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TV Review: Gotham S3E11 Mad City: Beware the Green-Eyed Monster

season_3_posterAs the virus begins to spread in Gotham, the laboratory that is developing a cure is compromised. Mario and Gordon face off before the wedding, Selina meets an unexpected face and Barbara comes to Nygma with information about Isabella,

Gotham continues its ups and downs this year with yet another uneven episode that features a lot of good and a lot of bad.

The bad is Gordon’s pursuit of Mario who he’s convinced is infected and will do harm to Leslie and wants to stop the wedding. It’s a bit all over the place with a set-up that’s revealed and so complicated it’s eye rolling. To say more would be to spoil things, and I do my best to avoid that. Lets just say as you go down the rabbit hole things get more and more detached. Keeping it simple would have done this plotline a lot of good.

The other issue is that key scenes shows the acting hole actor Ben McKenzie has dug himself. Unfortunately, he does angry, and that’s about it as he channels Christian Bale’s Batman with growling and teeth clenched. There’s some scenes that’d be fantastic with a different style, but the opportunity to show some dramatic flair and let McKenzie act isn’t taken. How it all ends leads up to a direction that feels predictable and a bit to soap opera.

Then there’s Bruce’s mission to figure out what the key is for and his assault against the Court of Owls. Where to begin with this one other than it feels completely insane and reiterates the character should have been sent off to boarding school a long time ago. A Mission Impossible type undertaking is thrown in there complete with over the top tightrope action. The mysterious person who I think is supposed to be one of the Court of Owls’ assassins but looks like Kato also shows up to make things more complicated. Overall, it’s a stinker of a plot.

Then there’s the sort of good part of the episode which focuses on Edward Nygma and the death of Isabella. Barbara of course has to stir things up so she tells Edward what she’s figured out (seriously, she got it before the guy who’s supposed to be good at this stuff?) and that leads Edward into crazy territory again. How it all plays out is really good and hopefully sets the series back up to where it’s strongest when it focuses on the mob flavored stories.

The episode is the usual mix. There’s some good. There’s lots of bad. And the series as a whole feels like it still doesn’t know what it wants to be. As the season goes on it feels more like the campy nature of Schumacher is winning out though it’s diving more into the visuals and color palette of Burton. Maybe at some point we’ll get the Batman we deserve, but it more feels like someone is looking down and whispering “no” right now.

Overall Rating: 6.70

TV Review: Gotham S3E10 Time Bomb

season_3_posterOn the eve of their rehearsal dinner, a threat to Mario (guest star James Carpinello) and Lee (Morena Baccarin) is exposed, and Falcone (guest star John Doman) looks to Jim for help. Meanwhile, Nygma seeks revenge and Bruce learns more about The Court of Owls.

Gotham is interesting as it’s all forward with the Court of Owls, the mysterious villains who we saw teased at the end of last season and have been in and out of this one. A hell of a lot is put forward and while a lot of it works, all together it’s a bit of a mess and a plot that’s so over the top it’s just laughable.

The reason I peg it as silly is that this episode revolves around that key that was found last episode and that Ivy stole. That has to do with the Owls, so it’s a bunch of coincidences that all comes back to the murder of Bruce’s parents. As I said, a bit silly and a stretch.

But, the episode gets back to some basics which it does really well.

Falcone stands out and we learn even he has something to do with the Owls. There’s some other aspects of Snyder and Capullo’s run added to the comic series. Overall, it gets away from the silly villain with powers and is more focused on the mob like aspect which is where I think the series is strongest.

There’s also Falcone’s son and his marriage and someone trying to kill him… over course the Owls are involved in that too. Again, a stretch.

Nygma gets his revenge for the people he thinks is behind the murder of his girlfriend. That’s pretty twisted and gets Edward back to his crazy self in many ways. Where that goes will be really fascinating, as there’s something about who behind it all that’s discovered by certain someones who are willing to do something with it.

