This week’s episode of “Gotham” was rather different from the episodes of the past few weeks for one, primary reason: it was happy playing in its own world, free of heavy allusion to the future of the city with Batman at the forefront of its protection.
I’ve actually been waiting for this to happen for awhile, because even in the episodes that were full of winks and hints toward what’s to come, it was nicely creating its own characters (or its own iterations of characters) and its own organizations and situations. This, you’d think would mean that there is a lot of unique material to explore that isn’t necessarily required to subsist off of some aspects of the comics, and this week’s episode was the first one in several weeks where the show felt very comfortable in its own skin.
Bruce Wayne’s appearance was minimal, Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni didn’t appear at all (though they were mentioned), and the established characters from the comics that did appear were all doing so based on events that the show had already set in motion, not because they were winking about some future Batman villain or event. That was inherently refreshing, and while the intense allusion of the early part of the season was left behind by the end of the first half, this episode felt like it was truly following upon its own characters and events.
The primary plot of this episode focused on the police department, where Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock have to contend with some serious truths about the Gotham PD’s power structure. Commissioner Loeb has used his influence and leverage to get previously convicted murderer Arnold Flass’ charges dropped, and has positioned the corrupt cop as a major viable candidate for president of the policemen’s union. This, obviously, upsets Gordon, who convinces Bullock and assistant D.A. Harvey Dent to try and find some way — any way — of finding something they can use on the commissioner himself.
Meanwhile, Fish Mooney is recovering from her critical injury that she inflicted upon herself in last week’s episode, and finally gets to meet Dr. Dullmaker, administrator of the organ harvesting facility. She attempts to position herself as an ally of the doctor’s citing her ability to cause so much unrest in his basement of prisoners/donors, which leads to a potentially massive shift in circumstances for the disgraced crime lord.
Although the episode didn’t allude to any specific future characters, villains, or events that are destined to be in Batman’s future, one thing that it did do was further explore Jim Gordon’s efforts to reform the GCPD. By doing so without necessarily adapting any specific comic book elements, it still managed to stay true to Jim’s character while forcefully pushing in a familiar direction. of course, to make change in a city with such deeply-rooted problems, he has to get a little dirtier than he’d like. Still, this episode effectively communicated the lengths that Gordon will go to place the trust of Gotham’s people — as well as the trust from himself — back in the institution that’s charged with protecting them. To me, that was the biggest point of success this week.
Hopefully, the trend will continue, and we’ll see a great deal more balance between allusion and unique plot development. I’m not against a comic book Easter egg here and there, but this episode finally proves that “Gotham” can be a fine show — a damn fine show, in fact — without relying on the Batman mythology.
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