GOTHAM: PIECES OF A
It's been a while since Gotham graced our screens, and Pieces of a Broken Mirror does not disappoint. It flows amazingly quickly, a more remarkable feat given how many stories it has going on, with some others not even touched on. Pieces of a Broken Mirror has strong performances and a really surprising twist, though I wonder about other elements.
It's all going on in The Narrows, a slum area of Gotham. You have Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), who makes the oddest community organizer in history. She wants the people of The Narrows to join forces to help each other rather than fight among themselves. Her right-hand man is Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), making things odder.
In the same building unbeknownst to anyone, a semi-new villain arise. It's Ivy Pepper (Peyton List), who has changed her form for the second time. She has an ability to poison others with her blood toxins. At a nearby diner, recently fired Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) is struggling to find himself.
Also in The Narrows, Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is looking for his old partner Harvey Bullock, even going to a brothel Bullock frequents, and where we find that Harv is a chubby chaser. Gordon finds Alfred and is puzzled as to why he is there. Good thing too, for an explosion at the building where Lee is holding her unofficial rally goes off, caused by a toy plane. In the confusion, Ivy too escapes. Alfred's efforts in saving people earn him the respect of those in The Narrows, including some men who earlier tried to rob him.
Ivy crashes at a pad while that family is on vacation and sees a commercial for The Sirens Club, featuring three women she doesn't remember save for the fact that she hates them. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) are back in business. Frequenting the club is Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is still living it up, but Selina doesn't believe this playboy is whom Bruce really is. She does realize who Ivy is when Bruce makes a crack about 'crazy redheads'. Ivy gives Selina a taste of her new powers and asks her to join forces.
Alfred strikes up a friendship with a pretty waitress, Tiffany Gale (Caissie Levy), who is in an abusive relationship with Rooney (Matthew C. Flynn). Alfred being Alfred punches Rooney and tells Tiffany to leave him. She doesn't. She ends up dead. Alfred framed.
Alfred finds Rooney, thrashes him, but fortunately he thrashes him at the bar where Bullock (Donal Logue) now works. Bullock declines Gordon's offer to return to the Gotham City Police Department, but he does provide the proof to free Alfred of the murder.
Gordon also finds both the assassin, Griffin Krank (Thomas Lyon), with some evidence from Griffin's son Cosmo (Chris Perfetti) and help from his de facto partner, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk). Griffin made the plan to kill 'The Doc', whom Gordon assumes is a man. He is therefore surprised to find it is Lee, back and sane.
The big twist is that this Toy Maker was hired by Nygma's alter ego, The Riddler, to kill 'The Doc'. Nygma has no memory of this and is genuinely shocked to discover he put the hit on Thompkins. Things resolve themselves when Gordon kills Krank and Nygma feeds him a false story.
As I said, things move so quickly yet so smoothly one is genuinely shocked at how much is going on. The big final twist of The Riddler now being a completely split personality from the somewhat decent Nygma is one that I was not expecting, and it is a rare moment when something genuinely surprises me.
I say this because once Alfred and Rooney fight and we see Alfred lose his signet ring, I already knew Tiffany was going to die, Rooney was going to do it and use the ring to frame Alfred.
Perhaps that is why that storyline was not spread out and resolved within the hour.
It was so obvious it almost wasn't worth the effort. Apart from the wild coincidence that Rooney would end up at the same bar where Bullock was at nothing in this moment seemed anywhere near original. Maybe if we hadn't seen Alfred lose his ring and Rooney pick it up.
It's almost a shame since it would have been nice to have seen Alfred and Tiffany build up a relationship, so to kill her off so quickly just felt bad.
I also don't quite get why we needed Ivy the Third. I get why Ivy One was let go: as a child, she could only do so much. I also see why Ivy the Second was let go: as an adult, she was given nothing to do. However, List amps up the vamp aspect but so far I'm not thrilled. It's not a slam against List, but how the character has now developed.
One thing that has not changed is how good the performances are. CMS does double duty as the eccentric Nygma and the bonkers Riddler, and he gives a magnetic performance. Even though he had only one scene, Mazouz was excellent as the dissolute Bruce, partying it up in a radical departure from when we started with him as a nice young boy. He and Bicondova still work so well together, the Bat and the Cat continuing their odd mating ritual.
Bicondova was good for the most part as Selina, especially when she works with others like Mazouz, List, or the double trouble of Lucas and Richards. She did look a bit bored, almost insecure when she was in The Sirens Club commercial, but I put that down more to Selina's reluctance in all these things than on Bicondova herself.
It was nice to see Pertwee do something more than serve Master Bruce, and his scenes with Levy showed a softer side to Alfred. Pity that couldn't be explored more, or how quickly the Toy Maker was dispatched. I figure this is why Cosmo made a brief appearance, but maybe they can make some of these future Batman villains escape.
We also saw that McKenzie's Gordon didn't have his usual growling voice, showed himself a good detective, and even a more balanced manner, the mixture of regret and sadness at seeing Bullock turn him down well-played.
Apart from some obvious stories wrapping up quickly, Pieces of a Broken Mirror worked so well and sped by us without being rushed that it becomes a smashing way to return to Gotham.
Next Episode: A Beautiful Darkness