Monday, November 30, 2015

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - Jim Gordon Has a Deadly Confrontation with Theo Galavan in 'Worse Than a Crime'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 2.11 "Worse Than a Crime"

When Bruce Wayne is kidnapped, Gordon must look to some unlikely and dangerous allies for help. It's a battle of the villains and not everyone makes it out alive.

Gotham has had a much stronger narrative drive this season. The story of the second season has still had significant problems. The show still struggles juggling its large cast and making sure all the stories in a particular hour go together. There were also some stories that did absolutely nothing but show that the series has such a strong willingness to embrace the silliness from its comic book roots. The arc of Theo Galavan plotting to take over the city by killing Bruce in retribution of his scorned ancestors was simultaneously compelling and silly. All of its sounds a little too crazy. Galavan's big plan with the Order of St. Dumas is to kill nine people - the last of which being Bruce - in order to restore Gotham to the city it used to be. There was no way that could have been enough to change the city. In fact, not even Galavan taking over Wayne Enterprises could likely bring about much change. So the actual story and motivation of Galavan was very silly. The monks were as well. And yet, the threat they poised was very intense and forced the main characters into some very compromising positions. That helped the show better find itself in its characters. Again, some are so much better than others. But more of an effort was being made to do a compelling main story that had major consequences for Jim Gordon.

All season long, Gordon has been told he has this monster inside him by both Barbara and Lee. Over the course of these eleven episodes, he has spiraled a little bit. He has compromised himself more than he ever thought he would on this job. He was wrapped with guilt over what happened to Barbara and how he wanted to end it for her. And now, he is actually a fugitive working outside of the law in order to deal with Galavan. That's very crucial to the understanding of this episode. He is no longer a detective with the GCPD. Penguin saved him from certain death by Galavan. They are both personally motivated to stopping Galavan - Penguin for murdering his mother and Jim to protect the city. This is a kind of evil that Jim hasn't faced on the job before. It has corrupted his soul. He's willing to push boundaries if it means bringing this mad man to justice. Everything he has done so far is to get Galavan convicted for his crimes. When that didn't work, Jim saw just how much influence Galavan has and how much more sinister his plans for the city were.

Jim teams up with Penguin now because it's his only hope in stopping Galavan before he can enact his final plan for the city. He doesn't reach out to any of his friends in the police force. This has become personal for him. He's willing to team up with this criminal organization if it means taking out the biggest threat to the city. That's something that is immediately challenged by Lee when she shows up at the apartment. She sees Jim heading down this very dangerous and monstrous path. That's not something she can support - especially once she reveals that she is pregnant with Jim's baby. That was a somewhat expected twist considering Morena Baccarin is pregnant in real life. That reveal pulls Jim out of this mission for a little bit. In that moment, he is thinking about more than just himself. He is willing to flee the city with her in order to be a family that can come back from such darkness.

The only thing that forces Jim to continue on with this raid is the news that Galavan has kidnapped Bruce. Bruce is the "son of Gotham" the monks kept referring to. That's the only reasonable explanation for why Jim is allowed to go on with the mission. Lee understands that Bruce still means something to Jim. He may not have solved the Wayne murders yet. But Jim can't let anything happen to Bruce - especially when it's someone as sinister as Galavan doing the harm. So Jim returns to Penguin along with Alfred, Selina and Bullock. They all attack the site where Galavan and the monks are performing the final ritual. They go in guns blazing and are victorious rather easily. It's hilarious how the head monk played by Ron Rifkin dies. He jumps in the air to attack and is brought down by a bullet from Bullock - who had trouble making it up all the stairs. Bruce is safe and once again in the protection of Alfred.

And yet, Jim doesn't stop as soon as Bruce is rescued. No, he continues forward to chase Galavan in order to bring him to justice. In that moment, Galavan is cornered with no way out. Jim is once again faced with the choice of killing him or arresting him. At first, he chooses the law. Captain Barnes soon storms into the room. That's the influence that Jim has in the moment. But soon, that plan goes awry. Penguin knocks the captain out and convinces Jim to take Galavan out to the docks to deal with. It's a moment that shows just how personal and monstrous Jim has become this season. Penguin was always that way. He manipulated things for his own benefit. He has formed this dynamic with Jim that is mutually beneficial - but still not something Jim is proud of. Jim just stands there and watches as Penguin kicks Galavan repeatedly. This is a horrifying sight. But it's Jim who is the true danger. Instead of stopping it and bringing Galavan in to stand trial, Jim shoots Galavan in the head. That effectively ends this war. In the process though, it takes Jim over a line that will obviously weigh on him moving forward. It's a decision that feels earned by the show. This inner conflict has been brewing and now it's come out in a truly lethal and unjustifiable way. It complicates the character in a way that he may never be able to get out of.

Jim killing Galavan is a dark ending for this story. And yet, it's not the end of this midseason finale. It's still fine when Jim reunites with Lee outside of Gotham. He has changed because of this experience. She is aware of that. However, he still asks her to marry him and she says yes. They both believe that this darkness is over. Despite all the horrifying things that have just happened, they are hopeful that this moment is the start of the rest of their lives. That's not going to be the case though as the concluding moments actually point out. It's going to be more complicated for Jim to get his job back after everything that went down in "Worse Than a Crime." But there's still the tease that the Galavan story isn't over with yet just because he's dead. His body is taken to the Indian Hill facility where Dr. Strange has plans for it. That's ominous. Plus, the final reveal shows that Mr. Freeze has descended upon Gotham as well. Just because one evil has been taken out doesn't mean Gotham is saved. In fact, it only makes way for even more sinister plots. That's slightly annoying. This episode didn't need those final teases. The ending with Jim was satisfactory enough because it was all about the character. Those two final reveals are appealing to the comic book fans who recognize those character names and what they might have planned for the city. It's just a less personal way to end the season for the moment.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Worse Than a Crime" was written by Bruno Heller and directed by Jeffrey Hunt.
  • It's somewhat weird that Nygma is really casual about letting his co-workers know that he is an associate of Penguin's. Jim wakes up in Ed's apartment with Nygma and Penguin seeming like two old friends. Nygma then tells Lee, Bullock and Alfred where to find Jim when they need him.
  • The Bruce-Silver story never really worked at all this season. So, it's a bit confounding that it has such a huge prominence in this episode. But hey, she delayed Bruce's execution for the second necessary for Jim to bust through the door.
  • Also, the fact that Tabitha saves Silver instead of letting Theo get away rang particularly false. Those two never really had a close dynamic. Plus, it's horrible that Tabitha's reasonings are largely just saying that Theo has changed too much for her. This was just the excuse the writers gave to explain how Theo could get so cornered in the end.
  • Lucius Fox has fixed the hard drive in Bruce's father's secret lair. Now that Bruce is free, he can finally use that to learn more about his parents' murders and if the information he got from Silver was really the truth.
  • Captain Barnes sure is getting hurt a lot lately, isn't he?
  • This is the last episode of Gotham until February 29. The hiatus is a good thing because it means FOX can run the show straight through with no interruptions. That did help the first half of the season - even though I binged on the last six episodes over the weekend before the finale.