A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
As we our one week away from the fall-finale of “Gotham”, tonight saw the introduction of Harvey Dent, the implementation of Arkham Asylum as a facility for the criminally insane, and Bruce continuing to “develop self-discipline and willpower.” The episode, while fun to watch, was the first time the series ended with a bit of disappointment.
“Harvey Dent” written by Ken Woodruff starts with Selina Kyle being brought to Wayne Manor. As she is the only one who could identify Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murderer, she sits down with an artist to sketch out his face. She is later brought to the manor, much to the disapproval of Alfred as he feels her street-smart/ street-rat lifestyle will be too much to handle and not the right fit for Bruce. Gordon, believing the best in her, says she’s “just a kid who’s seen too much” and Bruce agrees. Eager to have a friend and connect with someone he tells Alfred that she will be staying indefinitely. Elsewhere, Gordon, along with Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya meet with the fresh-faced, over-achieving, counselor Harvey Dent. They have a plan in motion to implicate a mucky muck named Dick Lovecraft, who had business dealings with not only the Wayne’s, but The Falcone/ Maroni families. While the law is continuing to mount their war against the corrupt, Ian Hargrove, an “urban terrorist” as labeled by the press is broken out of prison. He’s being used as a tool against the Falcone family. While his brother is interrogated by Gordon and Bullock, we learn that he is in need of psychiatric help and may not be the big bad of the episode as was the set up. Fish Mooney, furthering her hidden war against Falcone sabotages a heist at the Gotham Armory, filmed at Fort Totten. The overall setup of tonight’s episode plays like an extended chess match. Moves are made with seemingly little impact on the overall game.
While “Harvey Dent” seems to be unanimously agreed upon by fans and critics that this was the first dud of the season, filled with clunky dialogue and plot set-ups with no real payoff, it’s not to say it’s entirely without its merits. It’s been exciting to see characters be brought on that the majority of fans know will one day play an important role in Batman’s career. However, in a show that isn’t about Batman it’s hard to introduce beloved characters like Harvey Dent while knowing that there isn’t too much more you could do with him. The same could be said for Edward Nygma and the warring crime families that was hushed for this week’s installment. Nicholas D’Agosto IS Harvey Dent, at the very least for the world FOX’s “Gotham” has created. Complete with his coin-toss and “before God” testimony he gives to a delinquent teen, he never seems out-of-place or unneeded. Perhaps this is why, for an episode that bears his name, feels a bit of a let down as his story is more of lit match for the fuse which will burn into season 2 (as “Gotham” producers hope.) D’Agosto nails the “trust worthy lawyer” part and the crew behind this episode never miss an opportunity to foreshadow his sulfuric acid scarred counterpart. In nearly every scene Harvey Dent appears half of his face is seen shrouded in the dark and shadows. And perhaps in a scene that would have served a more tantalizing ending than the been there, done that moment of finding Barbara in bed with her ex, Renee Montoya, Dent flips out on Lovecraft growling “Don’t threaten me or I will rip you open” with such ferocity that his face contort into a scary personality that is a wink to fans. At least they got “Big Bad Harv” right, an aspect of the Dent character not fully addressed since the animated series by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.
While Dent was sidetracked in his own episode, it was fun to watch the playfulness between David Mazouz’s Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova’s Selina Kyle. The perpetually on-again/off-again couple from the DC Comics is fully seen here in as close a way to the spirit of the characters as they producers could be. Yet again, and much like including Dent, how much could they really do with the relationships and characters while maintaining the story of “Gotham”; not Batman? “Gotham” has shown us before that they have the talent to develop an interesting series, much in the vein of the first seasons of their series “Prison Break” and “24.” Hopefully, the fall-finale next week will give us a return to that level of quality.