Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gotham S01E22 "All Happy Families Are Alike" Review

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Here we are folks, The finale of "Gotham". When this project began I considered it an misbegotten project that appeared to be destined for failure. I didn't say what I said out of spite or hatred for the project, but a prequel series about Batman without Batman...c'mon, need we look any further than "Birds Of Prey"? But DC has been killing it in the TV game, what with "Smallville" ushering it in and now Green Arrow, Flash and John Constantine (of all people) have their show, so why not a Batman prequel TV show? Since "Gotham" began airing, I've pretty much said the same thing I've always said "It's a mediocre cop drama with Batman bits sprinkled." and thus far "Gotham" hasn't done anything to make me retract that statement. And I hold by that statement and I'll add "If this had nothing to do with Batman, this show would've been canceled in a few episodes.". But it's been declared that "Gotham" has been renewed for a 2nd Season, is this something to look forward too? Well let's dive in:

Only once have I seen such a botched, butchered and uneventful season finale in my life ("Dexter" *coughs*)...that is of course until I saw the "Gotham" season finale. For a TV show that lends it's self some of the most recognizable rogues gallery and well known mythos, this finale was just plain awful in all the worst ways. You name it, it was here: crappy character development, rushes to conclusions, happenstances, just all around lame. I'm not quite sure which I'm more disgusted with so for your sake and mine, let's start with the most useless plot thread in this episode...that's right, you guessed it...

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Yeah, she looks pretty crazy here.

Since this show's premier I've identified her as being the weak link in terms of acting ability (and at least to her credit she did come off as pretty unhinged in this episode) but at the end of the day, no one cares. For those of you outside the know, Barbara Kean in the comic books is Batwoman, except in the books she's a lesbian and had previously dated Renee Montoya. I have no clue who this character on TV is supposed to be. What I also have no clue about is what is going on with her and why this wasn't a thing addressed in...oh...I don't know a mid-season finale or something? If Barbara had such an issue with her parents why didn't we see any build up to that?

There was no passing dialogue about how her mom didn't approve of her, no moments of insecurity, no nothing. There was nothing to build up to the revelation that Barbara was in fact the one who killed her parents. Sure, we got that ONE MOMENT (not even a full episode) where Barbara went to visit her parents after leaving Renee and even then I didn't get the sense that they were these horrible people that Barbara wanted to kill. What I took from that was that Barbara was an alcoholic and a drug user and her parent's house was her rehab and they knew that. That's what I took from it. But now Barbara is a murderer and an attempted murderer and Jim's ex-girlfriend. Did they even address what happen to her afterwards? Nope! Not worth the time! Just cut to Jim & Falcone talking while admiring the Gotham city line. Nevermind that Jim's ex-girlfriend attempted to murder his current girlfriend and how awkward that arrest was or the fact that Barbara admitted to murder, NOPE! NO TIME!

That fact that there was no aftermath of that event leads me to believe that it's unimportant, and in the grander scheme of things, it absolutely was unimportant. Because in the grand scheme of what was going on in the finale, it meant nothing. Unless she's gonna come back next season as some super arch villain (Sweet Christmas, I hope not), she really had no purpose of being in the finale...she really had no purpose being in the penultimate build up to the finale...she really had no purpose being anywhere past the first 5 episodes. Her plot thread was a complete waste of time and a drain on an episode that was nothing but a major drain. Moving on...

Let's address The Riddler. Credit where credit is due, I do like the idea of him talking to himself, the duality of personas is interesting but it's much too late for him. His origins within the "Gotham" mythos was less than inspired and his arch as a villain was rushed. He didn't go from Bad to Evil, he went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds. It's not like he upped the ante on Ms. Kringle's boyfriends by doing things to them. They could have given Edward Nygma the Walter White treatment and turned him into a formidable villain, a Riddler like we've never seen. Well he is a Riddler like we've never seen and hopefully a Riddler we'll never see again. The Riddler is my favorite Batman villain and if you'd like to more, I suggest you read this article I wrote on how I'd do The Riddler. Enough about him.

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Disappointment, thy name is Edward.

The Return of Fish Mooney...this is what it all boils down to (and I'll have more to say about this in the closing paragraph, mark my words). Since Fish was muscled out of "Gotham" and set up by The Penguin, the show focused on her being trapped by The Dollmaker and then becoming his Number 2 and escaping and her return to Gotham. Jada Pinkett is a good actress, I haven't seen her in much but she was good in "The Matrix" sequels and that's really the only things I've seen her in. But here in "Gotham" she chews scenery like it's bubblegum and bestrides this series with an air of "Nothing bad will ever happen to me." and somehow manages to escape every bad situation she's in (often at the expense of making another character who previously acted intelligent to be stupid).

So Fish is back, apparently there was a medic among the many that Fish released from The Dollmaker and she managed to land the helicopter somewhere, get a boat and heal up. Not only that but she managed to recruit Selina Kyle as her Number 2 person in her...organization of butchered cripples (that's basically what they are). I understand the writers wanting to throw a monkey wrench in the Mob war between Falcone & Maroni...but that monkey wrench should have been The Penguin and while we're on the subject, let's talk about Oswald. Since the series began, Oswald Cobblepot has been this timid yet sadistic imp, but he showed himself capable when he managed to successfully con his way into becoming Falcone's #2 guy.

