There’s a lot right with Gotham, but there’s also a lot wrong with it. A lot of things that don’t work well and a lot of things that work brilliantly. It’s normal for a first season to be a bit shaky, to take time to figure out what kind of tv show it wants to be (just look at Marvel’s Agents of Shield) but Gotham seems to be inconsistent sometimes.
There were episodes that were really good – the episodes where the Ogre/Jason Lennon (Milo Ventimiglia) was involved – and there were some not so good episodes, especially “The Blind Fortune Teller”, where the rumoured Joker – Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) was presented to us.
I’ll start off with the negatives. The show didn’t need episodes such as “The Balloonman” or “Viper”; the writers seemed to be creating unnecessary villains when focus could have been pulled tighter on Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). The show took episodes 20-22 to let us see Nygma unravel and lose his mind. One moment, Nygma is crushing on Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) and the next, he’s killing Kringle’s boyfriend and starting to become the character we all know and love – the Riddler. His change seemed rushed. It seemed like the writers of those three episodes – John Stephens, Jordan Harper and Bruno Heller – realised that they needed to create more of a story for Nygma and actually give Smith some better opportunities to show off his incredible acting.
Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) also seemed like a bit of a useless character until the writers decided to use the extra six episodes the network gave them to do something with her. In episode 20, the Ogre kidnaps Barbara and slowly breaks her emotionally until there’s nothing left of her, which also gives Richards – like Cory Michael Smith – the opportunity to do some character development and do something other than stand there and look pretty, whilst going through a bi-sexual story arc which was dropped as soon as it was portrayed.
Is Gotham a child-friendly show, or does it want to be darker? I don’t know. And I don’t think Bruno Heller (who developed the series) knows either. The darkness that people know and love about Gotham is shown very sporadically, either due to Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) shooting someone and seeing blood spray everywhere or to the part where Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) scoops out her own eye, lets it drop to the floor and then stomps on it. There’s also the scenes where Gotham tries to be like comic books and features the highly dramatic actions that shouldn’t be in the show. For example, when Fish is flung over the edge of the roof by Cobblepot and dies (maybe?), Cobblepot stands on the edge and screams “I’m the king of Gotham” whilst laughing manically and the character of Cobblepot’s mother – Gertrude Kapulput (Carol Kane) – whose character is on the borderline of annoying because she’s so cartoony.
Let’s talk about the finale for a sec. Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova)…Why is she now working with Fish and being loyal to someone other than herself? It doesn’t make sense. And what about Fish coming back to Gotham? The writers either should have kept Mooney in the hospital with Dr Francis Dulmacher/The Dollmaker (Colm Feore), or not shown The Dollmaker story arc at all and just shown Mooney coming back to Gotham.
There are too many small villains in this show and it makes it too busy and too messy. This show would be brilliant if it just concentrated and a few big villains throughout the season. What they did with Gerald and Jonathan Crane (Julian Sands and Charlie Tahan) was brilliant, because they focused on one of the big villains and made two very good episodes out of it and created the foundations for the character of Scarecrow. Again, what they did with Jason Lennon/The Ogre was fantastic. Focusing on one villain and making three brilliant episodes out of it. By dwindling the number of villains means the writer would have had the opportunities to focus on Nygma and Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto) – whose character I think needed more building upon as well. Dent could have made a bigger supporting role than what he was.
However, there are also so many positives. One of the first things that I picked up on when I started watching the show is the casting. The casting is perfect, so a big thumbs up to the casting crew. Each actor and actress just slides into the roles that they were given so smoothly and conveys each specific character at its best. Child actor, David Mazouz, who plays a young Bruce Wayne, is exceptional and Seann Pertwee! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better Alfred. (Sorry Michael Caine!) Pertwee brings Alfred alive with his dry, British humour and his somewhat funny “yes, Master Bruce” and “anything for you, Master Bruce”. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) chemistry on screen was also fantastic, with its witty comebacks from Bullock, it was an intriguing partnership between the two. It was a bit slow for Nygma to make his dramatic entrance as the Riddler, but when he finally got up to that point, when we finally saw his losing his mind and becoming the character that we identify as the Riddler, it was some of the best acting that I had seen on the show. The way that Cory Michael Smith portrays the Riddler is mind-blowing. He’s gotten every characteristic of Nygma spot on.
Even though the storyline of Bruce investigating his parents’ death was slow at first, it begins to pick up a nice pace just after the mid-season finale. And the ending where Alfred and Bruce find his fathers – Thomas Wayne’s – bat cave? it gave me chills and it was an awesome ending to the series. As we can see from the season two promos, we get to see more of Thomas’ hiding place and maybe find out if this is where Bruce builds the foundations of his Batcave?
I mentioned earlier that there was a great character development for Barbara after episode 20, and it’s true. Seeing her develop from this fumbling character of a pretty woman standing in a corner doing nothing, to wielding a knife and killing her parents and going psycho on Dr Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarat); those scenes did wonders for Barbara’s character. Hopefully, we see the writers in season two extend on Barbara’s mental breakdown because I think it would be interesting to see which kind of character she turns in to. Or whom she turns in to? Harley Quinn maybe?
The mafia world in Gotham is another thing that I absolutely love about this show. The city of Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Sal Maroni (David Mayas) was fascinating and made a very good diversion away from the soon-to-be supervillains. With Penguin creating a full-scale war between the two mobsters, and Maroni launching a massive attack on Falcone in the finale, it was almost like a breath of fresh air. Of course, it was quite abrupt when Falcone decided to retire from being a mobster and when Maroni got shot in the head by Mooney for calling her “babes” one to many times, but I love the whole world of crime within the show. It went hand-in-hand with the whole “prequel to Batman” theme.
Sure, the road throughout the first season of Gotham has been rocky, but hopefully, the writers will find their feet for season two; which has already been renewed and Netflix have already stolen the rights. This show is definitely a must-see for anyone and whilst there are better superhero tv shows out there, I feel like this binge-worthy show has my immediate attention for when season two approaches.
Season two will air 21st September 2015