As soon as the episode started with a shot of Barbara Keen (Erin Richards) things didn’t look good for this week’s episode of Gotham. Barbara’s entire story line isn’t entertaining nor is it amusing. Her childish and sadistic obsession with Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is boring at time, laughable at others. Barbara’s entire story has been fairly useless since she was first introduced and continuing it is more of a distraction from more important aspects of Gotham.
In a very Seven like attempt to lure Gordon into a trap, the only useful part of her story line this week was getting the evidence needed to take down Theo Galavan. The only character with any sense or wits about them during all of this was Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) who’s demotion to a minor player has been very disappointing. Even more disappointing was Barbara’s continued survival at the end of the episode.
Galavan (James Frain) tries to convince Bruce (David Mazouz) to sell his shares of Wayne Enterprises in exchange for the identity of the person who killed his parents. This was also a point of irritation because even if Bruce was fooled, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) should have had enough sense to question how or why Galavan was able to get the information that has eluded Gordon for over a year. Bad judgement on the part of the writers.
Really the only plot point worth mentioning this week was Edward Nygma’s (Cory Michael Smith) attempt to dispose of Kirsten’s body. It was a moment reminiscent of an episode of The Sopranos that as Edward tries to get rid of one body, another and another pop up to make his task harder and harder. The end result is somewhat unexpected but exciting to see as it sees two of Gotham’s (one day) most notorious villains meet up.
Somehow with all these apparent problems with the episode, it was overall enjoyable due to the few bright moments we’re given during the course. Gotham has been up and down this season, more downs than ups, but there have been enough up moments to make it still interesting to watch. Among the cringe worthy moments there are great fanboy moments that somehow keep (at least this fan) watching week to week.
At this point in the series it seems like the winning formula should be more Bruce Wayne, more Edward Nygma, more Penguin and less of everything else. Although Jim Gordon himself is interesting and enjoyable, the situations and people around him are growing more and more annoying. Ditch Barbara Keen altogether and concentrate on Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Put Gordon and Bullock back together as partners and stop with the campy nonsense they’re constantly being put through.
The best moments this week were the scenes with Bruce and Alfred and of course Edward. Donal Logue and Michael Chiklis turned in great performances as well as Morena Baccarin, but they were overshadowed by the ridiculous performance of Erin Richards. Ben McKenzie does his absolute best, but being put in one nonsensical situation after another ruins all his hard work.
There is one very interesting aspect to the Jim and Barbara dynamic. Their relationship is very much like that of Batman and Joker. Gordon maintains that Barbara is just sick and she can be helped. His unwillingness to just kill her parallels Batman’s code of not killing. In spite of all the horrible things she has done, Gordon still thinks she isn’t beyond saving. Barbara’s obsession with Jim and half-handed attempts to kill him. The similarities between the two are subtle but this episode really helped shine a light on it.