Martin Carr reviews the thirteenth episode of Gotham…
There is something strangely satisfying about seeing Jada Pinkett Smith chained up surrounded by instruments of torture. Whilst Ben McKenzie doing his full on righteous routine shoulder to shoulder with a seventy thirty split of dirty cops and those either side of that line, garnered a noticeably different emotional reaction. However these were nothing compared to the staggering epiphanies experienced when Gotham morphed into something else. An entity that had been hinted at but until this week had failed to materialise. That’s right people. We got ourselves a proper drama. Gather round there are now things to discuss.
By drama I am not referring to the teenage crush which is currently passing for emotional heft in the Wayne household. This scenario as much as anything involving Edward Nygma is only minor window dressing. Logue and McKenzie continue doing the heavy lifting alongside Lord Taylor, Doman, Zayas and Pinkett Smith. Any supporting players which exist outside of this central hub have little impact on proceedings. Any killings or disappearances serve only as narrative impetus for McKenzie and co to delve into a criminal underworld which expands with each passing episode.
Gotham has become a sprawling web of interconnected characters where taglines are now irrelevant. What started out as NYPD Gotham has now morphed into something where character not story dictates direction, itself a neat trick very few ever accomplish. That these episodes were written some time ago and have ultimately undergone endless fine tuning and tweaking is a given. That they have translated off the page into people you care about; now that is how you capture lightning in a bottle to quote Vince Gilligan. Many others with access to endless resources have come unstuck attempting to pull off the same thing, Speed Racer and Phantom Menace amongst them. However Gotham has neither the need for an inflated effects budget, nor desire to ride a one trick pony ragged in its search for validation.
It just needs a central studio location with enough Gothic architecture to suggest something seedy beyond the swing doors, plus the commitment of a cast with good material and ability. If one scene changed my opinion of this show and provided that eureka moment, it would be the final few minutes of episode thirteen. There is a tender moment shared between Logue and Pinkett Smith which communicates something unrequited, unfulfilled yet honest despite all the background noise. It is fair to say that sometimes enlightenment comes from the strangest places. No matter. Revelations wherever they originate are always welcome.