Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gotham - Harvey Dent

Two Face. Two Faced. Two Faces.

I was going to approach this blog post from the perspective of Gotham's characters having two faces or more accurately being two faced.

However, not everyone was "two faced" in other words, disingenuous.  Some remained true to themselves and who they are as characters on this show.

Take Bruce for example.  (Seen here channeling Aquaman.)  He remained true to himself by continuing his dogged (batty?) pursuit for challenging himself.   Selina thought he was absolutely nuts.  She called him out on his privileged background and warned him that no one fights with gloves on in the street.  (Note to Selina, Batman wears gloves.) 

For her part, Selina revealed a side of herself that she takes great pains to hide.   Her capacity for being surprised.  When she found out she was going to Wayne Manor she was stunned.  So much for the street smarts.  She's already been to Wayne Manor and she's been a keen observer of Bruce.  But to go there and hang out.  That shocked her.

That doesn't make her "two faced."  It just revealed a side of herself that she wasn't too familiar with.  She's vulnerable.

It was that vulnerability that led her to chastise Bruce by the pool.  She didn't like to see it in herself and it bothered her to see it in Bruce.  It was a seminal moment for the future Batman.  Selina was harsh but she felt Bruce needed to know you can't survive on the street without displaying a little anger and supplement it with a dash of ruthlessness.

Who'd a thunk that it took a meeting between two twelve year olds that would form the persona of a future superhero.  It also laid the cornerstone between the offtimes adversaries and lovers.

Also not two faced.

The Penguin.  Still a schemer, still a rat.  

Oswald played true to form by leveraging an alliance with Liza.  Okay, he blackmails her but that's still true to form for him.

Let's get to the real two face, Harvey Dent.

What the heck was this?

So that's the way "Gotham" wants to play it.  Harvey is already a little nuts just beneath the surface. 

We're used to seeing the early Harvey as straight laced and driven.  Yes, he's always had his own "dogged pursuit" of justice but I don't think we've ever seen him as a lunatic waiting to be unleashed.  The Harvey we know was turned because he suffered a traumatic event.   This guy is halfway there.  Oh, I get it, halfway. 

That's fine.  "Gotham" did say they were going to experiment a little with the characters.  We'll see how this goes.

That wide eyed look of his reminded me a little of the Joker.  A little too close perhaps.

Speaking of the Clown Prince of Crime, I think we got a couple of tangential references  to the Joker.

Remember when the Joker set a pile of cash afire during The Dark Knight?  (GIF courtesy of theonewithjb.com.)  We saw something similiar in this episode.

I thought of it right away.  One can't be a Batman fan and see burning cash and not think of the Joker.

Any other Joker clues?

Sure.  There was the "Smile" graffiti on the cityscape that quickly panned by our sleepy eyes.  (Well, I was a little sleepy.)  The Joker is known for his infamous smile.  Something that was featured in the Tim Burton Batman movie.  Who could forget "Smylex" and "Love that Joker!"


Let's get back to our two face theme.

How about these two faces?

Barbara Kean sure is weak isn't she?  At least Renee Montoya is honest with herself and what she wants.  I suppose this opens the door for more relationships for Jim Gordon.

Sarah Essen is waiting in the wings and perhaps Dr. Leslie Thompkins when she appears later on in the season.  But where do they go with Barbara from here?  Do we really need her aside from being some plot device?  "Gotham" may have painted themselves in a corner with this character.

Selina was trying to intimidate Bruce during the episode when she was teasing him with a kiss.  She was trying to throw him off guard a little and retain the high ground.  But if we look at the future couple pictured above I guess they end up a little two faced after all.

Notice the masks or rather two faces.  

Bruce and Selina don't cavort too much publicly in the future.  But throw on the masks and their true selves come out.

Maybe being two faced isn't so bad after all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gotham - The Mask

You know, this is at least the third episode of Gotham where we find a masked man.  Some have been good but most evil.  I wonder what Gotham is trying to tell us.  (Just kidding, I get it.)  Hopefully soon I can do a blog post on all of the masked men we've seen so far.

Gotham continues to mature as a series and while this wasn't their best entry it still introduced us to many interesting concepts and characters.

The main plot point of the "Fight Club" business was tepid at best.  We've seen it.

I got a real "Wolf of Wall Street" vibe when we caught glimpses of the feral and entitled staff too.

No, the best thing about this episode was how Gotham handled the dynamic between the main characters and how their stories are interwoven.

The relationship between Alfred and Bruce was a high point.  In fact, this was a pretty good "Bruce" episode.  Alfred has been a bit of a disappointment but bringing young Bruce to confront Tommy Elliot and reassuring Bruce he can teach him how to fight was valuable indeed.

