Media · Story & Characters

“Gotham” – Episode Nineteen (S1) Review

GOTHAM
Beasts of Prey

Okay, so what’s goin’ down since we last left the other city that never sleeps? Well, in this episode, we’re introduced to a serial killer known as the Ogre…
Shrek
No, not that Ogre. Trust me, Shrek is much too nice!

I researched the Ogre as far as Batman villains go and, as it turns out, he’s not a big presence in the comics. (In fact, the only thing I found on the Ogre was that he was a genetically enhanced man who was often paired with another character called the Ape.) Evidently, the Ogre only made one documented appearance in a comic, so the character showcased in this episode is essentially a new creation. But he certainly works as he has the right blend of pretty boy charisma and psychotic charm that makes a good freak-factor villain (as opposed to a villain, like Penguin, who is more cerebral and less into blindfolds and handcuffs). Again, some viewers and fans might take issue with tacking on another non-canon character, but I’m cool with non-canon characters provided they (a). don’t take time and attention away from the canon characters and (b). they fit in with the spirit of the piece. This certainly held true for the Ogre as he didn’t hog the limelight (unlike some other non-canon character who simply refuses to go away) and his overall dark vibe, which fits in with the city of Gotham just fine.

Likewise, his character seems to embody, in a twisted way, the driving underlying force for many characters on the show: the desire to be loved or respected. That’s all good and normal, but the Ogre’s stance on this subject is murky. In his mind, any woman who refuses his advances or who is less than perfect has broken his heart, hence why he leaves a literal broken heart at the scene of the crime as his calling card. Thus, the Ogre’s drive is more about control and fear and less about finding The One.

Also, it’s interesting to note that ogres, aside from being fairy tale and folklore figures, are also metaphorical images. Persons who do horrible things are labeled ogres due to the fierceness and terror associated with the same creature of lore that is most remembered for eating humans, primarily children. Likewise, Gotham’s Ogre seeks to devour his victims figuratively-speaking as he seems to obsess over a lady who eventually doesn’t meet his standards and then goes all diabolical on her. I suppose it’s true what they say about picking up strange guys in bars – don’t.

Overall, his arc is one that is set to play out over the next few episodes, so it will be interesting to see where it goes. Especially considering the completely twisted ending. Normally, I can spot set-ups right away, but in this episode, I never would have suspected that someone was luring Jim Gordon into danger. Evidently, there is a reason why no GCPD cop has dared to crack the Ogre case. Reason being is that the Ogre not only targets young single ladies but also anyone with whom a meddling police officer has ties to. In an act of revenge against Jim’s stand for justice in the previous episode, the Commissioner strikes back, making Jim feel like there are people in the police department who want to stand by his side. Turns out it was all a ruse to propel Jim into the Ogre’s cross-hairs, only it won’t be Jim he targets. With this thorny new development, it should be interesting to see how Jim makes good on his threat to the Commissioner as well as protect his new lady love.

Speaking of cross-hairs, turns out that Penguin has his sights set on a rather mighty target – his former boss Maroni. Talk about trying to spear a large fish! I do wonder what sort of snag Penguin might hit while trying to carry out this ploy as he’s known for biting off more than he can chew at times. In some cases, his risks have paid off and at other times they have nearly gotten him killed. I sense Maroni isn’t thick enough to be easily cornered but we’ll see. Penguin has gotten himself out of some fairly gnarled situations before using his quick thinking and slick talk, so if anyone can attempt a big catch like Maroni, it’s him. (And, yes, all of the fish puns here were intended.)

Let’s see…what else happened upon our return to Gotham? Oh, yes – I see that Fish Mooney still refuses to die.
Make it stop I can't listen
Seriously, her plot line now is a waste of air time. No offense to Jada Pinkett Smith (as she does do a good job playing a very over-the-top character and I will never be able to watch anything else she does without envisioning her as Fish Mooney) and no offense to the writers (they are awesome). But her arc takes away from everyone else who deserves to dabble in the spotlight. The same could also be said for the Dollmaker. Again, what point did his plot even serve? It seemed like filler but it’s possible he might come back since he survives Fish’s prison break. But if he does return, I hope he’s actually given something to do other than skulk around in a lab coat and make threats. Though he’s no fool, that’s for sure.

But going back to Fish, as I now look forward to verbally lambasting her any chance I can get. Fish likes to think she’s being clever but I wonder when she’ll learn that anyone she’s tried to set up has always/usually caught on to her. She rarely tricks anybody, including me, as I could see her betrayal coming a mile away and I had her plot figured out in the first few minutes. So one of the sneakiest criminal masterminds she’s not.

And where did she learn how to fly a helicopter? From The Matrix?

Oh, wait….
MatrixNiobe
Okay, for the love of The Matrix trilogy (as she played the character Niobe) I’ll let that one slide.

Side note: Rick Grimes, Jr. was kind of cool…
RGJR
Seriously, that was the first thing that came to mind. Too bad there weren’t any Walkers around to gnaw on Fish’s face.

All face-eating imagery aside, another element I enjoyed in this episode was Bruce and Selina’s team-up. Their parallel personalities are a great match and it’s always good to see Bruce out on his own, trying to sort matters out. It would be tempting to turn a pre-teen character into a wimp or a pouting emo boy, but thankfully Bruce is no softie nor a cry baby.

It was a fairly tense moment when Bruce struggled with whether or not to push Alfred’s attacker out of the window but, in the end, I was glad he thought better of it and I was rooting for him not to. Granted, grown up Batman is not perfect but his heart is steeped in justice, not killing just for the sake of taking a life. Selina, on the other hand, is rough-and-tumble and isn’t afraid to fight dirty, which shows her future Catwoman side. That being said, I wouldn’t call Selina cruel. Her moral compass just isn’t as on-point as Bruce’s and it’s this that makes their dynamic fun to watch as well as establish the foundation for their future relationship where Batman and Catwoman are never best pals but they’re not sworn enemies either.

In closing, I liked the metaphor in the episode’s title. Obviously, one of the “beasts” here is the Ogre, but the word is plural, so who or what else could it refer to? A beast of prey is one that goes after or hunts down weaker creatures to attack or devour, much like how an eagle or a wolf hunts animals weaker than themselves. In a metaphoric sense, a “beast of prey” could be a person who does the same, tracking down and hurting/killing persons they deem weak or inferior. In the case of Gotham, we see various “beasts” – Fish Mooney is willing to kill and trick to get what she wants, Jim Gordon vows to go after anyone who threatens harm, and Penguin has his own schemes for revenge. In all of these instances, we see characters who are strong (or think they’re strong) seeking to take out or neutralize other characters who have invaded their turf or done them harm. While some of these folks seek revenge for revenge’s sake and others pursue justice, their drive causes them to not cower and accept what appears to be their fate. They’re movers and shakers, and while some of them (with any luck) won’t be successful in the long run, others will prove that in Gotham, you either have to survive or die.

Overall, I would put this episode in the middle of the enjoyment spectrum – not jaw-droppingly great but not a snooze-fest. I sense the momentum will pick up now as we near this season’s finish line, so all bets are off as far as what might happen.

Until later, fellow Gothamites!

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