REVIEW: Season 2/Part 2 Author: Ricky Church (Follow RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: June 17, 2016
The past few months I didn’t watch GOTHAM for several reasons, mainly because I felt the show was lacking. While Season 2A had some bright spots, namely the episodes “Knock Knock” and “A Bitter Pill to Swallow,” and improved some of Season 1’s faults it still did not live up to its potential or do the characters and story any kind of justice.
Maybe its because a lot of shows ended their seasons these past few weeks and I had nothing left to watch, but I decided to catch up on GOTHAM and see how it may have improved, if it all. Before I began marathoning GOTHAM throughout this week fellow BOF’s Ryan Hoss warned me about what was in store. Still, I decided to press on out of mild curiosity. Maybe I wanted to hope for the best or felt a need to punish myself, but did I heed Ryan’s warning? No, I was a naïve fool.
I won’t mince words. GOTHAM Season 2B was absolutely terrible.
For starters, the story was all over the place. At least 2A, for all its unevenness, had a clear start and end point. There was a logical growth as Gordon fought against Theo Galavan and the Order of St. Dumas. 2B, on the other hand, couldn’t quite choose what its main focus was going to be. The first episode, “Worse Than A Crime,” established Professor Hugo Strange as the main antagonist of this half of Season 2, yet it took several episodes to figure out what he was actually after. Several episodes would even go by without Strange making an appearance or a character mentioning him. There was no real path forward or end goal in mind as various story beats and character development were dropped at a moments notice.
In the middle of this was Edward Nygma making his first true steps to villainy as The Riddler. In these few episodes he framed Jim Gordon in order to prevent Gordon from discovering his murder of Kris Kringle. These episodes I actually found compelling and “Mad Grey Dawn’” featured some classic Riddler puzzles as he led the GCPD on one goose chase after another. I almost feel the battle of wits between Gordon and Nygma should have been the focus here as it shook up the status quo and gave both characters some nice development (even if I feel Nygma shouldn’t become Riddler until after Batman’s appearance).
Bruce Wayne was also in the midst of tracking down the man who killed his parents, Matches Malone and then taking off to learn more about criminals with Selina Kyle. This plot felt quite separate from the rest of the show’s events until the final few episodes as it tied into Strange’s activities at Arkham and beyond. This was yet another example of the show not quite knowing what to do with a character as Bruce flipped flopped over his decisions, saying one thing yet contracting himself or doing another. The only good thing I can really say is David Mazouz at least has improved a lot as Bruce, becoming I think one of the best parts of the show. There are moments throughout Mazouz’s performance, particularly in his interactions with Malone and Strange, where you can very well see the man Bruce is destined to become.
Professor Hugo Strange was both a positive and a negative aspect. B.D. Wong did a good job at the start of the season playing the doctor, giving a calm, collected portrayal of Strange. This was a man you could definitely see was, as Batman would one day put him, the most dangerous man in the world. However, as the season went on Wong really started hamming up the role. Strange got even worse as the season continued when he became responsible for the origins of nearly every single Batman villain living under the sun. Killer Croc, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Firefly, Azrael, even Mr. Freeze gained his cryo suit from Strange. And in the finale Jereome was hinted at being brought back to life by Strange, implying he had now made him The Joker. And this is all years before Bruce is even ready to become Batman. It seemed just a way to get every villain created for next season.
Mr. Freeze in particular was a huge disappointment. GOTHAM took away almost all the depth and tragedy from his origin by drastically changing it, making him an eventual mad scientist. Freeze was simply not a sympathetic villain, choosing instead to commit crimes long before his wife died. “Heart of Ice” this was not. Even Robin Lord Taylor got sidelined as Penguin, at first being ‘rehabilitated’ by Strange before going back to his criminal ways. Not having Penguin, who has always been one of the redeeming factors of the show, out of the main action for so long was detrimental to the story.
Season 2B of GOTHAM lost any goodwill 2A earned from me by jamming in as much as they could and being once again inconsistent with its tone. It’d be serious one minute, then incredibly campy the next. With no larger plot laid out like in 2A, 2B struggled to focus on a coherent plot. If they had instead focused on the Gordon/Nygma rivalry instead of having Strange create Batman’s entire rogue gallery, it might have been a bit better. Alas, this is what we got and my recommendation is it’s not worth it to stick around for the third season. - Ricky Church
GOTHAM airs Mondays at 7PM CT/8PM ET on FOX.
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