Monday, February 23, 2015

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - Fish Has an Eye Opening Meeting with the Manager & Jim Battles Bank Robbers in 'Red Hood'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 1.17 "Red Hood"

Following several bank robberies, Gordon and Bullock investigate the Red Hood gang. Selina continues to bond with Barbara. Fish tries to reclaim her position in the underworld.

The best thing that Jada Pinkett Smith will likely do on this season of Gotham happened in "Red Hood." Without any doubt, she stabbed herself in the eye, it then rolled around on the ground and then she stepped on it. She did all of this just so the manager of the facility where she is being held prisoner couldn't get what he wanted. It's a ridiculous twist. And yet, it helps showcase just how much she is willing to do to be in charge. It shows desperation on her part. The only way she can keep these negotiations in her favor is if she takes away the thing that the manager and his boss, Dr. Dulmacher, want the most - her eyes. It's campy but it's a meaningful bit of character development.

I wasn't sure how to react when Fish was first taken. She failed in trying to overthrow Falcone from power. She had to escape Gotham in order to survive. She vowed to return a stronger person than she was before. That was a journey that I wasn't sure could be as powerful if we followed her on it. She could have spent a few episodes away and then returned a changed person. The way that Gotham decided to take things hasn't really produced a ton of meaningful moments until "Red Hood." And yet, we are seeing her become a more hardened version of herself because of what's happened to her. She has always been portrayed as a powerful character, but the emotions have always read as hollow. Her fall from power has been the best use of the character so far. Even though I had a ridiculous fit of laughing when she stomped on her eye, it was a solid and memorable moment.

The Fish stuff is only a small part of the episode though. It's only a handful of scenes and ends abruptly after that act of self-mutilation. The bulk is spent on Jim and Harvey's latest police investigation - the Red Hood Gang who rob banks and give a portion of the money back to the people. Ideas are on the minds of the characters and the show about this story but it all falls flat. Facing criminals who are respected by the public has to be a tough task for the detectives tasked with stopping them before they seriously hurt someone. That's a small part of the plot. Just a passing line in fact. The imagery of what the red hood represents has lasting complications for the police and the criminals even after the man wearing it is killed. This investigation feels so hollow because every single criminal is killed in the end. How is that effective police work? It's not. That should be a big deal and it's just not.

Moreover, Jim understands how dangerous it can be to keep the red hood a part of this community. The criminals of this particular gang can be arrested or killed. But if someone new puts on that red hood, they'll all have a cause to join in and understand. After the big final confrontation, everyone on this crew is dead and Jim unmasks the man in the red hood to see the disillusioned man underneath. And then, he just leaves the red hood behind completely forgetting the danger it may present to the future. That makes no sense. Yes, he did just get that call about Alfred being in the hospital. But how could he just leave it behind and not make sure that it was collected as evidence? He at least had an excuse. Harvey just walked away because he wanted a danish. Great efforts have been made to make Harvey more than just a cop character cliche. But when he's this nonchalant about the investigation, it makes him seem like he doesn't care. We know that he cares about this job but this episode backtracks so many things just so Harvey can get a quippy line. And just so the audience can get the symbolism of someone new picking up the same red hood that started this "empowering" movement. The idea of the hood will still be important for this city moving forward. It doesn't have to be the same hood that started it all moving from person to person in order to carry that effect.

Lasting complications can pop out of unexpected places. At times, it feels like Gotham understands that while at other times it doesn't - typically in the span of the same episode. That's fully on display in the Bruce subplot this week. After his big meeting with the Wayne Enterprises board, he's dealing with their move against him. It doesn't present itself as that until the very end. And yet, it does showcase that his actions have consequences that put the people he cares about in harms way. Alfred is one of the few people he has left in this world. The two have formed a fantastic bond over the course of this season so far. At first, this story feels like a deeper dive into Alfred's past military service with a friend of his coming to the mansion to share war stories. He's fallen on hard times and Bruce and Alfred are more than happy and generous to help him out. A threat can come from anywhere. He was truly there to spy on Bruce and how much information he really has about the shady stuff happening with the rest of the board. And now, Alfred is in the hospital clinging to life because Bruce just had to proudly display all of his hard work for anyone who strolls into that room to see.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Red Hood" was written by Danny Cannon and directed by Nathan Hope.
  • I like the idea of Barbara and Selina becoming friends - if Barbara has to be given a story, of course. The execution of it is just so horrible. What is even the point to all of this? To show that Barbara is in a weird funk that has no grounded explanation? Or for Selina to learn how to use her sexuality to her advantage?
  • Oswald failing at running a night club is also a story that feels like it has no purpose. He's a character in stasis right now. He's not a part of anything big and just needs something to do before needing to do stuff for other major characters later in the season.
  • So no police officer could hit the wearer of the red hood in the final shootout until he ran out of bullets and Jim got a shot. Then they all suddenly had perfect accuracy.
  • That Jim-Bruce hug though.