Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gotham: Prettyheavysoul Review


Perhaps Gotham opted not to title it Pretty Heavy Soul because we weren't too far from the similarly-titled Pretty Hate Machine.  I still find Prettyheavysoul to be a clunky, unwieldy title but the episode itself ends Season Three of our Batman prequel with wild finishes, outlandish ends, and even new beginnings for our various heroes and villains in this dark world.

Ra's al Ghoul (Alexander Siddig) has been looking for his 'knight in the darkness' and believes it is Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).  Despite himself, Bruce has stabbed his manservant Alfred (Sean Pertwee), an act that horrifies and angers Bruce.  Ghoul makes his getaway, but not before advising Master Bruce to use nearby waters on Alfred.  These waters heal but do not fully cure Alfred, who is rushed to the hospital.

Bruce is not impressed when he sees Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) paying a visit, and she leaves in anger.  Eventually, she finds Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), who now takes her as a protege, complete with helping her develop Selina's surprisingly good use of a whip.

It's been a long day for Tabitha, who has finally joined in helping her part-time lover Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) take out her other part-time lover, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), lovingly known as Bonkers Babs.  Babs and Edward Nygma aka The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) are trying to use Jarvis Tetch aka The Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) as a bargaining chip to take over all Gotham.  However, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), despite the growing power of the Tetch virus on him, knows that Nygma wants one thing one: Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor).

In exchange for Penguin, Nygma is willing to trade Tetch, something Pengy is not happy about.  Fortunately for him, Bonkers Babs learns about this secret deal and tries to get Tetch back.  Nygma throws a grenade and in the confusion Penguin manages to take Nygma instead, with Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) taking Tetch and Babs, Butch and Tabitha all in pursuit of the GCPD.

It looks like Pengy finally has the upper hand on his frenemy, but then Nygma is a man of some resources.  It looks like Penguin has set himself up for another fall, with Nygma telling him Penguin will always be defeated because he is driven by his base emotions.  Just like it looks like Penguin is finally going out, he gets Nygma to take him back to the dock of the bay so he can truly be 'The Riddler'.

Only one thing: this time Pengy thought things through.  Oswald had removed all the bullets from the gun much earlier, allowed his tiepin to 'fall' into Nygma's hands and used Nygma's own predilections for methodology to defeat his thwarted love.  He even brought reinforcements: Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) and Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow).  Mr. Freeze literally ices Nygma, who will be the star attraction at Pengy's new club, the Iceberg Lounge, with Ivy as his Girl Friday.

Butch, for his part, gets shot in the head by Babs, seemingly finally ending her hated rival.  She also tries to take Tabitha out, but in this duel the whip gives the gun a literally shocking end.  Bonkers Babs is electrocuted by Tabitha.

Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) decide to leave Gotham, or rather, Thompkins pushes and uses her feminine wiles to get them out.  One thing Thompkins isn't going to do is use the antidote, finally developed from Tetch's blood which they got from methods unspeakable.  However, as they leave Bullock catches up with them.  In terms tearful and clever, Bullock slips more antidote to Gordon, who pushes his dark side long enough to inject it into both himself and her.  Despite this, Thompkins decides the best thing to do is leave, and does so anyway.

We end with another family about to be robbed and potentially murdered, until a masked figure sweeps in to knock the assailant out.  Up on the rooftops, we find this masked figure is Bruce Wayne, slowly embracing his dark knight of the soul.

There were a few things in Dirtyheavysoul that I wasn't completely buying.  One of them was in how stretched out the Nygma/Cobblepot thing was.  The appeal to Riddler's sense of order seems a bit far-fetched, and reliant on things going a certain way.  What if Riddler had decided not to?  What if Babs got there after the exchange?  A lot Penguin's survival seems to rely on extraordinary luck, and that is asking quite a bit.

It also seems quite a lot to believe that Butch Gilzean would survive getting shot in the head (and getting us more of that Gotham violence that troubles us so).  Granted, seeing how Bonkers Babs went electric wasn't exactly family viewing, though to be fair it wasn't graphic for Gotham.  However, there may be something in that Butch, we learn in Prettyheavysoul, was born Cyrus Gold.

It is too much to ask me, someone who never read comic books and knows not the minutia of Batman mythos, to get excited over Cyrus Gold or whoever he turns out to be.  Even in the bonkers world of Gotham, where we've brought back more dead than any zombie movie, I still find getting shot in the head hard to survive.  

I also thought that both Ivy and Mr. Freeze were woefully underused, and hope that Season Four allows for more work from Geha and Darrow, who have been quite effective in their roles.

We, do however, see a lot of great things in Dirtyheavysoul.  Mazouz has really grown into a strong Bruce Wayne to where we can imagine him as the eventual Batman.  Pertwee as well has strong moments of pathos as Alfred.  Cory Michael Smith is delightfully smug as Edward Nygma to where you almost root for him, though I'm firmly #TeamPengy.

Gotham continues to be one of the best-acted shows, and this has been a strong season finale.

A Knight in the Darkness Rises Indeed...


Next: Gotham Season Three Overview

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