‘Gotham’ Review: “Lovecraft”
FOX’s ‘Gotham’ detects its tenth installment in “Lovecraft,” as Bruce and Selina find themselves the target of contract killers, forcing them to go on the run as Fish Mooney worries that Falcone may have caught on to her duplicity. Last week’s ‘Gotham’ installment, “Harvey Dent,” saw Gordon turning to the city’s trustworthy ADA (Nicholas D’Agosto) for help solving the Wayne murders, while Bruce and Alfred took in Selina Kyle as a witness to the crime, and Penguin unraveled Fish Mooney’s plot against Falcone, so how does FOX’s latest episode of Bat-prequel drama shine a light on the city’s villainous beginnings? Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Gotham’ episode 10, “Lovecraft”!
I find myself equal parts fascinated and horrified by ‘Gotham.’ Reactions to last week’s “Harvey Dent” seemed more divisive than usual, and while the heavy-handed foreshadowing of its titular character seemed largely on par with what I’d come to expect from the series, I thought the hour introduced enough new elements to the mix to renew interest overall. In the week since, executive producers have made the rounds answering press inquiries of tonight’s “fall finale,” which themselves don’t inspire a great deal of confidence in ‘Gotham’’s trial-and-error methods of chiseling out the show’s proper place among the TV landscape, conjuring quotable soundbites like “prenatal origin story” that readily emphasize everything already ridiculous about the concept.
Still, if we’re to take “Lovecraft” as a midseason finale of sorts, one crafted before we knew that ‘Gotham’’s first (and undoubtedly not final) season had twelve more episodes to go, rather than six, I thought things mostly clicked, save for the show’s bizarre tendency to name episodes after characters that barely appear in them. What largely worked about the hour was that “Lovecraft,” for what seems to be the first time all season, unfolded more as an ensemble piece than the Jim Gordon show. Near everyone had a specific drive to their presence, rather than the show’s tendency to shoehorn in characters for screentime.
Not only that, but pushing Bruce Wayne out on the run from contract killers gave the hour a sense of urgency for all involved, also affording a chance for some unique pairings ‘Gotham’ hasn’t had time to explore. True, last week gave us a taste of the Bruce-Selina dynamic, but this time around we got to explore the latter’s world a bit more, shifting perspectives and allowing the socially clueless billionare boy a chance to experience a more turbulent side of life, one the cavernous* Wayne manor walls rarely afford. It also helped to have it made clear in context that Bruce himself wasn’t under any real threat from the contract killers, but rather stuck with Selina from a more heroic and friendly standpoint, despite seeming somewhat heavy-handed to draw out the moment of Bruce making his first leap off a rooftop.
*We’ve typically only seen Wayne Manor from one increasingly-claustrophobic set, so it seemed especially jarring to have Bruce and Selina running through a dozen areas of the property we’d never seen before. And hey, if Copperhead was so adamant about not killing Gordon or Bruce unless contracted to, what did the poor gardener possible do to deserve such a cruel fate?
As much as “Lovecraft” seemed driven by Bruce and Selina’s plight, credit should be given to Sean Pertwee for his performance as the badass Alfred Pennyworth, likely the most successful of ‘Gotham’’s youthful character adaptations. Too often we’ve seen the character scuttling his more colorful behavior to assert authority as Bruce’s surrogate father, so unleashing the character’s more violent and driven nature in fighting off thugs or partnering with Bullock definitely proved a highlight. Not only that, but Pertwee’s Alfred seemed every bit at ease taking on criminals as manipulating witnesses or even Fish Mooney himself, making clear the character’s layered past with only a few short interactions. The emotional reunion with Bruce by the hour’s end seemed a bit over the top, but in the heightened ‘Gotham’ sense, offered a sweet cap to the fast-paced pursuit.
If anything, Gordon’s role in the proceedings seemed surprisingly minimized, reducing the character’s screentime to chewing out the still-untrustworthy Harvey Dent and failing to protect Lovecraft in the ultimate struggle against Copperhead. Telling the Mayor to kiss his ass over the coverup of Lovecraft’s death felt like it was intended to play as a more triumphant moment for the character, but considering we’ve only seen Gordon clashing with superiors and struggling to bring the system down from the very beginning, it seems like ‘Gotham’ might have done well to hold onto that card a bit longer. At the very least, the character’s relocation to Arkham should open up some interesting storytelling avenues, considering we haven’t gotten anywhere with the mystery of the Wayne murders otherwise, or whatever Lovecraft seemed to be alluding to in his final moments.
‘Gotham’ operates with so very many moving pieces and external factors to take into consideration, I’m glad to have until January 5 to step back and look at the big picture. As for “Lovecraft” itself, the hour unfolded with a strong sense of urgency and gave us some fun character pairings to mull over with the future, mostly dropping any narrative dead weight (no Barbara, thank goodness, but still a weird Nygma hug!), so I’m left with a little more optimism toward the second half of the first season. Developing the Bruce-Selina relationship any further might complicate matters, and Gordon himself seemed a bit superfluous overall, but the mob wars and Wayne mysteries are definitely heating up as the show gains a better sense of how to effectively employ and regroup its characters.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- I didn't get a chance to mention it but John Doman also put in some great work portraying a more rattled Carmine Falcone, following the loss of his fortune. His darker side also brought out some greatly humanizing fear from Fish, and the visual of Falcone continuing on with lunch despite the corpse face down in his soup was a great gag.
- Selina’s kissing preoccupation was sweet in the final moments, but downright bizarre to bring up a third time at the top of the hour.
- You guys, Li’l Poison Ivy was back! Totally superfluous, and crazier than ever it seems, but she’s back!
- On that note, ‘Gotham’ should also probably steer clear of pairing three somewhat-wooden child actors for one scene.
- Does James Gordon know that whispers are still technically “out loud?” Did he ever figure out what happens when balloons pop?
- Staging of the gun battle felt a bit off, with Harvey and Gordon seemingly shooting from across the street outside the factory.
- I still don’t understand what the box Selina took from Bruce was.
Well, what say you? Did ‘Gotham’’s ninth episode “Lovecraft” help set the stage any further for Batman’s beginning? How do you think the prequel drama fared in fall finale? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and check back for our next review of ‘Gotham’ on FOX!