Gotham is nearing the end of its first season, and as a result, each episode is becoming more important than the last. While it may have been easy to forgive the show for its fair share of problems in its first half, it’s harder to do so now that it’s had eighteen hours to find its footing. In some cases, Gotham has done just that and delivered some entertaining and engaging stories. In others, Gotham has been a complete and utter mess. Then there are episodes like this one that are a mix of the two.
The center of Gotham‘s problems seems to stem from the sheer number of characters that vie for screentime each week. While ensemble pieces can certainly work, they need to be well balanced and well constructed. Gotham never is, and as such it often fails in its attempt to paint a complete picture of the corruption that plagues the title city. This episode in particular is juggling three such stories: One in which Penguin exerts some of his sociopathy, one where Gordon and Harvey Dent battle corruption within the GCPD, and one in which Bruce Wayne faces the aftermath of challenging and intimidating the (obviously corrupt) board of Wayne Enterprises.
Each distinct storyline has something to offer, and with more care the various thematic elements could have meshed nicely into one cohesive, engaging hour of television. Unfortunately, those three stories are constantly interrupted by the reminders of two other, less important or interesting tales: that of Fish Mooney’s current plight in Dr. Dulmacher’s lair, and the future Riddler’s attempt to court Ms. Kringle.
In that respect, “Everyone Has A Cobblepot” is simply par for the course.
When Gotham isn’t attempting to squeeze in a recognizable and iconic villain-of-the-week and pander to obligatory fan service, it manages to hit its mark quite well. I’ve mentioned before how great the mob plot lines (usually) are and how much I’ve enjoyed Bruce Wayne’s storyline. This episode doesn’t do much on those fronts, but manages to skip over some of its procedural problems and deliver a well thought out and complex storyline for Jim Gordon, which is a huge plus. The fact that it manages to insert Harvey Dent into the equation is even more impressive.
Gotham, at its core, is supposed to be about Jim Gordon, who shows up in Gotham City as a young and naive detective hoping to fight corruption and make a difference. The show has managed to be about that in little spurts, but has avoided that mission statement for the majority of its run thus far. Which is a shame, because there’s a compelling story to be told there. I like what the writers did with that idea this week, and would love to see more of it in the future. The re-introduction of Arnold Flass and the mystery surrounding Commissioner Loeb was fun to watch unfold, and while the show still manages to provide head-scratching leaps of logic, I forgive it for trying.
This may be the first time that the tense relationship and character differences between Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock didn’t feel contrived. We finally see that, while Gordon is the “right” one, Bullock is honestly doing what he can to stay alive and simply “play the game,” as it were. It may not be the right thing to do, but in a city like this it’s sometimes the only thing to do. I liked that dichotomy of philosophies and approaches to police work, and the fact that both Gordon and Bullock go against their own beliefs here makes it all the more compelling.