Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of Gotham…
This week I am late out of the blocks. Ratings have risen, new hope has been granted from the critical hand that feeds, while my foresight regarding Robin Lord Taylor has proven correct. Gotham has injected friction, subterfuge, double dealing and life into a series which was threatening to be entertainingly humdrum.
Subtlety and metaphor remain distant relations, while a lack of shrewdness in the writing ranks is fully illustrated by subtitling episode seven ‘Penguin’s Umbrella’. Ham fisted it may be but accurate this remains, even with everyone playing things close to the chest. Show runners including the ubiquitous Danny Cannon, did something which his version of Dredd never achieved even within the bloated running time; namely make us care.
Although Pinkett-Smith and McKenzie chew scenery or do earnest and edgy without missing a beat, it remains Penguin’s show. With crime bosses bickering and death threats flying around like so much confetti, it is Lord Taylor who underplays, under states and ultimately understands how things should be. He brings a refreshingly three dimensional approach to the table, while henchmen with delusions of grandeur and ‘Agent 47’ preoccupations indulge themselves in caricature and pantomime. Sometimes; in fact most times, less is definitely more. That being said, tarnishing Jim Gordon goes some way to adding spice to an otherwise by the numbers crime series.
In portraying an ‘honest’ man up against a den of thieves there are inherent dangers to be addressed. Far too quickly this white knight can become boring, stereotyped and essentially one-dimensional. McKenzie which some will remember from The OC plays it straight down the line. Until now he has remained within the boundaries of accepted character traits. A copy book good cop, bad cop dynamic has been laid out each week with little or no development. From this point on however moral areas may get a little greyer, lines slightly more opaque and guns, well, let us just say they might be drawn a touch more.
My hope is that they will do with Gordon what has already been done with Penguin. A moral ambivalence would serve the series well. If a sensibility which swayed closer to Bale or Keaton’s Batman could be revealed within Gordon here, then that would be exciting and dare I say new. Now I am not saying this idea is new across the board, just here, with this character, within these broadcasting perimeters. Of course adding a little darkness to the heart of Gordon would also pay homage and tie in nicely with the Oldman interpretation. In the eyes of that Gordon, if we are to follow this storyline through to a logical conclusion, he came to understand who the true enemy of Gotham really was. As for the series Gotham has but one adversary using many aliases. Right now apathy and indifference are on the ropes, with a further flurry of counter punches Gotham may win over a hostile crowd and claim victory. Only time will tell.