Martin Carr reviews the sixth episode of Gotham season 3…
Let’s take a few moments to admire the film references present and correct within Gotham this week. First we have The Matrix which I am not even going to explain because it gives me no pleasure in pointing out the obvious. Secondly however we have Speed, that original bomb on a bus action classic which took Jan de Bont from highly regarded cinematographer to bankable jobbing director. Which allowed films like Twister, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life and Speed 2: Cruise Control to make it into the world for the betterment of all. However that is beside the point as those last examples have no relevance to Gotham whatsoever.
What does have relevance is the relationship developed between Jarvis Tetch and Jim Gordon, your Dennis Hopper and Keanu Reeves respectively if you will. A mismatched pair each with their own issues, but infinitely more intriguing when together and less so otherwise. This cat and mouse game which is developing between them in which the ante gets upped every episode has given us another tangible villain. Penguin has turned legitimate, even if there is an interesting dynamic developing between himself and Nygma, while Barnes is still burdened by that dubious secret.
Elsewhere the threats all originate from within rather than without as it were. Gordon and Vale are becoming their own worst enemies both professionally and personally, while Gordon’s psyche is being picked apart and things are beginning to unravel. McKenzie, Chung, Lord Taylor and Smith remain the hub of this season while others merely skirt round the perimeter. Darker themes still permeate Gotham bringing out the unsavoury side of almost everyone.
Showrunners have addressed human experimentation, mind control, mutual suicide and incest within the framework of a primetime network tent pole. They have laced these character arcs with visual invention and Gotham has turned from whimsical diversion into ratings contender. With the return of another rogue element we may yet see another spanner thrown into the works, guaranteeing further fireworks as advances are rejected and retribution sought. With Tetch still loose and wrapped up beyond reason in his misplaced love for a sister long passed help, Gotham continues its downward trajectory in terms of atmosphere and ambience. Both dirty, stylish, grandiose and sordid Danny Cannon’s incarnation is drip feeding its polished pitch black plotlines into mainstream American homes. Watchable, engaging and a little of what you fancy. Gotham has turned from whimsical afternoon watching to essential late night viewing.