Gotham: 310 “Time Bomb” Review
Reviewed by Charlie Pickard.
“Why does it feel like we keep saying goodbye?”
“Maybe it’s all we have left.”
“Or we just haven’t done it properly yet. Goodbye, James Gordon.”
The penultimate episode of this half of the season had the task of continuing multiple storylines, setting up the mid-season finale and being entertaining in its own right. It didn’t fail on any of those fronts. This was another fantastic episode that cemented Season Three (so far) as the best season Gotham has had yet.
Robert Hull wrote this supreme tale expertly. This came as no surprise from the man who previously wrote the episode ‘New Day Rising’, my personal favourite so far from Season Three. He balanced three different plots in a succinct manner that ensured there was never a dull moment.
Lee Thompkins and Mario Falcone (with his father) are preparing for the wedding. While leaving to drive home, the car they were about to get into explodes. It was thought to be an attempt on Carmine’s life, but it later transpires that Mario was the target. There is clearly more to Lee’s fiancée than there first appeared to be, which comes as no surprise given his heritage.
Mario was the most interesting character in this episode and developed enormously. He continues his rivalry with Jim Gordon over their love for Lee. This culminates in murder when Mario sees Lee kiss Gordon days before her wedding. Infected with Alice’s blood, Mario’s emotions are heightened and he is enraged at their kiss, so attacks some locals while shouting that Lee loves him in response to the voices in his head.
While this made for a fantastic cliff-hanger that left me desperate to see what happens with Mario now he is transformed, the timing of him turning up at the exact moment Lee and Jim kissed was preposterous, and typical of melodrama. Decisions like this bring the show down somewhat.
On a different note, James Carpinello was exemplary in his role as Mario. The man who is always so suave and assured transformed into an aggressive lunatic. Carpinello portrayed the doctor’s descent into madness in a believable way that left me rueing the man he has become. This happened, of course, because of his exposure to Alice Tetch’s blood. While we haven’t actually seen him be infected by it, this seems to explain why he mysteriously had a plaster on his neck three episodes ago.
A cure is being developed for those infected with Alice’s virus, but it might be too late for Mario. It would be easy to have him out of the picture so that Jim can reconnect with Lee, but a shame to cut his story short so soon. In addition, will the cure be used on Barnes or does he have to remain in Arkham for the murders he committed whilst infected?
The Court of Owls are eventually revealed to be behind the attempt on Mario’s life. This is made worse by the fact that they were allies with Carmine Falcone. Kathryn, their apparent joint-leader with Jim Gordon’s father, won’t reveal to Carmine why his son was targeted but assures him that he is safe for now. That is, so long as Carmine assists her in the upcoming destruction of Gotham.
The Riddler’s story this week was exhilarating. He has managed to kidnap Butch and Tabitha off-screen (it would have been preferable to actually see this) and proceeds to torture Butch in the hope that he will admit to killing Isabella. When Riddler says Tabitha either has to lose her hand or electrocute Butch to death, she claims to not care enough for him to save him; but then decides to lose her hand so he can live because she thinks he is ‘sweet’. This seemed a rather arbitrary, hasty change, but Gotham has never been known for its logic.
Tabitha functions as nothing more than a plot device for Riddler to threaten Butch with, and still lacks a distinct personality of her own. Actress Jessica Lucas must be pining for better material. Faring better, as ever, is Barbara, who displays cunning and intelligence in not only tracking down Riddler and the others, but also realises that the Penguin was behind Isabella’s murder. She even learns of his love for Riddler simply by speaking to his maid. Maybe Barbara should be the new Riddler, as she clearly seems to be better than him at uncovering the truth.
Riddler eventually learns that Butch didn’t kill Isabella when he claims to have killed her by shooting her, just to appease the master manipulator – of course, she died in a car crash so Butch is clearly innocent. Now that Tabitha has lost her hand, Riddler releases her and Butch. While the duo are recuperating in hospital, Barbara vows to go to war against Riddler and Penguin. This promises to be a revelatory battle: Gotham City is a ‘time bomb’ waiting to explode.
Elsewhere, Bruce Wayne continues to learn more about the enigmatic Court of Owls with the aid of Ivy, Selina and Alfred. When the assassins from last week (known as the Whisper Gang) kidnap Ivy, they set off to rescue her. The Whisper Gang want the key Ivy stole last week because it opens a safe containing a device that can destroy the Court of Owls.
Wayne agrees to work in partnership with the Whisper Gang against the Court of Owls, with the Court having betrayed the Gang who had once been their allies. This alliance is short-lived, however, when the Court’s Talon resurfaces and dispatches of the Whisper Gang’s leader. This was a stylish fight scene, with slow-motion used to good effect as the men battled with blades. Hanelle M. Culpepper’s camera was swift in the way it presented action, always moving to the next shot and creating an exciting pace to the episode.
‘Time Bomb’ was an instalment of Gotham that was triumphant in all aspects of production. Some characteristic jumps in logic deterred it from achieving full marks but, overall, it took stories in some thrilling directions. Only one episode of this half of the season remains, and it looks to be an intense showdown. Mario will need to be defeated, Riddler will likely learn of Penguin’s betrayal, and all roads appear to lead to the Court of Owls and Jim Gordon’s father.