Gotham S02E10 “The Son Of Gotham” REVIEW

Gotham S02E10 “The Son Of Gotham” REVIEW

Jim in chains

stars 3

Airing in the UK on Channel 5, Mondays, 10pm
Writer: John Stephens
Director: Rob Bailey

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • A woman flees from a mugger. He pulls a gun on her and she’s saved by a… monk?

• Parks Funeral

  • Jim gets dressed for Officer Parks’ funeral. He and Barnes, on a cane after his injury, help carry the coffin. No one is happy. Especially Jim, who goes to see Galavan after the funeral. He asks if Parks’ name means anything and Former Mayor Evil says no. Troubled, Jim leaves and returns home.

• Lee and Jim

  • In another very special episode of At Home With Lee And Jim, he opens up about how he feels he should have killed Flamingo. Lee tries to reassure him but Jim is going pretty much full dark side.
  • So much so, in fact, that when he returns to work he’s convinced Galavan is planning something. Harv is working leads from his contact in the Church but Barnes wants Jim on the case of the mugger the monks took. (We know but they don’t that he was sacrificed by having his throat cut.)

• Massage parlour

  • Jim is having none of this and when Harv gets a tip about Galavan trying to buy one of Gotham’s old churches. Intrigued, and feeling the need to describe it as a “Chinese slap slap joint”, they roll out.
  • Just in time to find the Monks killing people there! Twist! Jim gets into a nicely choreographed fight with a monk and stabs him.
  • The monk, unfazed, pulls the knife out, walks off and into traffic. He tells Jim about, “Gotham being cleansed” before he dies.
  • MEANWHILE, AT THE GOTHAM ACADEMY FOR RICH, TRAUMATISED CHILDREN!

• Bruce

  • Bruce and Selina are planning something. This involves Bruce offering to pay for Silver’s uncle’s defence if he gives him the name of the man who killed his parents. Silver accuses Bruce of manipulating them and Bruce, amazingly, doesn’t crown her Queen of Hypocrite Mountain. Instead, she agrees to take his offer to her uncle. Before she does, Bruce whispers to her and then kisses her. Selina is not cool with this. Neither notice the hit team following Bruce.

• Silver

  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT A GATHERING OF POLICE COSPLAYERS INCREASINGLY AMAZED NO ONE HAS BUSTED THEM!
  • Barnes tries to kick Gordon’s ass about ignoring him. But when Gordon brings him proof about the Monks he reluctantly agrees to let him run with it. Especially as there have been two more deaths in the last few days with the same MO. Whoever the nine are, their blood is being spilt pretty quickly…

• sewers

  • This also leads to a conversation with Lee where, brilliantly, she points out that monks in the city really should be more noticeable. Harv and Jim have an idea and head out to the sewers. They begin tracking the monks, unaware their quarry already knows they’re there…

• Ed

  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE PLOT WE SECRETLY HOPED WOULDN’T SHOW UP THIS WEEK!
  • Lee notices Ed arguing with someone on the phone. It is, of course, the Penguin. Ed, of course, lies massively unconvincingly about it and the fact Miss Kringle has left with her abusive ex-boyfriend. Lee, of course, either buys it or decides she doesn’t want to get any awful on her and leaves.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE PLOT THAT IS NOT AS IT SEEMS!

• Tom the Knife

  • Silver calls Bruce and tells him her Uncle has accepted his terms. On his way to meet her, Bruce is met by a van. Inside, Silver is bound and gagged inside and he’s ordered to get in. They’re threatened by Tom the Knife, a thug who claims he works for the people who really run Wayne Enterprises and are very unhappy about the thought of it changing hands.
  • Demanding to know what they know about the murder of the Waynes, Tom gives the kids a choice; speak or he’ll start cutting the fingers off one of them. Silver admits she lied and her Uncle said to keep Bruce busy until that evening. Despite this, Bruce stands up to him but neither of them say a thing. Bruce screams as he’s taken off to be tortured.
  • MEANWHILE, IN THE SEWERS!

• injured monk

  • The cops find the Order’s altar and the latest sacrificed criminal. Harv is attacked by a Monk whom he promptly puts down, hard. Jim persuades him to go for help for the injured man and realises, conveniently, the Monk is explaining the plot in his comatose state. Jim impersonates another Monk and learns about the Son of Gotham before Harv and the paramedics return.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE WAREHOUSE IN RESERVOIR DOGS!

