At the top of each A.V. Club TV review they list a letter grade for the episode. They gave this episode a B-. I thought, “Am I too hard on this show? Am I expecting too much because I’m such a fan of the source material?” (Spoiler – Nope.)
Then I read the review. They gave it a B- because the episode had a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end. For Gotham, that’s a big deal. The very basics of storytelling are present here and that earns this show a decent grade. And I get it – the A.V. Club reviewer is probably doing everything possible to prevent his brain from walking out the door.
I myself just spent 48 minutes on YouTube watching Nine Inch Nails videos so I wouldn’t have to rewatch this god forsaken shit show of a show.
Ok. Let’s do this.
Oops, got distracted again because I remembered Stabbing Westward was a band and I had to look up some of their songs. (Wither Blister Burn & Peel was a great album.)
Gordon’s Story (a.k.a. The Plotline That Got High Praise For Doing What A Story Is Supposed To Do)
The story begins with Penguin heading down to the wharf to rescue his mother. Rob Bricken, He Who Is Almost Always Right, correctly points out that this scene SHOULD have been at the end of last week’s episode.
Who shows up to this little reunion but the Galavans. For a dude who is supposedly running a political campaign, Theo Galavan has a lot of fucking time to skulk around in the dark. Anyway – Penguin’s mom gets stabbed in the back, she takes like 900 years to die (while all the bad guys who want Penguin dead just stand around and watch), and then Galavan’s sister (WHO IS SNIPER) misses Penguin as he hobbles out a window. Dude is going Mach Slug and she MISSES. ALL. HER. SHOTS. She is the worst sniper.
Galavan has apparently won the election that the show spent like 3 minutes on. You’d think an election where everyone else is being killed would warrant a much larger portion of the season but, nope! GOTHAM! Get that baddy in power without having to work for it! Galavan, his Sister With Terrible Aim, and Manic Pixie Dream Silver are just like, hanging out at his place, wearing robes, and you know, being family or whatever. Query – WHY THE FUCK DO ALL THE LADIES WEAR SILK ROBES AROUND THIS GUY? Are they in a perpetual state of lounging? It is a fucking spa up there? Is it always morning at Theo’s? Do they just really love breakfast?
When Silver showed up onscreen I honestly thought she was Barbara for a second. Theo’s all, “Hey 13-year-old girl, have you seduced that 13-year-old rich boy into doing my bidding yet? BT dubs, this is not at all a seriously fucked up plan or anything.” Silver jumps into the I’M EVIL!!! tank with both feet and then Galavan calls Silver, a 13-year-old girl, a “vixen” and he means it as a compliment.
I cannot begin to talk about the myriad of ways this is problematic (YEAH I FUCKING SAID IT.) Not only is the show sexualizing a very young girl, but they’re using that sexuality against a very young boy. This is gross, guys. Really, really, REALLY gross.
Galavan (and Harvey Dent! Remember him? The Batman villain with the actual split personality?) goes to the station and convinces Ben Grimm to enact a city-wide curfew and MARTIAL LAW. Why? Cause Penguin gave him a boo boo! No curfew when Jerome and his buddies tried to burn a bus full of cheerleaders alive or when literally all the gangs were trying to kill each other in the streets. But now that Mayor Crybaby has an ouchie it’s seen as a justification to pull out all the stops.
Side note: my husband made a very good observation during this scene – after the first episode he appeared in, we’ve only seen Ben Grimm in his office or the GCPD. This probably means the show only had Michael Chiklis for a few days and had to shoot all his scenes at once.
Ben Grimm is, of course, completely ok with this overreach of police power. That moment from last episode where he yelled at Jim for overstepping his boundaries must have been Ben Grimm having a stroke or the first signs of dementia. Jim, for his part, completely forgets that he was beating up people for information last episode (and other episodes, let’s not forget the second (? I think) episode of the season where he threw a dude out a window) and questions the use of martial law. He also forgets that he told Galavan that, like Dick Cheney, he needs enhanced interrogation techniques in order to do his job…which is the entire reason he agreed to endorse him for mayor. But Galavan doesn’t forget and he reminds him that he WANTED this. And as he walks away it finally dawns on Jim that he probably should have done some research before endorsing someone for political office.
Jim and Harvey receive word that Penguin and Butch had a falling out and Butch has started his own gang. When they get to the place, Jim isn’t paying attention (too much ANGST) so Harvey starts talking about how he’s getting a cat. I would give anything for a show about Harvey Bullock and a cat. Jim has finally begun putting together all the pieces of why Galavan is the Big Bad. Someone give Jim a cookie for actually doing detective thinking and not just punching someone to get information!
They go in to Butch’s hideout, they learn that Galavan was actually the one who ordered the buildings burned and Penguin’s mother killed. There’s also a shoot out, which, Imma let Rob take this one:
… they arrive right before Zsasz and his goons do, having been ordered by Penguin to kill Butch. Now, Zsasz never enters the building to confirm Butch is in there, but Gordon does announce that the GCPD is inside. Zsasz does not care whether he kills cops or not, and thus he and the Zsasz squad just start shooting into the building and… uh, hoping the people inside die, I guess? I mean, Zsasz and the others don’t even look through the windows while they’re shooting; they just fire randomly into the building walls. It is, in a word, ridiculous.
And yet it gets more absurd, because Butch’s gang—which was started like an hour ago—happens to have two massive, fully loaded assault rifles on hand. Gordon and Bullock grab these and just start shooting back at Zsasz… but also through the walls. I repeat: There is a shoot-out between cops and criminals that takes place with a goddamned building in-between them. It’s like the scene from Face-Off, except Zsasz and Gordon are easily 40 feet apart from each other minimum, and neither of them have any idea where their targets are located. This is absurd.
