“Follow the White Rabbit” Brings Humor, Conflict & Love to The Mad City


Follow the White Rabbit Plot Summary:

Plot: Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) enacts his deadly revenge on Gordon (Ben McKenzie), putting innocent Gotham lives in the cross hairs.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) comes to grips with his feelings for Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), but struggles to act on them.

This was a highly entertaining episode of Gotham. Tense conflicts. Subtle humor.  Big choices.  Love in the air.  All that crap.  While there’s plenty to praise, it falls just short of being great.  Anytime a villain puts Gordon in a situation where he has to make big boy decisions, or the guilt will consume him, is always compelling television.  This was no different.  The problem is the predictability and execution of it all.  Gordon’s conflict with Tetch felt rushed and slow.  I know that’s an oxymoron.  Everybody relax.  I’m going to explain.

Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

This episode went right for the jugular.  With only one other subplot going on, it was all about Tetch’s payback.  He blames Gordon for his sister’s death, so he screws with him big time.  He wants Gordon to tear himself apart until the final curtain where he completely wrecks him.  It’s right out of the Gotham villain playbook.  While Gordon and Tetch share some great dialogue, including a couple funny moments where Gordon punks him, we all know where this is going.  That’s the problem.  When we finally get there, while tense, it was way too drawn out.

While slow in the end, the lead up was too quick.  It felt like a scene was missing.  It needed more build up.  There were certainly some clever Mad Hatter moments, don’t get me wrong.  The creepy white-haired dude (Kieran Mulcare) was used brilliantly.  We needed more of that.  I also can’t compliment Benedict Samuel enough.  He’s really embracing the character.  That’s what I love about Gotham.  Everybody they get for this series has a reverence for who they’re playing.  They know what an honor it is to be a part of the Batman world.  That’s cool.  Gordon v Tetch definitely delivered, but there were a few stumbles.  Tetch’s final act was also a bit lazy.  Without spoiling anything, let’s just say he could have been more effective.

Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

You would think a Mad Hatter tea scheme would be the highlight of the episode, but once again, Oswald and Nygma won the day.  This shocked me.  You don’t get a ton of scenes here, but they had meat.  When this idea of Oswald and Nygma falling in love was teased last week, I feared it was going to be forced.  Not at all.  The MVP was Robin Lord Taylor.  This had nothing to do with evil schemes, ego or power.  This was simply about a guy nervous to act on his emotions.  He just happens to also be the evil mayor of Gotham City.  I got to say, Taylor nailed it.  Although, he does have one vintage Penguin moment at an Elementary school.  That was awesome.

While the Mad Hatter plot got way too predictable, I love the monkey wrench they throw in for Nygma at the end.  Not only did the individual scene work, but the ramifications will be catastrophic.  I have a hunch on how Oswald will ultimately deal with this situation, but we’ll see.

Despite a few miscues, this episode was no doubt compelling.  While I wasn’t crazy about Gordon’s resolution, I’m glad they didn’t play all their cards at the end.  The score was also a highlight, especially in the final moments of Tetch’s plot.  As a side note, Barbara (Erin Richards) is still highly entertaining, but it’s wearing thin.  It’s like she gets one obligatory “I’m nuts” scene, and then we move on.  At some point, I’d like to see her get an actual storyline.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

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.