This week’s Gotham is all about beginnings. Weird, right? We’re near the tail end of the Gotham’s troubled first season and midway through a villain arc that’s inexplicably stretched to three episodes, but “Under the Knife” is all about beginnings.
And for the most part, these beginnings are pretty subtle. Two villains are pushed to the limit, and a young hero discovers his own. Yes, a whole bunch of other stuff is happening in the background. Gotham continues down its predictable track using a cliché serial killer story, but the best moments happen completely outside this main plot, which begs the question if Gotham even needs this main plot at all.
Before talking about what did make the Gotham’s 45 minutes this week, let’s talk about what, or rather who, didn’t. Audiences last left Fish Mooney flying a helicopter away from Psycho-Island after just getting shot in the stomach, a situation the show insinuated through tense music and a grimacing Jada Pinkett-Smith to be pretty damn serious. And in this episode, she’s completely gone. Not even a single scene, mention, or anything. What happened to her? It was the main climatic element of the last episode, and now it’s just simply… gone. It’s like if writers followed up the “Who Shot J.R.” episode of Dallas with some filler about some other Ewing to start the next season. Pretty sure people would be like, “WTF?”
Now, I’m not one to complain about having less Fish Mooney in any episode of Gotham. Pinkett-Smith is a chronic over-actor and Mooney’s scenes are often the ones that make the least amount of sense, but it’s consistency that suffers. When next week Mooney does make it back to Gotham, a lot of that dramatic tension will be sucked dry from a two week hiatus. After all, if the show can’t even be bothered to include such a “life or death” moment in the next episode, how high are the stakes, really?
But let’s talk about what did happen this week. Strangely enough, Gotham’s writers have decided to take some considerable time focusing on the story of The Ogre. A scary serial killer to be sure, with a somewhat intriguing background that would make an episode of Law & Order: SVU mildly interesting. But when you are working with Batman mythology and some of the richest characters and villains in the entire DC Comics universe, it’s strange that you’d focus so much time on someone who’s pretty much a nobody. He’s not a big name like Mr. Freeze, Joker, Bane, Ras al Ghul. The list goes on and on.
So why would Gotham care to spend more time on The Ogre than any villain in the first season? It’s probably because the Ogre is here to finally bring Barbara Kean back into relevance. For far too long, Barbara, who anyone familiar with Gordon’s comic life knows is the actual love of his life, has gone completely off the rails. For a while, it seemed that Gotham was ready to write her off entirely. Jim Gordon was disinterested. The show was disinterested. Hell, even Barbara seemed to hate herself. Her ex-lover, Renee Montoya, wooed her away from Gordon early in the season, decided that was a bad idea, and was never seen again. She then went to her parents house where ??? Who knows. The show never tells us. The character is just unacceptably hollow for being this far along in the season.
NEXT: A dame to kill for