Gotham – Season 4 Overall Review

Gotham Season 4

Gotham’s fourth Season has come and gone… a long time ago in the States, but hey-ho! It has a lot of stories going on concurrently, some ending in the middle, others taking a rest for a bunch of episodes before returning, and in general it’s a very entertaining 22 episodes. Let’s take a closer look!

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of the Tetch virus incident, Penguin has regained control of Gotham’s underworld and begun issuing “Licenses of Misconduct”, allowing criminals to commit “legal crimes,” though it’s not approved by Gordon or Bruce…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Gotham Season 4 1

The fact that’s not even the full cast says how big the show has gotten…

James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) – James is still tying to piece his life back together, and sitting by and watching criminals commit crimes with little consequence is not his idea of relaxing… sadly for his more corrupt or easy-going officers…

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) – Bruce has decided to fight back against the crime in Gotham, donning an all black outfit to do so…

Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) – Penguin has regained control of the Gotham underworld, and he doesn’t see how it could possibly go wrong again…

Lee Tompkins (Morena Baccarin) – Lee left Gotham when the Tetch virus sent her crazy, but she has since came back and started helping out the suffering people of the rundown Glades area of the city.

Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) – Selina is still looking out for herself, but still hanging around the likes of Tabitha and Bruce, so… Maybe becoming a little more trusting, I guess.

Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) – Barbara was killed at the end of the last season… yet here she is! Did anyone say “Lazarus Pit”?

Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) – Tabitha has been a little downbeat since her love Butch was taken from her, but at least Selina is good company… when she actually hangs around…

Edward Nygma / The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) – Ed was frozen solid by Penguin (well, Mr. Freeze on orders from Penguin) and is kept on display in his bar, so… he hasn’t done much since the last season.

Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) – Jerome is a bit of a Joker (Ba-dum… sorry.) who has been hanging around in Arkham Asylum, waiting for a reason to leave and cause more havoc…

Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) – Jeremiah is Jerome’s twin brother who has been in hiding out of fear from Jerome his whole life. He is also a world-class architect and general tech genius.

Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed) – Sofia is the daughter of former Gotham kingpin Carmine Falcone. She sees Gotham as her inheritance, and is looking forward to taking it for herself…

Butch / Solomon Grundy (Drew Powell) – Butch was shot in the head and killed by Barbara Kean, his body dumped in a swamp… This was the beginning of a rather strange journey for him…

Lazlo Valentin / Professor Pyg (Michael Cerveris) – Professor Pyg, as he is trying to be known, is a professional killer who will be a serial killing maniac for the right price.

Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow (Charlie Tahan) – Crane has been driven crazy by his father’s own fear gas, and now just wishes the evil scarecrow would stop tormenting him…

Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) – Harvey is the new Captain of the GCPD, and he has no problem with a little cut back here and there, maybe even from a certain Penguin…

Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) – Alfred is Bruce’s butler and carer, who has a past filled with violence and wishes Bruce’s future would be less bloody… Yeah, that’s not going happen…

and many more!

The Good:

Gotham Season 4 2

Joker #2, looks more like the original Joker than the first Joker from this series, who was clearly inspired by the more recent Jokers… Get it?

It’s going to be hard to get it all down, it was a varied season! Let’s start with Gordon and Sophia Falcone, where Jim heads to the Falcone estate when Penguin’s grip on the city becomes too strong. Mr. Goody-goody wants the old criminal gang that has a bit more leeway back in charge, having given up on controlling crime entirely in the city. Sophia ends up travelling to Gotham after her father refuses, and begins to build her own empire with Gordon in toe, manipulating him and others into getting him the position of Captain after Bullock is found to be taking bribes from Penguin. During all this a really good subplot involving “Professor Pyg” is going on, as the masked crazy person is killing all the crooked cops who have been taking bribes from Mr. Cobblepot. In the end it turns out Sophia actually brought the Pyg to Gotham as part of her plot, making James guilty by association. This was a little weird because a few episodes prior to this Pyg had rammed a knife through her hand, but I guess  that’s just commitment to the bit, as actors might say?

Sophia then successfully begins to run the criminal underworld until several of her rivals, including Pengiun, Riddler and Lee Thompson (who is now going by “Doc” and running the Glades as a sort of Robin Hood figure) break her grip. It leads to a tense showdown between everyone that has Jim get shot several times by the young Falcone before being rescued by Lee, who shoots Sophia in the head (she’s still alive though!) That’s the core storyline for the first half of the show, and it’s really good fun!

