Martin Carr reviews the seventeenth episode of Gotham season 2…
Episode seventeen entitled ‘Into The Woods’ has nothing to do Sondheim. There is no warbling, no Meryl Streep and mercifully no Johnny Depp looking shifty amongst the undergrowth. Instead we get gothic melodrama, boatloads of crazy and a showdown which is more Millers Crossing than DC comic book bravado.
With Gordon on the run from Blackgate, Barnes on the war path and Penguin trying to play happy families round a casket. Gotham delivers slow burn tension, family treachery and one Oswald Cobblepot getting his mojo back in a Hannibal Lecter sort of way. Couple that with young master Wayne getting all noble over stolen cash, Alfred adding a stability and gravitas which had been lacking and ‘Into The Woods’ could well be the standout of this season to date.
It’s clear that Lord Taylor and Cory Smith relish the chance to unleash their alter ego. All shaky cam mirror image circa early noughties Fight Club Fincher, Nygma stirs things up but them dark. While Penguin finally cracks and administers a diabolical revenge guaranteed to have you thinking twice about that Sunday roast come next week. Elsewhere bat shit crazy Barbara Kean wakes up and works some magic on Strange and Peabody before she gets the chance at a reunion.
Having been out cold since that fall from the church Erin Richards has been a slumbering presence. Docile, decorative but never less than dangerous. She was a welcome addition to the mix with Lee missing in action and Jim Gordon nearing exoneration. But my feeling is that Barbara will have to go some in order that Smith’s contribution is forgotten, as Nygma has become for some an indelible creation. Having turned up in Todd Hayne’s Carol and detainee drama Camp X-Ray, Smith has proved himself a versatile element of Gotham’s make-up. What I hope is that there is someone equal to the challenge of filling those schizophrenic shoes, even if for a brief time before his release.
To reiterate Sean Pertwee’s return as Alfred raised the bar this week mainly through dialogue scenes with McKenzie. There is no denying the importance that Alfred plays in Gotham even if his role has never been large. In a fictional world which relies on comic book origin he has grounded this character in a reality which we can relate to. There are of course fantastical elements as always, but Pertwee cuts through all that with an honest performance which never disappoints. In lieu of Butch and Tabitha, who I fear are in for some serious comeuppance, Alfred remains the foundation of this series.
As we move towards the tail end of season two Gotham continues to gain texture, reality and awareness. These characters are now very well established and it comes through in the writing, structure and assurance on display. As this villainous run rounds off there are high hopes from this reviewer of more to come circa 2017 and season three.