Review: Gotham – Season 2, Episode 21 “A Legion of Horribles”

I want this show to be over. More accurately, I want my self-imposed obligation to review this show every week to be over. How many ways can I say “this show is batshit”? Not many.

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We start this show where we ended last week – Selina being turned into delicious child barbecue by Firefly. Firefly has started calling herself the goddess of fire, so apparently Strange was implanting his subjects with wacky identities way before Nygma suggested doing it to Galavan. Selina says that Firefly can’t be a goddess without a servant, so Firefly stops trying to kill her.

Meanwhile, Bruce is standing on the rooftop where he commanded Selina go to her death in Arkham. Ivy shows up and says “I’m here because it’s in my contract that I get so much screen time a season.” (She also says “why does your face look like that?” as if she, a street kid, has never seen anyone frown before.) Bruce is all, “Selina is not here…that means SELINA IS BEING HELD BY HUGO STRANGE! TO THE BATMOBI- I MEAN, ALFRED-MOBILE! WHO’S TALKING ABOUT BATS? CERTAINLY NOT ME!”

Back at the GCPD, Harvey Bullock is acting captain. He talks to the press, refers to Galavan as “meat dust,” and stops around with meaning. Why can’t this be the whole show? Harvey is the best. This was also the first episode where it clicked for me as to why Harvey pulls down so much pussy. Dude’s got a sexy grumpy teddy bear quality going on. I’m feelin’ it. Hey Harv – How you doin’? 😉

Jim wants to arrest Strange but Harvey correctly points out that’s not how things work. You need charges and evidence and shit. Jim’s like “I explained this to Bruce Wayne before, but I’m forgetting it now because punching and brooding are better than thinking. Fuck your legal police procedures, Harv, I’m gonna go do Jim Gordon things that will most likely result in at least 3 innocent people getting killed.” On his way out, he runs into Bruce. They stop in the middle of the station floor and scream, in unison, “LET’S TAKE THE LAW INTO OUR OWN HANDS!” They then jump up to high-five, but Bruce is too short and he smacks Jim in the face.

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They go back to Wayne Room where Alfred is playing the “it was so wrong of you to involve Selina and I’m disappointed in you, Master Employer” side of the issue because that’s where the writers need him to be. Some episodes he’s down with doing what needs to be done at all costs, others he’s completely against the entire idea. He flip-flops so much it’s obvious that he missed his calling as a politician.

Lucius Fox is also present at the “Vigilante Justice, Bitches!” meeting held by Bruce and Jim. I assume Alfred has been holding him in Wayne Cave for the entirety of the season and he’s going along with their dumb plan to take a “tour” of Arkham so he can escape. See, the Waynes donated a lot of money to Arkham! That’s why a 14-year-old boy can show up unannounced to a facility where they treat the criminally insane and demand a tour! SO LOGIC. MUCH SENSE.

Meanwhile, Strange is acting like a kid who just got his first set of Lego, except those legos are made of people. He’s all “WHAT HAPPENS IF I PUT A PERSON WITH A FISH AND SOME GLASS AND MAYBE A BLOCK OF CHEESE???” He creates Clayface, which is a huge disappointment. One of the best origin stories from Batman: The Animate Series is Clayface’s origin. On the show, Clayface was originally an actor named Matt Hagan who was horribly disfigured in a car accident. Desperate to hide his disfigurement from the public and wanting to continue acting, Hagan secured some experimental face cream from Roland Daggett, one of the series’ big bads. Using the cream, Hagan is able to reshape his face so he can continue to act, but the effects aren’t long-lasting. Eventually, it becomes like any other drug addiction with Hagan doing anything he can for a fix. When he tires of doing Daggett’s dirty work, he tries to steal a large quantity of the cream. Daggett’s goons force feed him about 3 gallons of it instead, killing him. Or so they thought. That transforms him into Clayface, which leads to this (extremely disturbing) scene:

I never forgot this scene. And I couldn’t help but feel bad for Clayface. A cartoon was able to make me feel for, and empathize with, a villain. Gotham doesn’t do that. Clayface is nothing on Gotham except another monster trotted out to showcase how evil Strange is. This is just another Batman villain tossed into the show for no other reason than the show decided this season was called “Rise of the Villains.”

