Gotham: 2-14 and 2-15 Reviews! Mad Grey Dawn and Prisoners
Yes, these Gotham reviews are late. I hope I can make it up to you.
Fat chance, huh? Ok, well, whatever. Just making sure you were paying attention.
I’m reviewing Mad Grey Dawn and Prisoners together to catch up on Gotham as quickly as possible. It’s appropriate since these two episodes comprise a sort of two-parter microstory: perhaps they should be reviewed together regardless of my lateness.
The main story focuses on an elaborate plan by Nygma to put Gordon away for the murder of Galavan. His reason for doing this is that Gordon had been fishing around trying to find out what happened to Kristin Kringle, who Nygma had murdered some time ago. Nygma sets up a series of crimes and connected brain teasers that would become the hallmark of the Riddler character. I have to say, Gotham really is a comic book show despite no capes or cowls anywhere: I mean, where else can you have a story where someone is framed for a murder they actually did commit? That just takes conventional police procedurals and turns it on its head. I’ve heard nothing butm hatred from comic book fans about this show, because they just want what they want, and their preconceived notions about what the show should be makes it impossible for them to look at the show for what it is.
Anyway, Nygma leaves a trailer of over-the-top clues for the GCPD to follow, including turning an art exhibit at the museum into a bomb. Yes, there’s even a sign there saying “this is a real bomb.” He leaves his trademark green question marks on paintings so that the cops will be led to his next act: a bomb at a train station. As Gordon and Bullock investigate the museum, Gordon has know idea that this is all about him even as he asks Bullock what Internal Affairs might have on him regarding Galavan. Ben McKenzie is brilliant here: during the early parts of the episode, he wordlessly portrays a man who can’t get his mind off what might be going on at IA that is beyond his control. As things escalate later in the episode, we really feel for him, this guy that, form the pilot, just wanted to do the right thing in Gotham.
Nygma sets things up pretty well at the train station, by surreptitiously obtaining a signature of the GCPD tip-off man who could really blow open the investigation, and he uses that signature on a document connected to Gordon, just as Gordon is using a crowbar to open a locker with a bomb in it. Riddler uses that same crowbar to break into the informant cop’s apartment, kill him, place an anonymous call, and lead Gordon right to the scene of the crime. It’s the movie Seven reflected in the lens of comic book absurdity. Gordon is arrested and convicted, and the next episode Prisoners has him transported to the same prison as many of the guys he has put away, complete with the Warden from hell (I started remembering that old Stallone film Lock Up) as Bullock tries to get him out before he’s killed. Yes, Prisoners has a simpler story, and the fact that its conclusion is inevitable (Gordon will somehow get out) makes it less intriguing on a concept level yet more important in terms of moving all the pieces in Gotham further down the board. Turns out, Bullock called Falcone out of retirement to help create a circumstance where they can get Gordon out, and then the former crime boss arranges Gordon a safe spot within the city so that Gordon can clear his name. It’s a bit trite, but keeping Gordon in prison any longer would have been a more dire mistake, and having Falcone return to the show is a good thing. Despite the season being labelled as Rise of the Villains, none of the villain characters seems as interesting as guys like Falcone or even Maroni form the first season.
Meanwhile, the Penguin meets his real father when visiting his mother’s grave and learns that he is the product of an affair, and his father wants to make all the lost years up to him by welcoming him into his rich family. The main point of this story might simply be to put the Penguin back into a tuxedo (that is more befitting of that character than being in the asylum or being homeless) but the writers come up with a marginally interesting emotional story for him, even though it plays out exactly as anyone would think. It’s almost as if this plot was meant merely as a demo reel so the production design team can vie for some kind of award: these scenes look fantastic. Oh, in other news, Bruce beats up some guy for money (yeah Bruce is fighting for money and somehow we believe it in the context) and finally gets his edge. I was intrigued, but there wasn’t much to his story here.
In the end, the Gordon vs. Riddler story-line is meant to just get Gordon off the GCPD, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe he can better fight crime and corruption if he didn’t have to report to that brutish police captain’s office each morning. The question is: will the show’s creators give a prize to the viewer who can guess how many of these episodes it will take for Gordon to be back on the force and as shiny as a new penny? I’m guessing before season’s end.
Mad Grey Dawn: 4.2/5