Absurd doesn’t quite get the job done. THIS IS INSANITY. Why would you shoot at something you can’t even see? Why would you risk getting hit by your own ricochet? You are TRAINED POLICE OFFICERS and you are shooting at things you can’t see and those things are ON A PUBLIC STREET WHERE INNOCENT PEOPLE COULD ALSO BE.
Even though there is a curfew in effect and martial law has been declared in Gotham, Galavan still holds his “I’m Mayor!” party. This means every cop in the city will be working security at the party. How many police officers are there in Gotham? I thought all of them died when Jerome shot up the place but I guess not?
At the party, a crowd of what I initially thought were zombies approaches the party. They aren’t zombies, they’re a shit ton of armed people dressed up & walking like the Penguin. This is hilarious. It’s also a very ill-timed gathering of Robert Smith cosplayers.
Galavan’s sister starts shooting the Robert Smiths. She actually hits one, probably because he’s not standing 2 feet in front of her face. The Robert Smiths jump through the windows and start shooting. A bunch of people who didn’t stay home after a city-wide curfew was enacted die. Another member of the Redshirt Brigade dies. Gordon tries to get Galavan to the car but Penguin stops them. There’s guns, yelling, and Penguin gets away.
Later, instead of playing the long game and pretending to take Galavan’s side, Jim admits to Galavan that he knows everything.
Riddler wakes up find that his “other” self has taken Tinsel’s body and hidden it in the precinct. He’s even left himself a question mark envelope! (cute) Serious props are due to Cory Michael Smith for saying “you hijacked my body while I was asleep…and you stole my dead girlfriend!” with the amount of emotional weight he gave it. Had I tried, it would have come out like this:
At the GCPD the Riddler tries to find “clues” set to a jazzy little tune. Is this supposed to be funny? Are we laughing at the Riddler now? A hand in a vending machine behind the LADYFINGERS is darkly hilarious, but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be funny considering how seriously the Riddler’s scenes usually are. (Again, my husband with an amazing thought – how great would it have been after the vending machine scene to see Harvey at his desk with a stack of ladyfingers on it? He’d be all “Look what I found! Vending machine must be busted!”)
He finally finds Tinsel’s body but he’s almost caught by Leslie! Leslie is dumb as a fucking sack of broken crayons because she’s so easily distracted from the dead body Ed is looking at by talk of relationships! Silly ladies! They just can’t think when talk of LOVE abounds!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall that Nygma is not actually a member of the medical examiner’s team. Wasn’t there a plot point last year when he kept breaking into the M.E.’s lab to “tinker” and the M.E. (before Leslie) kept complaining and Nygma got him fired by putting body parts in the guy’s locker? Nygma is a CSI guy, not a medical examiner. He shouldn’t be anywhere near that body.
After his coffee, Riddler “merges” with his other personality so he’s officially the Riddler now. Great or whatever.
The Gross Triangle of Teenage Angst
Bruce has invited Silver over to Wayne Room. Selina doesn’t know that and she just shows up to tell Bruce all about her friend who got melted. (How does Selina get to Wayne Room? Is there a Wayne Bus? Does she walk down Wayne Street?) Of course, Silver is SUPER NICE to Selina when Bruce is there but once she leaves Silver is all “I AM EVIL! YOU ARE TRASH! I HATE YOU!” (Selina will later call Silver a “slut” so she doesn’t look much better here.) I’d jump on this but, honestly, this is probably the most realistic part of this entire stupid “love triangle.” Two 13-year-old girls attacking each other because they both like the same boy? Yeah, I can see it. They haven’t learned that there is no man (or woman) on this planet that is worth fighting over. And they haven’t learned that there is no reason to call another woman a “slut” especially because it’s an arbitrary insult. Women are called “sluts” because they sleep with “too many” people…but there is no accepted definition of “too many.” One guy might call a woman a slut because she had 20 sexual partners while his friend’s idea of a slut is a woman who has had 5 or more sexual partners. And still another guy might call a woman a slut even if she’s a virgin – because he thought her top was too low-cut or her skirt too short. Let us never forget the wisdom of Mean Girls:
The children sit around awkwardly sipping tea (WHY DID YOU STAY, SELINA? WHY??? Go back to Wayne Bus and get the fuck out of dodge!) and Silver keeps talking about how the scent of the tea reminds her of blah blah blah blah no one cares. Selina, getting the second best line of the episode, takes a big whiff of the tea and says, “That smell really does slap you in the face, doesn’t it Alfred?”
Selina then ruins this awesomeness by calling Silver out right in front of Bruce. Selina – I get it. You see through people’s bullshit. But Mr. Simple over there DOESN’T so you need to be a little more strategic about this shit. Predictably, Bruce gets pissed and tells Selina he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. (When will we start seeing Bruce reading/building shit/doing science/being the smartest guy in the room? Or is his cowl full of Batman magic so he doesn’t actually need to work on any of the things he’ll need to, you know, survive as Batman for more than 24 hours? Side note – a friend had a great point in one of her Gotham reviews: when we see Bruce training he keeps asking Alfred if he thinks he’s ready. READY FOR WHAT?)
Later, after Sliver and Bruce just stand in a room for hours after the adults go to a party, Bruce tells her he likes her. Selina is being a creepy stalker and watching this all go down from a nearby rooftop. Silver knows this and kisses Bruce just to make her jealous. Yeah, no.