Gotham recap: 'Lovecraft'
As assassins hunt for Cat and Bruce, Gordon learns that the Wayne's murder conspiracy goes way deeper than he thought.
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
A dead henchman or two later, Bruce escapes with Selina Kyle and heads toward Gotham City with assassins on the hunt. Gordon and Bullock arrive at Wayne Manor, and Alfred, still riding on a healthy dose of action-packed testosterone, gives Gordon a piece of his mind. In the process, details about Gordon’s entrapment plan with Harvey Dent spill out and Bullock mildly loses his mind. This is a pretty big scene where we see the fallibility of our hero. Although he fights for justice (obnoxiously so sometimes), Gordon is far from perfect, but Harvey and Alfred’s willingness to help Gordon speak volumes about their relationships and the bonds among them.
Then Gotham goes and has the best idea its ever had. As Gordon runs off to hunt down the now-missing Lovecraft, the person believed to have put the hit on Selina Kyle, Bullock and Alfred team up to try and hunt down Bruce and Cat’s whereabouts. Alfred is in total and complete Mama Bear protective mode. He’s completely transformed from the well-mannered and kind butler into some wild-eyed madman determined to find his employer, his family, his son. It’s touching and is a great look into their relationship, which has been one of the more interesting ones on the entire show.
On the mob side of things, a very angry Carmine Falcone begins to seek revenge on whoever nabbed (and subsequently blew up) his giant stack of cash. Convinced Cobblepot and Maroni played some part in the heist, Falcone threatens Cobblepot saying that he better find the mole in his crime family… or else. A few scenes later, Falcone executes the man responsible for protecting his cash in front of the other bosses, including Fish Mooney.
It’s great to see Falcone exert some of his renowned cruelty that has, until now, kept all of his subordinates in line. Throughout the first half of the season, we’ve seen brief flare ups of rage. When Falcone calmly maims Mooney’s lover Lazlo for example. But here we see him do his own dirty work then force the rest of his “family” to eat with a dead man at the table. The whole scene feels like a typical mob cliché, but it’s fun regardless.
Meanwhile, Gordon gives Harvey Dent a visit, trying to figure how Selina Kyle ended up on some assassin’s hit list. Dent might have sort of kind of leaked Gordon’s name to give the implied threat credibility. This sends Gordon into a rage that is only quelled once Dent offers up Lovecraft’s possible location. This is a different Harvey Dent than what many people are familiar with. This confrontation, along with a later dialogue with the mayor, shows Dent as cowed and spineless, which is almost the exact opposite of the comics and even Christopher Nolan’s recent interpretation in The Dark Knight.
As Gordon runs off to catch Lovecraft, the kids arrive in Gotham with Cat teaching Bruce how to survive. This leads to a roof jumping scene where we see a small glimmer of the caped crusader that Bruce is destined to become. Cat and Bruce’s scenes are surprisingly well-acted in a world where watching child actors can be a cringe-inducing experience. These actors also keep up the playful-yet-caring relationship that’s always been at play between the cat and the bat. In many ways, it’s a much more satisfying “romance” subplot than the one between Jim and Barbara, which thankfully makes no appearance (or mention) throughout this entire episode.
NEXT: The real villain emerges?
Back to the Bullock/Pennyworth detective team-up, Alfred pays off a street kid to fess up the information on where Cat might be and says the only person who could find out is Fish Mooney, of course. Once they rush to Mooney’s club, Alfred lays down some honey and vinegar to get the name of the fence that Cat works with. With his Englishman powers of persuasion, he’s able to get the info they need.
As all this happens, Gordon finally corners Lovecraft. But instead of finding some dastardly villain plotting his next nefarious scheme, Lovecraft seems like a cornered rat scared for his own life. He quickly tells Gordon that he’s been following some of the money that’s been connected to the Wayne killings and that all of this is way beyond them and that in the grand scheme of things, men like him and Gordon are nobodies.
This has wide-reaching implications for the Batman universe that Gotham is building. Because one thing is certain—these unnamed and mysterious baddies are not the criminal element we’ve been dealing with the past 10 episodes. Lovecraft’s paranoia suggests that this conspiracy is beyond the GCPD and the mob bosses who think run the city. (SPOILERS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW MY AWESOME THEORY.) There’s a very good chance that Lovecraft is referencing the Court of Owls, a wide-reaching secret organization and master puppeteer behind all the goings-on in the city of Gotham. But this theory remains frustratingly unconfirmed as the mysterious assassin busts in, puts Gordon in a sleeper hold, and executes Lovecraft before he can say any more.
Finally, all plotlines converge on a run-down industrial warehouse (a lot of those in this city) where Cat’s fence captures her and Bruce with plans to sell to the pursuing killers. However, Bruce and Cat are far from helpless and soon spring into action in hopes of escaping. At this point, Alfred, Harvey, and Jim arrive on the scene and a good ole shootout takes place. Kyle is able to slip away in large part because of Bruce’s self-sacrificial gamble that luckily pays off. Alfred and Bruce have a touching reunion and things return to how they should be.
Except for Jim Gordon. In the episode’s closing minutes, Jim is reprimanded and subsequently blamed for Lovecraft’s murder (overzealous police work or some such). He’s stripped of his detective status and takes a job as a security guard at Arkham Asylum. This conclusion is a bit of a let down. Someone starting a new job is hardly the cliffhanger needed to tease viewers back for the second half of the season, but the narrative reason at least makes some sense. Arkham Asylum is a well-known symbol in Batman mythology, and up until now, it’s existed only on the periphery. With Gordon working there now, we’ll at least see some of Gotham’s more unstable criminal types along with the glimpses into this (in)famous mental institution.
Like the entire show up to this point, “Lovecraft” isn’t without its flaws, but it represents another crest for the sine function that is Gotham and provides an adequate amount of excitement leading into the midseason break. After 10 episodes, Gotham retains a similar diagnosis that was given at its premiere: It’s not modern television’s best, but it’s still a show worth watching.