Gotham, Season 1, Episode 7, 'Penguin's Umbrella,' Review

11/04/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

Ok, so I was going to stop writing about Gotham, because it was almost completely intolerable, but this episode actually turned a lot around.  There were still some major issues, and it does nothing to change the way I feel about the first 6 episodes, but this new direction is fresh, and exciting, and I'm looking forward to the next episode for the first time yet.

The rest of this review will contain spoilers for Gotham

For the first time since the start of the show, Gotham has moved away from the procedural approach and finally attacked Jim Gordon head on, making him the primary antagonist.  Bullock even drops into the background for much of this episode.  Gotham finally feels like the show that was originally pitched, instead of this overstuffed bag of the adventures of lil' Batman and the entirety of Batman's rogues gallery.

One of the biggest problems with the first 6 episodes was that each character had a seemingly unrelated story arc, which meant there was very little continuity scene to scene, and almost nobody got their due.  Finally, all those arcs are closing in on a central story, so your brain doesn't have to reset after every commercial break.

The added cohesiveness of the story made a lot of the acting more tolerable as well, because each character fills their role, and doesn't overstep.  So, even though some characters, like Fish Mooney, aren't characters I particularly like, they are at least put in this box where they makes sense and don't pollute the rest of the show.

There are still some writing issues in relation to some dialogue, and just seemingly lazy story.  For example, apparently the GCPD is in possession of a number of signed blank warrants from the judge, but they only just become relevant this episode.  Also, Falcone goes to war with Maroni, jacking a truck that contains about $3 million in weapons.  Maroni's response is to attack a Falcone warehouse that has $1 million in goods.  After this, Falcone surrenders, even though he's still $2 million up.  It's a problem that's so lazy, it's entirely fixable by just changing the nearly arbitrary dollar amount specified, or leaving numbers out of it entirely, but instead, Falcone is made to cry uncle over an underwhelming counter attack from Maroni.

Another issue, is that the show continues to use the music, cinematography, and acting to build moments up, that end up having almost no payoff.  For example, when Gordon suits up to go arrest the Mayor and Falcone, he literally pulls out the big guns, then proceeds to do stuff that doesn't even necessarily require small guns.  In fact, a big gun is overkill and detrimental to the plan he was hatching.  Sure, the picture looks great, I used it at the top of the article, but why?  He wasn't assaulting the Falcone compound.  It's just weird.

There is also what appears to be a retcon where it turns out Penguin has been working for Falcone the whole time.  I feel like it has to be a retcon, because if it was a planned twist from the beginning, it was very poorly executed and presents many failed opportunities in the past 6 episodes.

I also take issue with the use of Victor Zasz.  There are many villains they could have used in his place, because they clearly wanted him almost in name only.  Sure, he uses a razor to mark his body for each kill, but he's also doing backflips and wielding a gun.  Zasz is Zasz because he uses a knife.  He slits the throats of his victims.  It's his thing.  It's like using Batman, but giving him boomerangs instead of batarangs.

Despite some major issues, though, I'm excited for next week.  Gordon is finally the one man force against corruption we have been waiting for, and the mob tension will hopefully continue to escalate.  This is a lot more the direction I signed up for.

One episode doesn't change everything, though.  They still have 6 horrendous episodes to make up for, but at least Gotham is pointed in the correct direction.  All it needs to do is follow the course it is set on by episode 7, and the quality should vastly increase.

Gotham, Episode 8, 'The Mast,' will air on Monday, November 10th, at 8/7c on FOX

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