With a lot of the obligatory origin material taken care of in the pilot episode, this week’s episode allowed us a little time to explore the city the show’s built so far. This also made the storyline seem a little less cluttered this week as the writers weren’t so clearly pressed to give equal screen time to all the plot threads.
Maybe most importantly, Selina Kyle (Catwoman-to-be) actually had some lines this week. Once again, she felt a little inconsequential to the events of the episode, but letting her speak at least gives us a feel for the character as Gotham will portray her. I found her delivery to be a little awkward, but as far as I’m concerned, young actors get a little latitude.
In general, the performances felt a bit off. Fish Mooney’s over-pronunciation gives her an odd, quasi-English accent, and it takes me out of her scenes somewhat. Carmine Falcone got a bit more screen time, and I’m still enjoying his part of the show. The dynamic between Harvey Bullock and Jim Gordon worked well again, but I thought the repeated mentioning of Gordon “getting on board” was heavy handed.
Subtlety is something the show needs to get better at. Right now, they’re relying very heavily on archetypal characters. For example, the mayor feels too much like an uncaring, straw-man politician. Ultimately, that makes the character flat. A heavy dose of pragmatism works wonders in making the Bullock character more fully rendered, and I think that trick could work with the mayor and other characters on the show. If we’re dealing with people who are not simply “bad guys,” but rather just too lazy, scared, or pessimistic to make changes in the city, it’s more believable that with better leadership, things could improve.
There was also a bit of fan service in this episode. Without tossing around major spoilers, we get our first mention of Arkham Asylum, and our first DC supervillain already at work (not just in their origin like Edward Nygma). It seems they’re treading lightly, trying not to let Batman’s rogue’s gallery get ahead of him, but I’m a little nervous that they’ll lose patience on this. I’d rather see them stay focused on the more down-to-earth villains at work in Gotham, like the Falcone family, and Fish Mooney’s power struggle.
Verdict: I remain cautiously optimistic.
Jim and I pretty much agree. This episode was a lot more watchable than the pilot, but the series suffers from a lack of subtlety (see Jim’s review: character depth) and the heavy handedness of foreshadowing (akin to the subtlety issue). If I hear one more Penguin reference, I’m gonna squawk. It reminds me of the movie Titanic where “unsinkable” or some derivative was used fifty times in twenty minutes of film. We get it. Move on. And I will move on to Bruce Wayne. The Wayne story arc is one hot mess: an unlikable Alfred (I wanted to like this unique portrayal but can’t), and the attitude of hey, Gordon, I just met you and this is crazy, but here’s the Wayne kid, so raise him maybe. Still, I enjoyed the Cat on the prowl, even if she didn’t factor into the overall events as much as I’d like, and despite its flaws, Gotham has done enough to keep me watching for another week.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I don’t know whether or not I’d say the second episode of the season was an improvement, but it wasn’t a step backward. We were given a little closure—or at least movement—on a couple of the secondary storylines. Given that one of my primary gripes with season one was that it felt like a long holding-pattern until Winter Soldier came out, a little plot progress is a welcome sight.
With that said, I still just don’t care about the mercenaries’ stories. I don’t feel they were ever fleshed out, and so I never invested in any of the characters. That detracted from some of the intended sentiment, which really just fell flat for me.
It’s hard to get into my concerns with this season without giving away too many plot spoilers, but I can sum it up by saying it’s beginning to seem like the show’s writers are working off a template. The formula of unclear allegiances and murky background information is wearing thin. It’s made worse by the fact that they’re still farming Coulson’s character for the mystery part of the formula. It’s understandable. Coulson is really the only fully-developed character on the show (thanks to the movies), but it’s beginning to come off as lazier than I’m willing to forgive.
It’s also problematic for me that once again we see Coulson choosing to place his faith in a character that has double-crossed him before. I understand that S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself understaffed and stretched thin after the events of Winter Soldier, but they’re running the risk of making Coulson appear incompetent.
The preview for next week’s episode promises for more movement on the Fitz and Simmons plot, but it appears they’re going back to their well of dubious loyalties for a source of tension, and the relationship between Fitz and Simmons never had time to breathe after the events of last season’s finale, which makes such immediate confrontation feel like the show is on fast-forward.
It’s not so much that I’m upset about where this show is, it’s just that I see no real signs that it’s going to make satisfying progress without being forced to by the next Marvel movie.
Verdict: It’s still watchable.
The final episode of this season skimped on the jokes—minor spoiler: one of the best laughs has to be after an alien invasion begins and a news correspondent reveals how best to get ready, “prepare your grave ahead of time for the easy burying of any body parts you have left”—but it delivered on the promised super villain team and the inevitable beat-em-up. Oddly enough The Awesomes had better character development and payoff than any of the other shows in this review. But this week’s episode was the season finale as opposed to an early season episode. Still, it left me satisfied.
Perfect Man gets back to a more palatable character. I still don’t like him, and that’s the point, but I prefer this variant of Perfect Man. Even better is the fact that his oddball, loosely relevant story threads of this year actually make some sense with the main storyline.
I love how we’re introduced to an alien world, learn few things about this world, and all of the things we learn make another appearance in the episode. We get images that build on each other throughout the story. Even the solution the heroes come up with to defeat the villains is deeply rooted in this odd world that’s familiar, even though we just met it.
This episode takes everything that’s good about the Awesomes and condenses it into twenty minutes. You could watch just this episode and get a feel for who each character is. Thank goodness Hulu renewed the Awesomes for another season.
The creative team introduced next year’s main story arc at the end of this episode, and by the looks of the story they introduced, it can go one of two ways: extremely well or the show just jumped the shark. If this season taught me anything, I’ve learned to trust this creative team and go with the former over the latter. Either way, next season can’t come soon enough.
Verdict: Great show