And then once Fish Mooney was out of the picture Oswald became comic relief and his I.Q. dropped about 90 points. He went from being a master manipulator to be a bumbling idiot who was mostly used for comic relief. The way they set up The Penguin was very interesting from the start. Here was a guy who didn't have the muscle or the money but he had the brain and he knew things and could manipulate people. The best part about it is that thanks to his timid nature, he was often underestimated and that would be the downfall of his enemies. The Penguin didn't too much care about money, he didn't too much care about the muscle, he cared about power and he knew Falcone & Maroni truce hung on a very thin line and all he'd have to do is tug on that line just a little and BOOM! Both sides would end up killing each other.

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Wait, why am I laughing, Maroni's probably gonna kill me first...sh*t.

The problem was The Penguin just so happened to be on that line when he pulled it! I hate the fact that he even pointed out his own plot hole "MARONI DOESN'T LIKE THE PENGUIN!". Bare in mind that Maroni showed up to Penguin's club and openly threatened him, intimidated his mother and made it very clear that they weren't friends, they just had a non-aggression pact. Since Penguin null and voided that pact, and he deceived Maroni, killed one of his lieutenants, and pulled a gun on him and pulled the trigger, did it ever cross Oswald's feeble little mind that just MAYBE if a war started between Maroni & Falcone that his name just might be somewhere on the top of the list? Of course it did because Oswald just said it in this episode! Did it ever occur to Oswald to have a scapegoat to pin it on? Or maybe, just MAYBE he should have sicced Falcone on Maroni instead of siccing Maroni on Falcone? Maybe he could have gave Falcone some inside tips on Maroni's set up. Lied about an attempted hit on one of Falcone's top guys, and why wouldn't Falcone believe him? Penguin tipped him off to Fish's plan.

The Penguin's plan to start a large scale mob war was just plain stupid. Being a chess player, I understand the idea of having to make moves in order to achieve victory, but The Penguin had Maroni and all his top guys in ONE PLACE! A bomb could have made that bit of business very quick. But no, like Fish, The Penguin needed some convoluted and nonsensical plan to get Falcone & Maroni out of the picture, and unfortunately that plan also put him in mortal danger, and for no good reason I might add. And so there you have it! The Penguin becomes The new King Of Gotham, not through craftiness, hard-work, skills and a drive to succeed but through getting extremely lucky in escaping situations by the skin of his ass, and because the previous King (Falcone) decided to retire...congrats Oswald, you're winner by default.

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The Penguin REALLY needed a point in the Win Column, and here's where Fish comes back into the picture. It really show have been The Penguin to pull the trigger on Maroni. Fish didn't need it. After all, Jada Pinkett said she wasn't coming back for the 2nd Season, killing Maroni did absolutely nothing for her character. Now I know what you're going to say, but Ugo, Penguin killed Fish Mooney, that's a win. Wrong! Butch crippled Fish and allowed Penguin to push her off the roof into the water. Penguin didn't win on his own, he needed help, help that had it not come, he'd have been man over board for sure. And that's the real problem, I don't see The Penguin as a force to be reckoned with, I see him a joke. A joke so bad I was half expecting Butch to push Penguin off the ledge when Oswald was doing his Leonardo DiCaprio impersonation. Killing Maroni in cold blood and then killing Fish would have done The Penguin some MAJOR good in terms of establishing him as a badass. Instead we get a scene of him clumsily using an assault rifle like one of The Three Stooges. Ugh...

The Penguin is an established character in The Batman mythos, as well as Carmine Falcone, Salvatore Maroni & Jim Gordon. The primary focus of the show should have been on these four individuals. At the end of the day, the established characters need to come out on top and they dropped the ball HEAVILY with The Penguin. For who he's going to become, I just don't see it and that sucks because I really like The Penguin and I really liked what they were doing with him here...until now. Hopefully they'll rectify this in the 2nd Season but I doubt I'll care very much by then.

Meanwhile Bruce Wayne discovers the Batcave, is this interesting? No. "Gotham" could have really done a lot of good with a time skip, from the murder of The Waynes to Bruce being...oh say...older, and I get that David Mazouz is 14 but he comes off so much younger, can he at least be 16? This is an after thought, it's not like he's going to get the suit, the skills or anything else, so really this discovery is nice but it won't matter till much, much later.

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This should be interesting...but it's not...

In conclusion, "Gotham" Season One was a tour de force of mediocrity. With the plethora of potential storylines, villains and character arcs to make this show as unique as it's forerunner ("Smallville") and it's contemporaries ("Arrow", "The Flash" & "Constantine") "Gotham" does NOTHING special with the material it's given and does NOTHING special with the format. I've said it time and time again that "Gotham" needs to do something BOLD, something BALLS-TO-THE-WALLS crazy to REALLY solidify the point that this is not just another cop show, and in those 22 episodes it did nothing but exactly what was expected of it and failed to impress me every step of the way. It played it safe in killing off well known actors (Jada Pinkett) and even gave them more screen time than they should have had considering The Penguin is a real Batman character, Fish Mooney is not. And it spent too much time on things that don't matter.

So here it is ladies and gentlemen. I'm officially dropping "Gotham" from my review schedule and I'm debating or whether or not I want to continue watching it or if I'll just wait for the DVD boxset when it gets inevitably canceled (and again, I don't say that with a smile, but I see it coming). This finale didn't impress me and it didn't leave me wondering what's gonna happen next, all it left me with is an imprint of my hand on my face from facepalming so much and a deep sense of "I don't care.". It's such a shame to see so much potential wasted in such a good concept, but alas...So there is no until next time, this is SO LONG, "GOTHAM"!

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