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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

After a stellar spring premiere, Gotham gets lost in its worst tendencies

David Mazouz
David Mazouz
Photo: David Giesbrecht/FOX (FOX)
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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Just one week after Gotham aired a truly compelling spring premiere, “A Beautiful Darkness” finds the show going back to some of its dullest storylines. This is a trend: episodes are seemingly split into two separate casts of characters, meaning that we get a ton of Cobblepot, Jerome, Selina, and Bruce this week after very little presence from them last week. Nygma, Barbara, Thompkins, and Alfred are eminently more interesting.
  • Anyways, “A Beautiful Darkness” follows two fairly simple plots: Ivy’s search for a Wayne Enterprises experiment called Project M, and Jerome’s persistent pestering of Cobblepot to team up and escape Arhkam.
  • Neither storyline really hits its mark, though Cameron Monaghan and Robin Lord Taylor remain delightfully strange in their roles as Jerome and Cobblepot.
  • Ivy, meanwhile, is on a war path. She’s “blooming” people all across Gotham in search of the secret loaction of Project M. Eventually, she gets to Bruce Wayne, slicing him open just a touch in order to induce a slow, painful death.
  • Death isn’t coming for Bruce Wayne though, and all that’s left is a heavy-handed hallucination sequence that shows Bruce his “purpose,” aka. becoming Batman. Party Boy Bruce Wayne had to come to an end eventually, but this feels like an especially convenient, lazy way to get it done. Bruce finally reckoning with his behavior comes in the form of a hallucination? That lets him off too easy.
  • At least he finally reaches out to Alfred. That boy needs a badass British butler in his life.
  • It’s difficult to really know what to say about every scene inside Arkham Asylum this week. Jerome is planning something, and he wants Cobblepot to help him put together a band of “crazies.” How many times have we been down this road? Any time a villain ends up in Arkham, they inevitably have this very unique and not at all predictable idea to get the inmates on their side and create an army. Just get Jerome and Cobblepot out of there and back to doing fun, evil things, Gotham!
  • I’m wary of the show dragging out the story of Sofia having Gordon in her back pocket. Again, we’ve been down this road before. A threat to Leslie Thompkins is nothing new. Gordon’s storylines almost always involve some sort of danger to those closest to him. I’m willing to see how it plays out, but the beats this week feel very familiar.
  • Ivy gets to Lucius Fox and forces him to reveal the location of Project M—the running gag of everyone calling Ivy beautiful isn’t terrible, but it is tiresome by episode’s end—which turns out to be an experiment on the Lazarus water. Ivy takes the water for herself and uses it to create fast-blooming, monstrous creations.
  • One story with a lot of promise: the continued split between Nygma and The Riddler. It appears that while Nygma is actively trying to stay by Thompkins’ side, Riddler is sending secret messages to Cobblepot in Arkham. The thought of a fraught reunion between the two former colleagues/friends/true loves is exciting.
  • Hallucination Bullock walks around cocktail parties with a chicken. I wouldn’t put it past real life Bullock, to be honest.
  • Is there a character on this show more inconsequential than Selina? She’s always just a piece in someone else’s story. That’s a shame, because Camren Bicondova is doing what she can with the role, but isn’t being given much to work with. There’s depth of character there, but there has to be a way for it to influence the story.
  • It’ll be interesting to see what reformed Bruce Wayne looks like and how he fits into this season. It feels like it’s been quite awhile since Gotham has used Bruce as an important storytelling piece. The lengthy winter hiatus makes the Ra’s Al Ghul storyline feel like a lifetime ago.

Kyle Fowle is a freelance writer based out of Canada. He writes about TV and wrestling for The A.V. Club, Real Sport, EW, and Paste Magazine.