Gotham-Wrath-of-Villains-Frozen

Pinewood Plot:

Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) track down a new lead in an effort to discover who hired Matches to kill the Waynes.  Gordon (Ben McKenzie) conducts an investigation of his own, with some reluctant help from newly released Barbara (Erin Richards).  

Holy information overload, Batman!  While the last few weeks of Gotham focused on fantastic subplots, the series has shifted back to full on “Who wanted the Waynes dead?” mode.  This makes sense as the season begins to wind down.  Now that Fox (Chris Chalk) has finally unlocked Thomas Wayne’s hard drive, Bruce isn’t screwing around, even wanting to forgo dinner in order to unlock the mystery surrounding his parents’ death.  Even though this episode was heavy on story, it didn’t stop Gotham from delivering great character moments, most notably between Gordon and Barbara.

Gotham Pinewood
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX

There were a lot of great performances this week, per usual, but the MVP goes to Erin Richards.  Building off the cliffhanger from last week, Barbara seems to be reformed, and genuine in wanting to help Gordon with his investigation.  As an audience, we’re like Gordon, and certainly have our blinders on.  We all remember how bad the character of Barbara was way back in the early days of season one.  Then the writers decided to make her a complete nutcase.  She instantly became one of the more compelling figures on the show.  What I loved about Richard’s performance is she couldn’t rely on just being the crazy Barbara.  She had to play a very layered character this week.  At times, she was calm.  Remorseful.  Uncomfortable.  Sympathetic.  Conniving.  Richards did an outstanding job, and really kept you guessing as to what her true intentions were.  All her scenes with Gordon were pitch perfect, creating a real uneasy feeling throughout all their dialogue.

While Gordon ran his investigation, Bruce was his own man on a mission.  Mazouz knocked it out of the park, and was more Batman than we’ve ever seen him before, but not in the way you’d think.  Yes, we see Bruce be very authoritative and stubborn, but one of Batman’s most defining characteristics is the guilt he feels about EVERYTHING.  We saw that in spades with this episode, as Bruce learns about Pinewood, a not so good bioengineering facility that may have gotten his parents killed.  This led to an extraordinarily sympathetic new character, who was truly the emotional core of the episode.  Julia Taylor Ross plays Karen Jennings, a sad, but compelling figure, who also holds vital information regarding Wayne Enterprises.  Ross was great in the role.  Everything involving Bruce and Jennings was the highlight of the episode, even though the ending was predictable.  It’s an ending you’re dreading, but that’s what makes the storytelling so good.  It was also great to see a lot of Bruce/Gordon scenes, as they are one of my favorite pairings on the show.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX

It was also a great showcase for some of the minor characters, including a vengeful return for Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), and an evil as hell Hugo Strange (BD Wong).  I’ve mentioned before that Strange was one of my least favorite Batman villains.  Not even the animated series or Arkham games made him that compelling, yet Gotham has.  That’s high praise for me.

This was one of the best episodes this season, as it not only packed in a ton of story, but there were so many great subtle character moments that were gripping as hell.  You really see Gordon embrace his inner Batman.  We’ve seen this before, but it’s becoming more apparent that the show wants us to see how much like Batman Gordon is.  This makes sense, and gives us a reason why Gordon would eventually align himself with a vigilante, but that’s way down the road.  We also get a huge name drop at the end of this episode.  As the season comes to a close, the chess pieces are certainly in place for a damn good finale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.