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Gotham 2:17 – Into the Woods

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Gotham 2:17 – Into the Woods

Holy plot-line convergence, Batman!

When looked at strictly from an analytical point of view, there’s nothing all that special about “Into the Woods,” the latest episode of Gotham. Yet, if you follow the show, you’ll be really interested to know what happens, how it happens, and the twisted way that things do happen. For Batman fans that have tuned out of this show because, well, there’s no Batman in it, they are missing out on show where each episode just strips the screws until there’s no removing them. The creators of this show aren’t afraid to use cliched resolutions to plot-lines: in fact they embrace them. Maybe it’s like studying Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. In that book, Campbell was trying to find the commonalities seem to occur in different myths to test the idea that people react the same way to the idea of heroes as they always had even thousands of years ago. Similarly, Gotham treads the line between being darkly inspiring and twisted and being a cliched case-of-the-week show, and even if the audience knows and expects that going in,can they still be drawn in by what’s happening on screen?

Yes. They can. This episode continues the story of Gordon on the lamb from the cops. It doesn’t just continue that. It, for the most part, wraps it up. People might consider that wrapping up a story like this in just forty minutes or so (less if you count the show’s various subplots) to be a cheat, but lest you forget that Gotham was good at wrapping up cases throughout the first season before the last act. Maybe it’s time to consider that this show is a satire of sorts of how quickly problems are solved in stand-alone episodes, and the satire is a bit sharper because in the ways that matter, everything about Gotham, save for the individual cases-of-the-week themselves, is all connected and serialized. It’s a bunch of one-off cases wrapped in a serialized drama wrapped in a satire wrapped in a conundrum, and the creators of the show haven’t bothered to ask the loyal Batman fans if they like chocolate and peanut butter together at the outset.

Gordon suspects someone in the police set him up, so with Bullock’s help he gets the tape from Internal Affairs of an incriminating phone call of someone who reported Gordon at the scene of Galavan’s murder.  It’s important to know going into this episode that the audience is already ahead of Gordon by design. He might not know Ed framed him, but the audience does, which is why it was smart of the producers to not drag it out. In a plot that is a mirror image of the “Mad Grey Dawn” plot-line where Ed framed Gordon for a murder Gordon actually committed, here, Gordon goes to Ed to help him clean up the tape that actually would point to Ed as the culprit. And it doesn’t take long for Gordon to figure it out. Meanwhile, I hope those folks in the Gotham writers’ room are all lighting up cigars.

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Ed Nygma’s plan becomes unfurled here!

Once Gordon knows that Ed is the guy, we kind of know how the episode goes down, save for the fact this plot-line somehow merges with the Bruce/ Selena story-line and we almost feel that it will merge with the Penguin story-line (it comes close but really doesn’t. I think it’s interesting that writers wanted us to think it might). Ultimately, while Ed is pretty deceitful, he’s not the master criminal yet that Riddler is as a foe of Batman, so it’s his own insecurities which draw him out to the open. The threads of this story-line get drawn together when Ed goes out into the woods to move the body of the girlfriend he killed some time ago. When he confronts Gordon, the writers probably expected some exasperation on the part of the audience when he explained the whole plan to Gordon who (along with the rest of the GCPD) followed him out there. Yet that was the point.  Gotham is not afraid to use cliches to examine the notion of whether it’s audience will fall for them. Campbell, eat your heart out.

Meanwhile, the Penguin realizes he’d been played for a fool by his father’s family. They killed his father to get the inheritance money, and he figures it out, and once he does, he becomes the very same Penguin we all know and love form the first season. Cue the maniacal laugh. Watch him test if there is poison on the dog. Watch him laugh about it. Watch him as he feeds his nemesis the roasted bodies of the other family members before he beheads her. All of this takes place in the posh of his father’s beautiful mansion. It’s all delightfully sinister, and pretty twisted, and the most memorable thing about this plot-line is still the decor in this mansion. Maybe it’s a redress of the interior of Wayne Manor set.

How do they do they do it? How do the creators of Gotham still gives us stories we’ve all seen over and over again, using all of the tropes and cliches they can, and yet make it all seem so twisted in ways that feel new?

Perhaps the closest thing to a dignified character moment in this episode comes at the end, when Bruce is told that the computer his father had been working on is now fixed, and he must choose to sever ties with Selena in order to keep her safe from the rabbit hole he is about to go down. It’s very much in keeping with his character and how much he cares about her. The two young actors were fantastic as usual.

Oh, and Barbara Kean is back. Hugo Strange decided to set her free onto the world just to see what she’s gonna do. Could be interesting…

My rating: 4.3/5

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