What’s up, party people? Looks like it’s my turn to jump on the Gotham train. I watched the first few episodes way back when they first aired but jumped off once I realized that Barbara Not-Gordon never left her (admittedly lavish) apartment, not because she was agoraphobic, but because the writers had literally no idea what to do with her or any other character on the show. Let’s see if three and a half seasons has taught them anything.
1. THESE ROCKS MEAN SOMETHING TO ME, ALFRED.
One of main plots of “Let Them Eat Pie” had to do with Bruce really wanting to go place some rocks on a mountain because he and his dad used to do it. Alfred starts the scene berating angsty teen Bruce about partying with Tommy Elliot. Your garden variety “You’ve changed, Bruce” moment. But apparently Bruce is just lashing out because he killed Ra’s al Ghul already? It’s okay, Bruce. I’d also be mad if I killed one of my greatest enemies before I even became Batman.
(side note: When Alfred first pulled the two rocks out of the bag, I totally didn’t realize the BW/TW initials written on them were Dr. Wayne/Bruce father/son initials. I thought we were still in that weird dramatic confrontation about Bruce hangin’ with Hush, so when I saw the rocks, I thought, “BW and TW… Bruce Wayne and Thomas… Welliot?”)
Bruce basically treats Alfred the way Lucius Malfoy treated his house elf. He literally abandons him in a forest because, plot twist, Bruce didn’t actually care about his rocks and just wanted to be horrible to Alfred. During their confrontation at the end of the episode, as Bruce is walking away to go see Welliot, he screamed out “TOMMY!” and I misheard that as him calling Alfred “DOBBY!” which, you know, wasn’t too far off.
One more note about Bruce: his transformation from sweet but troubled child into uber-angsty teenager oddly reminded me of Ian Gallagher’s character shift over on Shameless, which is made even weirder by the fact that apparently that same actor plays totally-not-the-Joker on this show. Like everything else on Gotham, I’m not quite sure what to make of that.
2. Dramatic Readings.
If there’s one thing Gotham has become universally known for, it’s the fact that its characters mostly speak in gruff whispers. As if that’s not magical enough, we get multiple dramatic readings in this episode, including one completely unironic reading of an excerpt from Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” Absolutely zero mention is made that the piece is satirical or that Pyg is twisting the meaning to rationalize his own cannibalism. Gordon, Gotham’s main character, took one of the most well known and widely read satirical pieces of all time completely at face value. I guess he just assumed J-Swift was a well-known cannibal or something??
3. The Meat Pie Tango.
Full disclosure: I love Professor Pyg, and I think he’s the perfect match for the bizarre world of this show. If “Let Them Eat Pie” is any indication, Gotham’s villains have come a long way from the Balloonman and the Spirit of the Goat.
Late in the episode, Pyg sets some high society folks up at a dining table, human pies in front of them, in a mixture of Sweeney Todd and the dinner scene from Beetlejuice. I was half expecting someone to start singing ‘Day-O,’ and then… something even weirder happened? Suddenly, Pyg breaks out into song in a twisted version of the Cell Block Tango from Chicago. Only he’s singing about cannibalism.
I loved every second of it.
4. “They forgot to search me.”
Over in lazy writing land, Gordon finds his way into the Pyg plot, realizes this one dude at the event has a gun, and gets himself knocked out, after which the guy asks Pyg to be paid double in a terribly ineffective attempt at humor. Gordon is then thrown in a room where a fellow officer is tied up with tape over her mouth… but for some reason, they didn’t bother to do the same to Gordon (or just, you know, shoot him)?? So with Gordon suddenly awake in the room and conveniently free of any chains, he rips the tape off the other officer’s mouth only for her to reveal she has a knife clearly protruding from the leg of her pants. “They forgot to search me.” What kind of lazy-ass minions has Pyg hired, and how dare they demand to be paid double?
5. ’66 Acting with Burton/Nolan Visuals.
This is a general note from someone mostly unfamiliar with the show: The visuals — scenic design, costumes, visual directing — are an effective mix of the gothic Burton movies and the more industrial Nolan movies. But then they mix in the ‘66 Batman-level acting. Penguin eats his pie in the most ridiculous way possible, literally growling and flailing around like a… well, not a penguin. Everything is so heightened, and it doesn’t work when it’s also begging to be taken seriously. It’s funny when you watch one episode, but I could never watch an entire series like this. If you’re one of those weekly viewers, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What did you guys think of the episode? Do you have the Meat Pie Tango stuck in your head now? Did you get #rockfeels from the Bruce/Alfred scenes? Sound off in the comments!