Monday, November 9, 2015

GOTHAM's "Little Monster"

Article originally written for Seat42F.


FOX’s GOTHAM continues its action-packed, engaging season this week with “Mommy’s Little Monster.” Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) attempts to rescue his mother (Carol Kane) from Galavan (James Frain), but things do not go as planned. This sends Penguin on a revenge streak, and it may turn out that Galavan has finally pushed the crime boss too far. Elsewhere, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) descends into madness.

I am disappointed that “Mommy’s Little Monster” contains Gertrude’s death. I find her a fascinating character, and some of the glimpses we’ve seen of her give great insight into who the Penguin is. I feel there could be more to be gleaned from their interactions, and it’s a little soon to remove her from GOTHAM. Of course, the show always has the option of flashbacks, and I hope Kane reprises the role in the near future.

What Penguin’s mother’s death does, though, is remove any restraint Penguin has in dealing with Galavan. Galavan has miscalculated repeatedly with the Penguin, in my opinion. He thinks he can just kill the Penguin and his mom, and he thinks commandeering the entire city’s police force as his personal bodyguard, using his new mayor powers to lock the whole metropolis down, is enough to defeat the crime boss. He doesn’t know the Penguin, though, and plenty of others underestimated Penguin last year to their own detriment. I feel like Galavan’s days on GOTHAM are numbered, and his main player status certainly can’t last more than half a season.

The Penguin does not murder Galavan in “Mommy’s Little Monster,” but he gets very close. So close that were Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) not on the roof with a sniper rifle, Galavan would probably be dead, quite possibly with Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) as collateral damage.

Gordon and the Penguin’s friendship, if you could call it that, is an uneasy one. Penguin doesn’t seem to take it personally that Gordon tries to arrest him and protects Galavan, nor does the Penguin call in a favor Gordon owes him to kill Galavan. Yet, with the two being at odds so often, it’s surprising they haven’t had a complete falling out yet. Penguin doesn’t control Gordon the way the previous bosses had command over Bullock, but whatever uneasy bond they currently have probably won’t last.

Speaking of not lasting, Nygma is going absolutely insane following the death of Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack). “Mommy’s Little Monster” finds the evil side of Nygma (also Smith) hiding Kringle’s body in the police station itself, then making the ‘good’ side of Nygma follow clues to find it before the corpse is discovered. It’s a dangerous game Nygma seems to enjoy, culminating in the two sides coming together, being one person again.

I like GOTHAM’s technique of showing the two Nygmas as a way to illustrate what is going on in the future Riddler’s brain. It isn’t necessary to the story, of course, but it’s a good way to visualize internal struggle, as long as it’s only done temporary, which I believe it will be in this case. Were it more long-term, I think it would get annoying.

One sequence of particular delight this week is the rivalry between Selina (Camren Bicondova) and Silver (Natalie Alyn Lind). Catwoman is one of those characters who toes the line between good and bad, but it looks like it’s up to Selina to be a hero and save Bruce. There’s no doubt that Silver is complicit in Galavan’s plans, so Bruce remains in danger until Selina can find a way to save him. The tension between the girls as this struggle goes on behind Bruce’s back is terrific.

GOTHAM isn’t the deepest, richest character-driven show on television, but it’s near the top of the pack on the broadcast networks. It exhibits great skill in balancing various personalities, as I’ve mentioned before, and each hour ends up being pretty entertaining.

GOTHAM airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

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