But, what why isn’t Penguin doing more Mayoral things? That seems to have been dropped.

The episode is better than the last few and there’s some really good here. The episode feels like it has an actually vision for once instead of a bunch of different tones mashed all together. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of improvements and these plotlines actually play out in a way that’s not so coincidental and instead are just entertaining.

Overall Rating: 7.20

TV Review: Gotham S3E9 Mad City: Executioner

season_3_posterGordon and Bullock become suspicious of Barnes, and comb through evidence of the murder at Lee and Mario’s engagement party. Nygma goes to Penguin when he hasn’t heard from Isabella. Meanwhile, Ivy reveals her identity to Selina and Bruce, but quickly leads them to trouble.

Gotham seems to close one storyline while kicking up another. This week mostly focuses on Barnes going all judge, jury, and executioner as he runs around town. That story gets put into overdrive as Gordon and Bullock figure out something is up.

Barnes is pretty much the Judge from the animated Batman series and it’s an interesting character that will hopefully come back at some point. The story feels like it wraps up in some ways, but also leaves things wide open to continue as well. It’s probably the strongest part of the episode and as goofy as it began, it wraps up in a pretty solid way.

Then there’s the death of Isabella which Edward becomes suspicious over. As a whole, this plot line has been silly and the bromance between Penguin and Nygma hits a different level that continues to be odd. It all feels like there was a concept here and the writers weren’t quite sure where to go with it all.

Finally there’s the grown up Ivy which continues to be creepy for so many reasons. There’s a kid in the body of an adult and that together makes for a combination that makes me so uneasy. Where they have it all going I can’t forget she’s a teenage kid!!!! Seriously, did no one pause to think what they were doing here!? It doesn’t help that in growing her up, they also sexed up the character to a level that’s on full display. This is Poison Ivy, but the sexiness just makes me want to scrub the ickiness of it all off. Such a horrible idea.

Overall, a mixed bag of an episode. There’s some good acting. There’s some good action. And it’s one of the stronger episodes of an uneven season. We’ll see where it goes from here, but it’s clear the season is enterting a brand new phase after this episode.

Overall Rating: 7.15

TV Review: Gotham S3E8 Mad City: Blood Rush

season_3_posterBarnes (Michael Chiklis) feels the effects of a recent incident and begins to go mad. Meanwhile, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is out of his depth in his relationship with Isabella (guest star Chelsea Spack) and Carmine Falcone (guest star John Doman) throws Lee (Morena Baccarin) and Mario (guest star James Carpinello) an engagement party.

Gotham doubles down on Barnes going all the Thing in this episode which has a plastic surgeon being at the center of things. It’s a weird episode where the “villain” is just a foil to for Barnes to rage out and whatever is infecting him to get played out more.

That’s a big part of the episode and we start getting the first steps of how Gordon will eventually become Commissioner, because lets face it, after what Barnes does in this episode he won’t be in that position very long.

It’s an interesting direction for the series but still feels like it’s still not clicking especially when we’ve seen the series do really well when it focused on the mob war. Whenever it gets into the weird powers the series slips a bit and this episode is not an exception. I don’t know what it is, but this entire plotline just feels like a means to the end, getting Barnes out of his job.

There’s also lots of relationship things going on in the episode. Of course, there’s Lee and Mario and Gordon being a third wheel, but the majority of the drama is Nygma/Isabella/Penguin which is still playing out and I still don’t know what to think. The idea is really interesting but the whole Nygma killing the last girl he was interested in and Isabella having no issues with that is just bizarre to me. Plus her looking like his murder victim is even weirder.

And weird I think sums up a lot of this season. From Barnes being infected to the Nygma relationship, to Mad Hatter being just insane, the series has taken a strange dark turn somewhere. It’s better than the beginning of the season, but it’s still not good and nowhere near how good it should be.

