Sometimes Gotham can be a lot like trigonometry, more specifically like sine or cosine functions. The plots, the characters, the pacing, the writing—they all experience consistent crests followed by predictable troughs. Gotham came roaring out of the gate in episode 1, followed by two quiet outings, only to ramp up the intensity in “Arkham.” Of course, this was then immediately followed by two more mediocre episodes that then climaxed with the wonderful “Penguin’s Umbrella,” which, eventually, devolved into the valley of boredom.
Tonight’s episode, “Lovecraft,” is undoubtedly a peak episode. With a streamlined story and great character development, the show begins its midseason break on a high note to be certain, but does it deliver enough reasons for audiences to return come spring?
Gotham’s 10th episode, “Lovecraft,” marks the halfway point in season 1, and at this point, the show’s strengths and weaknesses are well-defined. Gotham adopts the gritty setting and gruesome violence (at least for Fox) as expected of any typical police procedural but also isn’t afraid to explore occasional campiness and pseudo-super heroics expected of a show based in Batman’s world. It’s plots are skin deep. Occasionally, viewers will be treated to attempts at deeper themes by obfuscating what it means to be a hero, but Gotham ultimately revels in the predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
It’s when predictable also means boring that you get into trouble. “Lovecraft” makes it clear that last week’s episode, “Harvey Dent,” was just required scaffolding needed to help build this midseason finale. This episode opens with an unnamed assassin murdering the shit out of Bruce Wayne’s groundskeeper. She then smears her victim’s blood on her face and makes her way toward Wayne manor. It was only at this moment, for some reason, that the plan to hide the key suspect to a murder case in the actual house of the murdered victims is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea. But for sake of plot, it needed to happen.
Acting like an injured passerby, the killer is invited in by Alfred, who seconds later realizes his mistake. Luckily, Alfred Pennyworth is also a closeted action hero that would make John McClane and Dirty Harry look like a bunch of idiots. This is the second allusion to Alfred’s fighting prowess now (with the first being Bruce’s pleas in previous episodes to teach him how to fight). It’s another weird character moment where the audience isn’t quite sure why Alfred is so good at fighting and kicking and shooting and swordplay, but it sure is great to watch. In fact, this opener is one of the more exciting and well-shot scenes on Gotham in recent memory. The overall sluggishness of the last episode is immediately replaced with face-punching adrenaline.
NEXT: Alfred Pennyworth, full-time butler and full-time badass