Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x20 - "Unleashed"

Episode 2x20 - "Unleashed"


With Azrael still on the loose and acting erratically, an unlikely group of allies come together to defeat the maniac ex-Mayor before he assassinates James Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, Selina attempts to break into Indian Hill to rescue Firefly from Strange’s clutches and finds more than she bargained for.


In some ways this episode felt like a remixed version of the mid-season finale “Worse than a Crime” as Theo Galavan (now under the guise of Azrael) attempted once more to end the Wayne bloodline by killing Bruce Wayne and a motley crew of Gotham’s finest and not-so-finest came together to prevent that from happening. While I was initially dubious of resurrecting the dead, I have to say that James Frain has done a fantastic job as Azrael, far better than his time as Theo Galavan. I love the added bass to his voice from beneath the mask and the switch from scheming manipulator to dangerous assassin. Unfortunately, Azrael is only a “level boss” on the way to Hugo Strange and as such, he meets his demise here with an unsatisfying bang. While I appreciate the visual of Galavan being blown apart by a bazooka, it didn't quite have the same dramatic impact as his initial death and I’m surprised the Penguin didn't want to prolong the experience. I wonder if he’ll stick to his promise to leave Tabitha alone, considering she was the one who deal the fatal blow to his mother.

Despite his “master assassin skills”, Azrael was pretty crap at killing people – I initially thought that Barnes had been killed off, but instead he was merely comatose and later on in the episode, he does the exact same thing to his sister, Tabitha. I’m surprised he didn't send Alfred into a coma for a hat-trick. After establishing him as a deadly force of nature in the previous episode, he did come across as a bit ineffectual this time around. I am glad that Tabitha seems to be still on the show as I’m really fond of her and Butch, despite the lack of appearances in the latter half of Season Two. Hopefully, the two of them will get a happy ending and maybe wise up and leave Gotham like Falcone did – in fact, anyone with half an ounce of common sense would leave there. I mean, Leslie seems to have done that, although I’m guessing Monica Baccarin is actually busy filming for some other show instead.

Picking up on the long-forgotten Firefly sub-plot from “By Fire”, the writers brought Selina Kyle back into the mix after not really knowing what to do with the character this season. Sporting some stylish straightened hair covered up by her costume, Camren Bicondova seemed to relish a meatier role for this episode, as she broke into Arkham Asylum and bumped into the Riddler in a very amusing air-vent based exchange and even giving us our first glimpse at Killer Croc. While it’s unlikely that she’ll be burned alive in the next episode, I wonder whether Hugo Strange will do some of his brain-washing mojo on her and steer her closer to her villainous future. Catwoman has been one of the least developed characters over this season, repeating familiar beats from Season One and acting mainly as Bruce’s sidekick rather than developing her own personality. I hope that the writer’s give the character more to do in Season Three, rather than being Bruce’s eyes on the streets. I guess this is one of the problems of such a large ensemble cast, some of the characters get overshadowed at times. For the most part, however, Gotham gets the balance right.

It’s looking more and more likely that this Hugo Strange / Indian Hill story-arc is going to roll over onto the next season as it feels like there is far too much potential in this storyline to have it resolved in the next two episodes, especially with teasers suggesting the return of Fish Mooney. While it has shifted the tone of the series dramatically, I have really enjoying the scientific experiment angle of the Indian Hill plot and BD Wong does a terrific job portraying the mastermind pulling all the strings that he deserves a longer turn in the role. With the mystery of the Waynes murder all but solved, I am curious as to what will be the main driver behind the series in Season Three. I can't see the show returning to its organised crime roots and it has evolved so much since its “crime of the week” days to return to that format, which makes me think that there might be some greater mastermind behind Strange's schemes – possibly Ra's Al-Ghul. Gotham remains one of my guilty pleasures, and while it doesn't quite fit into a larger universe like Arrow, The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow do, it's a fun curiosity powered by strong characters and exciting storytelling. I'm glad the series is returning for a third year, although I've got no idea where it will be heading, which just encapsulates the surprising nature of show.

Score - 9.6 out of 10

Next Episode - "A Legion of Horribles"
Hugo Strange welcomes a familiar face back to Gotham after he resurrects Fish Mooney in Indian Hill. Meanwhile, Bruce discovers a friend is in danger and teams up with Gordon, Alfred and Lucius to uncover more of Strange's experiments.

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