The final three episodes of “Gotham” start next week on Monday, April 27th. It’s amazing to think of how quick we’ve moved through season one and of how entertaining a show it’s become. While the freshman drama on FOX did have a few flaws early on, it the second portion of the first season it became very addictive. In many ways it brings to mind fan reaction to the first season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” These final episodes, including this week’s episode “Under The Knife”, continually focus on the development of the essential members of the world of Batman and of the people that make up Gotham City. Jim Gordon’s latest case has found him reopening a case revolving around a serial killer known as The Ogre and the villain has easily become one of this season’s most terrifying.
Gordon vs. The Ogre
Despite many warning him not to pursue The Ogre, Detective Gordon decides to investigate anyway. Last week’s episode of “Gotham” informed us that most cops have avoided the case as the notable serial killer targeted the officers loved ones. Gordon and Bullock meet with the detective assigned to The Ogre’s first murder of a young woman named Julie Kimble. Was I the only one that thought of “The Fugitive” with her last name and medical ties? The detective who was then investigating the case had his wife killed by The Ogre. The devastating loss took him off the case as he realized just how dangerous and real the threats were. He helps Gordon and Bullock by telling them pertinent information regarding the background of the man known as The Ogre. He’s afraid for his daughter’s life, but Gordon promises him that she’ll be kept safe. What Gordon doesn’t realize is of how much The Ogre already knows about him and that he’s been followed by the killer. Detective Gordon tells Captain Essen that that “have to show him we’re not afraid” and holds a press conference that finds him essentially baiting The Ogre with a promise that he will stop him. We’ve seen the absurd lengths Gordon will go to in order to uphold truth and justice and of how many times he’ll put his own life on the line to protect others. “Gotham” has managed to present the eventual commissioner in an outstandingly heroic light and much of that needs to be credited to Ben McKenzie’s terrific performance. It’s amazing to see the actor, once best known for his role as Ryan Atwood on FOX’s “The O.C.” mature into such a fine thespian. He’s had enough seasoning on TNT’s ‘Southland” to show his range and now, in the role of a lifetime, has given us a different but equally defining portrayal of Jim Gordon on the same level as Gary Oldman. I could only imagine fans of the underrated, but loved DC Comics character being so happy with the good detective finally getting his time in the spotlight.
Gordon and Bullock eventually learn about who The Ogre was before he came to prominence. He was born with a severe facial deformity that brings to mind The Elephant Man. His mom left him at an early age and he became confused with the woman that took him in as he thought she was his real mother. Unfortunately for him, it was all a cruel joke to her in stringing him along, and when he eventually learned of her rejection of him, he killed her. Years later he had facial surgery which left him looking less like the mutated monster in “Prometheus” (Sean Harris’ ‘Fifield’) and more like “Heroes” Peter Petrelli. Milo Ventimiglia, it needs to be said, is extraordinarily creepy. We’ve never seen him as a villain of this caliber before; he wasn’t even this evil on TNT’s short-lived “Mob City.” By the end of “Under The Knife”, when we’re introduced to a surprising BDSM story-line for a show that airs at 8 pm, it’s extremely off-putting and upsetting in a way that makes us root for Gordon to stop him even more than before.
Maroni vs. Oswald Cobblepot
The Salvatore “Boss” Maroni character in “Gotham” feels like the closest we’ve ever gotten to actually seeing the comic book villain represented on screen. As much as I enjoyed Eric Roberts in 2008’s “The Dark Knight”, he came off as more of an alternate universe (MULTIVERSE) version of the man known for scarring Harvey Dent with sulfuric acid! David Zayas is excellent in bringing to life a charming yet dangerous version on the well known DC Comics mob boss and he has excellent chemistry with Robin Lord Taylor’s Cobblepot. The heart of their ever escalating confrontation is at The Penguin’s club where he meets Gertrud Cobblepot. The scene boils with intensity as both men play off of each other and Carol Kane never breaks character as the whimsical, weird, and odd mother of The Penguin. It escalates once Maroni grabs his mother and asks him if it’s all an act that she doesn’t realize that her son is a “cold blooded psychopath.” Oswald vows to kill him soon and the scene ends there. Later on, Oswald finds that his mother no longer looks at him the same way and it appears as if it truly breaks his heart. Since episode 2, we’ve seen him share this connection with her that has hinted at a slight humanity behind the monster and it’s possible that by no longer sharing that relationship with her, we may seem him further down his path to becoming the crime-lord we know from the comics. A messenger arrives to bring his mother flowers on behalf of Maroni and Oswald tells him to relay the message that “the kill box is ready.” He then immediately decides against it. “On second thought, I’ll tell him myself.” He begins to violently erupt by stabbing the messenger in the throat repeatedly while his mother is down the hall. It was an interesting scene as it brings us back to the earlier scene with Maroni/Gertrud and Oswald. He tells her that her son killed a man be stabbing him repeatedly and asks what kind of monster would do that. In killing the messenger, it only proves just how dangerous and “cold blooded” Oswald really is and just how much his own mother doesn’t know about him.
The question Maroni poses to Gertrud also helps tie into the story line that unfolded for Edward Nygma. His crush, Ms. Kringle, is being beaten by her boyfriend, Officer Dougherty. He confronts the bullish Officer, but is mocked and called “Riddle Man.” Sometime later, Nygma waits in his car outside of Dougherty’s apartment. It’s late at night and he confronts the cop underneath the elevated train tracks. They scuffle at first and Nygma then pulls out a knife and stabs the man repeatedly. “Oh dear” Nygma keeps saying and his fear over what just unfolded eventually gives way to a manic laugh. The idea of men becoming monsters helped create an overall tone for this episode that was actually far from being self-serving or forced in any way. I’ve enjoyed these past few episodes as the characters have more naturally eased into the men/women they’ll eventually become.
“Under The Knife” was another consistently well acted, well written, and stylishly directed episode by T.J. Scott. I haven’t been more thrilled for “Gotham” than in it’s latter half of the first season and if the pacing is kept up, this will easily remain as one of my ‘Must Watch’ of not only DC Comics based programming, but of television in general. “Under The Knife” gets five stars.
“Gotham” airs at 8 pm, Monday nights on FOX. Check your local listings.