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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gotham gets lost in its Demon's Head plot

Illustration for article titled Gotham gets lost in its Demon's Head plot
Photo: FOX

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.

  • First things first: this is a great Barbara episode, insomuch as Barbara/Erin Richards is a delight throughout. She’s funny, intimidating, and there’s an episodic arc that moves the character in an interesting direction. With that said, all of this Demon’s Head stuff is quickly getting tiring. The promise of conflict isn’t nearly as fun as the conflict itself.
  • It’s not surprising that Barbara spends a lot of her free time chilling in her dungeon staring at the painting of her and Ra’s from hundreds of years ago. That’s very Barbara.
  • The women of the League of Shadows attack their new leader at the start of the episode. The idea is that Barbara hasn’t fully accessed the powers of the Demon’s Head, including the ability to see into the future. “You didn’t know we were coming?” they say. “Uh, no, you’re ninjas!” replies Barbara.
  • One reason why the Demon’s Head storyline is so exhausting is that, outside of Barbara, the characters involved aren’t at their most interesting. Bruce’s reckoning with his actions is dull, Ra’s hasn’t been around enough to make much of an impact, and the whole thing swallows up everything that’s good about Selina and Tabitha.
  • If there’s hope here though, it’s in the form of Barbara and Tabitha getting back on the same page. The scene where Barbara fights Ra’s, and must choose between Tabitha dying or retaining the Demon’s Head, is truly moving. Barbara, tapping into the powers, sees the future, with Ra’s slitting Tabitha’s throat. In that moment, Barbara knows she can’t abandon her friend/lover/partner/whatever they are.
  • The more interesting stories have to do with Gotham itself. Gotham tends to get a little lost when it tries to tackle the stories that rely on a lot of mythology and fantasy. In other words, this is a more gratifying show when it’s exploring the strange dynamic between, for example, the Riddler and Lee, especially when that includes looking at how Lee is essentially helping the poor rise up, which is something the Riddler, as Penguin points out, would never care about.
  • The first half of this season was largely about Gotham and its corruption, and that lead to some of the best episodes. It’s been a bit of a rough ride since the lengthy hiatus though, as the show’s failed to capture that same magic. There’s simply too much going on, especially as the show has shifted from the villain uprising that climaxed last week to the revival of Ra’s and his plans to burn down Gotham and turn Bruce to the dark side. A little more focus would go a long way.
  • Ra’s isn’t big fan of Barbara. “You’re just an unstable night club owner whose greatest accomplishment was murdering her own parents.” Not even death could stop his savagery.
  • Gordon goes to see Lee about a string of bank robberies, and realizes that she’s working with Riddler to pull them off. He tries to convince her that she’s betraying herself, but she’s moving in another direction, as evidenced by what she says when Gordon thanks her for saving his life after he was shot: “I’d just shot Sofia Falcone in the head. I was in a good mood.”
  • This new Lee doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Rather than getting Nygma to come out of the Riddler, it looks like Riddler is pushing Lee further into her criminal instincts, asking her to embrace her darker, violent thoughts.
  • Everybody working at the Nanda Parbat Embassy—Gotham has one of those?—is really dumb.
  • Selina isn’t a fan of Barbara’s plan to just fight Ra’s: “How do you expect to get the drop on someone whose studied kung fu for 2000 years, and is also a zombie?”
  • Looks like we’re in for a showdown between Ra’s and his sexist League of Shadows members, and Barbara and the League of Shadows women who see her as their leader. Bring it on! Anything to get this story moving at a faster clip.

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.