This review contains minor spoilers.
Director: Danny Cannon
Writer: John Stephens
Stars: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue & David Mazouz
James Gordon is now a bounty hunter looking for the Monsters of Indian Hill while Bruce Wayne investigates the Court of Owls.
Jamie Chung joins the cast as Valerie Vale and is a welcome addition. Chung has a fun personality and presence without going over the top. There is some spunk and life to Valerie that makes her believable as a reporter and I look forward to seeing more of her in future episodes.
Camren Bicondova, who plays Selina Kyle, has a very effective moment towards the end of the episode. I won’t give it away even though every cast member already did on Twitter and it’s easy to guess based on casting news. Selina reacts to an event in the episode that Bicondova plays wonderfully. It’s only a couple of seconds long but she nails the scene.
There are two major fight scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end, that are very well choreographed. They’re intense scenes with interesting movements but neither fight feels overly planned out like a dance. The moves feel natural. The second fight involves a Talon who is much more effective than I anticipated. His movements are fluid and there is an uneasy calm to him. This particular Talon comes across very well even if he isn’t wearing the comic book outfit. Which he totally should be, by the way.
As usual, the production design and cinematography are excellent. The show’s greatest strength has always been the atmosphere and the city itself. This is my favorite live action Gotham City. There is such life to it and Danny Cannon directs the episode well. In terms of visuals, this is easily the best DC show on television right now.
While I like Chung as Valerie and I love Ben McKenzie as Gordon, the two actors together share very little chemistry. Their scenes as a duo feel awkward and stilted. Maybe it will get better as the actors become more familiar with each other but it is not working in this particular episode. I have heard that there may be a romance between Valerie and Gordon and I am not excited for that.
This show has too many characters. The cast is insanely huge and it’s a detriment to the show. A couple of characters only have brief cameos just to remind the audience that they exist. Because the show’s cast is so big, the episode is constantly jumping around trying to keep up with everyone. There isn’t nearly enough time spent on Gordon as a character because the show has to cut to Barbara and Tabitha running a night club among other things constantly. The show really needs to streamline the story and find a focus because it’s all over the place.
The episode is mainly about setting up the new status quo so there isn’t much plot. However, I don’t think the new status quo is explained enough. It’s been six months since the events of season two at Indian Hill and I have no idea why anyone is doing what they’re doing. Gordon is a bounty hunter because Lee got a new boyfriend after he dumped her? What sense does that make? Why did Barbara and Tabitha get back together? Why is Selina working for Fish? No character has any motivation. They just do things and it’s frustrating when it involves major decisions that require some explanation.
While I like the show’s insane tone and style, Fish Mooney has never worked for me. I’ve never found Jada Pinkett Smith’s performance fun to watch and Fish just feels like a waste of screen time in the episode. There’s nothing cool or interesting about her.
The “monsters” are incredibly generic. The season two finale promised a carnival freak show and what we get here is just some mildly weird dudes. They remind me of Kryptofreaks from Smallville. Hopefully, they’re saving the cool monsters for later because the ones here are stock henchmen.
This is a weird complaint but the Talon looks like Gerard Butler’s Erik from The Phantom of the Opera. I’m not kidding; he looks just like Butler in that movie. It is really distracting. I was seriously waiting for him to start singing “Point of No Return” with Alfred.
Overall, this is a lackluster episode in my opinion. Gotham is at its best when it goes absolutely insane. This is a fairly tame episode more focused on character and story. Except, the characters are not well defined and the story is disjointed and unsatisfying. There are some cool moments and it’s certainly not a terrible episode but it’s rather bland and forgettable. And for Gotham, that is pretty disappointing.