Gotham Season 3 Episode 16 Review – ‘These Delicate and Dark Obsessions’

Martin Carr reviews the sixteenth episode of Gotham season 3…

There is a reason why Gotham and Supergirl dropped to their lowest ratings last week. Shortcomings in the latter are hopefully obvious from my review for episode nineteen entitled ‘Alex’, while a ratings dip for Gotham remains puzzling even upon closer examination. Now there are those who would say it never connected with an audience in the first place and made a mockery of DC back history, but that doesn’t ring true for me. Gotham has now been running for close to three seasons and comfortably outside conventions, by successfully forging a different path through an established universe and surviving intact.

 

It remains true that the first season felt painfully slow and pedestrian, broadcasting episodes of exposition or weeks where nothing really happened which in turn caused frustration. However season two turned in a barnstorming turn and made things sexy, violent in a post watershed sort of way, giving this beleaguered programme some mojo back. And so the trend continued into a third bite of the cherry where stakes were upped, things got weird and we drew closer to realising fully rounded comic book villainy.

Where season three has begun to slip in my opinion is by focusing on too many things at once. By definition for a show to keep running things must remain fresh which means multiple plotlines, dead ends, red herrings and plentiful set pieces. However when your main villains are no longer the focus or get shot and simply come back it takes away suspension of disbelief. An essential element in a world of comic book characters made flesh and fundamental if you expect your audience to engage. Which is why we have reached an impasse with ‘Gotham in episode sixteen.

Padding out your series with lots of minor threats, improbable alliances and convenient scapegoats does not make for entertainment. There are elements in here which are interesting and include Indian Hill, doppelgängers and Don Falcone, however the Court of Owls, who represent the ‘big bad’ in finale terms feel superfluous. Now I know they hold an important place for DC comic book fans but here lack of time, lack of development and lack of threat make them little better than a damp squib.

What this means then is that Gotham suffers from a plethora of insubstantial villainy inadequately focused, leaving those who mean something blowing in the wind. Gordon, Lee, Bullock, Falcone and Penguin all deserve better, while Ivy, Bruce, Barbara and Tabitha feel increasingly unnecessary. Neither one thing nor the other Gotham has left audiences feeling entertained yet indifferent, as it continues casting the net too wide and struggling for cohesion.