The episode is a bit of a transition one taking us from the previous story arc and moving us into the next one and I’m not really sure as to what we can expect other than Hulking Barnes. There’s more of a focus on Gordon and a series focused on how he finds redemption and becomes the Commissioner we know would be good. This could be the start of that, but with so much that’s happened, it’s a struggle to find out.

Overall Rating: 7.05

TV Review: Gotham S3E7 Mad City: Red Queen

season_3_posterAfter coming in contact with a substance by the hand of Mad Hatter, Jim Gordon gets led on a psychedelic trip and must confront his past, present and future. Meanwhile, Penguin struggles with Nygma’s new relationship.

Gotham is an interesting episode in the fact it focuses almost entirely on Tetch and his quest for vengeance with a side of Penguin/Nygma that sets up a future storyline to come.

There’s a lot you just have to let go with the episode. There’s this stuff called Red Queen that feels like it comes out of nowhere and is a bit too convenient and Hatter’s taunting of Gordon is a little odd. Plus, Hatter’s plan as a whole doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (and lets face it, his only motivation is revenge against Gordon).

It’s a bit odd due to all of that, but it’s fairly entertaining in many ways. What’s really interesting though is it feels like the definitive end to this plotline with a long way to go. I have no idea if we’ll see more of Tetch and there’s the whole thing with his sister’s blood that’s still not completely ended, but still, it gives the season as a whole a vibe like there’s chapters to it.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing too of things to come. There’s the mysterious woman who we saw at the beginning of the season who returns in this episode. Comic book fans will know what’s up, but it’s clear the rest of the season will focus more on this plotline than the Indian point individuals or Tetch. At least, I hope so, because as the season has moved away from its silly beginning, its gotten much better in many ways.

And then there’s Penguin and Nygma. That weird relationship has turned into a love triangle and I’m still not sure exactly what the think. Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin is still fantastic in his role, but it’s a bit odd to see Penguin and Riddler be anything more than two villains.

As I said, a better episode that feels like it’s driving the rest of the season into a certain direction. Hopefully it’s better than what we’ve seen so far.

Overall Rating: 7.35

TV Review: Gotham S3E6 Mad City: Follow the White Rabbit

season_3_posterMad Hatter sets his eyes on his next victims, forcing Jim Gordon to make some tough decisions. Meanwhile, Penguin and Nygma’s relationship evolves, and a familiar face comes back into Nygma’s life.

Gotham his season feels like it has a bit of an identity crisis as it doesn’t know what it wants to be and what it wants to focus on. There was Mooney and Indian Hill. There’s Bruce’s dupe. There’s the Mad Hatter. There’s Penguin as Mayor. Each episode feels like it focuses on something else in a series that suffers from ADHD.

This episode attempts to focus on two things, Gordon and the Mad Hatter and the bromance between Penguin and Nygma.

The Gordon/Mad Hatter duel is the strongest thing of the episode and series with interesting acting and some twists and turns that are actually frightening in some ways. This is a psychotic villain who’s obsessed with Gordon and wants to hurt him like he thinks Gordon has done. There’s a strangeness to it all and as things spiral, it’s the most entertaining with performances that both enthrall and scare a bit. There’s also some twists, especially at the end as the game becomes more and more deadly and the stakes rise at each level. It also forces Jim to face his feelings with his two latest loves as to which he cares more about.

Speaking of love, people will either love or hate the Penguin/Nygma plotline after this episode. Last episode there was some hints of a bit more than a bromance and this episode ups that to whole other levels with a Penguin that’s gay? Bi? It’s not quite laid out, but it’s a new take on that classic character. I’m not sure how I feel, but when I yelled at the screen last episode for them to kiss, I wasn’t that far off.

The episode has some good and it has some bad in the usual mix of a show that doesn’t know what it wants to be. There’s some solid acting as usual, it’s the story that tends to make no sense for the series or characters. Still, the season is stronger than last year, though that’s not saying a whole lot. If it could just focus a bit more, then it’d be something that’s really a must to watch.

