Gotham Season 4 Premiere Pax Penguina Plot Summary:
Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) has retaken control of the underworld by issuing crime cards to criminals who can now legally commit crimes. While controversial, his system has brought record low crime numbers, but Gordon (Ben McKenzie) refuses to play along. Bruce (David Mazouz) continues to flirt with his masked persona, while Selina (Camren Bicondova) and her new mentor, Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), try to figure out their next move.
It’s fitting my first reaction to Gotham’s fourth season premiere is what I’ve been saying all along – I hope this show goes ten seasons. I want to see David Mazouz become Batman. As it turns out, I didn’t have to wait ten years. We’re in full-fledged Batman mode. This isn’t without its negatives, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience so far. I’m sure many will say Bruce is too young to be acting this much like Batman. They have to wait until he’s at least twenty-three, or something. Says who? Again, if you haven’t gotten it by now, this is a different take on the origin. If it fits the narrative, showrunner Bruno Heller and the gang will do whatever the hell they want. In my opinion, they aren’t forcing anything. Nobody complained about this with Smallville, which is the exact same situation. By the mid-seasons, Clark Kent was Superman. Oh, I’m sorry – “the blur.”
The episode begins by immediately paying off the tease from the end of last season. It’s Bruce Wayne. He’s in a mask. He stops a crime. There you go. While all the Batman-isms were cool, it did feel a bit like a checklist. Okay, he’s got to interrogate someone like this. We need the lighting to darken here. He needs to be a detective here. He has to do that thing to Gordon he always does. Yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s not that these sequences weren’t done well, but it felt like they were checking boxes. What did fire on all cylinders though was David Mazouz.
I’ve been saying it all along, but the kid is flawless as young Bruce Wayne. His first scene with Alfred (Sean Pertwee) felt like something a young Christian Bale or Kevin Conroy would say. It feels like he studied every incarnation of Batman. While I appreciate the actor, it was a little weird seeing this fifteen/sixteen-year-old kid schmooze it up at a lavish nightclub like he’s already the billionaire playboy. Nevertheless, I’m all in on fast-tracking Batman Jr., because the actor is that good.
Speaking of nightclubs, not only has Oswald opened his infamous Iceberg Lounge, but it’s great seeing him back in full control of the city. Big time. Taylor crushed it in this episode, making Oswald as captivating as ever. He’s in complete command of this villain. While I enjoy the idea of a Penguin issued crime license because it’s very fitting for the character, it gets a little ridiculous. EVERYBODY goes along with this way too easily. They make a point of telling you Gotham is experiencing record low numbers in crime, but it’s still absurd. Seriously, judges and the GCPD just accept it? Yup. We’re good here. Man, Gotham is screwed up.
Oswald had a ripple effect on the entire episode. Everyone seemed to have at least one great scene with him, including Bruce Wayne. Their conversation about crime prevention was brilliant, even though Bruce is subtlety working him for information. Classic Batman under the guise of Bruce. The real show stopper though was between Gordon and Oswald. Their rivalry has been stellar ever since season one, and Oswald’s dismissal of him and the GCPD being irrelevant was fantastic.
Speaking of Gordon, this was just a solid episode for him. We’ve seen his character get messed with a lot, whether it be emotional manipulation through his Uncle, Lee, or the good ole fashion Tetch virus. It was nice to see vintage Gordon here. The GCPD is told to go along with something sketchy, but he refuses. Classic Gordon.
The other standout that can’t go unnoticed was the return of Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan). In the world of Batman, you can never go wrong with the Scarecrow. He’s just a damn good villain. Tahan does a good job here, but this was more of just a tease. The Scarecrow effects were very good for a FOX show, and that costume looked DAMN good. Again, it’s impossible to screw up the Scarecrow, especially his look.
Rounding out the episode was a kick ass Selina moment, as her and Tabitha seem to be a good pairing. While I normally don’t love the one-off villains, the cowboy gang who concoct the fear toxin were fairly entertaining, especially the leader, played by Michael Buscemi. And yes, he is brother to Steve Buscemi. If you watch the episode, you’ll notice this 2.3 seconds in. One of the other villains who stood out was Victor Zsasz, a character I’ve always been hot or cold on. Anthony Carrigan was especially entertaining in this one.
Gotham didn’t come out of the gates knocking me over, but it already feels like we’re in mid-season form. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), but he does have one memorable little moment. Speaking of which, Oswald just leaves his ice statue in the middle of the club. Really? Who the hell wants to drink and dance next to a guy frozen in ice! Also, the chances of a drunken jerk knocking him over has to be a concern.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)