09 “Harvey Dent” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


gotham

I… I’ve got nothing…

After last week, Gordon has Selina Kyle back in his custody, and is eager to get some more clues on the Wayne murders. She gives him a description of the killer, and Gordon gets her a berth at Wayne Manor. Gordon, meanwhile, takes the sketch to the “only honest lawyer in Gotham, one Harvey Dent, who has his ideas about who might have been behind the killings. And a master bombmaker, Ian Hargrove, is sprung from Blackgate prison, and predictably things start exploding.

This episode was about moving some elements of the story arc along, but unlike some of the others, it clunked as hamfistedly as a boxing Bruce Wayne. Usually the mystery of the week is the least interesting part of Gotham, but here it shines by comparison.

The bombmaker rampant is given a twist by the fact that he isn’t actually the villain. Yes, he’s a criminal, but it is made apparent from the start that he is actually just mentally ill. And when he is sprung, he ends up chained in an abandoned warehouse making bombs for anonymous Russians.

As soon as Russians entered the picture, it was clear to me that they were linked to Fish Mooney. After Nikolai was killed by Cobblepot, his cronies are after revenge and a pay-off. So Fish sets them to steal from Falcone. It goes wrong and they all die, but that’s fine. She just wants to hurt her boss.

Cobblepot, meanwhile, has somehow sussed Liza as Fish’s mole. He does that blackmail thing he does, and ends up with her working for him. The way that the Penguin is gathering an organisation to himself from both sides is one of the best plays that Gotham has been making.

I can’t quite decide, though, whether or not the Bruce/Cat scenes are grating. Okay, he fancies her. It’s a bit clichéd, but then he is one of the most sheltered children in history. And Cat does have a hell of a point about his fighting “training”, which consists of boxing. Nobody does wear gloves in the real world.

And Barbara has left Gordon. For the time being, at least. Apparently she can’t handle the stress of Jim’s feud with the mob. And the corruption in GCPD. And every random psychopath. That I buy. What feels a bit glued on is that she’s run straight into bed with Montoya. I don’t know, it just seems a little forced, a little gimmicky.

And Harvey Dent. I, of course, love Two Face as a Batman villain, but here I’m afraid he didn’t shine for me. A little heavy-handed perhaps. The pointed scene with his face half in light and half in shadow I could have taken, but when he flat-out loses his cool in a discussion with Lovecraft (No, not that one -Ed), the man he suspects of having the Waynes killed… I get they were going for scary, and undercurrent of psychotic, but there are subtler ways of doing that. Hell, Gotham has repeatedly done that. Look at the cameo-tastic joy that is Edward Nygma. I suppose he has the two-headed coin, and hopefully he’ll grow on me a bit more as things move along.

Of course, the ultimate pay-off is at the end, where in response to Gordon’s attack earlier in the episode, the Mayor has the mentally ill moved from Blackgate to the newly re-opened Arkham. As Gordon says, this is a startlingly bad idea, but it does advance the plot significantly. The shot as the frightened Hargrove walks into the crumbling gothic building with streams of other inmates sends a chill down the spine. This has been in the offing for a while now, and whilst I appreciate building tension, I’m glad we’re finally seeing it pay off. And it just about saves this uncharacteristically flat episode.

But we need to do a bit better next week, Gotham.

Closing thoughts

  • How does Cobblepot sneak anywhere, with his limp and his clicky shoes? Nope, sorry. Not buying it.
  • The press called Hargrove an “urban terrorist”? As opposed to all those rural terrorists?
  • The most gullible guards ever accept a ticking gift basket from a stranger without question. Frankly, they deserved to be exploded.
  • If you didn’t laugh when Alfred cockblocked young Bruce Wayne, then you have no sense of humour.
  • Again with the ringtones? After Zsasz’s “Funky Town” a few episodes back, the phone which sets off the bomb under the Russians’ truck uses “The Final Countdown”. I’m not sure if it’s funny or lame, but I quite like it.
  • “You’re the weirdest kid I’ve ever met,” says Cat to Bruce. Ain’t that the truth?
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