Review: ‘Gotham’ – ‘Harvey Dent’

Senior Television Writer
11.17.14 52 Comments

A review of tonight's “Gotham” coming up just as soon as someone mugs me with a diving board…

Of the three “Gotham” episodes titled after a significant character, “Selina Kyle” barely featured Selina at all until the final third, “Penguin's Umbrella” featured a lot of Oswald but was technically named after an accessory he hasn't used in a while on the show, and “Harvey Dent” didn't do a whole lot with the introduction of Nicholas D'Agosto as the man who would be Two-Face. At this rate, I'm expecting an episode sometime in season 2 called “The Joker” which doesn't even feature the title character at all.

And what we actually got of the show's second Harvey felt like too much, too soon. It's not just that the series doesn't need another embryonic Bat-villain given the trouble it's having juggling its current roster, but that his very first appearance probably wasn't the time to lean so heavily on the idea that Dent's mutilation doesn't make him crazy, but simply unlocks the crazy that was already there. “Gotham” isn't at all a show for kids(*), yet at times the creative team holds the audience's hand with parental firmness in making sure we understand who all these people are going to be one day. The two-headed coin would have been enough for one episode, and maybe we could have gotten an extended glimpse of Harvey as a genuinely useful ally for Gordon's crusade, so it would feel more painful when he gets claimed by the city. Instead, he's a delusional rageaholic almost from the start, so why bother caring?

(*) This weekend, I introduced my own kids to the Adam West “Batman” with a two-parter teaming Cesar Romero's Joker and Eartha Kitt's Catwoman. It's not one of that series' better outings (the cliffhanger and the entire second episode were written as if no one left on the show was even trying anymore), but since that episode involved a stolen crib and an attempt to steal a fortune in gunpowder, it amused me to have this show's future Catwoman referring to the clock tower apartment as a “sweet crib,” while the very Earth Kitt-esque Fish was pulling the strings on a robbery designed to steal more explosives. All in the timing.

Last week, I speculated that the show might make Bruce and Selina into schoolmates for the sake of tightening up the sprawling ensemble. “Harvey Dent” goes even further by turning them into housemates. In the early stage, at least, it's working: Lil Wayne needs someone to interact with besides Alfred, Selina needs a reason to appear when she's not simply trying to help Gordon solve the Waynes' murder, and Alfred's half-smile at seeing Young Master Bruce actually acting like a kid was very gratifying. (Though if we're going to be spending even more time there, the production needs to find money in the budget to expand the set so that Bruce isn't eating, sleeping and doing everything else in that one room of a palatial mansion.)

The rest of the episode was something of a jumble, with Oswald making it straight to Liza's apartment without additional clues, Bullock marginalized in favor of the new Harvey (and why do he and Jim never call for back-up the first time they go looking for a dangerous suspect?), and a main case that didn't do a great job of selling the bomber's mental illness enough to justify it as the tipping point for reopening Arkham Asylum and sending many Blackgate prisoners to stay there. (Though I was amused by Butchie using “The Final Countdown” as his ringtone for the cell phone bomb.) And just when it seemed like we might be getting a necessary breather from Barbara while the writers figured out what to do with that character, she reappears in bed with Montoya, suggesting that her nightmares about being in Gotham aren't so much the problem as the specific Gotham cop whose bed she was sharing.

What did everybody else think?

Around The Web