One of my immediate acts before I sit down to write about “Gotham” is I like to read IGN’s review/recap. For some reason, I’ve found reading their thoughts on the FOX drama has been conducive to my own writing. In many ways it’s about balance and tone. Similarly, “Gotham” has concerned itself with exactly that which I find helpful to my own recaps/reviews – balance and tone. “Gotham” succeeds when its tone leans more towards a hyper-realistic but moody comic book city while balancing itself as a drama in its own right while also being an adaptation of the DC Comics fictional city. Some episodes feel more bound by the nearly 76 year history of the Bat (tackling the origins of The Scarecrow and teasing The Joker) and others feel more free as they operate independently and offer more thrills (Selina kills Reggie, The Ogre). “The Anvil or The Hammer” was another stylish and effective episode that is confident in not only the material it’s presenting, but in its cast as well. A five star episode all the way.
Is Cory Michael Smith The Riddler? Yes, he has been Edward Nygma since the pilot episode, but much of this series has explored the idea of characters we know not being the characters we know. Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is not Batman, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is not Catwoman. However, with the last few episodes we’ve seen the show offer more insight into the possibility of these people eventually becoming who they are destined to be. While Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) has essentially been The Penguin since the pilot, the rest of the cast needed some time to grow into their own spins of famous people.
Edward Nygma killed his crush’s abusive boyfriend Officer Dougherty in last week’s (4/20th) episode, “Under The Knife.” This week followed more of “Ed’s hijinx” as he dismembered Dougherty’s body into two luggage cases and proceeded to erase all evidence by probably incinerating the body. As Nygma states, “No body, no crime.” Kringle later confronts Ed on her missing boyfriend which leads him to writing a dear John note of sorts. She’s visibly upset over the short letter and leaves with Ed offering nothing more than to sometimes “Read between the lines.” For some this scene may fall flat, but I thoroughly enjoyed its clever take on Nygma’s constant riddles as if Kringle were to actually read between the lines, she’d notice that the first starting letter for each line spells “N-Y-G-M-A.” That’s definitely something The Riddler would do and Cory Michael Smith has delivered such a different take on the character that his riddle is rewarding to both new fans and old.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but as of “Gotham” this is only the third live-action depiction of Edward Nygma. (The first two being Frank Gorshin from the 1966 Batman tv series, and Jim Carrey from “Batman Forever.”)
Was it just me or was anyone else disappointed that The Ogre story arc didn’t play out until the season finale? Milo Ventimiglia was, according to me, this first season’s truly terrifying villain. While The Ogre existed in the DC Comics Batman stories, he was vastly different from the presentation on FOX’s “Gotham.” Now that would normally upset fans, depending on how the character is represented, but Ventimiglia’s Ogre was a rare case of the screen translation being better than the source material. While when the character was written, you figure that the script was laid out roughly around the same time as everyone was talking about the “50 Shades of Grey” movie. The Ogre plays out like a DC Comics television version of Christian Grey and while I can’t speak to the novel or movie, the insinuation of BDSM is upsetting and disturbing enough in the 8 pm time slot to push Ventimiglia into full-on bad guy status. It helps that he’s just so good at it too!
Throughout “The Anvil or the Hammer” we see Ogre eventually and seemingly corrupt Barbara’s mind as he lures her into the dark side. She seems impressionable as it is, maybe unstable, and as he charms and seduces, she finally gives in to his whole plot. He warns her of his original intentions in the beginning and she is frightened when she learns that he originally planned on killing her. Barbara’s even more scared to learn that he’s fallen in love with her. She resists The Ogre at first and is consistent with angering him by telling him he’s insane and by slapping him. It looks as if he drugs her with some concoction that leads her to telling him “who to kill” after he asks her to tell him. Guess what, it’s Barbara’s parents!
After Detectives Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) investigate and find a place called The Foxglove, they are tipped off to his whereabouts by a hooker who once was able to escape from The Ogre (only after being cut on the face.) They find his apartment and after he calls Gordon, they deduce that he’s at Barbara’s parents home upstate. They head out to the house, but are too late to save her mother and father. Barbara appears and distracts Gordon which leads to a violent scuffle. The Ogre gets the upper hand and pulls a knife to Barbara’s neck, but Bullock then distracts him, giving Gordon enough time to quickly pull the trigger and shoot The Ogre in the head.
There were enough developments to propel this penultimate episode as we drive closer to the Mob War between Falcone and Maroni. Nice twist and no surprise that The Penguin is behind it. Who else is enjoying the look and sound of his club, by the way? While it’s not quite The Iceberg Lounge, it works well for the villain Robin Lord Taylor has made his own. May I be so bold to say that his take his been the most daring and definitive?
We also got to see Bruce’s investigation and a quick introduction of Lucius Fox which services the exciting and purposely slow development of Wayne, himself. It looks as if we’ll be getting a glimpse of “The Cave” next week and another reminder of Bruce’s steps to becoming The Caped Crusader of a failing city. “Gotham” airs Monday night at 8 PM on FOX. Check your local listings.