Gotham 2:19 – Azrael
Perhaps the most interesting scene in “Azrael,” the latest episode of Gotham, comes not long after the new caped super-villain tries to kill Gordon. Eventually more cops show up, along with Bruce Wayne and Harvey Bullock, and the armored villain makes his escape, in a skittish fashion, along the walls of nearby buildings, his cape helping to shroud him in the shadows in the process. As the villain makes this rather theatrical getaway, we get a lingering shot of Bruce observing. Finally, Batman is coming together in this scene, as Bruce is able to get the inspiration for his future persona from this villain.
But that’s not how it went in the comics! It’s clear that the creators of Gotham couldn’t care less how it “went” in the comics. They are making a weekly live-action comic book of their own, one that is cheesy, violent, dark, strange, cartoonish, and wacky at the same time, while leaving room here and there for character growth. And now, as the second season rushes to a close, all of these bits of inspiration that is retelling the Batman mythos in a different way that is entirely just this side of center..
Jim Gordon isn’t subtle about his methods here for getting justice: he wants Hugo Strange, so the episode begins with him questioning him. He’ll need more than a few carefully calculated answers to put this guy away, but Strange realizes that he has to do something about Gordon and soon. In the last few episodes, Strange was bringing corpses in his secret laboratories back to life (don’t you just love mad scientists in superhero shows?) including the body of Theo Galavan, and here, he uses Galavan’s own family history as a member of the Dumas to give the new walking corpse it’s own sense of purpose: a manifestation of the angel of death, Azrael. Pretty interesting stuff, even if the episode spends a bit too much time in its early acts setting this up. The release of Galavan eventually, over the course of episode, is viewed by all of the main characters, be they on TV or in person, so that everyone has to come to terms with the fact that the dead at least seem to be coming back. It makes Bruce more determined, and for the burly police captain, maybe it will teach him that law enforcement in Gotham City is no longer as cut and dry as it is in a police procedural show. By the time Barnes really figures this out, however, Azrael has stabbed him, so we’ll see next episode if he makes it.
Watching a few Gotham reviews on YouTube, it seems that some pundits consider “Pinewood,” the previous episode, to be a filler episode, and, and with a real fierce villain running around the shadows with a sword and a cape in this episode would seem to indicate that this episode is the payoff. I disagree. “Azrael” was a fun episode, but it wasn’t quite as gratifying as finding out why the Waynes were killed and how deep and crazy the conspiracy was.
“Azrael” shows signs that Gotham is slowly but surely wanting to become more like the standard prime-time superhero show. After nearly two seasons of telling it’s own story the way it wants to, maybe they are finally going to give those people that just want “the good stuff” exactly what they think they want (big heroes and villains) it really is just a wait-and-see game. If everyone knows that there are supernatural things going on, will that dull the edge of the show?
Despite these questions, this was a really strong episode, and the fight scenes were well-photographed. Somehow, the Riddler’s plans to learn more about Arkham’s secrets (which leads him down into the Indian Hill facility underground) reminds me of pretty much any movie where a mental patient makes a break-out. Again, Gotham uses the cliches we all have seen before, but keeps turning the screws until the threads are still stripped bare. What gives me the most hope is that show was renewed for another season, so, despite appearances, they aren’t going to wrap up every thread by the time the season finale comes along.
David Mazouz continues to own his role as Brice Wayne here.
My Ratting: 4.2/5