Man, I don’t know what keeps happening with Gotham. The past couple of weeks have been so good. The buildup to Azrael has been so good. But there is so much of this episode that just falls apart. Shows are not supposed to have this kind of inconsistency. Plenty are either bad or good, but most do not vary this much in quality from week to week.
The thing that got to me right from the beginning of the episode is the fact that Nygma—who has been on such a compelling arc since he became the Riddler, and has been such a refreshing incarnation of that character—has simply been swept aside as, out of nowhere, he has turned into a near-exact replica of the Jim Carrey Riddler most of us were never hoping to see again.
Bruce’s character arc over the last few weeks has also completely been swept by the wayside. One of the most dramatic things we’ve seen this season, one of the best bits of character treatment, was watching Bruce confront his parents’ killer despite how much everyone advised him against it, only to be unable to pull the trigger, realizing it would make him no better than the gunman. Now it’s as if the showrunners don’t even have confidence that their viewers have seen a handful of episodes back as, once again, Bruce is talking about killing as if he hadn’t learned this lesson in an already impressive way.
The Frankenstein relationship between Hugo Strange and Galavan—er, Azrael—is not even remotely subtle, because nothing on this show is. James Frain actually plays all of this incredibly well, considering that it is basically a new role for him. And once we see him in the actual costume, it’s great. That’s the best part of the episode. The armor looks great on screen, and my favorite bit in the whole episode is actually a shot of Bruce’s face as he watches Azrael make his escape. For just a moment, it looks as if watching this caped figure make his escape is actually giving Bruce an idea.
Overall, there’s just something off about this episode. The acting is just slightly overplayed. Characters that are usually almost normal are now exaggerated and the ones that already were exaggerated are now exaggerated even more. B.D. Wong is normally great to watch, but Strange kind of rubbed me the wrong way in this episode, especially in his early scene with Gordon.
This was a dip in quality for a show that has been continuing to get better, and given that it had so much build-up for being the debut of Azrael, it’s hard not to walk away feeling a little disappointed.