In addition to bringing Clayface to life, Strange reanimates Fish Mooney, who is the only “monster ” to remember her name. I appreciate her return, if only for more fabulous fingernail acting. She has powers now, which she discovers after ordering a man to bring her a grilled cheese sandwich.

Bruce, in an obvious shout out to Batman’s favorite item of clothing, elects to wear a turtleneck to the Arkham Fun Time Happy Joy Joy Tour. Jim hides in the trunk of the car like he’s trying to sneak into a drive in movie in 1956. Jim gets into Arkham by using his expired security guard credentials. No one cares that his shit is expired, they just let him in. Very secure! Lucius follows Miss Peabody and her fierce as fuck purple lipstick around, and Bruce drinks tea with Strange. During tea, Bruce accuses Strange of killing his parents, because getting Selina out of Arkham alive apparently involves pissing off the guy who is holding her prisoner. (Bruce: “Hey, I know you’re holding my friend hostage but FUCK YOU FOR KILLING MY PARENTS, YOU MURDER! OF COURSE I DON’T HAVE ANY EVIDENCE OUTSIDE THIS PICTURE OF YOU AND 10 OTHER DUDES STANDING NEAR MY DAD! KILLER! Anyway, can I have my friend back now?”)

Everyone gets captured because of course they get captured. Once again, the AV Club is on point:

…rather than having the penultimate episode of the season focus on complex matters like Gordon’s culpability in the trauma of Gotham, or Bruce’s reckoning with a world beyond his sheltered understanding, the episode instead churns out faux gravitas in the form of the resurrection of Fish Mooney, and yet another escape/break out/break-in subplot. I’ve hit on the show’s trouble with crafting stories out of Bruce Wayne being in danger before, so there’s no need to hammer it home again, but at what point does the problem move from being that there’s no stakes to Bruce being in danger to the fact that Gotham doesn’t have any other ideas? Gotham has a tendency to recycle storylines, and “A Legion of Horribles” is yet another example of that. Once again Bruce is in danger, Gordon, Bullock, Alfred, and the GCPD are trying to save him, and criminals like Penguin and Mooney may be used in the fight. How is this any different than the fall finale?

It’s no different. Bruce and Lucius may be held captive in a room that looks like it was designed with kryptonite in the walls rather than nerve gas tubes, but we all know Bruce is going to survive. There’s nothing at stake here. Even with the introduction of the Court of Owls, none of this actually matters if we’re to believe that the show is still working us toward Batman and Commissioner Gordon. I still maintain that the smartest thing this show could do is to kill Bruce Wayne, thus establishing that this is not a prequel, and that this has literally nothing in common with the Batman universe we all know and love. It’s one thing to say it’s different. It’s another to actually commit.

Jim, who has also been captured, has his head put in a steampunk toaster oven and is then fed milk through a straw. After he’s done, they toast Clayface’s head so he looks like Jim. What good is a Clayface that’s nothing more than a walking toaster strudel? He can’t morph on command? WEAK SAUCE.

Once ClayJim is out of the toaster, he recites some “Jim Gordon,Tough Guy” lines like an actor preparing for an audition. And that’s it. That’s the end. I’m giving the last word to the AV Club:

Gotham consistently tosses emotional investment to the side. Or, rather, a lack of emotional investment in these characters (Gordon, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, etc.) is a product of the show’s style of storytelling, which is more about “moments” than it is carefully-planned and executed arcs. “Wrath Of The Villains: A Legion Of Horribles” certainly backs up the latter point, that Gotham’s insistent focus on cramming characters and subplots into its main story (when there actually is a main story) leaves a lot to be desired. When you’ve finished watching “A Legion Of Horribles” you’re left with a distinct feeling that something happened, but also that none of it matters.

 

 

 

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