Things started moving in a really promising direction in the last episode of Gotham, but it’s a direction that was all but abandoned this week. We get off to a really strong start. The opening montage is great, but also problematic because as soon as it’s over it takes us out of the situation as we try to figure out how much time has passed between last week’s episode and this one.
After the strong opening, “Prisoners” devolves into self parody. Gotham’s main problem has always been a lack of consistency. It can never be one thing for too long. It has done a terrible job recently of approaching anything near a balance of tone. Instead, it feels as if the show is a “Crisis” crossover of every previous live action Batman incarnation. Gordon’s plot is meant to seem relatively close to the Dark Knight series, Penguin feels as though he’s lifted right out of the Tim Burton universe in terms of look and tone, especially in this episode. Penguin’s arc here with his new family is meant to feel like a gothic horror production all the way through, but a campy one, like Dark Shadows. Gordon and Penguin make up the bulk of the episode, but their two stories side by side just don’t mesh at all. They feel like two totally different series.
It’s important to have moments of humor and levity to balance out the darkness, but that’s not so much what it feels like Gotham is doing anymore. It’s just a lack of focus, more than anything.
I’ve often criticized Gotham of quickly losing interest in its major developing plotlines. Things that should be teased for a whole season often get wrapped up in the next episode. This already feels like a different season than the first half because so many things were wrapped up in the mid-season finale. Too many villains are already becoming exactly the characters we know from the comics and the whole notion of seeing them before they became villains has kind of been tossed out the window.
But this episode takes the cake. After so many episodes of development, after the baby impacting so many of Gordon and Leslie’s decisions and defining their characters for the second half of the season, it’s announced that she had a miscarriage basically through casual dialogue. There’s just a little aside about how the thing currently driving those characters isn’t an issue anymore. It seems like the sort of thing a network would suddenly decide to do to put viewers at ease when they complain… but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone complain about Leslie’s pregnancy.
So, while I was really into last week, this episode just left me baffled. Hopefully things pick up soon, knowing some of the things in store for the rest of the season.