‘Gotham’ Weekly Review: Back in the Saddle

By January 28, 2015

Although Jim Gordon is welcomed back into the Gotham City P.D., there’s anything but a honeymoon period for his homecoming. This episode of Gotham take a turn for the worst in a great way as we get back to relative normality with the principle characters, while things have heated up interestingly for some of the secondary characters.

As far as police characters are concerned, there was a named introduction of a very familiar character to comics fans in the form of police officer Arnold Flass. Flass was introduced in 1987’s seminal story arc Batman: Year One as the first partner to then-Captain Jim Gordon, fresh off the train from Chicago, and Gordon’s first true taste of what corruption looks like in Gotham. Of course in this show, there are several notable differences, not least of which being that Gordon seemed to have gotten his start at the Gotham P.D., but that’s neither here nor there. What’s interesting about Flass’ introduction, played by actor Dash Mihok (who also played Detective Martin Soap in the underrated Punisher: War Zone), is that it borrows elements from Year One, and makes a backward extrapolation to the status quo of the show.

Detective Flass made his first appearance in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One, and the character seems right at home in the show's corrupt environment.

Detective Flass made his first appearance in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One, and the character seems right at home in the show’s corrupt environment.

Thankfully, this works pretty well, as Flass seems right at home in the corrupt infrastructure of Gotham as it’s depicted here. He’s making enemies in all of the right places — namely Jim Gordon, and even Harvey Bullock to a degree — and serves as quite the unlikable foil to even the gruff, lovable exterior of Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock. Having a more hard lined “antithesis” also seems to strengthen Ben McKenzie’s portrayal of Gordon in these instances, which is an added bonus.

On the side of the mob, Fish Mooney lies in discovered disgrace at the beginning of this episode, but things are definitely shaken up by the time the credits roll. After the way the last episode went down with Falcone largely discovering Fish’s plot to move against him, he decides to make her suffer in both explicit and implicit ways. Still, one of the strengths of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s performance is that she certainly seems to have a fire burning behind her eyes, and a hatred for Falcone and Penguin that helps to fuel some appropriately passionate scenes of expression on her part. We’re left with an interesting question mark about how she could show up in the future, and with what the show might be hinting at, it may end up being rather surprising.

Along with seeing more of Fish, we also get to see and learn a little bit more about the Penguin, as the unusual and somewhat creepy relationship with his mother is given even more service. One of the harder things for me as a comic book fan to get around is the somewhat auditory abrasive quality that Robin Lord Taylor uses for the voice of his character. It’s mousy, but scratchy, and there’s not exactly a unique accent or pattern that previous Penguins like Burgess Meredith, Danny DeVito, or Paul Williams gave to him. For all of his underhandedness, Penguin always had a certain regality to him, and what we have instead for “Gotham” is an awkward slimeball that has a good vocabulary, but doesn’t exactly know how to speak.

As the show has continued, though, it’s grown on me. Taylor’s performance is appropriately mousy yet surprisingly dangerous, and that’s a level of threat Penguin is rarely given in the comics. The closest analogue that I can think of is the vocal performance of Nolan North coupled with the Penguin character design of the Arkham games, where there’s really nothing remotely “high society” about him.

Beyond that, a very interesting plotline is set in motion going back to the very first episode, which makes me anxious to see how the next one will help move things along. Overall, “Gotham” seems to be more on an upswing since its return from the mid-season. We still have a ways to go, but thankfully, it’s keeping me interested in going on the ride for a little while longer.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.