Overall Rating: 7.45

TV Review: Gotham S3E5 Mad City: Anything For You

season_3_posterCrime in Gotham is at an all-time high, as Penguin struggles to uphold his promises to the city. Meanwhile, Butch goes down a dark path with the infamous Red Hood Gang and Bruce begins to investigate Ivy’s whereabouts.

Gotham has its strongest episode of the season as it gets back to its roots of gang fighting and away from freak of the week in some ways.

Most of the episode revolves around Penguin being elected Mayor and his dealing with the crime that has run rampant in the city. He’s attempting to look good but a new Red Hood gang is looking to cause trouble.

But, the real thrust of the episode is about the inner workings of his crew. They’re not getting along as various folks jockey to be Penguin’s number two… or do they really want to be number one? It’s an interesting episode when it’s focused on that.

There’s more thrown in there too.

We also have the search for Ivy, Bruce deciding what he should do as far as his feelings for Selina, and there’s Alice’s blood. It all comes together for the best episode of the season, but it still has a lot of bumps. I think the series’ struggle with identity continues as it still doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be campy, scary, or some gothic/noir thing. It bounces around with different tones throughout the episode, as many of them has done.

Still, it’s an improvement as the series moves away from the X-Men aspects of the series and the focus on proto-Batman villains. I don’t think it’ll last, but at least we get a bit of a break.

Overall Rating: 7.35

TV Review: Gotham S3E4 Mad City: New Day Rising

season_3_posterPenguin gains power as he narrows in on the nomination for Mayor of Gotham. Meanwhile, Gordon turns Alice (guest star Naian Gonzalez Norvind) into the GCPD for the bounty. Also, Bruce and Alfred race to find Bruce’s doppleganger after learning he’s assumed Bruce’s identity.

Gotham is a bit mixed in tonight’s episode. There’s the election, there’s the Mad Hatter, there’s Bruce’s doppleganger, it’s all packed in to an hour of television and the various plotlines make things very uneven.

Lets start with the Madhatter story which has him recruiting some help to retrieve his sister, plus Gordon is still under his influence too. There’s just a creepiness to this whole story that in today’s climate comes off horribly. The end of the episode doesn’t help matters at all only making things worse in many ways.

Benedict Samuel as Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter is solid in the role though. He brings a really interesting style to the classic character, I just wish he was given something a bit more interesting and not so abusive.

Bruce’s doppleganger continues to be the weakest part of the series mainly due to lack of acting and the story as a whole is just silly. Who knows where it’s going, but I just don’t care as it feels so much more at home in the X-Men universe than it does in Batman. I’m positive that the plot line will intersect with Fish Mooney and Hugo Strange again, but at this point I just want it to wrap up.

Finally there’s the election which actually has some payoff this episode. My biggest gripe is there wasn’t more of this! This is seriously the quickest election I’ve ever seen and there’s not enough done with the ramp up. It’s the most interesting thing going on with the show and the election is decided tonight. What’s weird is if you put it together with the timeline of other events it’s maybe been a day or two since the announcement that Oswald was running… um, k, that doesn’t work.

This is an episode where things needed to be stretched out and others sped up because they’re so bad. As I said, a mixed bag that shows the good and bad of an uneven series.

Overall Rating: 6.95

TV Review: Gotham S3E3 Mad City: Look Into My Eyes

season_3_posterHypnotist Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) arrives in Gotham to search for his sister, Alice (guest star Naian Gonzalez Norvind), and hires Gordon to help find her. Meanwhile, Penguin decides to run for mayor and Bruce’s doppelganger begins to channel him, causing some confusion around town.

Gotham improves with this episode that moves away from the “X-Men” aspects we saw in the first two episodes, it instead gives us the seeds of some new storylines that might actually be entertaining.

