Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x22 - "Transference"

Episode 2x22 - "Transference"


Under orders from the Court of Owls, Hugo Strange begins plans to erase evidence of his experiments at Indian Hill by detonating a bomb that will wipe Arkham Asylum off the map. Can Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle escape before the explosion, whilst preventing the inmates from doing the same?


The Season Two finale of Gotham had plenty of scattered sub-plots to contend with in forty-two minutes, but fortunately they were all taking place within Hugo Strange’s laboratory of horrors, Indian Hill. Sure, it was a bit frantic at times, but it did all come together without seeming over-filled and rushed. Whereas the Season One finale was a satisfying climax to a year’s worth of crime drama and Machiavellian plotting by the Penguin, the Season Two finale seemed more focused on setting up the series’ status-quo for the next series, populating Gotham City with a bunch of augmented freaks to plague the GCPD over the next twenty-two episodes. I was worried that Jada Pinkett-Smith’s turn as Fish Mooney would be a brief two-episode cameo, but it seems that she will be back in a full capacity next season, presumably taking charge of her new ‘family’ of freaks to clash with the Penguin. In fact, I’d have been happier if their ‘reunion’ had taken next season as it felt rushed and odd that she would leave Penguin unconscious on the streets without killing or capturing him.

Aside from the outbreak of monsters from the bowels of Arkham Asylum, Gotham also teased a new ‘big bad’ for Season Three in the form of The Court of Owls. I quite liked the conversation between Alfred and Bruce regarding another investigation into the conspiracy surrounding the death of his parents, and how Alfred thought this was the end – only to find out that there is another layer of mystery to be solved. While The Court of Owls is interesting, I am far more invested in the bevy of creatures let loose onto the streets of Gotham – presumably this will lead the show back towards its “monster of the week” format and allow the writers to introduce more familiar villains from the Batman comics. Killer Croc seems to have been teased heavily and the writers have mentioned The Mad Hatter may be making his debut during Season Three. With so much going-on, there’s no danger of this series running out of steam any time soon as it has transitioned from crime drama to a fully-fledged superhero genre show.

The biggest “WTF” moment to come out of the episode had to be the appearance of what seemed like an evil version of Bruce Wayne. My initial guess is that Hugo Strange made a clone from Bruce’s DNA, but perhaps it could be a twin brother separated at birth. Given the series’ attempts to bring The Court of Owls into the story, perhaps this alternate version of Bruce Wayne is Lincoln March – a character in the Batman comics claiming to be Bruce’s younger brother. Either way, this is a plot development that I am very interested to see explored further! There were plenty of fun moments in this chaotic finale, most of which came from Ben McKenzie take on Clayface pretending to be Gordon. I loved seeing this more exaggerated version of Gordon with the inane grin, overcompensating gruff voice and completely out of character persona. At times I've found McKenzie’s take on Gordon to be weak and one note, but in this episode he actually showed some depth – portraying both Clayface-Gordon and Drugged-Gordon. I also wonder how much the character will be changed when he returns after finding Leslie, and whether Monica Baccarin will return to the role.

While I enjoyed seeing Hugo Strange’s empire crumble and his cockiness melt away when he realised he’d messed up, I hope that this isn't the last we’ll see of the character and he’ll regain his position of manipulative mastermind again soon. Compared to the Season One finale, this episode left me with a lot more questions and excitement about the future of Gotham, as it threw plenty of twists and turns into the narrative to be dealt with when the series returns. While I was initially hesitant about the series pushing the boundaries of realism and resurrecting characters from the dead, it has been a great move for the show and revitalised it completely, unleashing the more colourful aspects of the Batman mythos onto the small-screen. As for why the Court of Owls pushed Strange to perfect the resurrection formula? I suspect that the head of their organisation will turn out to be Ra’s Al-Ghul and this whole endeavour will be the series’ version of the infamous Lazarus Pits that the character uses to cheat death in the comics. Overall, this was a strong finale filled with plenty of avenues for plot development when the series returns for its third season in September 2016. It’s been an absolute roller-coaster ride of a second year that has easily surpassed its equally fantastic first year, so I have high hopes for the show when it returns for its third.

Score - 9.7 out of 10

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