On the whole, I like FOX’s “Gotham.” I think it’s a fun comic book series and has actually done a really good job of setting up Batman’s world. That is not to say, however, that it doesn’t have issues, and watching last night’s episode brought the biggest of them into stark relief.
How many times are we going to hear Jim Gordon get told you can’t go after someone; that the person Gordon wants to bring down is too big, too powerful, too corrupt, too whatever? It honestly feels like every other episode features someone (often Bullock) telling Gordon to lay off, Gordon not laying off, and then succeeding where no one else could.
I get it – Gordon is a great cop, he gets things done. I think we all get it, but do we have to see it over and over? At this point, the corrupt people are wholly interchangeable and that’s bad.
You know what else makes the trend disturbing? In order to capture whatever baddie Gordon is pursuing, he regularly has to give something to Penguin or someone else that he shouldn’t. The holier-than-though Jim Gordon, the guy we are all supposed to be looking up to, the guy who is bringing down crooked cops and politicians, is himself going crooked.
How should we feel about that? Haven’t we seen Bullock trying to make up for so many past sins, trying to find redemption for so many wrongs? If Gordon continues on his current path, he’s going to be in the exact same boat before long, won’t he?
I am not sure how that can be changed – Gordon’s fight for justice is built into the show’s DNA, as are Gotham’s innumerable dirty public figures. The issue is that it’s already become grating, and I think the producers need to find a way to have these things play out differently. Maybe he should go crooked soon and have to fight for redemption next season. That could be interesting.
On the plus side, the issues with Gordon are still not as grating as Bruce Wayne’s storyline. Week after week, that feels shoehorned in, like it only exists because the show is “Gotham” so how can you not have Bruce Wayne.
I will walk that back slightly as I think the tale of Wayne going after the folks at his company could turn into something excellent. I don’t know however that they’re actually going to build that into a real thing, or that they’re going to do it in good fashion. I worry that it will just turn into another placeholder story, another, “Oh, hey, let’s check in on Wayne because we haven’t for a while” kind of thing.
Look at last night’s episode, it was as though the producers decided that because there was a lot of Bruce Wayne the week before and some actual plot movement so they had to slow things down this time. I understand that Alfred was in the hospital and hurt, but having Bruce sitting there so much really killed the momentum the show had built the week before.
Even that is not the show’s biggest sin. I really don’t like the way in which some of the future supervillains are being built. I don’t need Catwoman and Poison Ivy hanging out with Barbara Gordon (okay, she’s not Gordon… yet), I don’t need them bumping into and/or staying with Wayne. The would-be supervillains have had interesting moments over the course of this first season, but more often than not I feel as though they are only present to give knowing winks to the audience and after the first one of those I was done.
My suggestion (you’re reading, so you asked) would be to stop offering the nudges /winks next year. Narrow the focus, stick with the rise of Jim Gordon. Him unraveling regular crimes is for my money the best bit of the show, let’s see more of that. There is no Batman, we don’t need supervillains. Gordon doesn’t have to take down all the dirty politicians and cops, because it’s Gotham and why would the city need Batman if Gordon fixes everything. Just the slow, methodical rise. The show could live on good cases and detective work more than it does.
“Gotham” still has so many possibilities, so many ways of moving in the right direction, and I want it to do just that. At this moment, I’m much more concerned with what next season looks like than how they wind up this one. So much is going to hinge on fixing what works and jettisoning what doesn’t, and if that means losing Bruce Wayne I can deal with it (did someone say “boarding school?”).
We’ll just have to wait and see.
photo credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX