Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x21 - "A Legion of Horribles"


Gotham
Episode 2x21 - "A Legion of Horribles"

Synopsis

Realising that Selina Kyle is in danger, Bruce asks Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox to accompany him into Arkham Asylum on a rescue mission, unaware of the horrors that lie beneath. Meanwhile, Hugo Strange finds himself under pressure to perfect the resurrection process for his superiors in the Court of Owls.

Review

Rather surprisingly for the penultimate episode of a series, “A Legion of Horribles” introduced plenty of new plot threads and characters to be resolved in the subsequent season finale. There was a chaotic enthusiasm to proceedings as all of the series remaining cast members congregated on the secret laboratory beneath Indian Hill. With the GCPD poking their nose into his business after the Azrael debacle, Hugo Strange ramped up his experiments and we were introduced to his benefactors, the elusive Court of Owls. A recent addition to Batman mythology, the Court of Owls appeared in the New 52 continuity as a secret society manipulating behind-the-scenes events in Gotham, even before Batman’s first appearance. As such, they are an excellent addition to Gotham and will no doubt be the main threat of Season Three, although it remains to be seen how many of the new characters introduced in this episode will make the transition alongside them.

The return of Fish Mooney would have been a much bigger surprise if it hadn't been spoiled in solicitations and interviews with Jada Pinkett-Smith, but I was surprised that Gotham had waited until the penultimate episode of Season Two to bring her back. Pinkett-Smith returned to the land of the living with her brain (and penchant for chewing the scenery) intact, although at times it seemed like she’d forgotten how to play the character and was doing an impersonation of what she thought Fish Mooney was like. “I'm Fish Mooney, bitch” – really?! Interestingly, Mooney revealed a new superpower gained through her exposure to Cuttlefish DNA – the ability to influence people by touch – an interesting extension of her pre-existing persuasive skills. Given the slow-burn approach to her reappearance, I would be very surprised if she was killed off quickly in the next episode, so I assume that Jada Pinkett-Smith is scheduled to return to the series full-time during Season Three. I certainly hope so, as I have missed her unpredictable nature, and love her or hate her, she brings a certain flamboyance to the role that suits the Gotham landscape.

"I'm Fish Mooney, Bitch"

There were plenty of other great moments in this episode too, such as Bruce’s face-to-face confrontation with Hugo Strange. Both David Mazouz and BD Wong were spot-on in this scene, hitting the right emotional tones throughout. I particularly liked the sorrow in Wong’s face when he realised that he’d failed to sway another Wayne to his way of thinking. I also liked the sequence with Bullock taking on the role as Captain of the GCPD and being thoroughly uncomfortable in front of the reporters. It was a nice touch and hopefully we’ll see more of Bullock in this role in the future. While Hugo Strange had been relegated to an occasional character throughout much of the tail-end of this season, it was this episode that provided viewers with a greater look at the character and his motivations, revealing another level of corruption above him with the Court of Owls. With one episode remaining of Season Two, it is entirely possible that Strange might end up getting killed off in the finale, but I sincerely hope that he ‘rolls over’ onto the next season, even if he is incarcerated at the end of this one.

At a time when most series would be consolidating its plot threads and building towards a crescendo, it’s refreshing to see Gotham adding more and more plates to be spun with the introduction of Fish Mooney, Clayface, Firefly and The Court of Owls. It’s genuinely exciting to see the show buck tradition and planning for its third season. I suspect that this upcoming season finale will be far from traditional and will instead shake up the status-quo for Season Three. Given the super-powered threats within Arkham Asylum, I'm expecting the series to adapt elements from the “KnightFall” storyline and have a mass break-out at Indian Hill, which results in the various monsters and maniacs spreading out into Gotham City and causing chaos. This second season has seen Gotham embrace its comic-book roots big time, revelling in the unrealistic elements of the Batman universe, such as resurrection and super-powers. I’d be quite happy if the series never introduced Batman and instead altered its concept to be “a Gotham without Batman” and just hit full-speed on developing the recognisable super-villains.


Score - 9.7 out of 10

Next Episode - "Transference"
While Gordon, Bruce and Lucius remain at Indian Hill, the city of Gotham will be met with a new threat as Hugo Strange's inmates devise a plan to escape and start their new lives in Gotham.

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