Hello Gothamites! It’s been quite a while since we last brought you our thoughts on Gotham. To be fair, we can only handle so much Gotham at once and the back half of season four may have been peak-Gotham, for good and for ill. We’re back to the rotation too, so this will be my only review (maybe) of the season. Next week, a different victim will be taking over to watch what may be their first episode of the show in forever. This week resident Arrow and Daredevil thought giver Michael Mazzacane walks through things in the appropriately named “Trespassers”
This week’s victim had this to say: I rather like Gotham. I often do not have anything meaningful to say on the matter, but it is an entertaining show with its willingness to be all the Batman at once, without Batman sort of. These qualities make considering it as an adaptation most interesting.
1. Of Course there are British Peasants in Gotham
Gotham City is home to all types, so of course there must be British peasants. They even come with their pitchforks! The shows willingness to be everything all at once means things are often filtered through genre staples. In the case of the reintroduction of Ivy, Gotham filters it through witchcraft as Bruce is on the hunt for the mystical witch who could save Selina. Treating Ivy as if she were a witch is a perhaps interesting way of rationalizing her powers. The weakness to salt bit doesn’t hold very well.
Much as Gotham charms, David Mazouz still doesn’t quite do it for me. He has grown in the role, but his character is in this inbetween phase and without the theatricality and deception of Batman to back him up, as a preformer lacks the charm and screen presence to make it work. Mazouz just comes off as oddly stiff. As he tries to intimidate the Peasants or Ivy, it isn’t threatening, it means he just doesn’t move is mouth that much. That inert presence dose not mix well with Payton List, who gets to vamp it up a bit as a dangerously childish version of the character.
Bruce’s whole run in with Ivy was awkward. This version of the character is already awkward to say the least, but there was nothing in terms of chemistry or material.
2. The Old West
Most of the genre touchstones this episode is filtered are developed through iconography. Undoubtedly the western aesthetic is evoked as Gordon tries to take down the Soothsayers. The slow mosey out of their hideout by the gasmasked gang and the open square both sides find themselves in, would be right at home in a western. What makes the moment feel like it belongs in a Western is the music cue of a raspy guitar riff. Looking at James Gordon through the lens of an old west lawman isn’t entirely new but in this Mad Max meets Arkham City environment it is effective. He’s supposed to tame this wild west … well more like aid and abet it through a partnership with a costumed vigilante that undermines his very institution in a few years. But who is perfect? After all the stuff he’s been through certainly not him.
3. Harvey Bullock is very much over this.
You’d think a cop like Harvey Bullock would’ve transferred to Metropolis, Star City, any place, by now. He is so very much over it by now, and who could blame him. As soon as his new partner showed up stuff started getting real weird. Instead of patrolling for a green hood, he is patrolling musty old basements with human remains all strewn about. Logue had some solid lines complaining about Gordon wanting to save the kids in the precinct, but “this is not good” as he fondles the fingers is perhaps the understatement of the century. Poor Harvey, can you blame him for not liking theatrical criminals?
This show gets away with a lot due to the style it trades in. If you think about the editing as he works his way down the table, it’s B-Horror 101 with the requisite music cue even. Yet the show has just enough of a tactile feel and mood lighting that it overrides things.Continued below
4. What is Riddler up to?
Running through the background of this season is Edward Nygma and lost time. This episode, and series in general, rarely plays for laughs. There are elements that due to a camp willingness to go there are funny, but they are not intended as such. Nygma waking up in the morning is played for comedy and Cory Michael Smith nails the comedy of his character waking all excited to find himself locked in place, only for the slow creeping realization to come over him. The brief sequence of him taking a leak, finding the biker tied up, and pulling the curtain back, is tumblr reaction gif gold.
Still what is his unconscious self after? Surely he isn’t hung up on that whole being frozen in a block of ice and being put on display by his ex, right?
5. Gotham, Under the Moon
Supernatural or meta Catwoman is always interesting, my first experience with Catwoman was the Returns Michelle Pfeiffer version so that is a concept I’m always down for. No, Selina didn’t get her spine healed via magical cats, it was a magical (likely human) seed pod. That was still the direction “Tresspassers” was going for. It also alludes to another property I have a soft spot for, Birds of Prey on the WB. The old Birds of Prey show is actually something Gotham owes for its current aesthetic, it was an extension of the Schumacher aesthetic that this series plays in due to the use of practical effects and costuming.
The final moonlit shots, nicely framed through a glass window at times, also reminded me of Issac Goodhart’s cover for the upcoming Selina Kyle focused OGN for DC Ink (or is it Zoom?) “Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale.”
Gotham is a fascinating show at times, I love the use of style to make up for just ham-fisted broadcast TV writing. Think about how many time this episode something was established and repeated within minutes, or made explicitly clear with dialog when the visuals already did the job. Broadcast TV rarely plays that way anymore, and rightly so it feels a tad insulting to the viewer.