Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gotham: Harvey Dent Review


It's a curious thing that Harvey Dent isn't a big part of Harvey Dent.  The same thing happened with Selina Kyle in Selina Kyle.  I don't know if this is a quirk of Gotham or just a way of saying, "Look, here's ANOTHER Batman character popping up".   Like Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent is one of Gotham's weaker episodes.  HOWEVER, like with Selina Kyle, the performances push the episode higher.

Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) has been put into protective custody by Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie).  Where else to place her but at Wayne Manor?  Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is puzzled and intrigued by this street urchin, but the Wayne family manservant Alfred (Sean Pertwee) suspects she's nothing but trouble.  Meanwhile, Gordon believes he has found a new ally to find the people responsible for Thomas and Martha Wayne's murders.  It's Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto), a seemingly nice guy with a penchant for flipping a coin.  He suspects a major businessman, Dick Lovecraft (Al Sapienza) is behind it, and we get to see Dent's dark side when he explodes after Lovecraft threatens to make a fool out of him.

Speaking of explosion, Ian Hargrove (Leslie Odom, Jr.),a not-so-mad bomber, has been sprung out of jail by Russian working for Fish Mooney (JPS).  She has a scheme to hit her boss Falcone where it will hurt him the most: at his money.  However, the bombing campaign leads to deaths, which the troubled Hargrove doesn't want to participate in but is forced to against his will.  Thanks to investigative work by Gordon, his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) and forensics Edward Nygma (CMS), the police track down Hargrove and the Russians, where we find that Mooney has one more trick up her sleeve.

Back at Wayne Manor, the relationship between Bruce and Cat (Selina's preferred name) continues to evolve.  She asks if he's ever kissed a girl, to which a stunned and embarrassed Bruce says no and wonders why she would ask such questions.  Cat mocks his training, insisting he's a nice kid who would be devoured by Gotham.  However, by the end we see that they are at the end of the day, just kids, who find laughter and stress release in a friendly food fight.  Alfred, seeing Master Bruce finally smile and laugh and behave like a kid after everything he's been through, finds that Cat may not be so bad.

Again, it's curious that the title character in Harvey Dent made exactly three appearances, and add to that that the visual cues as to Dent's future fate as Two-Face were so nakedly shown.  When we get to a critical moment between Dent and Gordon, half of D'Agosto's admittedly beautiful face is bathed in light, while the other half is obscured in near darkness.  It's obvious what Gotham is saying, and I'm not big on things being nakedly obvious and/or overt as they are here. 

However, the casting of D'Agosto was a great move.  I'll state the obvious: Nicholas D'Agosto is an extremely handsome man.  As such, he would fit into the idea of an attractive young man on the rise whom we know will eventually become into a deformed figure physically and emotionally.  However, in that crucial scene with Lovecraft this intense anger bursts out from him that made D'Agosto extremely frightening, as if Dent carries intense darkness and chaos beneath the veneer of charm.  It was a small performance (though not in height since the 6'1" D'Agosto towers over the 5'8" McKenzie) but D'Agosto did quite well.

The BEST part of Harvey Dent wasn't Harvey Dent himself.  Instead, it was the interaction of Mazouz and Bicondova as Bruce and Selina.  Mazouz's hesitation and genuine confusion as Bruce towards Selina's life and actions are so real and natural.  Mazouz made Bruce into that 'nice kid' from a wealthy background who is direct but hesitant, a child still struggling to relate to people his own age.  His naivete is counteracted by Bicondova's street-smart Selina, who when relating the 'truth' of her mother appears to not believe her own story.  While the meeting of the future Batman and the future Catwoman at this point might (please/displease) fans, I thought it worked so well thanks to Mazouz and Bicondova.  Their last scene where we see that despite both their characters attempting to be adult (tough on Kyle's part, intellectual on Wayne's part), they are also kids.

Interestingly, we saw more of CMS' Nygma (who is slipping back into the more frenetic take on Nygma than the more functional Nygma we'd seen prior) than we have of Gotham's breakout star, Robin Lord Taylor's Penguin.  He is in the episode, formally to get him connected to Fish's mole Liza (Mackenzie Leigh) for future stories, and he's still good.  However, I liked the fact we got a brief break from Oswald's machinations.  Anyway, back to CMS' Nygma.  It was both amusing and I think accurate to have him try so hard to fit it and fail so often.  We can see the dynamic between Nygma, Bullock, and Gordon when Nygma puts his hands on both Bullock and Gordon's shoulders, which neither Bullock or Gordon were not pleased about.

The case involving Hargrove worked well, though nothing spectacular.  At least it was more grounded than The Balloonman (no pun intended). 

On the whole Harvey Dent worked well thanks to Mazouz and Bicondova, who made things a delight in their brilliant portrayals of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.  Some of the twists didn't work (Barbara's departure) and some of the twists were flat-out stunning (Barbara's new old love...WOW!).  I hope D'Agosto's version of Dent gets more screentime and a deeper exploration of Dent's divided soul without being so obvious (maybe he doesn't have to be flipping his coin so often).  Still, so far I haven't seen a bad Gotham episode yet, so Harvey Dent shows promise. 

Half in light, half in shadow...


Next Episode: LoveCraft 

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