Sub-plots during this time include Bruce killing Ra’s al Ghul, which included a horrible scene where the near-immortal being slit the throat of a kid Bruce had befriended, but sadly leads to a crap storyline (see below!). We also got Barbara, Selina and Tabitha form a trio again, Butch emerges from the swamp as Solomon Grundy and becomes an eventually-thawed Riddler’s new bodyguard, and Jonathan Crane becomes the Scarecrow proper.

The second half of the show is mainly about Jerome Valeska escaping Arkham with a bunch of fellow inmates and causing havoc, all in an attempt to find his twin brother and finally get revenge (which I guess he forgot about in previous appearances…) Once again Cameron Monaghan does a great Ledger-like Joker, but also this time he plays the rather more feeble brother Jeremiah, who gets Joker gassed and turned into a more traditional version of the Joker, complete with white face, red lips and attire that (deliberately) calls back to the comics like The Killing Joke. Two completely different takes, both done brilliantly. Jerome comes close to laying waste to the city and getting his revenge, but is killed before seeing it through, though obviously he does get his revenge on his brother. Jeremiah very nearly legitimately levels the city, and with a little help from the resurrected Ra’s al Ghul destroys all the bridges in and out of Gotham, leading to a series ending cliffhanger that sets up an Arkham City style set up, with no real law and all the villains claiming territory and getting ready for war. Great stuff.

I mentioned Killing Joke and it’s more than the look. Jeremiah tries to break Bruce by having him have “One bad day” and trying to break him with scenes of Alfred being tortured, then when that fails he turns up in Bruce’s mansion and shoots Selina in the gut the same way Joker did to Gordon’s daughter in the iconic comic. So plenty of references, but done to a different person in a different order. It was fine, but a little uncomfortable (thought not as nearly as uncomfortable as the original comic…)

Side stories I liked during this half include The Riddler fighting with his “inner Ed” when it comes to whether Lee Thompson actually romantically likes him (and Riddler in general is often the highlight of the episodes he’s in!), Bullock saving the day by defusing a bomb and regaining the respect of his fellow officers, and Ra’s al Ghul looking super creepy as a half-resurrected zombie man (like the melty Master from Doctor Who, for those who know what I’m talking about) and fighting with Barbara over the “Demon’s Head” power, eventually leading to his re-death.

Oh and Butch gets cured, just to be shot dead by Penguin in front of his love, as Penguin reminds Tabitha that he never forgot that she killed his mother a season or two ago (as you wouldn’t), and the whole time he was helping Butch just to set up this cruel moment (that was especially good as Penguin was becoming far too into the comedy role, he needed a reminder of being a snivelling git.)

With these two story arcs the show managed to stay fresh and did a great job of juggling its ever growing cast.

The Bad:

Gotham Season 4 4

Butch, after he’s un-Grundy’d but before he’s fully cured (with Penguin).

My main dislike of the season comes from Bruce Wayne’s downfall in the middle of the story. He kills Ra’s al Ghul and the guilt of this weighs so heavily on him that he ends up becomes a spoilt brat, having parties, getting drunk and treating Alfred like shit. It’s done to such a degree that I just wanted someone to beat the crap out of him, and I know that was the idea, the whole hero falls lower before raising higher, it’s a classic story trope, but man… It was annoying. I think it went on too far and he snapped out of it pretty damn quick. If I were Alfred I wouldn’t have come back so easily…

Poison Ivy returns and gets a third actress and a further age-up, and I just don’t know why. I guess they wanted to do a traditional Poison Ivy story (protect the plants, control people with pheromones, all that jazz) but decided to stick a middle finger up to their past selves for having her be so young in Season 1, and then still having her too young last season, and just repeating the story of her in an older body again. It is still a prequel guys, you don’t have to have her be exactly like she is in the comics already!

In general though, it was a very strong season!

Overall Thoughts:

Gotham Season 4 3

“We have ways of making you pork!” … Damn, why didn’t they use that line?

Gotham Season 4 was a great ride, split into two arcs, each with great build up and pay-off, the writers were really on a role. It’s a shame it’s ending next Season, but they should pat themselves on the back. After a rocky start in Season 1, they’ve managed to deliver a top class 22 episode season full of great characters and plot. Highly recommended.

4 Star Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s