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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gotham's fourth season continues to boast patient, dynamic storytelling

Illustration for article titled Gotham's fourth season continues to boast patient, dynamic storytelling
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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.

  • Nygma’s Penguin impersonation is pretty damn good. He’s got the little head shakes that come with his speech pattern down pat.
  • This week’s episode begins in Cherry’s fight club, featuring a main event that pits the champion Grundy against...Mr. Murderface. I’m not even kidding. It’s so uninventive that it almost becomes profound the more you think about it.
  • The title “Stop Hitting Yourself” comes from Grundy’s propensity for ripping an opponent’s limb off and beating them with it.
  • With Bullock going off the deep end rather quickly, the Mayor of Gotham, no man of morals himself, offers Gordon a promotion to Captain. Gordon doesn’t want to take the job from Harvey though, and that sets up a really well-told, self-contained story about a friend and partner wanting to give his buddy one last chance to prove himself.
  • When Penguin learns that Nygma is making fun of him at Cherry’s, he sends Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina to kidnap him, and calls on Firefly as a contingency plan. That’s all well and good, but is Firefly the dullest villain on this show? Her BBQ comment later on in the episode, right before she gets shot by Thompkins, is evidence that yes, she is. I’m sure Freeze is up there too though.
  • Barbara, as always, has the best plans: “Get in, get Ed, deliver him to his doom, and go get a martini.”
  • Tabitha is shocked to see Butch alive. “Do you know what this means?” Barbara: “It means you owe me an apology for electrocuting me.”
  • “Stop Hitting Yourself” is the episode where Sofia becomes more than just a necessary evil for Gordon’s plot to take down Penguin. He can see that he’s not in control anymore, a realization that comes when she admits that she was the one who pushed for him to be captain. She’s not only looking to get rid of Penguin, she may be actively trying to force a wedge between Bullock and Gordon.
  • That wedge, of course, is already there in some form. When Bullock doesn’t show up to do his duties at the Bullet Hole Club, it’s the last straw for Gordon. He doesn’t want to take the captaincy from Bullock, but he sees no other way forward. It’s an emotional scene that sees Gordon finally take that job from Bullock, who’s drinking alone in his office. For all of Gotham’s broad-stroke storytelling, the way the show has slowly eroded the relationships between the two partners has been surprisingly emotionally nuanced. You can feel the weight of their respective positions/guilt in the climactic scene.
  • “You need chickens?” “I’m sorry?” I will never tired of Robin Lord Taylor’s ability to show true, over-the-top bafflement.
  • More scenes with Thompkins and Barbara throwing shade at each other, please.
  • Butch is slowly starting to come out of Grundy. He recognizes Tabitha for a brief moment before she clubs him over the head with a bat that comes complete with a number of hammer heads attached to it.
  • As Gordon shifts into his new role as Captain of the GCPD, Thompkins is now the leader of the fight club after Barbara shot Cherry in order to escape with Nygma. Her first order of business? “Drinks on the house!”
  • Gotham is really setting itself up nicely for a midseason finale, whenever that happens to be. For the first time since the show’s inception, multiple storylines are unfolding at a solid pace, the characters feel fresh and interesting, and there’s a clarity to the storytelling that’s more than welcome. Sofia’s plans continuing to solidify should only bolster what’s been a marked improvement for the show in its fourth season.

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.