Gotham Season 1, Episode 9: Come together to fall apart

Review: The network show introduces a new character to, as he says, "clean up" Gotham, and longtime Batman are in for a surprise.

In Gotham's penultimate episode, everything finally seems to be coming together. Whether you're rooting for the heroic Detective Jim Gordon, anxiously awaiting the rise of the young Bruce Wayne or (like me) reveling in the evil and chaos sewn by the show's colorful villains, episode nine, "Harvey Dent," probably had you feeling pretty jazzed.

This week, the central vigilante was not a vigilante at all. Ian Hargrove (Leslie Odom, Jr.) is a mentally ill inmate at Blackgate Penitentiary who is liberated by former associates of the recently deceased Russian mobster Nikolai. They, working in collusion with Fish Mooney, want him to build a bomb (he is somewhat of an bomb-making MacGuyver) to help them penetrate the iron door of Falcone's money vault. They succeed, but Fish has bigger plans. She sends her own closet bomb expert, Butch, to blow up the whole operation, in hopes of further crippling Falcone. Hargrove - who may be, as his brother insists, just a sick man caught in a series of bad situations - is recaptured and sent to Arkham Asylum, where the mayor has decided to relocate all of Gotham's criminally insane.

The episode was appropriately titled "Harvey Dent." How appropriate that in the same episode Arkham Asylum is reopened, we meet one of its most infamous future residents. Dent is earnest, intelligent, and Gotham's youngest-ever assistant district attorney and is destined to be both an ally and (later) an enemy to both Gordon and Batman. He is brought in by the Major Crimes Unit to help investigate the Wayne murders. Selina "Cat" Kyle, the only eyewitness of the Wayne murders, has returned and, with a sketch artist, recreated an image of the killer. Dent wants to use the idea of a witness (without putting Cat in any danger) to bring down a mogul named Dick Lovecraft. Gordon is hesitant at first, but is won over by Dent's commitment to "make this city a better place."

Lovecraft is not a direct reference to any major character in the DC Comics universe. There is a minor villain named Dr. Lovecraft, but his name is more likely a nod to H.P. Lovecraft, the American horror novelist. The Arkham Asylum was originally named as a nod to Arkham, Massachusetts, a fictional town prominently featured in the writer Lovecraft's works in the 1920s, and in the works of those who followed and expanded upon his Cthulhu Mythos. The term "Cthulhu" will be familiar to fans of True Detective; this character-creature was one of many "weird supernatural horror" easter eggs in the first season of Nic Pizzolatto's critically-acclaimed series.

When Dent meets with Gotham's Lovecraft (Al Sapienza), we the audience were offered a glimpse at the beginnings of Dent's own mythos. When his plan to misle Lovecraft by pretending that a key eyewitness can tie him to the Wayne murders doesn't work, and instead draws a threat from the powerful man accused, Dent snaps. "Don't threaten me. I will rip you open," he growls, then returns to his calm and unthreatening manner. Somebody's a little bit two-faced, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, for her own protection, Gordon has sent Cat to stay at Wayne Manor with Bruce. The two future allies have a predictably rocky start; the genius rich boy writing his own school curriculum and taking lessons in discipline and willpower was bound to clash with the street-wise, chipped-shouldered, curious orphan. But eventually, they connect through a little pre-teen flirtation and the mutual understanding shared only by those who have lost parents. The strict but loving butler-caretaker Alfred, who is initially wary of Cat's influence on Bruce, also comes around to her charms when he sees them having a food fight. Bruce's interminable seriousness is finally softened as he dives under tables and dissolves in peals of laughter unheard since the night of his parents' death.

Elsewhere, the Penguin continues his slow but persistent takeover from the ground up. He sneaks into Fish's "weapon" Liza's apartment and, with a keen sense of smell, deduces that Fish has sent Liza to unhinge Falcone. No one can pull one over on this guy.

Of note in the last few episodes has been the spectacular music that accompanies Penguin's antics. At times, a honky tonk piano give a jaunty circus feel to his quirky walk. While sleuthing in Liza's apartment, lilting violins lend a creepy air to his pursuit, giving way to expansive Zimmer-esque "bramms" to underscore his dark revelation. It's the only place where the score truly seems to complement the action, rather than distracting from it. Though the music, like the rest of the show, has calmed down a bit from the first episode, there is still work for composer Graeme Revell to do in unifying the cadences of music and drama.

At the end of the previous episode, Gordon's girlfriend Barbara had left town, fearing for her life after a brush with Falcone's thugs. Though this was not a major theme in the ninth episode, it was woven lightly throughout. Poor Jim, always having to deal with the raucous criminals of Gotham City while keeping his personal troubles at bay.

But Barbara may not have left for the reasons she stated. At the end of the episode, Gordon calls Barbara, pleading: "I don't have anything without you and I love you." This heartfelt voice over gives way a surprising image: Barbara in bed with Major Crimes Detective Renee Montoya, her former lover. What is really going on here? Can Gordon truly trust either of these women?

Indeed, just as everything seems to be coming together, everything will come undone for its characters in the fall finale on Monday. Fox has released eight minutesof the episode already.

The Gotham mid-season fall finale will air Monday at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.