Martin Carr reviews the season 4 finale of Gotham…
Gunshot paralysis, cold blooded revenge and Martial Law await any and all who venture into No Man’s Land this week. Gotham has morphed into a battleground rife with vigilantes, ripe for turf war and filled with recriminations. Elements of The Killing Joke, moments of Ledger bleeding between the cracks and Gordon standing stoically against the oncoming tide, make this season finale a slow burner.
Jeremiah watches much from his jail cell orchestrating matters alongside an old fossil done up in dapper duds, who is great at posturing and getting killed. Incarceration is merely a state of mind for this Joker as darkness and invention are replaced by formula and convention. People keep getting shot then healed then shot once again as any sense of drama gets diluted down.
Lea, Ed and Jim are possibly the strangest love triangle for some time while their torture, confession, reconciliation default becomes jaded all too quickly. These actors are doing the best they can but somehow this never feels engaging, while The Riddler himself has lost his mojo. Nygma is neutered and no longer feels threatening as his affection for Thompkins robs Ed of his edge even under extreme circumstances.
Gotham also suffers from too many threads all being tied off simultaneously, spreading attention spans too thin, drama too sparingly and character sympathies to breaking point. In creating No Man’s Land these writers seem more concerned with getting us all to an endgame point, so this season can provide a state of indecision. Al-Ghul is no longer the big bad that he represented in earlier episodes being relegated on this occasion to little more than pantomime villainy. Without the requisite injection of true originality as provided by Monaghan in past weeks, Gotham feels conservative, reserved and above all average.
Our only shred of hope to be salvaged from this episode comes in those final moments where a familiar spotlight shines out from atop the GCPD. Sending out an ultimatum to meet all challengers while below Gotham is being systematically carved up between rival gangs. There are nods to new comers, comic book favourites and more amongst the rubble, but this remains a hopeful starting point for season five. Similar to John Carpenter’s Escape From New York this isolated island is now a huge man-made prison where criminals can run rampant. Policed by a small elite force, one masked vigilante and an ex-army butler capable of cracking heads and eggs together in equal measure.