The second season of Gotham has finally drawn to its close. After stretching out so many plotlines for so long, it’s almost baffling that the finale actually manages to feel somewhat convoluted. As soon as one thread wraps up, another is introduced. Some don’t even wait that long. The tone is also wildly inconsistent, but that’s nothing new. There are some serious, grim moments and some that are outright played for laughs, but there’s no balance, none of the rhythm that other shows and movies display in order to make those moments work.
It’s an action heavy episode in typical comic book tradition. We’re finally seeing so many classic characters on the screen, it’s a shame we can’t enjoy them all. Clayface—who, to be fair, is actually the second live-action Clayface after Birds of Prey—is really only played for comedy. All we know about him is that he’s not Jim Gordon and I’m not exaggerating when I say that there is nothing whatsoever to describe his characterization other than that.
He’s sent back to the GCPD for about a third of the episode where he comically interacts with Bullock and the other cops, other than knowing he can change his face, we know nothing about his character to the point where Strange’s blatant exposition barely even covers any major details about this incarnation of Basil Karlo.
While Clayface is pretending to be Gordon, the real Jim Gordon is still in Arkham, undergoing Strange’s reconditioning. These two plotlines wrap up at almost exactly the same time and the episode effortlessly carries on without them. Most of the finale is structured around a bomb that’s going to go off inside of Arkham—with most of our core cast conveniently trapped there—and the escape of the genetically enhanced inhabitants that’s going on around the same time.
It’s an episode chock full of villains, from Clayface to Strange to Fish Mooney to Riddler to Mr. Freeze and Firefly and Penguin, not to mention all of the little cameos. Some of these characters are major players, yes, but it still feels very much loaded when the show is still clearly structured around heroes like Gordon and Bruce.
Selina continues to straddle the good/bad line as she changes sides a couple of times within the finale, which is kind of when we realize that she’s not even playing a child version of Catwoman anymore. She’s just playing Catwoman.
The fight between Mr. Freeze and Firefly is a lot of fun even if it is completely unnecessary. The scenes with Bruce, Lucius and Riddler also only exist to tease the coming of the Court of Owls, but it nonetheless provides some of the most interesting stuff in the finale. Alfred’s exhasperated sigh when Bruce reveals his plan to continue his investigation into his parents’ muder by finding out more about this secret society sort of echoes how we all feel by the end of the episode.
The tail end of the finale brings us a major surprise to help set up a third season that can only go in the right direction. I’ll soon be posting my thoughts on Gotham’s second season as a whole, but while uneven, there were things it did right, particularly in the characterization of the core cast. I never ever thought at the beginning of this season that the most interesting character in the finale would be Barbara, but that’s what happened.
In a way, maybe that’s what’s best about Gotham. You truly never know what to expect.