Alfred proved he could be parental if need be but he also showed he is a worthy mentor and a bit of a best friend too.  In the above frame, Bruce confesses to the fire of being angry all the time and I got a big time Batman rush from that statement.

I've had my doubts about David Mazouz as Bruce but his beat down of Tommy Elliot using his Dad's watch was rather thrilling.  Yes, that sounds a little sick but we are seeing the future Batman at his earliest moments.  Sometimes the Bat just can't contain himself and it took Alfred to pull the reins back.  The use of the watch was highly symbolic as Elliot was taunting Bruce over the loss of his parents.  Bruce channeled their loss and used that memory to teach Elliot a valuable if not bloody lesson.

And, whoa!  I forgot they were going to introduce Tommy Elliot.  I think a Hush came over my darkened psyche.   Cole Vallis made quite the impression as Elliot.  I hate him already!  He was cruel and entitled and hopefully he will become a recurring character.  When Tommy grows up to be Hush he will become a powerful villain in the Batman mythology.  For now, as young Tommy, let's hope we see more of him as he will provide Bruce as an off and on friend, competitor and foil that Bruce can measure himself against.

Speaking of off and on allies, Selina made her return in a cameo.  The great thing about this is it ties her fate back in with Gordon and it is Gordon that is investigating the murder of the Waynes.  You know, the murder that set Gotham City on it's downward spiral as characterized by Captain Essen.  That was a pretty big moment in my regard.

Another dynamic that played itself out was the one between Bullock and Gordon.  I still have my doubts concerning Bullock and sometimes I think he is too earnest when he tries to convince Gordon he is on his side.  (I have a theory that Bullock is still in league with Fish Mooney and to the detriment of Gordon.)

Take a look at Bullock in Essen's office as he gazes upon the beleaguered Gordon.  It was quite telling.  It shows Bullock as shaded to different degrees.  Not all of which are honest.  He sympathizes with Gordon and do doubt sees a bit of himself as he once was.  Harvey's in deep now and I think the tentacles of Mooney and Falcone reach deep inside him.  Gordon wants to trust him but I would be wary as of now.

Speaking of Essen, did anyone else get a romantic vibe here?  In the comics this comes to pass.

Allies of a different sort were displayed when the Cobblepots were seen together.  The fast rising Penguin tried his "hand" at smoothing things over with Fish Mooney but she had a different point to deliver.  Penguin learned his lesson.  But thanks to Mama Cobblepot, Oswald found out there is more than one way to trap a rat.  This episode didn't belong to the Penguin but as always Robin Lord Taylor stole every scene he was in.  In fact when the family dynamic is played out between the Cobblepots I don't know which one is more oddly magnetic, Oswald or Gertrude.

Maybe they should get their own spin off series.

And spinning out of control are Barbara and Jim.  Should I really comment on these two?  Have another drink Barbara and don't let the door hit you on the way out.  Sheesh, not again with her!

Lastly we got a good look at Edward Nygma.  He really wan't paired off with anyone but as usual he seemed a little "at sea" when it came to working with others.  Ed continues to be pushed away by just about everyone and it is only a matter of time before his resentment builds to the point where he'll take all the knowledge working for the police and use it against them.

Cory Michael Smith who plays the future Riddler has a nice comedic touch.  His scene with the deceased office worker was pretty funny.  The riddle he posed to the stiff was unsolvable and I got a kick out of him just talking to the dearly departed.  Cobblepot gets so many good scenes maybe it is high time Ed got his share. 

Alas, the next episode is titled "Harvey Dent" so the stage will have to be shared with another baddie.  How much room is there for another super villain?

Enough for Killer Croc?  I hope so!  Don't go down in the sewers anytime soon Jim.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gotham - Penguin's Umbrella

Holy conspiracy Batman I didn't see that one coming!

Did anyone?  I hope not.  Spoiler enthusiasts don't count.

So The Penguin, or just, "Penguin" as he is refereed to on Gotham, is in cahoots with Carmine Falcone.  Awesome. 

Cobblepott has used his sniveling cowardice as an asset and has turned his propensity as a snitch into a major power play.  Not only is he moving up the ladder with Maroni but he is surreptitiously drawing closer to Falcone.

Make no mistake, Penguin only needs these two gentlemen as long as they serve his purpose and that is to be the crime boss of Gotham himself.  No doubt, Penguin will set Falcone and Maroni against each other in hopes of the two wiping out each other.

