Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Gotham season 3…
Gotham’s web is spreading wider. If ‘Rise of the Villains’ foreshadowed, gave cohesion and made Gotham a viable viewing proposition, then ‘Mad City’ is shaping up to be the perfect companion piece. There appears to be no episodic structure rather a meandering combination of plot lines which interweave, making things more organic, less restrictive and therefore more interesting. Of course the central tenets of Gotham still remain. Power, villainy and the acquisition of one and committing of another make for a nice counterbalance thematically, while characters continue to get more complex
You get the impression that as a series ‘Gotham’ has finally learned to strut rather than tiptoe. Somehow it now feels less backlot based even though the increase in location work is probably minimal. Jaime Chung, Benedict Samuel and the return of a few familiar faces have given the programme depth without feeling forced or false, whilst other people have simply been given more to do. Nygma continues to surprise while the chemistry between Smith and Lord Taylor make for an interesting diversion. Just as Tabitha and Barbara remain formidable alongside Bullock, Barnes and Gordon who share a boy’s club machismo in spite of their differences.
Elsewhere the burgeoning romance between Selena and Bruce feels slightly off as if the show runners felt that establishing this took priority over something else. For me there are a few false notes within episode five and this is one of them. While the emergence of a genetically enhanced Ivy remains an unknown, other things including the sudden interest Tabitha now has in Butch given her attachment to Barbara, leave us with more questions than answers.
I understand that Jessica Lucas has had little to do apart from look good and do her big eyes menacing thing on cue, but re-igniting some connection between those two for the sake of it seems needless and time consuming. Plus the sequence of events which unfold over this episode merely reiterates what we discovered last week. Underlining motivations just to hammer home the point seems a touch ham fisted in this instance. Plus the inclusion of Tetch also feels a little odd given his lack of involvement from the get go.
So it would seem this loose approach to structure and plot lines has issues. There is a more organic sense of storytelling allowed to come through using this method, but the flaws mean moments of confusion. To be honest character choices were chiefly to blame for the repetition on display throughout episode five, while the method being employed can’t really be held accountable. I guess the main question to be answered would be do we have progression? To which I would say a resounding yes. Is it as engaging as previous weeks? I’ll let you be the judge of that.