Saturday, September 2, 2017

Gotham: Beware the Green-Eyed Monster Review


Perhaps a better title for Beware the Green-Eyed Monster, the midseason finale to Gotham, could have been My Wedding, Your Funeral?  It wasn't until the very end that this episode was going on full cylinders.  However, the ending...

Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is still convinced that Dr. Mario Calvi (James Carpinello) is infected with the Tetch virus, which makes people go insane with what drives them the most.  Gordon has good reason to suspect as much, given that the lab where a cure is being developed has been broken into and one of the technicians involved with it had his head crushed.

For Gotham, a man's head getting crushed is restrained.

Gordon is attacked at the lab but the word 'Arkham' is written on his hand, and with this he deduces the answer may lie with Jarvis Tetch (Benedict Samuel).  Tetch is too amused with this game but in his arrogance and wordplay he inadvertently reveals Mario is indeed infected.  Tests, however, show he is not, and the wedding to Gordon's former love Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) goes ahead as planned.

Further tests show that Calvi is indeed infected and dangerous.  Gordon forces Mario's father, Don Falcone (John Doman) to reveal where Mario is.  Eventually Don Falcone does, but makes Gordon promise he'll bring in Mario alive.  Mario, for his part, is about to become a widower when his jealousy overwhelms him.  He had asked earlier if even a tiny sliver of Lee still loved Gordon.  She tells him that there will always be a part of him that will care for him, but that she chose Mario.  As Mario comes at her with a knife, in rushes Gordon and shoots him dead.

Meanwhile, love is apparently making others do all sorts of strange things in Gotham. Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is still attempting to find who killed Isabella, when in comes Bonkers Babs (Erin Richards).  She has a little story to tell about who is responsible for 86-ing that 'booking vixen'.

It's none other than Mayor Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor).  She even gives Ed the motive in a riddle, with the answer 'love'.  Pengy has the means and opportunity, but Ed doesn't believe he has a motive.   It isn't until Ed submits his resignation and tells Penguin that he wanted to be 'more than friends' that the truth (and Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot) come out.  Pengy thinks 'more than friends' means lovers.  Nygma claims it meant 'business partners', strictly business.

Nygma, enraged at Penguin's icing of his beloved, now joins Barbara, her sometimes lover Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and their frenemy Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) for revenge, with Barbara's eye on taking over all of Gotham's criminal underground.

In another part of our Mad City, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) are reluctantly planning to break into a bank where the Court of Owls is holding a great weapon that would destroy them.  Eventually, our cat-like Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) joins in for a daring bank heist.  A Court-appointed assassin, Talon comes sweeping in to do battle, but unexpected rescue comes from none other than Maria (Ivana Milicevic), Selina's mother.

All they get for the trouble is a glass figure of an owl.

As I said, my problem, if you want to call it that, is with the last say two minutes.  What would it have killed Gordon to do what he did to Falcone's two guards: shoot Mario in the leg, maybe arm.

NO, he had to flat-out kill him.  Smart move, future Commissioner.

I'm sure this won't bode well in future episodes.

Still, let's not take away from the overall brilliance of Beware the Green-Eyed Monster. Smith and Richards were so wonderful as Nygma and Barbara, their scenes together so full of witty banter, barely masked contempt and wicked manners.  As they played off against each other, their manners: his formal, hers mocking, along with their dialogue (it's delightful to hear Bonkers Babs refer to Pengy as 'his beaky little friend'), you see two performers really push each other to high levels of acting.

The interplay between Samuel and McKenzie as Tetch taunts Gordon only to fall to his own arrogance was also sharp and strong, the former pushing the madness of The Mad Hatter while the former showing himself to be more clever than given credit.

Finally, Bicondova and Mazouz continue to be among the best younger actors working, the former even allowing her character may indeed harbor feelings for Bruce when she gives him a quick kiss before balancing herself to get at whatever is in the vault.  Mazouz for his part has made Bruce into a cold, calculating but highly efficient character, yet one who harbors genuine love for our Kitten.

The entire scene at the Court of Owls Bank was exciting, complete with the unexpected arrival of the Senior Kyle.  Granted, it might be a bit cliche to have this woman suddenly appear to save the day with little hint of her impending arrival, but I'm not going to quibble about that.

It's a bit of a shame that RLT, one of the best aspects of Gotham, didn't do a great deal other than reveal his 'love that dare not speak its name' and present a plaque to the author of Gotham Sewers: An Oral History (which I imagine must have been a hoot to write and/or write about).  You knew that Nygma stabbing the Mayor in front of cameras was a fantasy sequence, but it doesn't take away from how well it was filmed.

I still can't say that our ending was the best (and it does take away from Carpinello returning or forcing poor Dr. Thompkins into another love drama), but in terms of other story setups (both the Penguin/Nygma conundrum and the Selina/Bruce/Mrs. Kyle bit), Beware the Green-Eyed Monster does an extremely admirable job.


Next Episode: Ghosts

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