While “LoveCraft” is mostly about Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, Alfred steals the show in Gotham’s midseason finale.
Apparently nothing is more dangerous than a butler with a mission.
The teenage Batman and Catwoman are on the run in “LoveCraft,” which sadly has nothing to do with the Cthulhu mythos, outside of a couple names. Harvey Dent planned to use Selina Kyle, witness to the Wayne murders, to scare his suspect, Dick LoveCraft, into ratting out his criminal compatriots. This does not go well, causing the the young duo to flee into Gotham City while Alfred, Bullock, and Gordon are in pursuit.
As a midseason finale, “LoveCraft” works well, surprisingly. Some minutiae of Gotham City might be lost on those tuning in for the first time, but overall it works to summarize early events while preparing for Gotham’s return next year.
This episode also succeeds in setting up something new to look forward to when the show returns without going for an agonizing cliffhanger. There’s a big shift in store for Gotham viewers, mainly because of a fundamental change in Gordon’s role in the city. Of course, the showrunners could shift things right back to the status quo in an instant, but hopefully they’re committed to trying something different for a while.
Butler Alfred Pennyworth is the most rewarding part of “LoveCraft.” He gets to do a bit of everything he needs to do in order to earn his title of Tough Older British Guy, and Sean Pertwee plays it all well enough without coming off as cheesy. That’s an achievement for Gotham.
Unfortunately, the show doesn’t succeed in that regard with its child actors. David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova aren’t terrible as Bruce and Selina, and they receive decent direction, but kids can only do so much with this script. Gotham’s dialogue has always leaned towards cliché, and Selina’s “hard-knock language” and Bruce’s high-society mannerisms both fall victim to this. It’s not insufferable, but it’s not exactly enjoyable either.
Bruce Wayne on the rooftops of Gotham.
Bruce and Selina get the most screen time this week with the duo running from assassins with an unknown employer. After their somewhat-painful-to-watch dialogue (“Do you want to kiss me?” So, we’re still doing that line?) the assassins attack, but are disrupted by Alfred and the kids make their escape.
Once in Gotham City, the pair cross paths with
Pamela Isley Ivy Pepper, whose father was killed in the first episode and mother has taken her own life since. Ivy had little impact in earlier episodes, but her 13-year-old actress Clare Foley is actually pretty great in her role. Ivy is obviously unstable, but she’s together (and even amicable) enough to be a little frightening. Not sure how the controlling plants thing will play out (if it does) but I look forward to seeing what happens with her.
We also get to see Bruce on the rooftops of Gotham City for the first time, successfully making a jump from one to another (with Kyle’s help on the landing). It’s another inverse nostalgia moment for Gotham, and while the show throws in about one per episode, this is one of the better examples.
An awkward dinner at Falcone’s
Carmine Falcone isn’t happy at his personal money getting stolen and blown up in last week’s “Harvey Dent.” After interrogating Penguin (let’s all applaud Falcone for actually turning a suspicious eye on the known betrayer, Cobblepot), he has some of his top people over for a nice Italian dinner… although it must have been a little uncomfortable continuing the dinner after Falcone killed the man responsible for keeping the money secure.
While “Penguin’s Umbrella” showed us a Falone that is in control of everything, “LoveCraft” illustrated that the mob boss is starting to feel the pressure of Fish Mooney’s “secret” campaign against him. This might be the most hands-on we’ve seen him when it comes to his business, and increasing his taxes on his underlings might be more harmful than he thinks.
Alfred Pennyworth: Badass
After fighting off the assassins sent to kill Selina Kyle, Alfred joins Bullock on the hunt for the children. Sure, it’s completely improbable that a detective would bring the butler along, but this is Gotham, so we’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride — and it is enjoyable.
Alfred proves himself repeatedly in this episode. He throws down with professional killers, lands a fairly difficult shot after taking a bullet himself, and persuades Mooney to give up information just by being a smooth talker. Alfred, it turns out, can be persuasive just as much as he can apply force. This has been a fantastic interpretation of the character, even if he hasn’t been the best person at times.
Bullock and Pennyworth working together functions surprisingly well. Once again, completely unrealistic, but it’s surprisingly entertaining.
After LoveCraft is killed with Gordon’s gun (yeah, he was introduced just long enough to hint at a bigger player and then die), Mayor James uses the opportunity to take Gordon out of the GCPD. It’s not clear how that works, but apparently the mayor can reassign a detective to security duty at Arkham Asylum.
Gordon’s placement at Arkham puts him in the position to learn more about the conspiracy surrounding the Wayne murders. That incident, which started the series events, was centered around the deal that allowed Arkham to reopen, but we’re not sure how. His new position also gives Gotham the opportunity to explore the themes of mental instability so common in the Batman universe.
Of course, if Gordon rejoins the GCPD proper after the midseason hiatus, it wouldn’t be too surprising. Gotham may choose to return to the status quo after Gordon spends a little time messing around in Arkham Asylum.
If he is reinstated as a detective, at least we’ll get to see more of him and Bullock working on the same side, something we definitely haven’t seen enough of. Of course, maybe we could just watch Bullock and Pennyworth solving crimes. I’d watch that show.
Bottom line: “LoveCraft” isn’t as intense as some midseason finales, but that may be for the best, because it’s a solid episode that leaves plenty to look forward to. Hopefully this is the kind of quality Gotham can pull off consistently when it returns.
Recommendation: A surprisingly good jumping on point for new viewers. If the earlier weaker episodes put you off, this might be the episode to get you back on board.[rating=3.5]