Martin Carr reviews the sixteenth episode of Gotham season 4…
Jim Gordon is fast developing a legacy of wrong doing for the right reasons in Gotham. A millstone of questionable choices, criminal allegiances and circumstantial petty felonies haunt his every step. Kept in check by a morally flexible partner with the goods on him Gordon is hounded by consequences of his own making. This characteristic ambiguity goes hand in hand with the rise of on-screen violence, tonal bleakness and amoral lunacy which now passes for an average episode.
Bullet wound stigma, a soupcon of torture and ritual suicide are all served up in a primetime show which already harbours adolescent vigilantes. Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome once again dominates alongside second fiddles which include Tetch and Scarecrow. Shown in snippets between the numerous other narrative threads his incarnation trumps both Barbara’s spiritual possession, Bruce Wayne’s black ops interrogation technique and any hint of an organised assassination crew.
For the most part ‘One of My Three Soups’ is formulaic stuff where a simple conceit is played out while the more important stuff happens elsewhere. Mass breakouts aside the grand plan and big reveal is slowly being geared up as we approach a season closer sort of vibe. Where Jerome still feels vital however Tetch and Scarecrow smack of narrative afterthought. In the case of Tetch especially you get the sense he is nothing more than plot device with minimal character progression and a one trick mentality which gains no more teeth.
Something which is coming back into the frame however is Bruce and Selina’s dynamic. Although these two are still incapable of selling any sort of sexual tension, their inadvertent monitoring of each other belies something more deep-rooted. Both actors sell that element well while a very subtle Batman Returns homage creeps in under the wire. With Pertwee’s Alfred off the radar briefly Mazouz is given ample opportunity to play the self-righteous vigilante on a mission, which for the most part he pulls off.
What we are left with then is the three ringed circus of Jerome, Jim and Bruce each acting as mutual counterpoint, narrative fulcrum and character defining influence one upon the other. A point which is played out visually and verbally against the backdrop of Gotham in freefall. A constant reminder that in this town more than any other there are no heroes left.