The Mad Hatter comes to Gotham, the latest in classic Batman villains to find their way to the small screen. While Tetch in the comics has often been depicted as a short twitchy man, this version feels like he has more in common with Ezra Miller in looks. He’s also an interesting person using his abilities to get what he needs and wants while trying to find his sister. There’s lots of potential here and as a plotline to give Gordon something to do, it works and works well. Samuel as Tetch/Mad Hatter is creepy enough bringing an engaging style to the character and show.

For Gordon we also get the return of Leslie Thompkins, which was shown at the end of the previous episode. We find out more what she’s been up to and there’s a twist there I didn’t see coming at all. While this at first feels like a typical story, there’s something more revealed that makes it a bit more interesting.

Then there’s Penguin who has decided to run for Mayor of Gotham, a plot line we’ve seen in films and comics before. We’ve seen it done, but this feels like it’ll have more in common with the mob story in early seasons than the plot of Batman Returns. It’s interesting and gives Robin Lord Taylor a chance to shine on the screen. His portrayal of the Penguin continues to be a highlight of the series.

The episode has a lot of small details that works really well too, especially Erin Richards as Barbara Keen and Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma. Keen is a character I’ve hated, but she gets her crazy on here that works and Smith is always entertaining as Nygma.

The bad continues to be David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne who now has double duty as his long haired emo mysterious copy. We learn a bit more about this plot, but so far it falls flat mostly due to Mazouz’s acting which just doesn’t work. It feels like he’s trying to play too old and/or it just comes off flat. Add in a story that’s just weird to add into everything else and you have the outlier of what could be an interesting episode.

A lot of good here in what’s been a bizarre season that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Maybe the first two were the anomaly and this is more what we should expect and I hope so, because this is a massive improvement over the first two episodes of the year.

Overall Rating: 7.15

TV Review: Gotham S3E2 Mad City: Burn the Witch

season_3_posterFish Mooney (guest star Jada Pinkett Smith) takes matters into her own hands to locate Hugo Strange (guest star BD Wong), forcing Gordon to reluctantly team up with journalist Valerie Vale (guest star Jamie Chung) to find her. Penguin rises in popularity after criticizing the work of the GCPD and Bruce’s investigation of the Court of Owls is compromised. Meanwhile, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) is reintroduced into Gotham city.

Gotham is an interesting one with an episode that feels like it’d fit quite well with X-Men: The Last Stand. The search for Fish continues as Fish continues to search for Strange. Gordon makes deals with Vale and the GCPD takes on Fish’s gang leading to a battle in the latter part of the episode.

It’s an odd episode due to that final part which feels like I should expect Magneto to walk in at any moment and give a speech as to why he doesn’t have his mark. I mean, you’ve got a speedster in black leather wearing a lower mask covering some of her face. It doesn’t get more X-Men than that. All that was missing was someone saying the word “mutant” and politicians railing against them (though we get the Penguin to do that, so we sort of have that).

A confrontation with Fish is what a lot of this episode is about, and even then that is just a step to whatever comes next when it comes to her. This all feels like a series of events as opposed to a solid ongoing narrative.

The closest we get to a narrative instead of events is Bruce’s dealing with the mysterious group who is manipulating Wayne Enterprises from behind the scenes. Comic fans will know them as the Court of Owls, who stand out partially due to their anonymity and their masks. Of course that’s ruined within minutes as the person Bruce is talking to and we’ve only seen briefly removes her mask. It kind of kills the vibe of the group and the confrontation is so early in the season it also kills the mystery itself. This was a story that lasts less than two episodes. Way to kill that reveal and build up really quickly.

And then there’s the return of Ivy who is aged up now and that’s disturbing for a whole bunch of reasons. We’ll see how far they go with her character in future episodes and how creepy it is when you think about it. This episode though doesn’t give me high hopes there.

Gotham is currently the best X-Men television series on right now that’s not animated. As far as being a Batman series… that’s debatable.

Overall Rating: 6.05

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