Gotham: 311 “Beware The Green-Eyed Monster” Review
Reviewed by Charlie Pickard.
“Swear that you’ll bring him in alive.”
Jim Gordon swears to Carmine Falcone that he won’t kill his son, but it’s a lie. Thus ends the first half of Season Three of Gotham, in an episode packed with plot developments and big character decisions. This was a good mid-season finale – not perfect, but very enjoyable. The main story was the culmination of the all-too-brief rivalry between Gordon and Mario Falcone.
It begins where it left off, with Mario preparing to marry Lee Thompkins. Of course, he is now infected with Alice Tetch’s blood. Mario murders the man who is working on a cure for the virus, as though he wants to stay infected and retain the powers it gives him. The way he crushes the man’s head is particularly gruesome, with blood splattering all over Mario’s face. The prosthetics team deserve a mention for the excellent work they did in creating the man’s mutilated head when Gordon visits the crime scene.
John Stephens wrote a compelling tale with a touch of the melodramatic. The cliff-hanger was tense but clichéd: we’ve seen the halted wedding and the bride’s choice between two men countless times in fiction, but Stephens did the best he could with a trope and turned it into a riveting climax. The road to Jim and Lee reconnecting seems anything but straightforward, however. The way Mario’s knife drops onto the rocks and possibly into the water implies that Jim will have trouble proving Mario was about to kill Lee. If anything, it makes Jim look as though he murdered an innocent man out of jealousy. Ben McKenzie will have some meaty material in the coming episodes, as he did this week.
McKenzie excelled at portraying the distraught Jim Gordon. He convinced as a man desperate to prevent his love from marrying someone evil. Gordon appears heartbroken when Lee refuses to believe that Mario framed him to make him look like a liar. His admission that he has never stopped loving her was touching. This sort of character work pays off best as time goes on, which is why it is commendable that the writers have waited until Season Three to do it.
James Carpinello was every bit McKenzie’s equal as Mario, delivering a fine performance in what unfortunately appears to be his last appearance (unless he gets resurrected like several characters have been). The doctor had initially been suave and likeable, but the Alice virus brought out the worst in him like it did Barnes. His plot to make Lee hate Jim so she wouldn’t mourn him when Mario killed him was intelligent, but the future Commissioner always prevails.
Elsewhere, Jervis Tetch returned for one scintillating scene, with Benedict Samuel depicting him as crazier than ever while being interrogated by Gordon. His wearing of a paper hat hinted at his future transformation into the Mad Hatter. I eagerly await his next story arc.
A variety of quality cinematography was evident throughout this scene, such as high-angle shots that created a stylish, uncomfortable feel to the meeting while the pair traded rhymes. Danny Cannon, one of the regular writing/directing talents behind Gotham, was as reliable as ever. He can always be trusted to helm a good episode.
Other aspects of the episode were tremendous, from the dramatic music used in scenes such as when Gordon crashes the wedding; to the superlative editing that juxtaposes Lee walking down the aisle while Gordon gets beaten up by Carmine Falcone’s henchmen.
The sub-plot of this episode concerns the Riddler finally learning that the Penguin orchestrated Isabella’s death. After weeks of naivety, it takes the under-estimated Barbara to make him realise that Penguin killed his love because he was jealous. It felt like a narrative shortcut to have Barbara spell this out to Riddler, but at least it demonstrates how deceptively intelligent she is. Perhaps she will eventually be the first female ruler of Gotham since Fish Mooney; actress Erin Richards certainly deserves such a raise for the work she puts into her sporadically-seen character.
The destruction of such an effective partnership between Penguin and Riddler is a shame to behold. Penguin’s unreturned love doesn’t make him bad, nor does Riddler’s refusal to see him as any more than a friend make himself bad. They are both villains for the crimes they commit. In particular, the murder of Isabella is what has turned these two allies against each other, rather than unrequited love.
The coming battle between rivals who were so close will be fascinating to witness. Riddler joining with Butch, Tabitha and Barbara, all of whom he has individually wronged, adds an extra streak of intrigue to the narrative. They could potentially function as an unstoppable unit, ruling Gotham with limitless power; or they could self-destruct at any moment due to the bad blood between Riddler and the others.
In a plot that feels superfluous to the rest of the episode, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Alfred Pennyworth prepare to infiltrate a Court of Owls building to steal the device that can destroy them. Alfred is against the idea of breaking Wayne’s deal with Kathryn to stay out of their way, but the future Dark Knight ignores him with the hopes of destroying the Court before they get the chance to kill him later in life.
Following some tightrope-traversing by Selina and army-style infiltration by Alfred, the group eventually use the key that Ivy (conspicuous again by her absence) stole to unlock the safe. An owl statue resides within – yet another mystery to solve. If it does destroy the Court, it probably won’t happen until they have waged war against Bruce Wayne, by which point Jim Gordon and the GCPD will likely be involved due to his father appearing to be the leader of the secretive organisation.
Selina finally reciprocates Bruce’s affection when she kisses him. This is one of the few relationships in Gotham that seems natural, and the writers have developed it steadily over this half season. The timely arrival of Selina’s mother may yet change the situation, however.
‘Beware the Green-Eyed Monster’ was an effective end to this half of Season Three of Gotham. All plots advanced in exciting ways while new players were introduced. The cliff-hanger was successful in making me want to watch next month to see the fallout of Jim’s decision, not to mention the fact that Jerome is returning. Carmine Falcone will want to avenge his son; Riddler will plot Penguin’s downfall; Jervis Tetch and Barnes remain in Arkham, while the Court of Owls, Jim Gordon’s father and Bruce Wayne’s doppelgänger all wait in the shadows. It will be hard to top the ‘Mad City’ episodes.
Verdict on Season 3 so far: 8/10