'Gotham' Fall Finale Review: An Exceptional Disappointment

Gotham Season 1 Fall Finale - Bruce Wayne & Selina Kyle

[This is a review of Gotham season 1, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]

Tonight’s Gotham fall finale takes Bruce Wayne out of the mansion and onto the streets for his first real adventure. Additionally, almost every criticism thrown at the show is brought to the forefront and proven all too correct.

In “LoveCraft,” written by series producer Rebecca Dameron, a loose-lipped Harvey Dent (Nicholas D'Agosto) reveals too much about Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) informant, which leads to a deadly assassin visiting Wayne Manor, forcing Selina (Camren Bicondova) and Bruce (David Mazouz) to flee for their own protection. Elsewhere, Gordon’s attempt to capture LoveCraft (Al Sapienza) leads to the unfortunate end of a surprising facade, and Bullock (Donal Logue) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) become a team.

Meanwhile, Falcone proves his dominance, and DC Comics mull over other opportunities available to them in the world of television.

As Gotham closes out the year with its fall finale, it’s clear that there’s something amiss with how this show is being developed, and more importantly, the stories they choose to tell audiences. This episode, for instance, is “Gotham: High School,” starring Little Catwoman and Little Batman - an unfortunate event every would-be fan was concerned about from the beginning. Now, it’s very clear as to why.

After it’s been established, time and time again, that the city is the center of the series, it’s shocking to see such a brazen attempt to use all of its familiar characters in such a haphazard way, slyly creating all of these poorly realized connections between villainous characters lie Ivy and Cat, who don’t really need to interact at this point in time. Gotham was successful at one point early on when it was focused on the stories and not all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds their each and every use. Somewhere along the way things changed, however, and we’re now feeling the result of a series plan still yet to be defined.

This episode is forcibly about Bruce Wayne taking the first leap toward becoming his eventual form, as well as ultimately moving Gordon to a much more controllable setting for next year: Arkham. Outside of these two elements, everything else is generally an information dump to force audiences to remember all the story and character development that they did, in fact, accomplish in previous episodes.

There’s also a touch of artificial drama surrounding a character who turns out to be a facade. That, like producers hope of this early-hiatus installment, is better left forgotten and rewritten at a later point.

Still, television is very much a subjective medium, and television shows can always be enjoyed in their own right. There’s certainly more than enough shine on this shaping series for it to be entertaining.

What’s worrying, however, is when the series actors begin to stumble over the dialogue, to the point where the scenes lose all momentum, which happened many times in this week’s episode. The only saving graces were Donal Logue and Sean Pertwee, and they too struggled at times to handle such poorly constructed scenes. Perhaps unearned action is not the best way for the series to proceed going forward.

There is no reason for this episode to exist other than to see how entertaining it is to watch Bruce Wayne in the midst of real danger, with an earnest intent to protect. Unfortunately, it’s not entertaining – nor should it be. It’s also not suspenseful (because… Batman). The total amount of time Bruce Wayne is onscreen in this episode eclipses past appearances tenfold, and it feels like nobody practiced taking Bruce out of the house before requiring the character to do exactly that for an extended period of time.

Let’s not mince words: Gotham is still a series trying to find itself, and it’s not doing a terrific job with that. On one hand, there’s a show about a city which has a solid foundation and has proven itself; on the other, you have what seems to be a keen interest by producers to very much make this a Batman TV show, if in (loud) whisper only. If so, let’s stop pretending that the city is at the center of this story, because in recent weeks that one-time strength has become less and less important. But hey – at least the show has a great color palette and terrific sets.

Gotham returns in 2015 on Fox.

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