[This is a review of Gotham season 2, episode 17. There will be SPOILERS.]
Gotham feels like it’s back on track this week, following Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) prison escape in the previous episode. A number of ongoing storylines — including one huge development — leapt forward, and the pieces feel as if they’re falling into place for the final stretch of episodes that will wrap up season 2. Needless to say, it was a red-letter week for Gotham fans, especially those hoping to see much, much more of Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith).
Let’s go ahead and discuss this week’s new episode, “Into the Woods”.
It’s been a long time coming for Nygma to enter full-on super-villain territory, and while his scheme to frame Gordon technically marked his first plot, this week was his true coming-out party. When Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) track down an audio recording of the anonymous tip that implicated Gordon, the accused detective heads to Nygma for help. Luckily, all those viewers screaming at their television sets were rewarded when Gordon finally figured out that Nygma has been behind it all.
The conversation between the two of them regarding the nature of psychopaths was thrilling, especially seeing as it gave us a glimpse into Nygma’s twisted sense of self-righteousness. Moreover, Gordon’s electrically rigged chair nicely allowed Nygma to get caught without losing his sense of cunning. Ultimately, Gordon finds his way to Wayne Manor and recruits Selina (Camren Bicondova) to help get the GCPD involved in his plan to bring down Nygma.
The final showdown between Nygma and Gordon was perhaps one of the rewarding scenes of the season, as the future Riddler (who really has everything but the name at this point) finally gets the comeuppance that he’s deserved since murdering Dougherty last season. Smith does some of his finest work here, and now that his character has little reason to mask his pervading dark side, it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of him next, especially if Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) steps in to “rehabilitate” him.
Ever since Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) was cured of his insanity, the character’s storyline has been tiresome at best and ill-conceived at worst. It’s almost as if the show doesn’t know what to do with the fan-favorite character right now and devised the last several episodes to simply keep him busy. Taylor has long been among the most popular performers, but the prospect of a toothless Penguin has little appeal, as the character’s volatile violent streak and pompous thirst for power are what make him such a joy onscreen. Thankfully, Penguin is finally back to form this week.
After his father’s death, his newfound family members proceed to treat him like a slave, but their reign is short-lived, as Penguin discovers the poison used to kill his father. Okay, the fact that Grace (Melinda Clarke) would leave such an incriminating item sitting freely in the kitchen is a bit convenient. However, in the interest of getting Penguin’s story back on track, it’s worth overlooking. Penguin apparently murdering Grace’s two kids and cooking them into a roast for her to eat? Yeah, that was a bit much, even by Gotham standards. Nevertheless, it’s a relief to have Penguin back to his evil ways. Welcome back, sir. We missed you.
Once again, Nygma’s rise (or is it his fall?) and Penguin’s family saga took the lion’s share of screen time this week. Still, we did get a glimpse at Bruce and Selina in the midst of robbing someone, an escape during which Bruce (David Mazouz) seemed thrilled. Long before the period of Batman Begins, we got to see the future Dark Knight fly across rooftops, even without the Tumbler to assist him. Who else would have much preferred that the show develop Bruce’s “research” instead of the unfortunate subplot that Penguin was trapped in? Unfortunately, the falling-out between Bruce and Selina — which felt incredibly contrived, by the way — robs us of that opportunity, at least for now.
In other Gotham news, the divisive Barbara (Erin Richards) is up and about, sharing her crimes in a group session with other Arkham inmates. Strange seems suspicious about whether or not her current state — affected, it seems, more by sadness regarding her crimes than anything resembling insanity — is all simply an act. Meanwhile, the sheer realization that Gotham isn’t going the amnesia route with her storyline is in itself an improvement from what some may have expected. Her release may be a “beautiful experiment” for Strange, but Gordon will likely be less than pleased to see her.
What did you think of “Into the Woods”? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below.
Gotham returns with “Pinewood” next Monday at 8pm on FOX.