Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x16 - "Prisoners"

Episode 2x16 - "Prisoners"


Jim Gordon struggles to come to terms with his new life in Blackgate Prison as the other prisoners and a corrupt warden continue to make things difficult for him. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot gets closer to his father, unaware that his step-family are plotting against them.


Wow, that was possibly the best hour of serialised drama I’ve seen all year! After sending its lead character to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Gotham then switched genres for an episode and became a Shawshank Redemption-esque prison drama that focused on Jim Gordon and his experiences within Blackgate Prison. Adopting a dual narrative that switched between The Penguin’s ‘happy ending’ with his adoptive family and Gordon’s ‘living hell’ within the prison gates, “Prisoners” made for thrilling viewing as the episode charted the fortunes of these characters throughout the episode. By the end of their journey, it seemed their luck had changed as Gordon demonstrated his determination to prove his innocence and regain his life, although the task seems almost impossible given the strength of the Riddler’s scheming plans. With the death of his remaining parent, I suspect Cobblepot will revert back to his old ways, beginning with revenge against his step-family for causing the death of his father.

The scenes with Gordon within Blackgate prison drove the episode, with its fantastically bleak and claustrophobic setting. The opening montage that showed Gordon’s routine not only helped portray the passage of time, but emphasised the boredom and dire nature of his prison sentence as he came close to his breaking point. The show’s writers certainly pushed Gordon to his limits in ways we’ve never seen before – stripped of his badge, his friends and his honour, we had a Gordon who had lost everything and was resigned to his fate. Ironically, it was his friends (with a wonderful surprise cameo from Falcone) who conspired to get him out of his situation, but there is still a long way to go for Gordon to even come close to getting his former life back. In contrast, the Penguin was teased with a new life of luxury alongside a father figure who loved him unconditionally – while his step-family came across as a bunch of goofy amateurs rather than scheming gold-diggers, it was destined to end in tragedy for the greasy-haired gangster. While it feels as if events have been slightly contrived to get Cobblepot ‘cured’ and in the bosom of his new family, I do like this new status-quo for the character and he presumably inherits the Van Dahl fortune, edging closer to his characterisation in the comics.

This more streamlined approach to the series’ storytelling really helped this episode, reducing the supporting cast to a minimum and concentrating on two narrative strands. Ben Mackenzie, who has always played Gordon as irritated and determined, was given the chance to show some range in his acting skills and it was great to see him adjust slightly, although he reverted to some of his old acting tics at times. I also enjoyed seeing more of Donal Logue’s Bullock in this episode, after being much maligned in this second season – hopefully he will prove to be a vital part in Gordon’s reinstatement, although I worry he might be a casualty of the Riddler’s schemes. The scene where Bullock breaks the news to Gordon that Leslie had miscarried his baby was really well-acted, bringing some real emotion to a scene that could have come across as hokey. I’m very excited to see where the series takes this storyline and whether the Riddler will be unveiled as the mastermind behind Gordon’s troubles. There’s a wonderful unpredictability to this series, which is surprising given that it revolves around the origins of characters we’re intimately familiar with.

It’s no understatement to say that this might be the strongest episode of Gotham yet – everything came together perfectly to deliver a solid hour of television drama. The change in locale and tone completely reinvigorated the series and the jarring nature of this sudden status-quo shake-up has made the tail-end of Season Two seem like a dangerous and unpredictable time for the main characters, much like how the final episodes of Season One seemed to deliver shock after shock with eye-gouging and sudden deaths. While I’m enjoying this focus on Jim Gordon on the wrong side of the law and the Riddler’s emergence as a criminal mastermind, it feels that Hugo Strange and his weird experiments at Indian Hill have taken something of a back-seat. Hopefully, the show will be able to bring these seemingly disparate plot threads together in a satisfying manner, not forgetting to maintain the ‘shock value’ that has worked wonders for the series thus far!

Score - 10 out of 10

Next Episode - "Into the Woods"
In an attempt to clear his name, Gordon steals his case file and approaches Nygma for help. Meanwhile, Penguin discovers his step-family's role in his father's death, and awakens from his conditioning.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...