Too bad he doesn't have a crystal ball.  If Batman mythology holds true, Penguin won't be the only kingpin in town.  The Riddler is still waiting in the wings as is Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the still unseen Joker and as of last night, Victor Zsasz. 

That's a lot of competition.  It will be interesting to see how Gotham will spin it's tale as the season progresses.  Penguin is right though, there is a war coming and he is starting it.

The fact that we have such a rich conspiracy as this is a testimony to Gotham's maturity as a series.  7 episodes in and we'd almost forget this show deals with the time before Batman and the long shadow he casts over everything.  Despite the fact that we've seen so many characters the show is actually narrowing it's focus and letting the true talent come forward.   The real stars of this show are Robin Lord Taylor, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue and John Doman.

In that order!

Let's hope Gotham continues to let these few shine the brightest.

While we're on the topic of conspiracies here's another one for you.

Don't you think Bullock switched gears awfully quickly to Jim Gordon's side?  Yes, it was just last week during "Spirit of the Goat" that we learned Harvey once had a heart and it beat with the pulse of a real detective.

Have we been set up?

Harvey has his own mythology and he eventually turns out all right.  But the writers have intimated that we should expect a few changes and this may be one of them.

Who was the big loser in this episode (a key ally and lover gunned down) and who has an inside still on the police force?

 Right, Fish Mooney.  It won't be long before she realizes Falcone is on to her and with Bullock staying close to Gordon she'll get all the information she needs about Penguin as Cobblepot will continue to weave Gordon into his plans.

Now that is a conspiracy.

Cobblepot will tease information learned from Falcone to Gordon to help him along and Mooney will get this gold from Bullock. 

What's in it for Bullock?  If Mooney climbs the ladder the more valuable he becomes.  He may be able to maneuver Gordon and Essen out of the way and if he can't Mooney will.

There are very high stakes involved for all.

Odds and Ends

What did everyone think of Victor Zsasz?  As portrayed by Anthony Carrigan I thought he did a pretty good job.  Not over the top crazy but pretty damned intense.  We should see more of him and the good news is he wasn't introduced as a ten year old!

In other good news, he brought his scars along with him.   Not good news for his victims.  He is just getting started.

See you next week for, "The Mask."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gotham Got Your Goat?

You know, sometimes Gotham can be a real enigma.

I'm not sure where Gotham is taking us and I don't quite understand how they are going to reconcile their mythology with the preexisting Batman history.  But there is one thing I am sure of, we are all in for a wild ride.

All joking aside, this was a fun episode.  Let's start with the best part.

Once again the Penguin steals the show!

When we get to the "bathtub" scene I have to admit I was left with my jaw to the floor.  I thought, "Ohhh noo, where are they going with this?"  (Maybe they should move this show to the 9:00 hour after the winter break.)  I have to admit it was also pretty hilarious. 

Mama Cobblepot and her son have a unique relationship don't they?  I once remarked that the good guys all have Daddy issues while the bad guys seem to have issues with Mommy.

Yikes, like this!

It still makes me laugh as I type this.  Kudos to Gotham for being willing to go there and playing it for comedic effect.  It worked.  I'm not going to say I'm dying to see more, that's a bit too creepy, but I think we can all agree the Penguin is the best thing about this show so far.

His grand entrance at the GCPD was a thing to behold also.  I half expected him to giggle with delight rotten teeth and all.  He knew he had set a figurative bomb off and was watching as the whole scene unfolded.

Poor Harvey.  This was also a pretty good Bullock episode too.  We find out out he once had a heart of gold and was just as much of a boyscout as Jim Gordon.  Somewhere deep down beneath that gruff and cynical exterior beats the heart of a detective.  All to be upstaged by the Penguin.

Was this the best episode of the season so far?

Odds and Ends

I think I figured out why we see the clock in Jim and Barbara's apartment so much.  We're going to see the ugly aftermath.  Penguin did say there is a war coming and it's going to land right at the doorstep of the their apartment.

I have no doubt an attempt will be made on their lives and the probable ensuing explosion will devastate the apartment leaving it uninhabitable.  All that will be left behind will be the shattered remains of the clock.

Many, many years from now the apartment will return to life when Batgirl and the Birds of Prey will make it their headquarters.  We are just seeing the "before" picture.

I've been super curious if we will see the iconic Bat sequence that inspires young Bruce to become the Batman.  In Batman lore, Bruce sits alone half asleep in the study when a bat enters through the open window.

When the curtains parted I think I gasped a little hoping this would be the moment.

Nope it's just Selina.

