The following spoiler-free review covers an episode of Gotham that will not air until April 13th. However, if you wish to remain in the dark about this episode’s happenings, we strongly suggest you stop reading here. This episode is a big one.
As the first season of Fox’s horribly inconsistent but reasonably entertaining Gotham hurtles toward what promises to be an interesting season finale, we finally get a clear idea of where the showrunners are taking their new spin on Batman’s beloved mythos. The latest episode, titled, “Beasts of Prey”, marks a new high point for this struggling show and takes many of its most pivotal players and their stories in an interesting new direction that may just save Fox’s gamble from complete mediocrity. Will it save the show from a swift cancellation by a dissatisfied network? That remains to be seen, but it will grant it plenty of chances to rectify its many mistakes and improve upon itself in its second
As Fish Mooney plans and plots to escape her horrifying prison, Gordon and Bullock find themselves dealing with a cunning, sadistic serial killer known as the Ogre. Bullock urges Gordon to drop the case, knowing that the Ogre would come looking for Gordon and his family if he publicizes his investigation. Oswald Cobblepot busies himself with the procurement of a local bar that he believes will be where he finally kills his hated enemy, Maroni. Just another normal day in Gotham, right?
Despite my personal quibbles with Gotham, I do recognize that it has steadily improved since its disastrous batch of introductory episodes. The characters, particularly Gordon, Bullock, and Mooney, have grown more likable, more relatable, and more fun to watch onscreen, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever write when the show hit the small screen last year. If that’s not a victory, I don’t know what is.
“Beasts of Prey” puts Gotham‘s best qualities on full display, deftly blending mystery and mayhem with pulse-pounding action and chilling revelations that will send tremors ripping through Gotham’s filthy, crime-ridden streets. Ben McKenzie’s James Gordon steps closer to his comic book roots than he ever has before, his timid, self-conscious demeanor replaced with the same strong, clear-headed resolve that made his character a Batman staple in the first place. Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney also shines, finally stepping back into the role of leader in a completely different setting and with few resources.
While Gotham has upped the ante, increased the stakes, and finally introduced some interesting plot development, it still slows itself down with the same lazy, easily avoidable missteps. The forced name-dropping, bad dialogue, and unnecessary focus on Bruce Wayne that hurt its previous episodes are all painfully present, even rampant, in this outing. You’d think that the writers would take note of their creative fumbles and tweak their scripts to make their show more bearable, but instead they’ve continued to include what doesn’t work and toss what does.
Even if it fails to rescue Gotham from its own incompetence, “Beasts of Prey” stands tall above its lackluster predecessors as a reminder that this show still holds promise, no matter how deep that promise may be buried.
The next episode, “Under the Knife,” airs on Fox on April 20th. Here’s to hoping it’s as fun as this week’s episode turned out to be!