Even I occasionally get sucked into the overarching idea of Gotham. Or, I should say, the overarching idea that Gotham wants you to have. The idea that it is awesome to just see these characters we know so well, interacting, crossing paths, existing as younger versions of themselves. And when I fall for it, I fall for it hard.
Take for example the scene this week where Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma meet face to face for the first time. On first viewing, I was thinking to myself “this is so cool. It’s the Penguin and the Riddler and they’re looking at each other all mad!” And it was cool, on the surface. But take a step back and you’ll realize something — there was zero reason for it to happen. It didn’t advance the plot, or set something up for later, or even really have a satisfying conclusion. It was just a plot point on a script, probably labeled “Cool Moment #46: Riddler Meets Penguin.”
Therein lies the biggest problem with Gotham, a problem so paradoxical it almost seems impossible. The more Gotham delves into a character’s back-story, the more it takes away from the depth of that character.
Prime specimen: Jonathan Crane AKA The Scarecrow. Crane, in most cases, is obsessed with fear because of a childhood spent ridiculed by peers and abused by family. His obsession with fear leads him to take a job as a psychiatrist, where he both endeavors to understand fear and, later, spread it.
On Gotham, his father Gerald Crane (not Todd, Gerald. Oops.) injects him with a large dose of a “cure” for fear, which sort of backfires and ensures that Jonathan is in a constant, crippling state of terror for the rest of his life. Okay, so. At what point at any time would this lead young Jonathan to take up the mantle of Scarecrow? Or even pretend to live a normal life? Where are we supposed to say, “Oh, that’s why he continued his father’s experiments?” If anything, this episode would have convinced me that Jonathan would be terrified of his father, if it didn’t already convince me that Jonathan is now terrified of everything. Basically, comic book Jonathan Crane becomes a villain because he has depth, he has experiences, he has nuance. Gotham Jonathan Crane becomes a villain because he’s craaaaaaazy now, I guess?
Also, sidenote, the doctor says something about Jonathan seeing his worst fear in front of his face every second of every day. Then Jonathan hallucinates a spooky scarecrow. So the thing that Jonathan fears the most in this world is spooky scarecrows? That’s…specific.
Elsewhere, the writers overestimate how much the audience cares about Fish Mooney by breaking her away from Gotham City into an underground prison, where prisoners answer to a guy who is named Mace but is not played by Samuel L. Jackson until Fish stabs Mace in the face. At one point, before the stabbing, Fish tells Mace, “A firecracker only goes off once and then just lies there. What you’re looking at is the Fourth of July,” and all I can think is that the Fourth of July still only comes once a year. Just saying.
The Color of Fear
This could very well be accidental, but say what you will about Gotham but the show is good at slipping in the little details. I really liked that the color of Gerald Crane’s dripping, drooping fear juice was yellow, because in the DC Universe yellow is generally considered the color of fear. Colors are actually real important to a lot of people at DC, especially the various Lantern Corps and their individually colored power rings (bear with me, cool people). There’s Green for the power of
Ryan Reynolds Will, Red for Rage, Blue for Hope, Violet for Love, Indigo for Compassion, Black for Death, and Orange for Greed. Also the Orange Lanterns only have one member because he’s so greedy. Also that one member’s name is Larfleeze. Comics are the best.
Funny story, our good friend Scarecrow from this episode of Gotham actually ended up with a yellow fear ring for a hot second. Then Lex Luthor stole it from him because Lex Luthor was under the influence of the orange light of greed. It was this whole big thing.
So yeah. Power rings. Make it happen, Gotham.
Random Yearbook Faces
As always, Gotham‘s main crime story was solved by large leaps of faith and pure happenstance. This week’s case involved looking though a year book.
For those wondering Mr. Charlie Reeves is a Gotham script assistant, and Mr. Todd Baxley is a Gotham second assistant accountant. For those not wondering, these people are important to the creation of a TV show too, ya know?
“I have tickets to the circus”
So Dr. Leslie Thompkins has two tickets to a circus. A circus, in Gotham City. I wonder if there will be a trapeze portion.
The funny thing about that death-defying performance is that they all actually die. Um, spoilers.