Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous Gotham episode here.
Last week’s episode gave Gotham an adrenaline boost, propelling it to this week’s midseason finale. Unfortunately, "Worse Than a Crime" slowed things down considerably, and that robbed an otherwise strong climax of most of its urgency.
The big confusing element of the Galavan story arc, as I mentioned last week, has been the Order of St. Dumas. Why are they on the show? Is it just to give Galavan an excuse to want to kill Bruce Wayne? But that’s redundant, as his hatred of the Wayne family already provided enough motivation. Is it to supply Galavan with an army of disposable fighters? Well, had Gotham bothered to keep the Maniax around, they would have been far more effective minions than faceless monks who weren’t even good fighters to begin with.
A stalling tactic. That’s really all the monks amounted to. A contrived excuse to keep Bruce Wayne alive until midnight. That’s when the ritual had to take place, because of reasons. Which makes even less sense when you consider that Galavan had already admitted to Gordon that he wasn’t exactly a true believer. It was weak storytelling on an episode that should have been packed.
In fact, "stalling" describes a lot of this week’s subplots. Galavan giving Silver a quest to prove herself by making Bruce fall back in love with her made no story sense. It was just there for more padding, and it wasn’t very effective because Silver’s newfound affection for Bruce came out of nowhere. It didn’t feel like a natural evolution of her character, just something the plot mandated.
On the plus side, it had a good payoff. Bruce seeing through Silver’s deception was great, as was him telling her as much so she wouldn’t feel guilty after his death for having tricked him. It was sweet, and her regret bought Bruce two crucial seconds that saved his life. And the best part is that the episode left us suspecting that he may have actually been tricking her all along. "I had a perfectly feasible escape plan." Aww, little Bats.
The frustrating thing to me is that it wasn’t just Galavan who was stalling. The good guys were also taking their sweet time. There was no sense of urgency, no desperate need to take down Galavan as soon as possible. Even Leslie’s pregnancy reveal was dropped so casually, less the impactful moment it should have been and more an excuse to make Gordon waste even more time having second thoughts about going after Galavan. Even though the audience knows he’s going to do it anyway.
And true, Gordon didn’t know Bruce was kidnapped, which justifies the time he wasted at Ed’s apartment as him waiting for an opening. But he should have known. Galavan pretty much told him that Bruce was the son of Gotham last week. Wasn’t that the whole point of his monologue? And even the characters who did know Bruce had been kidnapped seemed pretty lackadaisical about it. It’s like they also knew that Bruce was being kept alive until midnight, but of course, how could they?
The result was the final showdown being crammed into such a short segment that it was rushed, leading to some poor storytelling choices. Like Tabitha suddenly turning against Theo. (Even he called her reasoning "a ridiculous cliché!") Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she did, but it was too out of character for her to turn so quickly. It would have been a good moment had it been better set up in previous episodes. As it was, though, it came off as a letdown to see Galavan taken down so easily after he was built up so much. He didn’t even get to have a fight with Gordon, despite his impressive display last week.
All of this frustrates me more than it should because "Worse Than a Crime" had the potential to be a great episode. Penguin and Gordon teaming up? Love it. The pieces falling into place, bit-by-bit, as our heroes and villains mustered their forces at Ed’s and marched to Galavan’s? Awesome. Penguin getting revenge for his mother’s death and beating Galavan within an inch of his life? Immensely satisfying. And Gordon crossing the line and putting a bullet in Galavan was a great development. The only problem with it is that after weeks of back-and-forth, the power of that scene was diminished, but it was still a commendable turn.
So really, there are enough good things about this episode to warrant a 3.5, but for a midseason finale that had the potential for so much more, it’s a letdown.
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
Notes and Observations
- The Penguin and Riddler duo continues to be fun, but I’m surprised Ed revealed himself to so many people this casually. I thought they’d save it for a bigger reveal. Who knows, maybe they are.
- Lucius Fox appearing after such a long absence from the show was very random. It’s another case of the plot driving the characters and not the other way around. Has he been down in that cave this whole time?!
- Bruce’s favourite animal being an owl was funny, likely Gotham‘s way of winking at the criticisms about its lack of subtlety.
- Ice to meet you, Mr. Freeze! That last scene was a good setup for the second half of the season. Hugo Strange was namedropped as well.
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