I think she wants to connect with Bruce but she just can't find the courage just yet.  So why not steal something while your there!  I have a feeling Bruce will see that silver box again.

Before I forget here is the Queen Consolidated Easter Egg that popped up during the episode.  I think it happened during the second tracking shot of the city.  It might have been the third.  They always sneak in a little something in those city scenes.  The "Q" for Queen Consolidated was briefly visible.  Not knowing when this show takes place in relation to the current "Arrow" and "Flash" shows, this could be a moment in time when Ollie's father is still alive and the head of the family industry.

Sigh, more Daddy issues to come.

So, I'll ask again, was this the best episode of the season?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gotham - The Failure of Jim Gordon

Here is something I've been thinking about since FOX has afforded us a look at the early Gotham City days and the time before Batman.

Doesn't Jim Gordon's dream of a better Gotham City end up in failure?

We all know how the story plays out.  Gordon becomes Commissioner and his young protege, Bruce Wayne, becomes Batman.

As this series started we see Gordon consoling the young Wayne and he tells him there will be light.  He tells Bruce he will find the man who killed his parents.  Gordon also goes on to tell anyone that will listen, notably Harvey Bullock, Barbara Kean, Fish Mooney etc, that he is going to make it his personal mission to clean up the Gotham PD and by extension Gotham itself.

I guess not. 

If Gordon does find the man who kills the Waynes why would there be any need for Batman?  His prime motivation would be gone. 

Gordon's failure will be of such a magnitude that the vacuum it creates will actually allow Batman to come into being.

Here is a damning quote for the man himself from the last episode, "Balloonman."

"Yesterday, the first victim, Ronald Danzer, was a con man. Nobody cared. Now that a cop’s been targeted, the investigation will get all the support it needs. It’s not right. Everybody has to matter, or nobody matters. Otherwise people lose faith, and that’s how you get vigilantes."

Is their a greater vigilante than Batman?

You've failed Jim Gordon.  Your vision of the future is dust.  And by virtue of your failure doesn't the very presence of Batman lead to greater more dangerous villains that Gotham itself has no hope in fighting?  A city that at one time only had to worry about organized mobsters will one day be overrun with some of the greatest evil ever known.

Now before everyone starts beating a path to my door with pitchforks and torches let me add a little qualifier.

Yes, you could argue that the goodness in Jim Gordon will forge the superhero that will become Batman.  Batman will come to believe in justice and he will turn over the bad guys to the police instead of sentencing them to death like the Balloonman did.

Timing is everything also.  Depending on which storyline you follow, Batman either enters the scene before Gordon becomes Commissioner or soon after.  If it's the former, then a partnership is formed that allows Batman to function outside the law and thrive.  Batman's success will lead to Gordon's promotion.  Sort of an ill gotten gain actually.

If its the latter, then Gordon's vision of the future was lost somewhere along the way and Cobblepott, Nygma, Poison Ivy and the Joker himself will be allowed to succeed and flourish.

What went wrong?

Not everything is Jim Gordon's fault.  He is only one man.  We all know Gotham's future is dim but how will the people behind this series spin this tale?

They can't make Gordon look like a failure.  

It will be interesting to watch.

Gotham - Spoiler Alert!

 Spoiler Alert!

There seems to be no end to the Batgirl references in TV's Gotham.  But Stephanie Brown's Spoiler?

Who is "Spoiler" you ask?

Let's first take a look at the inspiration for this post.  Seen above is actress. Erin Richards as Barbara Kean.  There has been some allusions if not clever little Easter eggs tying Barbara to the Batgirl character.  One of note was the clock tower window she has in her apartment with Jim Gordon.  The clock tower of Gotham was the secret lair of the "Birds of Prey" where one version of Barbara Gordon had set up their place of business.

So what is the Batgirl reference this time?  Stephanie Brown at one time in the DC universe was Batgirl.  Before that she was the superhero, Spoiler.  The thing that connected the two heroes to me was the hood to Barbara Kean's robe as she descended the stairs to greet Montoya. 

Barbara - Batgirl - Stephanie Brown - Spoiler - Batgirl.

Hey, I didn't say it was on the nose, just another little clever nod by the people at Gotham.

What do you think Gotham fans?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gotham - "Cat"

There was a lot to be excited about for the second episode of Gotham entitled, "Selina Kyle."  After seeing the title to this episode last week I figured Gotham was going to give each budding character their moment in the sun (or moonlight this being Gotham City) let them have their own episode and allow the viewing audience their chance to get to know each character.

