Gotham’s back from break!
‘The Toymaker’ is targeting a doctor in Gotham, and as the new Captain of the GCPD, Jim Gordon must stop him. Meanwhile, Alfred tries to make it on his own away from Bruce; and Poison Ivy emerges from another metamorphosis.
Despite not always hitting the mark on their characters, what makes Gotham a good watch is that something exciting is always going down. Thankfully, the show feels more like the continuing saga of a city than formulaic storytelling. You never quite know what’s about to play out. Although audiences may feel a little duped by the lack of Jerome or Penguin in this week’s episode (and only the smallest cameo from Bruce Wayne), supporting characters and great production design carries the episode.
When I heard the Toymaker was coming to Gotham, I felt rather sorry for the casual viewer. After all, we’ve already seen Superman’s Toyman and even Batman’s Doll Maker show up in live action before. It turns out my fears were premature, as Toymaker was barely a presence in the story at all. However, what the episode lacked in an antagonist, it made up for in the various crucibles its characters are going through – Gordon, trying to atone for stealing captaincy away from Bullock, and Alfred, living without Bruce. Even though he wasn’t in the episode much himself, whenever Bruce Wayne was on screen and dialing up the billionaire playboy persona, you can help but internally go “IT’S HAPPENING!“.
That being said, the episode does feel a little clunky, and it retreads some of the same themes we’ve seen on the show before. Twists in the episode might have been more believable if they were set up better beforehand with an extra scene or so. Similarly, plot points with a lot of potential get wrapped up too quickly, almost making you wonder why they were a part of the episode at all. It would be interesting to see the heights that the show could reach if writers took more time to refine their writing and better convey their characters’ journeys. The city of Gotham may be fascinating, but experience has shown us with episodes such as ‘Into the Woods’ and ‘The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’ that Gotham excels when tightening an episode by only focusing on one or two storylines at a time.
Another Ivy Pepper
Last night’s episode also debuted the series’ new Ivy Pepper (Peyton List), who, you might recall, became wrapped in a chrysalis during the mid-season finale. Ivy emerges in a bit of a throwback to Joel Schumacher’s notoriously awful film, Batman & Robin (1997), and begins what will hopefully be a compelling arc for the character. Usually, when characters change actors, it’s a sign of trouble behind the scenes. Certainly that was speculated to be the case when last year we saw the role of Ivy change hands from Clare Foley to Maggie Geha. Now that Ivy’s jumped a second time to Peyton List (Frequency, The Flash), perhaps the writers plan to reimagine the character as a vixen that changes form each season.
Though that change might offend some fans, one important thing to note is that the show still has yet to confirm that Ivy Pepper is the beloved Batman villain, Poison Ivy. In both Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and comic book canon, Ivy’s known as the intelligent and fearsome Dr. Pamela Isley, a botanist and eco-terrorist. Although Ivy Pepper does share some of these traits, between getting into trouble and being a teenage dropout, it doesn’t look like she’ll be getting her doctorate any time soon.
Gotham returns March 8th.
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