Gotham Season 1 Episode 21 Review – ‘The Anvil or the Hammer’

Martin Carr reviews the twenty-first episode of Gotham…

I find myself between a rock and a hard place. With metaphorical marching bands and the news of another royal mouth to feed, we find ourselves at an end. Not in the biblical sense but more in a literal manner. Gotham has finished. If you could stop cheering at the back maybe I can hear myself think. Thank you.

 

 

Now what Gotham has needed all along is a narrative rug to tie the room together. I am not saying this has materialised like an apparition from the fog, but something has definitely happened. There appears to be cohesion for the first time, as threads consistently flapping in a metaphorical wind have finally found traction. It helps to have one less storyline to accommodate, but essentially we stay with either Gordon and Bullock or Ogre and Barbara throughout. However Corey Smith and his descent into madness gets a much needed boast, as his character has been trading on cliché for three months. It adds an element of excitement to a confirmed second season, as do the final moments which promise a huge power struggle and continued intrigue. What we also get here is a reaffirmation of Gordon’s loose cannon status, which gives us flashes of the badass he unveiled in early episodes. What this seasonal closer did more than anything however was revel in risk, something to which I considered it immune.

Reminiscent of Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential and moments of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Bullock drifts into a nightclub where gimp suits, chains and subservient methods of restraint are evident. This is the closest Gotham has sailed to the wind since its debut. There are censor baiting elements which are just off camera or hinted at for a split second. This is border line post watershed for primetime network audiences, while there is a sense that things were cut to squeeze under the wire. I take on board the nature and need for that line in terms of explaining character proclivities,but feel Gotham possessed a sense of freedom during those sequences lacking elsewhere.

 

 

Alongside the Kubrick and Hanson comparisons are Scorsese homages glimpsed in the final moments. Those closing moments from Goodfellas came to mind as Maroni tools up with a sawn off unloading in slow motion. There are also lingering shots in Wayne Manor sequences which suggest more to Wayne senior than meets the eye. Season two needs to maintain the cohesion which this final episode delivers, by giving the audience a little more of what they want. Add a twist, drop an Easter egg here and there but do not over egg that pudding. Gotham may have legs for now, but it is surprising how quickly those can be taken away. As someone famous once said; it is difficult to walk without knees. Roll on season two…