• Silver's true colours

  • Tom returns holding a bloodstained knife. Silver snaps, telling him to untie or she’ll have his entire family killed. Tom, delighted to finally “meet” the real Silver presses on and she panics and reveals that her uncle did tell her the name of the killer; M Malone. Tom stops and asks his employer if, “we’re good”.
  • Bruce says yes they are.
  • Unharmed and very angry, the future Batman appears. He calmly explains that he wanted to trust her but realises he can’t. Bruce and Selina thank Tom for the help and they leave a tearful, panicked, Silver alone, despite being terrified at the thought her uncle will kill her.

• Selina and Bruce

  • MEANWHILE, AT EVIL TOWERS!

• cockneyman!

  • Tabitha is retrieving something from a secret compartment when Alfred appears, looking for Bruce. They snarl at one another and then, presumably to fill a few minutes, fight. Tabitha kicks Alfred’s ass and, badly injured, he collapses into the back of a passing garbage truck.
  • MEANWHILE, AT THE COURTHOUSE!

• MAYOR ASSHOLE

  • Harvey Dent celebrates another day of not being Two-Face yet by being part of a trial that collapses when Mayor James recants his statement. BOOOO! YOU SUCK, MAYOR JAMES! Galavan is exonerated, Jim punches him and Jim is arrested. OR IS HE?!

• Jim is taken

  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT STATELY WAYNE MANOR

• Bruce 2

  • Bruce and Selina return. Bruce tells her what he whispered to Silver, about how much she means to him and how connected they are. He recalls Selina’s early line about how the best liars tell the truth and tells her it was the truth, just not about Silver.
  • Selina, obviously cuted out, leaves. The whole thing is adorable and lovely.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE ODD COUPLE!
  • Penguin and Ed argue. It’s still awful. Then, Penguin’s henchman shows up to tell him Galavan’s been exonerated. Penguin gets enraged and heads out.
  • MEANWHILE, AT THE DOCKS!
  • Jim wakes up tied to a crane. Galavan monologues about his evil plan. This is actually a thing that happens. He tells him about the Order of St Dumas and the plans for the city and then has him untied and beats the ever living crap out of him. He orders Jim beaten to death and leaves.
  • But Jim is saved! By the Penguin! Who slaps him around screaming about Galavan until he passes out!

• Galavan confronts Bruce

  • MEANWHILE, AT STATELY WAYNE MANOR!
  • Galavan comes to get Bruce and Cockneyman is nowhere to be found…

 

Review:

Picture Gotham as a plane.

Picture that plane in a nose dive, the engines on fire.

Picture, slowly, that dive start to level off. That was last week.

This week it starts to climb.

The reason is Bruce Wayne and Silver St Cloud. Who knew that was a sentence we’d ever write?

But seriously, the Bruce plot is the best thing this episode because it’s a direct response to something last episode. Remember Alfred’s line about Bruce not being able to deceive people correctly? Bruce bloody does.

The centre of this episode is very clever, because it, like Bruce, lies to you. It presents itself as a frankly very dull, “Bruce and Silver are kidnapped” plot. It tells you this is to do with the corruption at Wayne Enterprises. It tells you this has nothing to do with the Galavan plot. It tells you Bruce still believes Silver.

It never once tells you the whole truth. And it’s brilliant.

There are few arts more complex, and under-appreciated, than the creation of deliberately slightly fake drama. That’s what this episode does and it drags you in too. We only became  suspicious when Bruce was dragged off to be tortured. By the time the splendidly (possibly too) chirpy Tom the Knife came out it was pretty obvious something was fishy  by the time he called to Bruce you could almost hear the them tune from Leverage. Very, very well played.

In one episode, the show has set up more forward momentum than Bruce, Selina and Silver have had for most of the season. Bruce isn’t reactive anymore, he’s out in front of the things that keep happening to him. Selina is simultaneously impressed and slightly worried and Silver, who’s awful, is finally written out. We hope.

Even better, the episode doesn’t hand wave away the really nasty episodes of its plots. Because a good chunk of this episode is Tom lying pretty convincingly to a pair of kids that he’s going to mutilate them. That’s about as awful as you can get and the show doesn’t back down from it in the slightest. This is the strong, morally ambiguous drama Gotham likes to think it always is and it’s so, so good to see it back.

Elsewhere, the episode is fun but not on the same level. Jim is clearly traumatised by Officer Parks’ death and that’s giving Ben Mackenzie some meaty stuff to play with. However, he spends most of this episode trundling around the sewers with Harv investigating the Order of St Dumas. It’s fun but it feels like marking time and leads to the more than slightly ludicrous final scene.

But the episode’s worst crimes are saved for last. Galavan being exonerated is as deeply weird as it is expected. This is what happens when you cast Richard Kind as an authority figure! When will you people LEARN?! Worse still, Cockneyman and Tabitha have a fight that serves no purpose other than to put them in position for next episode. And maybe give Alfred some nasty infections given the garbage truck he escapes in.

