Gotham Episode 20 Review: “Under the Knife”
***As always, this review will contain spoilers. You have been warned.***
If you were to summarize this week’s episode of Gotham in one word, it would have to be “transformation.” We find out that The Ogre has had surgery to physically transform his face, we get to see the normally tomboyish Selina Kyle in a dress and we finally witness Edward Nygma’s full blown transformation into The Riddler. What’s especially unique about these last few episodes of Gotham is that they’ve all centered around the same villain. The Ogre could have easily wound up being a one-time villain who was taken out in a single episode, but instead he’s become one of the GCPD’s most threatening and realistic foes. Things take an interesting turn when The Ogre meets his next victim: Gordon’s ex-girlfriend, Barbara Kean.
Ah, Barbara. We meet again. Everyone’s least favorite character is back and this time she’s flirting with a serial killer. It’s definitely a brilliant way to reintroduce the character, but it would carry a little more weight if people actually cared about her. Seriously, go on Gotham‘s Facebook page and you’ll see dozens of comments about how people want to see her killed off. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but there’s no denying that Barbara has been a little more than irritating throughout the season. Unfortunately, she’s not much better in this episode. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or the acting, but it’s really hard to root for Barbara and Jim to eventually end up together. Something’s gonna have to change.
Luckily, there’s another relationship that we can all get behind and we see plenty of it in this episode. Bruce and Selina’s search for answers has led them to a charity ball at Wayne Enterprises and things get pretty adorable. David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova play well off each other, even if Selina’s “street talk” sometimes sounds like it should be coming from one of the rough-and-tumble orphans in Annie. These two aren’t the only pair that works well together. Robin Lord Taylor and David Zayas have a tense scene involving Oswald’s mother, in which Zayas delivers a powerhouse performance. He’s so suave and intimidating as Don Maroni, yet he manages to hit every comedy beat that’s thrown at him. Watching him face off against Lord’s Penguin is a real treat.
One villain who hasn’t been given as much to do this season is The Riddler. He’s helped out with some cases and spouted off some quirky riddles, but we’ve mostly just watched him get rejected by coworkers and teased by cops. Until now. Edward Nygma has always been odd, but he hasn’t really been a bad guy. Even after killing a woman-beating police officer, it’s hard not to feel for Riddle Man. It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like Ed has finally begun his descent into madness.
What’s so great about Gotham is the way that they effortlessly juggle multiple story lines per episode, while sometimes having them intertwine with one another. Gordon and Penguin might not interact with each other for four or five episodes, but their paths will eventually cross again. It’s like that with each character. We don’t just see the show from Gordon’s point of view, but we see an overview of the city as a whole. It really is all about Gotham. There are only 2 episodes left and I couldn’t be more excited. Some shows feel like a chore to watch, but Gotham has never once felt that way. I think it’s safe to say that this first season has and will be a success.