TV Review: Gotham - Season 1 Finale "All Happy Families Are Alike"
Episode 22: "All Happy Families Are Alike"
Synopsis: As Gotham City’s gang war reaches its boiling point, Fish Mooney goes head-to-head with Maroni and Penguin in an attempt to re-stake her claim on the city. Meanwhile, Barbara and Leslie Thompkins are brought together after recent events, and Bruce searches Wayne Manor for any hints that his father might have left behind.
Recap: Fish dramatically returns to Gotham via a small boat in the middle of the night. She promptly meets Selina Kyle on shore, promising a brand new day for the city. Two weeks later, Bruce is still searching for secrets about his father. Alfred assures him he would have known if Thomas Wayne had a secret life, but Bruce is convinced and decides to tear apart his father's study to find it.
The war between Falcone and Maroni wages on in Gotham. As the GCPD brings in a number of thugs, a rocket launcher almost takes down Falcone while visiting a dock. At the station, Barbara Kean gets her release from the care of Dr. Thompkins and thanks Jim for saving her life but asks Thompkins to be her trauma counselor. Bullock gives Jim the news that Falcone is in the hospital after the attack. Finding Falcone at the empty hospital, Gordon calls Bullock for back-up.
Cobblepot visits Falcone at the hospital to say goodbye and admits he is the one who started the war between the two mob bosses. As he prepars to slit Falcone's throat, Gordon arrives and arrests him for attempted murder. He cuffs Penguin and releases Falcone to have the boss try and reclaim control of the city. Loeb arrives with Maroni's men and orders Gordon to walk away. A firefight ensues and Gordon is able to take the thugs out thanks to Bullock's arrival and they all escape in an ambulance while Maroni fires at them. When they arrive at Falcone's safe house, they are met by an armed Selina Kyle along with Fish Mooney and her band of thugs.
Fish calls Maroni and makes a deal for her territories back in exchange for Falcone's head. As she prepares to dispatch her prisoners, Butch wavers between his allegiance to Fish and Penguin. Meanwhile, Barbara begins her therapy with Thompkins and seems to not believe that The Ogre is dead. She relates the thrills she felt with him and begins talking about how she felt with Jim Gordon on their first date. She asks about whether Jim hits her, seemingly trying to mess with her.
Maroni arrives at the safe house to find Fish along with all of her prisoners. Maroni threatens Falcone while Penguin pleads for his life. Penguin puts the idea in Fish's head that Maroni will kill her as soon as they are dead which prompts her to question her new partner. Fish insists she is a boss but Maroni doesn't see her as an equal. Maroni tells Fish she is number two and delivers a speech about a new age in Gotham and continues to tease Fish who promptly shoots Maroni in the head. The room descends into chaos and the prisoners scramble in multiple directions.
Barbara prepares dinner for Leslie but continues to dance around what actually happened to her with The Ogre. Barbara tries to turn it around and asks if Leslie loves Jim but she doesn't bite and asks again what happened to her. Gordon, Bullock, and Falcone escape and plot how to survive, but Falcone admits he is done with the business and cannot reclaim it. Fish recaptures them and Falcone again says he is out. Before she can decide what to do, Penguin opens fire on them and demands to know where Fish is. Back at the penthouse, Barbara finally tells everything about what The Ogre did. She explains that her animosity against her parents came out and Leslie realizes she wanted him to kill her parents, even saying she killed them. Leslie questioned it but she admits she murdered them. When Leslie tries to run, Barbara pulls a knife and chases her.
Locked in the bathroom, Leslie tries to call Jim for help as Barbara comes after her. A somewhat sexy, yet plot-boggingly nonsensical fight ensues with Leslie knocking Barbara out just as Jim arrives with Falcone and Bullock. Back at the safe house, Penguin and Fish get into a fight on the rooftop. As they struggle, Butch arrives and cannot decide who to shoot. As they scream at him, Butch finally shoots both of them in the gut. Butch apologizes to Fish and she accepts but Penguin knocks him out and throws her over the side to her presumed death. Penguin steps atop the wall and screams that he is the king of Gotham.
At the GCPD, Ms. Kringle approaches Edward Nygma about the note from Officer Doherty, finding the first letter of each line spells his name. Edward claims it is a coincidence and when she leaves, he begins to giggle and starts talking to himself, clearly psychologically broken. Hello, Riddler. At the penthouse, Falcone admits that Gotham no longer needs a criminal but rather a strong lawman like Jim Gordon. The knife that Falcone had on him he gives to Jim and says it came from Gordon's father. Falcone says that Gordon's father was the most honest man he ever met, but he carried a knife.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce has torn through everything in the study and Alfred tells him it is time to give up the hunt for something that doesn't exist. Hearing something Alfred said about Marcus Aurelius, Bruce comes across a hidden remote control in a book. When pressed, it opens a secret passage in the fireplace that leads to a cave below.
Review: Well, all that season long build up and what do we get? Falcone, Maroni, and Fish are gone and the gang war is over. One of the main storylines that made Gotham watchable is now concluded which puts Penguin as the sole crime boss in the city. Penguin was by far the best character on the show and his development from thug to crime lord was the best iteration of the character on screen. Surprisingly, Edward Nygma's origin was well executed over the last six episodes and made him one of the more intriguing elements leading into season two. But, for some reason, I have a sneaking suspicion that he may actually be The Joker and not The Riddler. I am sure fans are going to love that.
We also got one of the worst plot elements in Gotham with Barbara Kean. The future Mrs. Jim Gordon was portrayed as everything from a dim party girl to a murderer which makes me wonder how the hell they could conceivably end up together. It is possible that this series will not have them end up married but you never know. The SHINING-esque cat fight between Leslie and Barbara made zero sense and was completely out of place in this episode. I am also not convinced why they felt that Bruce Wayne's father would have built some sort of Batcave even though he wasn't a superhero. Is Gotham planning to have made Thomas Wayne the first vigilante superhero, leaving his mantle to be picked up by his son? Another thing the fans are going to love.
Overall, Gotham's finale had the same problem the entire first season did: flashes of brillance but an overall botched final product. The pacing was off, the dialogue clunky, Ben McKenzie unable to smile like a human being, and unresolved plots that should have been resolved. This episode felt less like a season finale than a second to last hour leading to a major final act. I just hope that showrunner Bruno Heller can now reflect on what did work this season and what didn't, leading season two to be more consistent and less infuriating.
Episode Final Verdict:
Season 1 Final Verdict:
Next Episode: Gotham returns for a second season Fall 2015.