But despite that the episode is worth it for the Bruce plot and the start of something new with Jim. Gotham’s still got big problems but this is the second week in a row it’s improved. Keep it up, folks. And give Bruce more to do, he’s great now.

Gotham shall be cleansed

The Good:

  • “Does the universe normally like you this much, Detective?”
    “First time.” Nice exchange, which is also a tacit acknowledgement of Jim Gordon’s awful life.
  • “It’s weird – why has no one seen these monks until now? A) They’re killing people and carrying them across town and B) THEY’RE MONKS!” Lee Thompkins! The best detective in the GCPD! And she isn’t a detective!
  • “I believed you.”
    “Yes, that was the point.” This is COLD. This is Bruce as he will be: cut off, wearing the face of a normal person, always playing four steps ahead. Brilliantly done and very disturbing.
  • “AMATEURS.” Despite all the problems with the Ed/Penguin plot this was adorable.
  • “We have a very small window. I have places to be. You have to die.” The monologue isn’t great but this line is a gem.
  • The Bruce plot! So much the Bruce plot.
  • Officer Consequences has reported for duty. It’s an immense relief that Parks’ death isn’t being hand waved away. It remains massively over-the-top and upsetting but it does seem to be a massive left turn onto Dark Side Boulevard for Jim.
  • Harv and Barnes really not getting on and studiously ignoring that fact is one of our favourite things about the show. That and the fact that by and large Harv is now the cop Jim thinks he is, while Jim is now the cop everyone else thinks Harv is.
  • Other Harv! Don’t worry, buddy! If we keep seeing you this irregularly it’ll be ages before the whole Two-Face thing!
  • The Order of St Dumas. The show is using them in a really fun way. They’re a lot stabbier than we remember but they’re still the sort of extreme, “We will save you to DEATH!” characters that made Azrael so interesting. And if, as seems likely, we’re getting Azrael this year too that will put a very different spin on Bruce’s transformation.

 

Penguin

The Bad:

  • That Monk Harv bumrushed was awfully talkative given his serious injuries. And apparently didn’t think anything of being blindfolded. Or talked to by a member of his relatively small order whose voice he didn’t recognise.
  • Casual racism when used as a character note is, well, still casual racism. It’s understandable that both Harv and Barnes would refer to the massage parlour with derogative terms but it still strikes a bum note. Although in fairness that’s as much to do with the show’s previous “eyes closed head down can’t lose” approach to dealing with non-white dude characters as anything else.
  • Why do Alfred and Tabitha fight again? Think about it; Galavan clearly hasn’t turned State’s evidence on his sister because he’s claiming he’s innocent. She wasn’t arrested at the same time as he was, there’s no evidence tying her to anything and she’s free to come and go as she pleases. Given the GCPD’s increasingly clear rota system for who has the brain cell that day she won’t even be under surveillance, odds are.
  • So why in the blue Hell does she face down the butler of the city’s most prominent figure, attack and badly injure but not kill him? He didn’t see whatever she was retrieving from the apartment, he clearly doesn’t trust her but he presents no actual threat. Is she really that bored? REALLY? Or is this simply a nonsensical action beat to give two characters stuff to do and move them into position for next episode?
  • Ed. Bickering with Penguin. About house stuff. Oh God.
  • Bless him, we love Tommy Flanagan’s work but he’s a little all over the map here. Like we said earlier though, that plot being rickety is kind of the point.

Inmate Galavan

The Random:

  • So… Galavan’s an expert martial artist now? I mean it’s logical… ish, kind of, given that he was apparently raised by the monks. Still seems a little weird watching him go all Lethal Weapon 2 on Jim though.
  • Tom The Knife is played with flamboyant aplomb by Tommy Flanagan. A former Glasgow DJ, Flanagan tried acting at the insistence of friend Robert Carlyle. It worked out too as he’s become a frequent flyer on TV and the movies. He’s best known for playing Chibs in Sons Of Anarchy but he’s also been in Gladiator, Alien vs Predator (where, magnificently, his character was named after Aliens comic scribe Mark Verheiden), Braveheart and 24 and will apparently appear in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2. We’ve not got any information on casting at time of writing but let’s face it, if he’s not one of Yondu’s boys we’ll all be shocked.
  • The Order of St Dumas, as we’ve touched on before, are from the comics. Azrael is the name of their assassin/enforcer, a member who has taken on the duties of punishing the orders’ enemies for centuries. In the comics, the latest Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, takes over from Batman for a while. Here, I suspect, we may be getting a look at an earlier model…

Review by Alasdair Stuart


 

Read our other Gotham reviews

 

 

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