TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 17 "Into The Woods"
Episode 17: "Into The Woods"
Synopsis: In an attempt to clear his name, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) steals his case file and approaches Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) for help. Meanwhile, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) discovers his step-family’s role in his father’s death, and awakens from his conditioning.
Recap: I wonder how long it will take before Gotham stops rehashing the same cliches it has been using since it premiered last year. I fully embrace the cheesy, pulp quality of the series, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the show keeps repeating itself over and over again. Just three episodes ago, Jim Gordon was framed for murder and sent to prison, Bruce Wayne decided to head to Gotham's inner city with Selina, and Oswald Cobblepot had met his father and turned his life around. Now, just two weeks later, all three of those stories are wrapped up and the narrative is right back to where it began, albeit with some minor tweaks. All I can deduce is that this was a way to shove Lee Thompkins out of the story to accomodate Morena Baccarin's real life pregnancy (she and co-star Ben McKenzie are a couple in real life) as well as get Edward Nygma's arc wrapped up. The result feels very generic, rushed, and familiar compared to stories from last season and countless television dramas before it.
The episode revolves around three primary storylines. The main narrative involves Jim Gordon attempting to clear his name. With the help of Harvey Bullock, Gordon deduces that someone within the GCPD framed him and he assumes the person was directed by former Commissioner Loeb to do so. Stealing some records from Internal Affairs, the partners find an audio recording of the tip off that Gordon killed Galavan. The audio is muffled but a distinct bird-like sound can be heard. After rescuing a woman from a mugging, Gordon is spotted by the cops and tells Harvey to stay away. Gordon heads to Edward Nygma to help him clean up the audio and figures out that it was Nygma who framed him. Nygma electrocutes Gordon and tries to dispose of him but Gordon escapes and makes his way to Selina Kyle where Bruce Wayne is also holed up. Shot by Nygma, Gordon is taken to Wayne Manor by Bruce where Alfred helps patch him up.
Gordon uses Selina Kyle to tell the GCPD he is searching for Penguin which prompts Nygma to move Krysten Kringle's body. It is in the woods that Gordon confronts Nygma who promptly confesses everything. Before he can kill Gordon, the GCPD come out and arrest Nygma, exonerating Gordon. I missed some minor points here and there, but that was essentially how easy it was for Gordon to solve his own crime. With Gordon cleared, he vows to Captain Barnes that he will not return to the force until he solves the murders of Bruce Wayne's parents. He is tempted to call Lee to tell her he is a free man, but he hesitates. At the end, we see Nygma as an inmate at Arkham Asylum and the next likely patient of Hugo Strange. But, as Nygma heads into jail, Barbara Kean is released. Seemingly cured of her insanity after awaking from her coma, Barbara returns to Jim Gordon while Hugo Strange seems to view her as an experiment.
On the Bruce Wayne front, the young future Batman has been researching life in Gotham City's underworld with the help of Selina. They steal from criminals and Bruce throws the money away, literally, to Selina's chagrin. It all seems like development for Bruce on his path to becoming a hero and vigilante, but it also serves to develop the burgeoning relationship with Selina. Bruce sews her ripped jacket and there seems to be a growing fondness between the pair. But, when Bruce returns home to take Gordon to see Alfred, he learns that Lucius Fox has fixed Thomas Wayne's computer. Alfred implores Bruce to leave Selina out of his family secrets for her own safety. Bruce shuns Selina for what seems like the fifth or sixth time and she leaves angrily. Bruce and Alfred then boot up the computer to see what lies within. I like the Selina/Bruce dynamic more and more, but how many times can he shit on her feelings before they end up enemies? I would wager at least five or six more times.
The other plot this week involves Fish Moo...I mean Oswald Cobblepot. Pardon my mistake, but it still feels like the writers have nothing else for the character to do. With his father dead, Oswald begs his step-family to let him stay in the home. They retain him as an unpaid servant in the lamest take on Cinderella I have ever seen. As they throw food at him and whine about his cooking, Oswald takes the humiliation until he finds the poisoned sherry that was hidden in the kitchen for some reason. Oswald snaps and poisons the dog before murdering his step-siblings and feeding them to their mother. He then reveals he has reverted to his villainous ways before slitting the throat of his step-mother. Oswald then sits covered in blood in his new mansion. The only problem is, the money and land are all in his step-mother's name so I don't know how he will retain any of it. Clearly, this was meant to reset the Penguin character by providing him money and resources, but none of it really makes much sense.
I still really enjoy the atmosphere of this show as well as the performances of all involved when taken individually. But, when put together, the writing just doesn't hold up. Penguin's story makes no sense and Bruce Wayne's is riddled with cliches. Gordon is now confronted with her former fiancee whom I assume will become his future wife now that Lee is out of the picture. Logically...nevermind, I cannot place any logic in the context of this show. Ultimately, we need to know what Hugo Strange's master plan is. By this point in the first half of the season, we knew what Theo Galavan was up to. Right now, with only a handful of episodes left in the season, Gotham doesn't really have a direction or a focus. Will Penguin launch an assault at taking back Gotham City from Butch and his other foes? Will Nygma become another project for Hugo Strange? Will we learn what Strange's plan is? Stay tuned next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "Pinewood" airs April 18th: After leaving Arkham Asylum, Barbara attempts to make amends with Gordon. Then, Bruce and Alfred track down one of Thomas Wayne’s former friends from Project Chimera, but Hugo Strange disrupts their plans.