Monday, November 17, 2014

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - Gordon and Bullock Track a Bomb Maker While Bruce Bonds with Selina in 'Harvey Dent'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 1.09 "Harvey Dent"

Trying to close the Wayne murder case, a young Harvey Dent encourages Gordon to team up with Mayor James. Meanwhile, Oswald makes contact with Fish's secret weapon, Liza.

The case-of-the-week structure Gotham has adapted in its early episodes has largely just felt like the show giving Jim, Bullock and the rest of the police characters something to do for the week. They would be the primary focus in each episode while developments would simmer in the background for the ongoing gang war and Bruce learning about life. It's no wonder "Penguin's Umbrella" was the most successful episode of the series to date. It didn't feature a case-of-the-week and all of the various elements of the show were tightened so that they all impacted one another. Since then, the show has returned to episodic investigations of ridiculousness.

However, the investigation in "Harvey Dent" is in direct correlation to the ongoing gang elements. For the entire series so far, Fish has been plotting to take Falcone out as the leader of the city's top organized crime family. That has largely just resulted in her sending in a girl to infiltrate his personal circle as his new girlfriend. That's not all that exciting. Moreover, Liza gets made by Oswald so that relationship is even more doomed to failure now. The show needs to keep presenting ways to make Fish seem as smart and capable as the other villainous conspirators on the show. All of her hopes and dreams can't be resting on one girl getting close enough to Falcone.

Fortunately though, she has other plans in motion. She arranges a group of Russians to break expert bomb maker - and mentally ill criminal - Ian Hargrove (Leslie Odom, Jr.) out of police custody in order to hit the place where Falcone stores a lot of his money. The case starts off as another investigation that lands on Jim and Bullock's desk. They have to figure out who hit the transport vehicle that allowed Ian to escape and what their ultimate goals are after they hit a building in order to get even more explosives. They make references that someone must be financing this operation. But that is never their chief focus. They just want to save Ian from unwillingly using his talents for evil purposes and stop the people who are forcing him to do it. The audience becomes aware that Fish has organized all of this in order to hurt Falcone. When Jim and Bullock swoop in to stop the truck from making off with the money, Gilzean detonates the bomb attached to the truck effectively killing all the criminals while still making sure Falcone loses all of this money. Jim and Bullock know that it wasn't Ian's bomb that went off in the end and there's no clear indication that they will investigate any further into this case. They should but I have no clue if they will or if they will just move on to the next danger.

Additionally, as the title suggests, Harvey Dent makes his debut on Gotham. I like Nicholas D'Agosto as an actor but there just isn't a character here yet. His introduction is basically just showing off his defining characteristic with flipping a coin while also alluding to the villain he will one day become - Two-Face. That's all fine but it doesn't work within the structure of the show right now. Why does he have to become a part of this universe nine episodes in? What valuable thing does he lend to the overall show? He's shown as a new ally for Jim but that plot thread never goes anywhere meaningful because Jim gets pulled into the bomb investigation. He's a dangerous ally too. There's a darkness laying just beneath the surface that may come across as too much too soon. We should be able to trust this guy. Montoya and Allen work with him and claim he's on the good side and then the audience sees how dangerous he threatens people. That just doesn't track really well. He should be established on the show and then begin his trajectory to his iconic character. The slow burn could have been really rewarding.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Harvey Dent" was written by Ken Woodruff and directed by Karen Gaviola.
  • I really enjoyed Bruce and Selina together. They are connected through both being witnesses to the Wayne murders. However, they come from two vastly different walks of life. She has street smarts and he has the knowledge that comes with living on a wealthy estate. He's always looking to learn more and perhaps deal with the corruption throughout the city. And yet, how could he possibly do that if all of his knowledge of the city is second hand?
  • It also seems like this is the first time Bruce has smiled and just had fun following his parents murders. Selina brings out an interesting side in him.
  • Oswald learns about Liza and Fish's plan and he's content with the knowledge. It's not particularly thrilling. And yet, Oswald always makes things better.
  • Barbara moves out of her wonderful penthouse to take a break from Jim and the painful memories from Falcone and Zsasz and somehow winds up in Montoya's bed. She continues to make no sense to me.
  • Mayor James has also officially opened the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Lots of prisoners are being sent there too. Won't that be fun in the future?