So, the Barnes-infected-by-Alice’s-blood plot line seemed to wrap up last week, allowing us to move onto new ideas and new territory or at least allow us to see developing plot threads from a new angle. But that’s not quite what happens because we literally jump from one angry person infected by Alice’s blood to another.
This could have made sense if it felt remotely organic and one of them was developing at the same time as the other. But Mario didn’t have focus while Barnes was taking over the plot and now that Barnes is gone, Mario has the focus. Absolutely none of it is subtle, none of it is a remotely clear segue, it’s just jumping from one thing to the next without even trying to make things organic. To the point where I have to wonder if it was an intentional move to not be organic or smooth.
Part of what bugs me about this plot is that it’s clear to most people watching that the only reason this is happening is to get Jim and Lee back together. The new guy in her life would not go evil if that weren’t the case and we know that they’re going to get back together anyway. I would love it if that wasn’t the case. I would love it if they made a totally different call there. If rage-induced Mario wound up killing Lee or if Lee realized she needed to stick beside him now more than ever after this ordeal, that would be great. But that’s not going to happen.
Gotham approaches the TV drama narrative a little differently than most shows in that respect. It’s never been remotely interested in surprising viewers. It’s a show that spells out what is going to happen and then makes that happen. There’s an audience for that too, of course. But Gotham is intent on keeping the viewers satisfied and always giving them what they expect to get. Everything that is a surprise in the narrative is advertised months and months in advance, so that viewers have time to know and accept that it’s going to happen before it happens. Unfortunately, the fact that it is terrified of surprising its audience is always going to be the thing that holds it back from greatness.
Things could change and I hold out hope that they will. There has been some great stuff this season. With the Mad Hatter, they found the perfect villain to fit their grim-but-also-completely-not sort of style. Valerie Vale breathed a bunch of fresh life into the series before kind of getting cast aside.
This episode has some dynamic moments. Like many recent episodes, the Penguin/Nygma stuff is the most interesting. But it suffers from too much predictability to really stand out as an impressive episode on its own.