Martin Carr reviews the ninth episode of Gotham season 4…
Villainous tendencies work best with an agenda especially when wealthy patrons, over consumption and flagrant symbolism are included in the mix. Comic Strip did it best when alternative comedy was personified by Ben Elton, The Young Ones and Rik Mayall. These days socio-political commentary feels less raw and unchecked due to people with rules and a conscience getting in the way. For a comic book series to try something quite so subversive though still requires guts, which Gotham thankfully displays in buckets this week.
Working in quotes from satirist Jonathan Swift this episode mixes theatrical zeal with show tunes to create something off kilter. Professor Pyg still remains the most engaging villain this series has produced, veering just the right side of camp with a butcher’s apron, steak knives and handstitched animal masks. Both single-minded of purpose and methodical Pyg has taken Gotham as close to full on gore as it will get. Taunting Jim Gordon with his supreme intellect and butchery skills, he is a man convinced that this extreme retribution is in some way justified. Everything else around Pyg is window dressing for the main event in which rich folks are on the menu.
Elsewhere we have an Emo induced Bruce Wayne angry at the world, angry at Alfred and working his way through issues with alcohol. This caustic attitude which accompanies an emotionally unhinged Wayne continues until he experiences an epiphany. Mazouz does well with the bad boy image but this soon gets old as Alfred needs to just slap some sense into him. Meanwhile Penguin and Sophia are still smiling to each other whilst sharpening the knives in secret. This continual back and forth between them is entertaining but fails to move things along, whilst allegiances switch relentlessly between lackeys and hangers on.
What is becoming tiresome though is the fact that every evil doer focuses on Gordon. He is the magnet in this equation from which others are seemingly powerless to escape. For all his hard edged delivery MacKenzie still seems too fresh faced and stoically cheesed off for that sort of attention. Cops in the GCPD may have gathered round him but something just feels off. Women are drawn to his roguish nature but ultimately repelled while crime bosses befriend, entreat and dismiss depending upon mood and circumstance. This sends out mixed messages, makes for uninspired formulaic plotlines and forced style over substance scenarios. Something which this Gotham could do without right now.