written by Omar Castillon (@omar_castillon)
After a disastrous end to the whole Ogre saga we finally get to the end of the season. In the previous episode the end showed the effects of Cobblepot’s manipulative ways and turns both Maroni and Falcone against each other ending in a fire battle for the ages. Cut to the premise of the season finale and we get to finally see some mob war violence. It’s a plot point that has been building up for way too long.
It starts off with Falcone getting a rocket launcher attack from Maroni’s men while he was in a market over by the docks of Gotham. A magnificent explosion puts Falcone in the hospital where Cobblepot and Butch go to try and take him out. Gordon and Bullock think on their feet and pursue the hospital location Falcone is resting in. This then leads to a fire fight between Gordon and Maroni’s men as he tries to save Falcone and still have both Cobblepot and Butch under his custody. Slow motion shots and bodies dropping everywhere increased the stakes for Gordon. Bullock comes in to tag a few more and then they get captured. Low and behold, Fish Mooney is back in Gotham with her new group of Dollmaker victims. Selina joins Fish because it seemed like a “cool gig” and an opportunity of a lifetime. What follows is the longest standstill between Maroni, a tied up Falcone and a pissed off Fish Mooney. (Warning: In order to continue with what happens I have to take the liberty of spoiling what happens next) In a tense standoff, Fish and Maroni talk about the distribution of power in Gotham. Maroni promises Fish her old territories back that are under the control of Cobblepot. In the most cliché of bad deals, Maroni berates Fish by calling her pet names and belittling her to being “number 2.” In a fit of controlled rage, Fish shoots Maroni in the head. All hell breaks loose and it becomes a cluster mess of gunfire. In the middle of the chaos, Falcone, Gordon and Bullock escape while Cobblepot goes Scarface on everyone and Fish attempts to escape. In the end, Cobblepot becomes the supreme ruler of Gotham’s criminal underworld.
On the side ventures, Barbara (ugh) and Leslie have a one on one session dealing with her recent trauma with the Ogre. It turns out that Barbara kills her parents because they were “phasing her out” and she thinks she is perfectly sane. She then gets into a psychotic episode and attacks Leslie. Luckily, Leslie can defend herself and is put at ease when Gordon and Bullock arrive with Falcone to the apartment. Bruce on the other hand spends the entire episode trying to find a secret his father left behind. In pre-Batman fashion, Bruce along with Alfred discover a secret room (or batcave I guess) fading to black.
The only reason the previous episode was not really mentioned is because almost nothing progressive happened. Aside from the mob war and even the only true character progression of Nygma going psycho, it failed to be entertaining. This easily transitions to the season overview and why they should really work on the material they have. While first seasons of any series are usually rough, it shouldn’t be this difficult to keep the audience liking the show then immediately hating it later.
The first episode was a great set up and the expectation I had for the entire season. Unfortunately the formula of a criminal of the week failed when they kept introducing new characters constantly. Some of the origin stories of famous Batman villains have been altered to fit in the universe of Gotham. It’s ok when the character has vague origin stories, but if the character has a well defined origin, you risk fan satisfaction. Granted, hardcore fans are the hardest to appeal to, especially comic book fans. As for the series in itself, they had a good thing going when it came to the mob wars and the territory disputes. Gordon being in the middle of a conspiracy with the police department was also another great inclusion to the world of Gotham. Read Batman: Year One in order to get the deeper effect of police corruption in Gotham. As for the villains that were used, they used too many. When an hour long series gets pushed to the 22 episode mark, this sets the show up for failure. Failure in the sense that there is a lack of focus among the established universe that could have benefited from being cut down to just 13 or 16 episodes. It’s no wonder the writing began to deteriorate before the midseason finale way back when. This brings me back to a previous review I had written about Gotham post midseason talking about how this would hurt the rest of the season and it obviously did. Quality in the storytelling just wasn’t up to par compared to the time before midseason when the show was picked up for a second season.
You can tell there was a lot of scrambling among characters. One of the perfect examples is Fish Mooney and Barbara (ugh). Fish started off being a hard edged criminal underboss in a world run by men. The premise is different and I was fine with it. It wasn’t until she was almost killed that she started to get on my nerves. Then her side quest with the Dollmaker was frustrating to follow since her character progressively became annoying. Annoying in the sense that we as the audience didn’t know what her real motivation was until it was too late. Barbara (ugh) started off being Gordon’s girlfriend who was worried about his line of work. Fair enough character detail until the writers shoehorn in that she has a dark past or whatever. Then she is discovered to be cheating on Gordon with Detective Montoya (which by the way, what the hell happened to her?) and then she becomes this irritating character that the audience says, “she’s supposed to be Batgirl’s mother?” It got to a point where I wanted to skip every single scene she was in. So much so that when I realized the 3 part Ogre storyline went on for too long, I wanted to stop watching the series. She lacked focus as a character and her whole, “I’m darker than you think” spiel was almost like a rebellious teenager looking for attention. It was insulting to Barbara Keen in the comics and to the fans who thought she could have been much more than a prissy young adult who has parent issues. You live in a nice apartment, shut up and appreciate what you have Barbara.
Wow…aside from pointing out flaws in the season, I finally got to vent my frustration about Barbara and Fish Mooney. Thankfully with this season break, the writers can learn to focus on a smaller number of characters and even gain an identity. It’s not that I hate Gotham, it’s just that I had a certain level of expectation with the series. It goes from a gritty cop drama to a “who’s the next Batman villain we are going to reveal” type of show. And as for those that just want to see who the Joker might be in the series, shut up and watch one of the Batman movies. This is a series about the City of Gotham, not an origin story solely on the Joker. Yes the Joker is a part of the universe but he only becomes a lot more relevant once Batman begins his vigilante quest. As for an honest opinion on whether you should watch the second season, I say wait it out for at least 5 or 10 more episodes. If the show doesn’t get a clear focus and better writing, it will be doomed to cancelation.