Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Gotham Season 2…
Back history, pipe bombs and flame retardant arsonists are just a few things on offer this week in Gotham. Giving us an antique blade, old wife’s tale and a suitably creepy woman to impart said story just adds atmosphere.
With Penguin still on a choke chain, Galavan continues exerting influence by yanking on that family heart string chained in his basement. This episode also reveals motive beyond the conventional power-hungry megalomaniac which I had figured him to be. Outlining a lineage stretching back to the forging of Gotham’s social factions, it becomes clear by ‘Scarification’s’ conclusion that something wicked this way comes. A revenge tale spanning generations is being played out amongst the high society elite, with a master manipulator at the helm. Galavan represents an ancestor looking to repay blood with blood, something which Penguin’s Lord Taylor attempts to use to his advantage.
Elsewhere the crusade headed up by Jim Gordon continues as alpha squad breaks up the arsonist’s supply chain nicknamed ‘Merc’. Turned over by Barnes and company, it culminates in one suspect literally exploding under fire. An auspicious introduction to the Pike brothers. A team hired by Penguin to procure artefacts, burn down buildings and bring some mayhem to the party.
Singularly two-dimensional in depiction. These guys are portrayed as unwashed, chauvinistic and in need of retribution. It would have helped had they any redeeming features, but the writers failed to paint one degree of decency into the dialogue. Leaving the audience in no doubt that their life span was likely to be short. What this introduction does bring to the table however is Michelle Veintimilla, or Firefly to her friends.
Forced into servitude after the demise of her younger brother, Bridget is forced to light fires and fashion a means of escape through fire starting. Part vengeful arch angel and equal elements lost little girl, Veintimilla gives Bridget a heart. At least in the beginning. Her eventual transformation, aided in part by Selena, starts a downward trajectory with one possible outcome. With the incineration of an alpha squad member she sets herself up for the mother of all short-term arcs. Compare this to the cartoon grotesque which is the decapitation of Butch and you see a clear comparison.
In a move which feels more cartoon than comic book, the ruse employed by Penguin seems like plot device rather than anything else. With shadowy monks creeping around high-class apartments and hunting knives being bandied about, this seems like a step too far. What’s more it feels contrived which may sound stupid, as we are talking about Gotham, but still the point stands. What we have elsewhere is merely heightened reality with a glaze of the fantastic. This flagrant manipulation means that the scene itself is stripped of impact, at least on me. Thankfully, despite internet uproar over the lack of faithful Firefly origin story. It is this element which held my attention most throughout Gotham this week.