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Gotham Review (S1E9): 'Harvey Dent'

At this point we know Gotham is short on subtlety and big on world building. Character development? The jury is still out on that one but the titular character in 'Harvey Dent' could have been blended in better but was too busy playing to the back of the theater. Some critics complain about overacting on the show and it's true to some extent but Nicholas D'Agosto wasted no time smirking his way to virtual self-parody.

Yet the episode proved to be more restrained than usual because the crime-of-the-week actually tied into the overarching mob war between Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone. During a transfer from Blackgate Penitentiary, Ian Hargrove, a convicted bomber, is sprung from custody and taken hostage by Mooney-funded Russians.  He's forced to build bombs so they can be used against Falcone's places of interest. One of those interests is an armory he has a stake in but Hargrove secretly hides a nameplate in one of his bombs in the hopes it will lead the authorities back to where he is. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock do exactly that but are unable to retrieve Hargrove. Then the show finds some depth and conviction.

The detectives interview Hargrove's brother and find out that he isn't the 'urban terrorist' he's been made out to be. In fact Hargrove's brother explains that his brother is sick and requires proper attention not found in the prison system. He was blowing up warehouses that held weapons or ammunition and never intended anyone to get hurt. Suddenly, the perp of the week represented more than just a distraction or plot device, the mentally ill man was truly misunderstood and misplaced and served as an opportunity to make a statement. It was voiced by Gordon to the mayor that the prison was ill-equipped to manage the mentally ill. It was sharp criticism about society's indifference to mentally damaged people that incarcerates them without addressing the illness that created them in the first place. It doesn't have to be the criminally insane, as the mayor called them when he ultimately decided to move them to Arkham and away from Blackgate, in real life the mentally ill are treated less than human. It was an unexpected argument made by the show that actually handled it well and without contrivance. 

In the end Hargrove was a chess piece of Mooney's to destabilize Falcone's infrastructure.  Her plan to have Hargrove blow up the walls of a vault go south but she relishes the fact that it cuts away at Falcone ever so slightly. In no worry to destroy Falcone all at once but bit by bit until she can smoothly transition herself into power. It's this time of storytelling that the show needs and not so much the next comic book character to make an appearance or unrelated crime-of-the-week procedural. There is plenty of drama and action to be had with the multitude of characters already introduced. 

Cobblepot for instance is the other villain on the show that is thoroughly compelling as he maneuvers his way like a snake in the struggle for control of the underworld in Gotham. His suspicions lead him to break into Liza's apartment and look for clues. It's one of two wonderfully shot scenes in her room that project a sense of dread especially as Cobblepot searches around. The tension rises when Liza returns and finds him waiting for her. The scene is fraught with suspense because Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot is one of the wildcards on the show. You never quite know what he'll do next. 

Selina Kyle has taken residence at Wayne Manor thanks to Gordon who's stashing her there because she's an eye witness to the Waynes' murder. This gives both David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova a chance to finally play off one another. It doesn't start smoothly, instead there's an awkwardness between but that might be intentional. The street-smart girl who looks out for herself and the pampered orphan who's training to be a badass have a good chemistry that balances each other out. Lil Bruce wants to learn to fight and that new wrinkle in his relationship with Alfred as his trainer has really helped that previously unconvincing relationship. However, Selina "my friends call me Cat" brings him back to earth explaining that on the street you don't fight with gloves. Some much-needed advice that Bruce will obviously take to heart. And their scenes of playfulness and childish exuberance are a welcoming ray of light in what's been a deadly serious life so far in Wayne Manor. Something Alfred takes notice of and resists the urge to reprimand the kids for playing in the house. 

Lastly, Barbara runs back in the arms of Montoya. Perhaps she couldn't resist the attraction of her former lover but the reason she left in the first place makes that development nonsensical. 

Oh well, the next episode, the Fall Finale looks like a doozy. Check out the preview below:

Gotham 1x10 "LoveCraft" (Fall Finale) - Following a misstep, Gordon is reassigned to duty at Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile, Selina (Camren Bicondova) leads a new friend on a perilous journey through Gotham to evade the assassins after her


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