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Gotham Finds a Sense of Humor

Mike Hoffman | 20 Jan 2015 23:00
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Gotham plays to its strengths and cleans up its convoluted plot in "What the Little Bird Told Him."

Last week's episode wasn't a fluke: Gotham is getting better. While the first ten episodes were confused and inconsistent, the Batman prequel series has returned from its midseason hiatus with more focus and an understanding of what it does best. Gotham still has its problems, but they are getting less severe while the show plays up its strong points.

Picking up where "Rogues' Gallery" left off, a pair of inmates have escaped from Arkham Asylum and it's up to Arkham guard Gordon to hunt them down. However, since the escapees technically fall under GCPD jurisdiction, he has to stand up to the commissioner to let him back into the department. The idea of forcing Gordon to work within the walls of Arkham was interesting and was expected to be a longer arc for the character, but it turns out this is definitely a good move for the show.

Gotham tended to take itself too seriously before the break, and putting Gordon into Arkham didn't afford many opportunities for jokes that weren't at the expense of the inmates. A detective again, Gordon is working with Bullock and now Donal Logue (Bullock) doesn't have to carry the show's meager sense of humor. Gordon is a lot funnier and versatile, and his character is far more enjoyable for it.

After realizing the absurdity that is Gotham City, Gordon chooses to embrace it. He's taking chances and doing so with a sense of humor. All the while, he maintains his altruism, making his character more interesting than the stubborn, "law and order" hero we had earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, the criminal underworld that was largely ignored last week takes up most of this episode, with a few stories and relationships reaching resolutions. The end result is some great characterization and development for Falcone, but more importantly we hopefully won't have to keep track of as many betrayals, spies and clandestine deals.

Ultimately, this episode and last week's both come across as efforts to rebuild the show. Get rid of the unmanageable plot and unfocused storytelling while playing up the stronger characterization and absurdity of this world. There are still moments of cheesy dialogue and questionable decisions, but it is so much less than viewers had to deal with before.

And not for nothing, both of the kid characters, Bruce and Selina, are completely absent in this episode while Barbara has a minimal amount of screen time.

Watching Gotham was frustrating before the holiday break. It was hard to say it was a good show; there was always a qualifier: "It's a good show, but..." If the series continues to produce episodes of (at least) this quality and manages to stay focused with its storytelling, we might be able to simply say, "It's a good show."

Gotham airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on Fox, but you can also catch episodes on Fox's website. Check out our review of the last episode, "Rogues' Gallery", or all of our Gotham reviews.

Spoilers ahead.

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