Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gotham: Light the Wick Review


Light the Wick keeps jumping from one point to another, but in this case that's a good thing. Our Gotham story involves mad scientists, potential mass murder, shrewd moves by its (alleged) central character, and more strong acting.

The Court of Owls is now working on its efforts to 'cleanse' Gotham City from its corrupting influences.  For that, they need two people: Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) and mad scientist Dr. Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong).  The latter will draw the Tetch virus from the former, which the Court will use to weaponize the virus and spread it around Gotham.  As the newest Court member, Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) looks to participate in this horror, which will cause the citizens to unleash their darkness and go all Purge on each other.

At this point, I'd argue that maybe the Court's plans are a little misguided, if not flat-out bonkers, but who am I to question the Court of Owls?

As if Gordon's problems aren't already big enough, he now has to contend with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), back from the dead, again, and out to find Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), whom he wants to revenge himself.  Penguin too wants to find this 'Court' and will stop at nothing to get to him.

Meanwhile, somewhere on the mountains, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is training with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry), who is still speaking in Wisdom-Speak: terms that sound deep but can be a little frustrating to interpret.  "Rage and pain are two sides of the same coin," he tells Master Bruce, who is working out his issues with his parents' murder as he too is prepared to be a weapon to 'cleanse' Gotham.

Looks like our Shaman is in cahoots with the Court.

Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) is not helping Pengy out this time, as she has more important matters.  Finding Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) in the hospital close to death, she is determined to save her friend who has saved her many times before.  She uses her botanical skills to care for her old friend, and Selina does recover.  She also wants to kill the Faux Bruce.

The Court's main girl, Kathryn Monroe (Leslie Hendrix), is displeased to find Gordon at her house.  Quick on his feet, he tells her that Penguin is now onto them, threatening to go on a tear to get to Ed, which could mean exposing the Court.  She is not overly concerned with this news, but thanks him for it.

She also has Gordon come up to the Daughters of Gotham charity event, where the Court will test out the Tetch virus in aerial form.  Gordon is being watched by Talon, the ninja assassin who won't let him get help.  Fortunately, again quick on his feet, Gordon gets hold of Penguin, who comes to the soiree with Firefly (Camila Perez), looking for the Court.  Gordon uses Penguin to crash the joint, saving everyone.

Later, as an enraged Penguin wonders whether Jim pulled a fast one on him and rails against both Ivy and 'The Human Popsicle', he finds himself abducted, where he is caged, right next to a shocked Edward Nygma.

With Gordon's duplicity known, it's time for Barnes to be his Executioner.

It's as if the entire subplot of Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) growing more disillusioned with the GCPD is a moot point.  Not that it wasn't important, but it didn't seem all that much in Light the Wick.  I really hated the final moments of the Daughters of Gotham fete, where Gordon has to save a crying little girl who fell and can't find her mother.

Is it me, or is that a trifle cliche?  At least it was filmed to where we didn't see the girl, but I sometimes wonder why people, in their rush, simply don't pick up the girl as they flee.  Hasn't anyone ever done that?

One great positive in Light the Wick is in how it showcases Gordon's growing intelligence.  It isn't that he was stupid, but it is nice to see that twice, he uses his wits to get out of seemingly impossible situations.  He knows he's trapped, either at Kathryn's house or the Daughters of Gotham event, but he uses whatever he has (both times involving Penguin) to get out of danger.  I really enjoy this aspect of the show.

A standout is also Geha as Ivy.  We got to see a softer, gentler, more innocent side to her character, the child inside the woman.  I can question the logic of how plants could revive someone pushed off a building, which didn't flat-out kill her instantly, or that it did it so quickly, or that Selina could pretty much jump up and say, "hey, I'm going to kill someone at Wayne Manor", but in this case, I'll roll with the punches.

There was a lot of logic in Light the Wick, whether in how Gordon saved the day or when he and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) realize that either killing or holding Strange would not be to their advantage.  "You logical bastard," Bullock growls when Strange's logic comes into play.

Hendrix and Wong kept to one emotion: coldness, but both of them were so assured in their characterizations of these nuts that it made perfect sense.  Taylor too kept that balance between menacing and mirth, from threatening Gordon to barking out his query about Ivy and 'the Human Popsicle', a line that had me laughing out loud.

I can't say much for the Thompkins' subplot, or what should be a bigger aspect with Wayne learning from 'The Shaman', who still speaks in grandiose terms.  However, things are slowly developing which should yield positive turns, at least we hope.

Light the Wick holds back on the violence, which is good, though more out of not having the free-for-all at the DOG event (yes, the Daughters of Gotham can be abbreviated to DOG).  It wasn't free of it: seeing Talon be set aflame by Firefly wasn't the greatest, but given the show's penchant for going really wild, it was tame and restrained from them.

Good but not great episode, but what was there worked really well.


Next Episode: All Will Be Judged

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