Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of Gotham season 3…
There is a pervading darkness which constitutes the beating heart of this season’s Gotham. It may be tag lined ‘Mad City’, but you need some truly off the chain inhabitants for that to really ring true. In Benedict Samuel’s Hatter we have one amongst many. With the insinuation of human cloning, coupled with experimentation, political bribery and a underworld of crime barely kept in check Gotham is getting interesting.
There are not so much revelations as moments of clarity this week for a number of people. Penguin who is theatricality personified by Lord Taylor makes room for Smith’s Nygma and together the two actors play things to the hilt. Mazouz has fun doing subtle behavioural quirks opposite Selena in moments outside of Wayne Manor, while McKenzie plays on his last encounter with The Hatter in a throwback to PTSD symptoms throughout.
Alongside that we get the on-going mind games between Butch and Nygma, Gordon and Barbara and Bullock and Barnes. However Samuel’s Hatter and McKenzie’s Gordon remain the most interesting and developed characters purely because they possess the most conflict. I said some time ago that these writers were looking to push the boundaries of network censorship especially through James Gordon and the interaction he has during certain episodes. Within the context of ‘A New Day Rising’ everything was once again implied but never expressly stated and they pulled off the same trick again.
However what they have done with Samuel’s Hatter is lay the groundwork of sympathy for the character then throw in something far darker. It is all there in the dialogue during Alice’s interview with Gordon for those that want to listen. Outside of this we get the fact that Bruce’s jealousy is driven by the actions of a genetically modified replica, capable it would seem of more self-awareness in certain situations than the real thing.
That there appears to be so many levels at play here signifies to me at least that Gotham is heading towards greatness in its desire to exceed expectations. Some may still write this show off as hopelessly derivative, but I would suggest those people take another look. This is darkly calculating, broodingly twisted mainstream counterculture entertainment for those who prefer something other than explosions and canned laughter. It may be set within the DC universe but so is Supergirl and should that ever be an appealing option, then we may end up with a crossover episode or two which would make Snyder and company re-evaluate. Right now however we have to make do with one sinister season in which the freaks are taking over the asylum.