If someone were to ask what kind of show Gotham is, just describe this week’s episode: Jim Gordon fought a monk, and Penguin clogged Riddler’s toilet! In all seriousness, this was a pretty good episode. The ramp-up to the midseason finale is underway, so "Son of Gotham" benefited from a sense of momentum that had been missing since "The Last Laugh".
Warning: this review contains spoilers.
The main plot saw Gordon investigate murders related to the Order of St. Dumas, while digging up dirt on Galavan to ensure that he gets put away. I don’t think any of us expected Galavan to be sent to jail for good, especially with it hinging on the testimony of a joke of a mayor like Aubrey James. Still, the scene where Galavan was exonerated was very effective, especially the part where Gordon snapped and punched him in the face.
I must say, though, that the payoff of Galavan’s plan was not as good as its setup. The first act with the Maniax was great. The second act, with the mayoral campaign and the attempt to take over Wayne Enterprises, both to get back what was stolen from his family, I also liked. Good motivation, strong plan. But the final act is… Gotham being overrun by warrior monks? Who don’t seem deadlier than an average villain of the week? Huh. OK, I guess.
I was also annoyed by The Son of Gotham‘s reliance on the villain monologue cliché. Galavan had Gordon prisoner and could have killed him at any moment, but instead he paused to explain his entire plan. Plenty of comic book stories pull off this trope, but something about this instance rubbed me the wrong way. Why have a detective like Gordon spend the whole episode piecing clues together only to have Galavan spoonfeed the big picture to him at the end? Worse, the answer itself—the son of Gotham being Bruce Wayne—wasn’t a very impactful moment because we’ve known for a while that Galavan was after him. So it was less a reveal and more a case of Gordon catching up to what the audience already knew.
On the plus side, Galavan got to show off his physical prowess when he beat down Gordon after inviting him to attack. But then he made another supervillain mistake and didn’t stay around to make sure he was dead, leaving only henchmen. I’m fine with plot armour when it’s masked well, but this just stuck out. In fact, the whole thing could have been avoided since it added nothing to the actual story. It feels like the entire sequence was just setting up Penguin’s return, swooping in to save the day. That, at least, was a very effective moment. It’s nice to see Gotham, a show that usually takes it slow, not waste too much time getting its best character back into the main plot after a short detour with Riddler.
Believe it or not, the best part of the episode was the son of Gotham himself, Bruce Wayne. He teamed up with Selina to try to get the name of the Waynes’ murderer from Silver through an elaborate ruse. I’m sure most of the audience saw through the deception, oh, maybe halfway through? But it was still a gripping scene, and a notable dark turn for the character. (Seriously, he effectively kidnapped a teenager). Normally I’d worry that this was a bit too extreme even for the kid destined to become Batman, but having Selina acknowledge it and caution him against changing too much puts those worries at ease. Plus, we got a legitimately romantic and sweet exchange between the two—something Gotham has tried in the past, except this time it succeeded.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
Notes and Observations
- In this week’s random pairing, Alfred battled Tabitha in what was actually a pretty intense sequence.
- Bullock’s back! His absence last week was pretty notable. I like the levity he brings to the show.
- The fake name Silver gave, M. Malone, is a reference to Matches Malone, Batman’s undercover criminal persona from the comics.
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