Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gotham: Season 1, Episode 19

Episode Title: “Beasts of Prey”
Channel: Fox
Director: Eagle Egilsson
Writer: Ken Woodruff
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 42 min
Rated: TV-14
Original Air Date: April 13, 2015

Gotham is the latest show to return from its March break. With four episodes remaining in season one, this is the point where the show should be ramping up for its season finale. Instead I have no idea where the season is going to end up or what the big moments are going to be. This stems from things being poorly built up and there being too many things going on. In “Beasts of Prey” there are four separate stories being told, and the lack of time to develop any one of them makes it hard to predict what the viewer is supposed to care about.

Gordon had a case brought to his attention, an unsolved murder that a seemingly sincere patrolman asked him to look in to. After spinning their wheels for a bit Gordon and Bullock discover that the murderer is a serial killer that targets the loved ones of the detectives that investigate him. Further investigation into the matter revealed that Commissioner Loeb had to case taken to Gordon in order to set him up in a convoluted revenge plot. It's hinted that Leslie will be the killer's next target, with a plethora of clues and comments pointing to that possibility. It's so obviously what the writers want the audience to think that there seems little chance of it happening. That's the kind of thing that is supposed to come out of nowhere to surprise the viewer, not something we're supposed to see from a mile away. The best thing about these sequences were the flashbacks. They allowed the villain to be more fully realized than most of the case of the week culprits that we've become accustomed to.

After Alfred suffered a setback in his recovery, Bruce set out to discover the motivations behind Reggie Payne's infiltration into their home. After some bumbling about he meets up with Cat and they find Reggie in a drug house. Following their interrogation of Payne, when he admitted to who had him go after Bruce's evidence and Alfred, Cat dropped Payne's drugs from an open window. Reggie's desperate attempt to recover his drugs saw him hanging out the window. Bruce briefly considered pushing the man from the open window, follow Reggie's threats of exposing just how much Bruce knows about Wayne Enterprise's dealing, when he lost his nerve Cat stepped in and pushed Reggie out the window. It was pretty shocking to see a murder committed by a child, although I found myself feeling that Cat's motivation to do such a thing wasn't strong enough for me to buy the whole thing.

Fish is still on the Dollmaker's island, and planning an escape. Every time scenes with Fish come up I find myself just wishing they'd be over. We definitely didn't need to spend so much time with Fish away from Gotham. It seems like Fish's glorious return to Gotham could have been handled very differently. Perhaps a single Fish-centric episode would have been better than the bits and pieces we've been subjected to over the course of the past several episodes. It would have helped with the pacing of the episodes that her story interrupts if nothing else. The other out of place scenes in “Beasts of Prey” were the ones featuring Penguin's storyline. It's another plot line that should have had one big episode devoted to it, instead of the small pieces we've been given so far. Penguin wants to own a rundown bar, has the fingers cut off of a musician in order to make it happen, and then reveals that it's all part of a plan to bring down Maroni. How? Who knows, we were only given four or five minutes to find out that much. It just highlights the fact that there is too much going on for an episode to contain everyone's story. The desire to hit upon every character is really hurting the storytelling in general.

Conclusion: This was a lackluster return from hiatus. There are just too many threads and not enough time to adequately cover them all in every episode. The lack of focus in the storytelling is hurting the individual stories, as there isn't enough time devoted to any one thing to make it seem significant. With only three episodes remaining there doesn't seem like a good way to bring it all into focus in time for the finale.

Rating: 6/10

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