Okay, we’re kidding somewhat in the title for this “Gotham” review, but we do gotta say that we are officially more afraid of Nathaniel Barnes than we’ve ever been on the show before now. He seems to be well on his way to forging a new identity for himself as the Executioner, and he’s already got the whole “I am the law” part of the equation down pat.
Let’s backtrack a little bit: If you recall, Barnes is dealing with the aftereffects of Alice’s blood completely destroying his psyche and bringing the worst part of himself to the surface. We don’t exactly blame him, since this is not exactly akin to a matter that he can control. It’s like being poisoned, and eventually that is going to work your way into your brain. It’s almost like he has Dexter Morgan inside of him as a split personality; he gets angry, and all of a sudden he wants to kill people who are doing bad things.
In the case of this episode, the victim was a plastic surgeon who had an oh-so-nasty habit of ripping people’s faces off and leaving the remains to a cleaner to take care of in their own way. At first, Barnes was able to control the inner monster without letting it overtake him, but after he saw the doc roaming around at Lee Thompkins’ engagement party later, this was too much for him to keep it in any longer.
We’re honestly not being critical by comparing this character so much to Judge Dredd at this point; why? Judge Dredd is awesome entertainment, and it’s not like the two are altogether similar. We also don’t think “Gotham” is trying to get political by bringing in police brutality right now; it’s an isolated case of a single character losing his cool, and this is why young bring Michael Chiklis onto your show in the first place. He plays angry / scary better than almost anyone in the business.
Seeing so much of Barnes this week helped to carry the day, given that almost the rest of the episode didn’t excite us nearly as much. For one, we don’t understand the whole point of Isabella. Why are you introducing a character who looks just like Kris Kringle only for her to toy with Nygma’s mind, whether intentionally or not, and then for Penguin to kill her out of jealousy? Maybe the writers felt like Ed was starting to stabilize too much mentally, and killing someone he genuinely felt was his soulmate was a way to bring him back to full-on insane. Otherwise, it just feels like there was no real point in any of this since she was barely around. The same goes for the whole Lee Thompkins / Jim Gordon business, since this all just feels like we’re spinning our wheels towards an eventual reconciliation between the two and Mario’s a diversion that will get messy once Carmine gets involved.
In general, “Gotham” doesn’t do romances all too well — the Penguin and Ed are one of the better pairings, but that’s pretty one-sided. Butch and Tabitha may be at the top of the list, just because they’re both like-minded and a little bit batty.
Overall, we’d argue that Monday’s episode was an entertaining-enough romp that satisfied enough because of the presence of Chiklis, who brought a lot of depth to Barnes as we saw him alternate between attempting to cure himself and stubbornly thinking that he could cure himself of his fate. Obviously, there was some frustration in that since you’d think that a cop with this sort of instability would quit their job; yet, that doesn’t always happen. You think that you can conquer the beast, but the beast conquers you instead and the man no longer controls the monster. Now, it appears the Executioner is roaming free. Episode Grade: B.
Next week – Things are only going to continue to get crazy. For more on that, head over here to check out a preview for what lies ahead! (Photo: Fox.)