast and not the scripts. Hopefully season 2 will be able to build on what season one has done, I don't hold out a huge amount of hope for the final two episodes however.

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