Things Are Still Crazy in Gotham–Just Not Quite as Interesting

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gotham s5e2 recap

Gotham kicked off its final season last week with a fairly strong premiere, at least by Gotham standards. Cutting a major American city off from the outside world and leaving its citizens to fend for themselves may be a fairly ridiculous concept in and of itself, but it’s at least fascinating enough to keep our attention if it’s handled properly. And since we’ve learned to manage our expectations with this show, we’re generally willing to accept gaping plot holes and other assorted nonsense as long as it’s interesting and entertaining. Things can get crazy, and even a little weird, but the one thing a show like Gotham can’t afford to be is boring.

But, for the most part, that’s exactly what we get this week: a sprawling, lethargic episode that’s all over the place and that just isn’t much fun to watch. To be fair, it does have its moments—I like what they’re doing with Barbara and Jim now that Lee’s apparently out of the picture, and we now know what causes Selina to fully embrace her Catwoman persona.

But even those stories are told in an unexciting way, and the rest doesn’t seem to matter that much. The rescue of the children from Sykes and the Soothsayers is nice, but, other than the fact that children shouldn’t be forced to dig tunnels for crazy bad guys, I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care. And I’m not sure what’s going on with the ghost woman and the creepy kid in the hotel. Maybe they’re laying the groundwork for later episodes, and all of this will pay off down the road. Then again, this is Gotham, so I wouldn’t bet on it. But here’s hoping.

Ed Nygma’s situation does get a little clearer; apparently he’s killing gang members in his sleep and blaming it on Penguin in hopes of starting a war. The two of them have a lot of unfinished business, and so it’s not hard to believe that Ed still wants to kill Oswald. But I’m not sure where they’re going with the whole sleepwalking thing. It seemed as though Ed had made peace with his alter ego last season, so this particular storyline seems a little redundant. But, again, I’m willing to give the show some leeway if they can make some sense of it all down the road.

Speaking of Penguin, Oswald doesn’t actually make an appearance this week, and we can only assume he’s hiding out at City Hall since Barbara wants him dead (and is probably the only person in Gotham with the resources to actually pull it off). Robin Lord Taylor has been one of Gotham’s bright spots since the beginning, and so his absence is another reason this week’s episode isn’t quite as entertaining as it could have been.

It’s only the second installment, and so it’s too early to give up on the season. But I really hope the writers cut out a lot of the ancillary excursions through the city and focus on the key characters from this point forward. Again, we don’t expect a well-structured, cohesive plot. Just do what Gotham does best—give us interesting, crazy stuff, with the characters we care about, that keeps us entertained. That’s all we ask.

Random thoughts:

  • I forgot to mention last week that Penguin put a 100,000 bullet bounty on Jim’s head after Jim shot him in the leg (apparently ammunition is the new currency in Gotham). That seems to be a pretty strong motivator among Gotham’s criminal element. And it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to pull off. But since Jim has to live on in the Batman universe, the writers have to keep coming up with reasons why a city that’s probably 75% criminal can’t take out one police captain.
  • Of course, Bruce Wayne himself must also survive, which is the only way to explain why Ivy doesn’t kill him after effortlessly taking out the three random guys that have her locked up in the park. I guess these are the things you just have to accept with prequels.
  • I couldn’t help but laugh at the last shot of Selina’s eyes literally becoming cat-like. It may actually be the most Gotham thing the show has ever done. “In case you missed what happened there, Selina Kyle just became Catwoman! We gave her cat eyes because she’s a woman, but she’s also a cat now! Get it?”
  • The other character that still hasn’t made an appearance is Jeremiah Valeska, and I’m just not sure why unless Cameron Monaghan had a conflict of some sort during filming. My understanding is that he’s finished his run on that other show he’s done for years, so I’m not sure why he’s not back in Gotham yet. But they could really use him right now.
  • “It’s’ a freakin’ arrow, Jim! A freakin’ arrow!”
  • “We’re all slowly dying. Just some of us get to choose how.”

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