Gotham Believes in Harvey Dent; Do You?

He’s no Billy Dee Williams, but Gotham’s version of Harvey Dent makes his entrance.

It’s too early to tell how well Gotham’s interpretation of Harvey Dent will play out, but there’s potential here to tell a great story… That is if the show can downplay the coin flipping and dichotomous personality of the character.

The episode named “Harvey Dent” is surprisingly lacking in screen time for the character himself. Dent is introduced as the only lawyer Gordon can trust to handle new evidence in the Wayne murder case. More of the episode is spent handling that new evidence: Selina Kyle, who witnessed the murder.

Camren Bicondova, Kyle’s actress, isn’t the most believable as a rough kid from the streets and the character falls into some super clichéd dialogue. Luckily, we finally get to see Kyle do something (in a series that opened with her), and it’s surprisingly satisfying, if a little juvenile.

The Criminal of the Week story has a few twists in it, and while most of them are predictable, it builds on the narrative of the seasonal arc. At its best, it’s a clever story about a somewhat compelling character, and at its worst it’s mildly predictable. As far as one-off stories for Gotham go, this counts as one of the better tales.

If you’ve been keeping up with our reviews for Gotham, you may have noticed that for the most part, they’ve been rather negative. And it doesn’t look like the clichéd dialogue and questionable character choices (or Barbara Kean) are going to ease up anytime soon. We’re still watching and enjoying Gotham, flaws and all, so rather than being highly critical of the show, from now on these reviews will be a little more forgiving. Don’t worry though, if something truly dreadful happens, we’ll call Gotham out on it. However, review scores will stay consistent with earlier reviews.

We’re about to head into spoiler territory, so if you are averse to those, you might want to go watch the episode on Fox’s website or Hulu.

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“Harvey, Harvey, Harvey Dent.”

Thanks to Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween, Harvey Dent has become one of my favorite Batman villains. Even the simpler Two-Face stories became more interesting when you consider the fall of Harvey Dent. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight explored the character in this respect rather well, as a large part of that film is about the destruction of the heroic character of Dent.

Knowing that Gotham was tackling the character, I was apprehensive of how he would be treated, but hopeful for the slow burn on his story possible on TV. Nicholas D’Agosto lays on the passion of the character a little too thick, and the constant coin flipping is a bit on the nose. Dent also has a quick burst of anger, violently threatening newcomer Dick Lovecraft (another player in the growing Wayne murder conspiracy).

“Harvey Dent” reveals a bit too much about how quickly Dent can flip from someone driven by justice to anger. A drawn out story of Dent becoming a heroic figure that quickly falls could be fantastic, but the show would need to chill on the more Two-Facey traits of the character. The fewer rage-induced outbursts the better. Still, this was only the first showing of the Assistant District Attorney, and future appearances might be more nuanced.

The Cat and the Bat.

While it looked like Selina Kyle would move into Wayne Manor way back in episode two, it’s only now coming to pass. After she gets picked up for theft, Gordon decides the best place to protect the only witness to the Wayne murders is in the Wayne home. At first this appears to be an odd choice until Gordon points out that Kyle may be more willing to testify if she connects with Bruce.

And they do connect. The pair have their rough patch as Bruce is focused on “preparing himself” (for Batmanning?) and Selina’s “I’m from tha streets” attitude doesn’t help. Neither actor is really able to deliver what the script asks of them, but at least Bruce’s dialogue isn’t too clichéd. His choice to go swimming while fully clothed is really odd though. It’s kind of like he just forgot to change.

Surprisingly, when the two let down their guard and start acting like children, it’s kind of nice. Both are trying so hard to be grown and strong (because, hey, Gotham City sucks pretty badly) that it’s a relief to see them have fun for once, even if it isn’t the most original moment.

Blackgate, Arkham, and Firebug.

Firebug isn’t a frequent visitor in the Batman stories, but this week’s “villain” is billed with that name. Ian Hargrove is a bomb maker in transit from Blackgate Penitentiary to a psychiatric hospital when he is taken by Russian mobsters. The episode initially builds up the ingenuity and danger of Hargrove, but it’s soon revealed the young man is mentally unwell and turned himself into police after people were accidentally killed in one of his explosions years ago.

Mental health issues are one of the most common trends in the Batman universe, and it’s nice to see Gotham address them with a little commentary. Hargrove needed actual treatment, not a prison. Once he is rescued by Gordon and Bullock, he’s sent to Arkham Asylum after Mayor James reopens the inadequate facility. Hargrove wasn’t very active on screen this episode, but he would actually serve as a decent character to revisit throughout the season to measure the negative effect of Arkham on its patients.

His story connects to the seasonal arc in other ways as well. Those mobsters that took him were working with Fish Mooney to avenge the death of her former lover by using Hargrove’s skills to rob Falcone’s vault. It’s a little confusing, because her lover, Nikolai, was killed by Maroni’s men and Cobblepot. If Mooney is targeting Falcone as revenge, that would imply she knows Falcone and Cobblepot are working together.

Barbara isn’t exactly gone.

When Gordon’s fiancée left last week, it was a false hope that she might remain gone. Sadly, the writers have done nothing to make the character interesting and it’s hard to tell if her actress, Erin Richards, could do any better anyway. Her stories hinge on the audience’s emotional investment in her relationship with Gordon, and it’s just not there.

She left Gordon a Dear John letter at the end of last episode because of the fear of being attacked by the mob again (which is a valid concern in Gotham City). And it looks like she’s reunited with her former lover, Renee Montoya, whom Gordon is finally working with to help Gotham. We’ll definitely see a confrontation about this in the future, but let’s hope the writers are smart enough to make it about Barbara running off to a former lover and not her orientation.

Bottom Line: A step up for Gotham, even with its weak points. Ideally more restraint can be used on Dent in the future.

Recommendation: It looks like the midseason break starts after next week’s episode, so this might be a good time to jump on before that cliffhanger.

[rating= 3]



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