Martin Carr reviews the fourteenth episode of Gotham season 2…
David Mazouz’s Bruce Wayne might look like a preppy who needs to get on the Mars Bar diet, but don’t let that cover fool you. Because this week he gets to exhibit his kick ass colours facing off against Matches Malone. A somewhat less monstrous version of a cold-blooded killer thanks to Michael Bowen’s layered performance. Who gives Malone the humanity and regret which strips away the animal to show a man beneath.
In more ways than one Wayne’s expectations are his undoing which temporarily throws him off guard. Mazouz handles this delicate dialogue scene with skill holding his own against the seasoned veteran, who is holding all the aces dialogue wise. In many ways Bowen’s generosity here verges on the paternal, which is at once disturbing yet highly engaging from an audience perspective.
For the most part conversation rather than action plays a large part in episode fourteen, especially between Hugo Strange and Penguin. Who both unnerve and intrigue in the cloak and dagger nature of their exchanges. BD Wong and Lord Taylor clearly revelling in the darker elements which Arkham affords them. While Smith’s Nygma is given moments of externalised internal monologue, to illustrate an elevated madness infringing on his work routine.
Elsewhere there are homages thick and fast in the shape of Lori Petty’s Jeri, who is equal parts Harley Quinn and Joker. But the comparisons carry on beyond the superficial and into those close and personal dialogue scenes with Gordon. Where it becomes quickly apparent that he represents no threat to her, living as she does outside the rules which apply to most people.
It is here that Petty raises her game in a similar fashion to Bowen’s Malone towards the conclusion. To a certain extent with the inclusion of these two curve balls Gotham could be said to have found some balls. There is less of a reliance on stock villains, even taking into account that The Penguin is still around as are Butch and Tabitha Galavan. But as they no longer hold the power any real threat now comes from within government regulated, privately funded institutions.
Our real bad guys are now elected officials who hold the purse strings, cards in fact the whole nine yards. With people like Strange and Peabody manning the fort it could be said that evil now exists both sides of the line. With little more than a month left to go before season finale, Gotham is finally giving us a taste of the city we hold dear. Rotten to the core, unapologetic in its demands and more than capable of working outside the law.