Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Gotham: Nothing's Shocking Review

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Guess again, for there is something a little shocking in Nothing's Shocking, the newest Gotham episode. Nothing's Shocking shows us what might have been if the show had not gone off on some tangents, but with only four episodes left before the series ends it's a shame things went the way they did.

The main story involves Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). His old former partner Dix (Dan Hedaya) appears to be not just walking (an oddity given he's wheelchair-bound) but killing, having iced two ex cops at The Sirens Club. Bullock and Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) cannot believe Dix is the killer, but there are witnesses.

Dix, we find, is terrified because he obviously isn't the killer. Through twists and turns we find that the killings go back to a long-ago case where the rookie Bullock and his senior Dix got dubious testimony from a girl to get her mother convicted for killing her abusive husband. This girl, Jane Doe (Sarah Pidgeon) was affected by Dr. Hugo Strange's mad science. She could take the form of anyone she touched, leading to Dix's own death...and eventually her own.

There are two subplots. The first involves Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) tracking down a man named Hank at the request of his wife, who fears for his life after he disappeared in the sewers. Eventually, they find and save Hank from being devoured by a deformed man living in the sewers, affected by the toxic waters.

The second has Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) still working and arguing over the submarine, which Pengy names S.S. Gertrude, and how they are found by Mr. Penn (Andrew Sellon). Mr. Penn or 'Arthur' (which Penguin keeps getting wrong as 'Arnold') is not alone: he's got a dummy named Scarface, who unlike the timid, mousy Penn is murderous and full of gangster affectations. For once, Pengy and Riddler are scared, but after 'coming to terms' with Scarface, our Ventriloquist is shot dead and the two frenemies have a good laugh.

Image result for gotham nothing's shockingTruth be told there really is nothing left in Gotham on every level.  It's unfortunate that The Ventriloquist was essentially reduced to a cameo, all his scenes taking place in one room. Part of me understands that he could not be part of Gotham as the show is about to limp onto its end. However, given how surprisingly good and convincing Sellon was in the role, it seems a shame not to keep him around at least for a couple of more episodes.

It's a credit to Sellon and Gotham that the whole concept of The Ventriloquist (even if he was not mentioned as such) was surprisingly rational.

We'll leave aside the fact that there was never any real reason, logical or not, for how Mr. Penn came back to life. We should just accept that people pop up living after dying on Gotham and move on.

The misuse of The Ventriloquist should show how this show never really got full use of its Rogues Gallery. Why pop in The Ventriloquist if you were going to get rid of him so quickly? It seems almost a waste. Same goes for the Bruce/Alfred subplot, which seemed there just to give them something to do. I figure that it might lead to something later on (Killer Croc?) but even if that were the case, the filming of this encounter was so hard to follow.

The main story is what elevates Nothing's Shocking, in particular Logue's performance. Here, Bullock is a haunted, guilt-ridden man who finds he cannot atone for his sins, even when asking for absolution from Gordon. He is matched by Pidgeon as Jane Doe, who seems to have an invisible touch. Pidgeon makes her also haunted, down to where she is so far gone that she cannot see that she is not deformed when she unmasks herself.

Image result for gotham nothing's shockingHedaya, who has not appeared in Gotham since Season One's Spirit of The Goat, makes the character one less haunted but with still a brutal end. The positive in Nothing's Shocking is that for a brief moment we forget Jane Doe's power and wonder whether Bullock, driving to desperation, could have crossed a line impossible to come back from.

We even get a brief moment of comedy when Bonkers Babs shows up and we find she's double the fun! There's also more comedy thanks to Taylor & Smith, the former wisecracking to his more paranoid partner "I KNOW you're being watched with this jingle bell contraption", mocking Riddler's security system. After Mr. Penn is killed off, Pengy screams at Nygma, "HE wasn't the threat! The DUMMY was the threat!"

Credit for making that sound rational.

Nothing's Shocking is lifted by Logue's performance and the Bullock storyline, with the others kind of just there.


Next Episode: The Trial of Jim Gordon

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