Martin Carr reviews the seventeenth episode of Gotham…
David O’Hara has a face you recognise, even if the name leaves a lesser impression. Character actor familiar from Braveheart, Wanted and Scorsese’s The Departed he brings a lot of acting luggage with him. This man has spent time in good company and it shows. His part is small yet pivotal in an episode which contains bank robberies, self-mutilation and a little late night reminiscing. Like a shadow from the past O’Hara’s Reggie is rain soaked, unshaven and the bearer of ill tidings. However what plays out between himself and Pertwee is more intriguing than any amount of gorged eyeballs or Red Hoods.
There is no shame in admitting when you have upstaged, outshone and reside very much in someone’s smoke trail. There have been few opportunities for Pertwee to have his characterisation of trusted guardian convincingly challenged in this series. In truth, if I am being honest, there have been none. What O’Hara brings to the table is a veiled loose cannon with prior knowledge of a man with secrets to hide. It is the subtlety with which these two veterans play out those small scenes that raise the quality exponentially. Unfortunately, as welcome as these moments are they detract somewhat from the central thrust of an episode with a tagline for the fan boy faithful.
‘Red Hood’ is apparently a piece of apparel originally worn by ‘The Joker’ prior to falling into chemicals, while Jason Todd acquired it sometime further on in a storyline which is not relevant here. For the purposes of Gotham it appears to be symbolic only. Nothing more than a simple balaclava with two holes cut out, this hood seemingly bestows invincibility upon the wearer. As so much of this episode is based on subjective perception, whether of emblematic clothing or worse still old friends, Gotham continues to hint at depth within the framework. Something which is stated no more subtlety than by Jada Pinkett Smith and her use of ocular silverware.
For someone who I have either ignored or derided depending upon my mood, Pinkett Smith has continued to challenge expectations at every step. Part gangsters moll, cardboard caricature and Seventies Starsky and Hutch villainess, Fish Mooney is the one others stand next to for validation. If you want character beats and understatement head to Wayne Manor, however should you wish to witness balls to the wall bravery in the face of constant criticism pay attention to Smith. There is a phoenix from the ashes quality which surrounds this lady week in week out. For all the knocking and there has been plenty, Smith remains unrepentant and slowly this is paying off. Created from the ground up and with more than the occasional misstep, there is a formidable character emerging to be reckoned with. No more the sideshow novelty or focus of derision. It’s surprising what you can achieve with a spoon, some willpower and sense of your own worth; well the component parts anyway.
If Gotham can be said to be anything I would plumb for interesting. I know that’s not a sexy word but at least there’s honesty in it. With the promise of a second season those who continue to wail about timelines, the age of the people involved or how much this stands alongside any DC legacy, can I suggest some perspective? No one is besmirching the good name of a family member or calling your mother a street walker, this is entertainment which many apparently find entertaining. With people receiving death threats and the promise of VIP Comic Con tickets as payment for beatings administered, surely it’s time to draw that line in the sand. Batman cookie jar anyone?