I was doubly excited to see the above frame because I thought Gotham was going to drop Easter eggs to the expanded DC universe and we'd get looks at future heroes as well as villains.   The picture above with the trident I surely thought was a nod to Arthur Curry aka Aquaman!

So did we get our early Catwoman story and a wink to Aquaman?

No and No.

Alas, the price to be paid for being a comic geek.  Over expectations.

Selina actually disappeared for much of this episode and when we did get to see her again she didn't disappoint.  She exhibited that streetwise resourcefulness we expect of her by eluding the cronies of the Dollmaker and facilitating the rescue of her fellow street urchins. 

What was disappointing was seeing her shed that guile with the "inappropriate touching" tact she used to see Jim Gordon.  How very tired was that.  I think I've seen this particular ruse by TV and movie "problem children" at least a dozen times.  Maybe two dozen.

It's a disservice to her future character.  Let's hope Gotham doesn't resort to similar tropes for the rest of its characters.

So what did I like?

Arkham References

Early on while Gordon and Bullock were having their usual battle of wits, an Arkham reference was dropped by Gordon and I thought to myself, "Cool, they're keeping the idea of Arkham Asylum alive for future use in the series.

But it didn't stop there.

Always look at the books my friends.  They are part of the set design for a reason.

The bottommost book in the above stack (Barbara's apartment) is titled, "Asylum of the Birds."  It immediately made me think of a future denizen of Arkham Asylum, "The Penguin."  We get our asylum reference and a bird reference.  It also makes one think once they get Arkham going in this series that Oswald Cobblepot may be its first inmate.

A third reference...

Thank you Alfred.  Our third Arkham reference comes our beloved butler when he exclaims to Jim Gordon, "It's bedlam, isn't it?"  Bedlam was the nickname given to St. Mary of Bethlelem, London.  An insane asylum from the early sixteenth century.  Bedlem was middle English for Bethlehem.  A nice tangential reference for where the future crazies of Gotham will end up.

Mommy Issues

This episode also gave a look into the psyches of our future villains.  Super heroes often have Daddy issues.  Maybe it's the mothers for villains.

We get a quick look into Selina's locket.  It was in the context of the memory of her mother.  The above look actually could be of two different women.  A mother and a grandmother perhaps?  Maybe even an adoptive mother with the birth mother.  Both lost to Selina?

Carol Kane (barely recognizable) played Oswald Cobblepot's mother.  Naturally she's blind to her sons development as she sees him as a good boy and even handsome to look at.  Ah, a mother's love.  And blindness.  If she only took a closer look.

What's this, a future mother?  Well, it's just a guess but they can do anything they want with the Fish Mooney character.  She belongs to Gotham alone.  But as a mother?  How about in relation to "Lazlo" who has been identified as Mooney's lover.  He may also be a....

Joker Tease!

He kind of looks like an early Joker doesn't he?  He certainly has the motivation to become the Joker after the beat down he took from Falcone's men.  Driven to crime and revenge at the behest of Fish Mooney?  Yes, it's a stretch, but one never knows. 

I suppose I could take it one step further and have Lazlo and Fish the parents of the future Joker.  That's one baby I wouldn't want to see.  Wouldn't that be a killing joke!

The first Joker tease of the episode came early on when a fellow cop took umbrage to Jim Gordon stepping on his shoes.  "Clown" he called him.  Get it?  Shoes, clown, clown shoes, the Joker.  The Clown Prince of Crime.  I'm not making this up.

Odds and Ends

 See the kids?  They are all standing around the hole that the Dollmaker's creepy henchman just fell into.  We see a lot of holes in this show and judging by the new Gotham teaser we are going to see a lot more.  Holes and sewers make me think of Killer Croc.  Methinks we'll see the early Croc in this series.  Look for him.

We get a good panning shot of the Gotham skyline again.  The Clocktower is visible and we also get a look at that mysterious building with the Z atop it.  What does it mean?  Seriously, does anyone know.  A Victor Zsasz reference?  Weren't Victor's parents rich?  I think he inherited their international industry or something.  I'll have to Google it.

Edward Nygma is back.  Seen "behind bars" perhaps.  Or maybe he is just a little "shady" considering he is seen through venetian blinds.

Last but not least, Bruce.

Inuring oneself to pain are we?  Getting too close to the flame Mothman?  Oops, I mean Batman.  Well, they're both urban legends.   The jury is still out on the future Batman.  Listening to heavy metal and scrawling demented pictures in a notebook?  Bruce is supposed to be sad and lonely not unhinged.

That comes later.

Here's a look at that new Gotham trailer.  Look for the holes!  (Oh, and Victor Zsasz is in it too.)