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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gotham’s season finale strikes a balance between sweet and sinister

Illustration for article titled Gotham’s season finale strikes a balance between sweet and sinister

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.

  • Never Mind The Bullocks: There’s plenty to choose from when you’ve got two hours of Bullock goodness, but let’s keep it simple. When Gordon questions him about Strange being released, Bullock lays out the whole story and then, with a knowing wink, states, “yes, I’m blaming it on the butler!”
  • The first part of the season finale boasts a pretty great cold open. With the virus spreading Gotham is in disarray, and the camera tracks through the street revealing an ever-escalating series of violent actions, building to a subway car moving above the city, completely engulfed in flames and black smoke. It’s wonderfully ridiculous.
  • While Morena Baccarin has been delightful as the Tetch-infected version of Lee Thompkins, the familiar story of “who Jim Gordon really is” limits much of the potential in the storyline. Also, why is “more cleavage” Gotham’s go-to visual for signalling that a character has turned from good to bad?
  • Fish Mooney, when she sees Bullock for the first time in a very long time: “My goodness Harvey, you look awful.”
  • The two-part finale can really be broken down to a single story: everybody looking to snag the antidote to the Tetch virus. The GCPD wants to disseminate a cure, while the criminals are hoping to bargain it in exchange for power across the city. As the episode unfolds though, and the antidote gets lost along the way, cracks begin to show in the allegiances that make up the criminal underworld.
  • Alfred trying desperately to bring Bruce back is exactly the kind of heartfelt payoff their season-long story deserves. “There is no life, there is no love, without pain,” says Alfred as he attempts to get Bruce to realize the flaw in blocking out his parents’ murder. These two have been on an emotional journey all season long, and it’s nice to see the finale give them plenty of room to explore the nuances of their relationship. The climax, with Bruce stabbing Alfred through the chest—at the behest of Gotham’s newest addition, Ra’s al Ghulonly to then come back to himself and revive Alfred with water from the Lazarus Pit, is a stirring emotional crescendo.
  • There are a lot of great action set pieces across the two-part finale, from the warehouse shootout to the Ninja Assassins in the slaughterhouse. Gotham usually goes for goofy over effective when it comes to its violence, but the scenes in these two episode show that there’s a way to strike a balance. In other words, having Victor Fries freeze a ninja in mid-air so that he can crash to the ground and crumble into many pieces is the kind of action I want from this show.
  • I legitimately thought Gotham was going to kill off Alfred, and I was not emotionally ready for that.
  • Instead, we have to say goodbye to Barbara, a character that started out as en empty vessel for Jim’s brooding, and over time became one of the show’s most delightful and necessary pieces. The Barb-Tabitha feud had to come to an end eventually, and unfortunately it was Tabitha who got the upper (and Butch’s) hand.
  • Using the Tetch virus as a storytelling tool is a smart choice, as it gives the finale a sense of urgency. Watching as Gordon becomes increasingly influenced by the virus is excruciating, and lends a structure an episode that could otherwise easily go off the rails.
  • At least in her final few scenes, Barbara was as disgusted by ineptitude as she’s ever been: “I asked you to do one thing: watch a man tied to a chair! And you idiots can’t even do that right!”
  • Cue the waterworks when Bruce, following Alfred’s stretcher into the hospital, is asked what his relation is to the man. “We’re family.” The Fast and Furious family would be proud, Bruce.
  • “What, you’ve never seen a mason jar filled with blood before?”
  • Having the two antidote vials—one for Lee and one for Gordon—attached to Gordon’s GCPD badge is a nice visual touch, underlining that the “real” Jim Gordon, though flawed, is still someone interested in fighting the good fight in Gotham.
  • Some interesting storylines set up for next season, as Barbara’s dead, Butch is seemingly in a coma and revealed to be “Cyrus Gold,” Nygma is on ice thanks to Penguin and Freeze, and Selina, having been chastised by Bruce for really no reason at all, is aligning herself with Tabitha.
  • Of course, there’s also the final scene. Having been told by Alfred that he needs to figure out who he is and how he defines himself, Bruce Wayne is taking his first steps toward becoming Batman. Adorned with a ski mask, he stops a mugging and potential murder that looks just like the one that took his parents. As the episode and season ends, he stands tall on a rooftop, overlooking the city that will force him to reckon with a complicated identity. There’s hope for Gotham yet, and perhaps there’s still hope for Gotham as well.