Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of Gotham season 2…
Adding a militant edge to this show was someone else’s bright idea. Gotham needed something to combat the rise of these villains and their answer came in spades this week. By bringing in Michael Chiklis as Nathaniel Barnes, show runners have hopefully brought someone capable of combating those Galavan siblings.
Like a latter-day Untouchables without the sharp suits or New York Irish Connery, this aptly named ‘Strike Force’ is guaranteed to make heads roll. Uncorrupted and plucked from the academy these clean-cut alpha squad recruits, are supposed to represent a new dawn. What we get instead is sub plot-tastic romantic side lines, where Nygma finally gets to impress his paramour Ms. Cringle. That isn’t to say that Gordon and his new team are not captured bringing down a Penguin laundering operation in dynamic style. Just that things are somewhat broken up by Nygma’s love life. Something topped off by a saccharine soaked double date of classically awkward proportions.
Meanwhile Theo and Tabitha Galavan have Penguin on a short leash having incarcerated his mother. Encapsulated by the silent cameo of Carol Kane viewed perpetually through the confines of a television screen. Galavan’s thirst for power extends its influence into elected office this week, when he engineers a public hit on himself and others. Now there can be little doubt that this new adversary has added an additional dimension to proceedings, yet his machinations lack only a wax moustache and heavy eyeliner. While Lord Taylor continues selling Penguin’s character development, in a less overbearing and subtle manner.
Alfred and Bruce remain curiously side lined just as Selena Kyle toys with relevance without really engaging. There is clearly a dynamic between these two teenagers, yet it is lost somehow between training sessions. What does draw the attention is Galavan’s manipulation of Master Bruce. Invited out to dinner as a small token of thanks, it is the introduction of Theo’s niece which could be classed as his master stroke. Young, blonde and dancing round the fountain outside it is an old but effective trick. Beyond the guiding hand of Alfred there is clearly a latent father son relationship burgeoning, helped in no small measure by an engineered love interest.
After waiting weeks to write this review with commitments of a work variety diverting my attention, it was my intention to give you something worthy. Instead I committed an injustice. On this occasion there is a distinct lack of sheen to the prose. Which felt at times like performing root canal work, blindfold, without training while The Great British Bake-Off played on loop in another room. Distressingly dour, uninspiringly bland and devoid of merit beyond that afforded a car crash drive through for the morbidly curious.
In truth Gotham offered up more than its fair share of interesting points through ‘Strike Force’. There are none to blame for the decidedly low-key writing on display here beyond myself. But take heart people for I am back in the saddle, sharpening the pencils, dusting off the dictionary and updating that spell check.