"The Anvil or the Hammer" (S1/E21)
Author: Ricky Church (Follow RICHARDCHURCH16)
April 29, 2015

EPISODE INFO: "The Anvil or the Hammer" was written by Jordan Harper and directed by Paul A. Edwards. It originally aired on the FOX television network on Monday, April 27, 2015. GOTHAM is based on "Batman" characters owned and published by DC Comics.

SYNOPSIS: As Jim and Harvey close in on the Ogre, the killer executes his own plan to get his perfect mate. Meanwhile, Bruce gets to Bunderslaw's safe, and Oswald sets in motion a plan to take control of the Gotham underworld.

MAIN CAST: Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, Sean Pertwee as Alfred, Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman, Zabryna Guevara as Captain Sarah Essen, Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma/the future Riddler, Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya, Andrew Stewart Jones as Crispus Allen, John Doman as Carmine Falcone.

PREVIOUS EPISODE: S1/E20 "Under the Knief" Review by Ricky Church (4.23.15)

The review continues after the GOTHAM episode below!

Gordon’s search for The Ogre came to a conclusion in GOTHAM’s penultimate episode, “The Anvil or The Hammer,” The procedural aspect was, once again, the least interesting aspect of the story as Gordon and Bullock searched for clues to The Ogre’s identity, leading them to Penguin for information and a secret S&M club in the city. While the S&M club was meant to be a comedic, there was a lot going on which made it over the top. The end of the scene was particularly over the top with sound effects of a chainsaw, pig and whip, forcing Bullock to break his cover.

Plot convenience played a factor as GOTHAM followed its own clichés. Yet again, the case was solved as Gordon went to The Penguin for help and pieced together a major clue through a landmark half seen by the victim. GOTHAM leans on these plot crutches way too often. Gordon and Bullock (and the showrunners and writers conversely) have to learn to stand on their own two feet eventually.

The Ogre continued to prove an interesting character himself, however the show backtracked a little bit with Barbara. Last week ended with Barbara intrigued by The Ogre’s interests, realizing there was some truth to the darkness they shared. Almost immediately this week, though, she flipped as she told him this was a one-time thing. To give Barbara credit, she did draw the line at murdering innocent women; at least, at first.

It was a very interesting twist to see Ogre force her to choose his next victim, claiming it was for her benefit. Leslie seemed like the obvious choice, given she had Gordon’s love now, but instead she chose her parents. Even though this was a neat twist, it was a bit of a surprise to kill off Barbara’s parents since viewers have only seen them once several weeks before. Whatever reason there was for Barbara’s estrangement was never discovered, nor were they ever mentioned after Barbara’s brief visit. Her choice to have her parents killed lacked any emotional impact since there was hardly a connection for the viewers to understand.

The story faltered further in the end as it lacked any proper resolution. The final few minutes were more focused on setting up the finale that there was no scene showing Barbara in the aftermath of her parent’s death or Gordon going to see her. The last we saw of them was Gordon cradling Barb and he didn’t really mention how she was doing to Leslie. Viewers were left with the impression that her mind may have cracked from everything The Ogre put her through, but something that momentous shouldn’t be left for another episode to deal with, especially one that will be jam packed with a full-out mob war.

The main story of “The Anvil or The Hammer” slipped a bit this week, forcing the subplots to hold it up. In that regard, the little headway Bruce and Penguin made in their storylines was good enough. Penguin’s machinations continue to payoff and Bruce came face-to-face with a very important ally in his future war on crime. Next week, however, GOTHAM has a lot of work to do in order to get viewers invested for its second season. Hopefully they’ll bring the same amount of work to the finale as they did to “Penguin’s Umbrella,” by far the best episode of the series yet.

STRAY THOUGHTS...
* Nygma literally spelling out his last name on the fake letter was actually a nice touch. It’s a staple of the character that he always puts the answer within the riddle so it was clever to see that begin here.

* That being said, sneaking his murdered victim into the police lab to dispose of the body was a little ridiculous.

* I’m going to be really surprised if the Court of Owls is not somehow mentioned or hinted to further next week. Given GOTHAM’s love of foreshadowing and/or using Batman villains, it’s surprising the Court hasn’t been mentioned already.

GRADE: C+


GOTHAM airs Mondays at 7PM CT/8PM ET on FOX.
CLICK HERE for all of BOF's GOTHAM coverage.


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