Martin Carr reviews the third episode of Gotham season 5…
Russian roulette played in derelict swimming pools daisy chain style with forty five calibre hand guns might seem dangerous, edgy, dicey or out there but this too little too late. Characters change alliances here more often than most people change channel, which plays havoc with dramatic tension or the sense of suspense that finality implies. What episode three feels like more than anything is subtle padding in the run up to Jeremiah Valeska’s big reveal.
Gun battles, pilgrimages to safe havens and the promise of sanctuary might seem like potent threads worth stringing out, but somewhere along the line things got lost. Bruce and Selena make for an odd pairing as she is no longer herself while he continues doing dour before cracking heads. Plot progression, character moments or the idea that their escapade might amount to anything never gets traction. This has nothing to do with either actor but more the glacial pace employed to get us further down the road.
Rousing speeches, forays into the dark zone or villains with messianic tendencies might seem exciting, thought provoking and provocative but when nothing comes of it interest dwindles. Mexican stand offs, double crossing biker gangs and explosive chain reactions might provide the pyrotechnics but if there is no meat on the dramatic bone then all is lost. You are left in situations like this with good characters treading water waiting for their line which is both depressing and ultimately a false economy. Screen time on any television channel is expensive so the entertainment which populates it needs to excel consistently something Gotham still has trouble with.
Substantial villains of worth have been thin on the ground and Valeska aside this trend seems to be on-going. Even with the ripe scenario which this season rests on there seems to be a distinct sense of timidity when it comes to breaking new ground. Only production design is on top of things with derelict cars, burned out buildings and a real feel of desolation thriving amidst the lack of humanity. What Gotham is missing more than anything is an immoral centre devoid of scruples, oblivious to personal suffering or worse still aware but unconcerned. Valeska as personified through Cameron Monaghan embodied all of these less than note worthy traits and more than anything might provide Gotham with the focus it so desperately needs.