When I saw the first previews for Gotham, I was interested to see how the villains and city of Batman’s world came to be. But week after week, the show has delivered little backstory for its protagonist, an underdeveloped Gotham and a largely unengaging supporting cast.
Frustratingly, the character who receives the most attention each week is Bruce Wayne: the person we already know the most about.
“Lovecraft” doesn’t look to break this streak. It once again yields little to no development for anyone outside of Wayne Manor. To top it off, the episode lacks the tension and action one expects in a midseason finale.
The original plan for Gotham was a 16-episode arc. Since then, Fox has ordered a full season (22 episodes). This unintended extension has begun to manifest onscreen. It seems as though Bruno Heller is unsure how to proceed. There are so many plotlines that some have lost their way.
For example, though the mob storyline was great at first, it has reached a standstill. All of the main players are now waiting for someone else to act, making for slow and boring television. “Lovecraft” epitomizes this problem.
Writer/creator Bruno Heller’s attempts to create an intense fall finale do not translate. There are no heart-pounding scenes in the episode; no suspenseful moments or cliffhangers leave us unsure about our heroes’ fates. “Lovecraft” feels like normal, low-stakes Gotham fare.
The only moment where I worried about Gordon (Ben McKenzie) was when he was assigned prison guard duty at Arkham Asylum. I’m sure that Gordon won’t work there long, but I hope the new scenery will bring a fresh storyline to the series. On the other hand, showrunners often make changes like this in order to drum up interest before returning to the status quo; this shake-up may not last.
More needs to happen with Gordon and the city of Gotham itself. That’s what people signed on to watch. It’s great to see Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) from time to time, but the focus on his parents’ murder is tedious and impedes the pace of the show.
In light of Gordon’s reassignment to Arkham, future episodes of Gotham can focus more on his road to Commissioner how. We may also get a better idea of how Gotham becomes infested with not just crime, but evil. The show is far from consistent, but if it explores Gotham’s backstory a bit more, then we may yet see it add something new to the Batman mythos.
The upside to “Lovecraft” is Alfred (Sean Pertwee). His buddy-cop plotline with Bullock (Donal Logue) is everything I have ever wanted to see from Bullock and Gordon. All of Pertwee’s lines are perfectly timed. His wit balances Bullock in just the right ways, and his fighting expertise comes as a wonderful surprise.
Now that Gordon is in a different position, I want Alfred to be Bullock’s new partner. They gel beautifully together and are incredibly efficient. They’d solve more crimes in tandem than Gordon and Bullock ever would, all while saving time for snappy banter. Whether that happens remains to be seen.
We see more of Bruce and Selina Kyle’s (Camren Bicondova) friendship in this episode and it works well, especially when Bruce tells Selina that he doesn’t think she’s “a nice person.” The two are from such different worlds that they never truly understand one other. Yet in this moment, they have not yet taken on their alter egos. Their adolescence gives them a more human freedom.
Bruce and Selina are not yet at each other’s throats. They have not started passing judgement between vigilante and cat burglar. They are just two innocent kids. Without external pressures they can attempt to understand how the other half lives. This encounter sets up the complex relationship that Selina and Bruce have for the rest of their lives.
Gotham is at its finest when it works in subtle moments like these. It sets up the future with only a few words. If Heller incorporated more of these scenes, the show would work worlds better as an origin story.
We will have to wait until January to see what happens with Bruce and Gordon. I’m also wondering how Heller and the writers will keep Bullock relevant now that he’s no longer paired with the main character. How will he play into the story without Gordon to anchor his story arc?
But more than anything, I hope this show breaks away from its time-consuming and heavy-handed stories of the week in favor of a more energized second-half of the series. I enjoy Gotham most when it incorporates a procedural structure with character and narrative development. But if “Lovecraft” is any indication of where the show is headed, then we’re in for a rather uneventful spring.