This week’s Gotham felt a little more balanced and a little more focused than the premiere. Gordon has settled into a role as a bounty hunter that’s something we’d probably never see him do in any comic or previous film incarnations, but I think this season is setting up the fact that this Gordon is no relation to the Gordon of the source material. And if that’s the case, I’d actually like to see him go even further down this very dark road that he’s on. I don’t know if I’m actually sold on the fact that he’s a bounty hunter. I think it significantly dumbed down his role in the season to give it that specific label, but I still think he’s got an interesting part to play now that he no longer cares about servicing right and wrong but has instead elected to play the intermediary.
This week also saw the return of Hugo Strange and I’m surprised that they got B.D. Wong back in the makeup again without giving him much of anything to do. He gets one real scene with Fish attempting to explain that he can’t fix what’s happening to her, he can’t cure her, and that is of course an answer that Fish will not accept. This scene is supposed to be incredibly tense as it features Gordon, the Gotham PD and Penguin and his vigilante mob all showing up at the same time to take down Fish, but it’s saved by what is genuinely the best part of the episode, which is the confrontation between Fish and Penguin in the woods right after she escapes.
It paints an entirely new dynamic for these characters. Penguin has been wanting her blood on his hands since the moment he found out she was still alive. He just wants nothing more than to kill her all over again. She has every reason to want him dead. From his manipulation up to his killing her, plus the fact that he took over her entire empire after he presumed she was dead.
But the truth is that she’s proud of him, for all of the reasons listed above. She feels responsible for the monster he’s become. Given that Penguin has no idea how to respond to that, he lets her go.
Bruce’s meeting with the Court of Owls—well, one of them at least—is a little odd. Obviously, it’s meant to throw us off and to show us that they can come to an agreement with Bruce and that they will both stop pursuing the other. The scene is awkward and forced, but I really like what it sets up. They’ve forced Bruce to stop investigating his parents’ murder, which is the single thing that has defined him since the show began. He’s been forced to give up his obsession, but there seems to be a little bit of relief in that.
The only thing that’s awkward, for me, is that it tries to suddenly play that off as if Alfred is somehow disappointed in Bruce. As if every single episode since the beginning, Alfred hasn’t tried to convince Bruce to turn away from his quest for vengeance. But I think the underlying thing Alfred’s picking up on is that an easy way out like this probably won’t help the situation much either.
Of course, the real meat of the episode is the introduction of Poison Ivy. I’ve been waiting so long to see a new live-action version of this character. But there’s something about the way she’s being handled on Gotham that really creeps me out. So, in the beginning, they made a decision to have this character named Ivy who’s a little girl who loves plants and can’t really interact with people as a reference to the fact that she would grow up to be Poison Ivy. That’s fine.
Now, much has changed and they’ve kept changing the course and dynamic of the show to keep up with the other superhero shows on TV, which is fine. Understandable. That’s sort of the way the business works. They’re not building up to anything anymore. They’re giving us Riddler, they’re giving us Penguin, they’re giving us Mr. Freeze. So they made a decision to rapidly age Ivy so that she could become the seductive woman everyone knows from the comics. It’s an easy fix and that’s my problem with it.
Ivy may now be played by a new actress and suddenly be the Poison Ivy we know and love, except she’s not because mentally she’s still a child. Giving her a new body doesn’t change her mind or give her another ten years of memories and experiences. Now every time that she’s on screen seducing men and luring them to their death, etc. it’s all going to be tainted by the fact that this is basically the same scenario as Tom Hanks in Big. She’s got a new body, but she’s still a kid. And given that this move was only made to bring Poison Ivy in easily and quickly, I’m worried they won’t even ever address that fact.
I’m very nervous about how Poison Ivy will be handled moving forward, but the rest of the episode was a step in the right direction, so I’m going to continue to hope for the best.