Martin Carr reviews the fourth of Gotham season 5…
There are unforeseen alliances, accusations and aspersions, stand offs and name calling not to mention some unsavoury romantic entanglements this week. Gotham has been suffering from a serious case of exposition overload, banal character moments and transparent narrative progression of late. Apart from last week which saw a return to form this season has proved harder work on the viewing public than necessary. A dystopian set up and outstanding production design has felt wasted, while our bunch of central protagonists have traded lines with little dramatic impact. Even after the climatic explosion last week things had only gained a modicum of momentum, which at least promised something more.
That something more finally arrived with one Jeremiah Valeska as personified through Cameron Monaghan. Cloaked in dungeon like darkness, surrounded by minions all excavating and unsullied by dirt of any kind, he held court for his brief moments of screen time. In amongst the other story threads which all revolved around finding a haven bomber they came as light relief. Adding a much needed element of theatricality Monaghan injected some originality into a scenario that has threatened to go nowhere for some time. Aside from these interim moments of enjoyment Gotham is peppered with bizarre character team ups and snippets of anti-climax that tread water.
Victor Zsaz makes a return, Penguin and Jim team up, Lucius and Ed do likewise while Barbara remains an enigma in terms of alliances, vendettas or character consistency. With Haven in ruins and truces being granted briefly in order to track down those responsible, Gotham continues to have a sketchy directional compass in terms of narrative. Revenge motives are still high on the agenda for some while double crossing no longer has the dramatic impact it once did. In the run up to release there were some screenshots of an as yet unrevealed Bane which is only hinted at through the title card. How these show runners intend to bring him in remains a mystery but we can only hope his arrival brings some sense of structure along with a much needed dramatic urgency.
In the final moments before those credits roll certainties are hard to come by as our largest criminal asset is mortally wounded, Ed has an epiphany which leads to yet another atrocious act and Gordon continues muddling through. It makes you wish for something akin to season four which for many will remain the high water mark of this much maligned series.