Season 3 Episode 16 ‘These Delicate and Dark Obsessions’
What do Gordon and Bullock’s investigation into the Court of Owls, Bruce Wayne’s training/torture beginning with the Shaman, and the unlikely duo of Ivy and Penguin have in common? The incredible eye of Gotham’s own, Ben McKenzie’s directorial debut. In this week’s Gotham, good ole Jimbo proves he can bring more to Gotham than his acting chops, but also provide some very strong, and in my own personally opinion - even better than the acting he brings to the show, episode direction. He has a very strong eye and good usage of small group, single set, scenes; capitalizing on the minimalist structure of the area, allowing the strong performances by the actors to drive forward their respective plot angles with immense force.
As Frank Gordon senses the Court becoming wise on his plan to enlist Jim against them, he is forced to make a drastic decision. Meanwhile, Bruce, imprisoned in a remote area, meets a mystical figure speaking in cryptic riddles about the power of the mind, and the need for Wayne to become a symbol to be a protector for Gotham. As the Penguin heals from Nygma’s gunshot wound and betrayal, unsure which causes more damage, he finds that the ‘friends’ he believed he had were nothing more than a facade and that he may find an ally in the most unlikely, and unquestionably most peculiar, of places.
As Jim Gordon continues to investigate the man who murdered his father in the ‘drunk driver’ case, he learns from Bullock that the man who was allegedly drunk had chronic liver inflammation, aka the ‘Irish Curse’ meaning there was no way he could’ve been drunk at the time of the accident. A lead to Falcone uncovers more information about the Court, which makes its way back to Catherine. Displeased with Frank’s lack of convincing Jim to join, pressure is on. Ultimately Frank chooses to take his own life, giving Jim a lead into the Court to take it down from within, as well as revenge from Frank being the one who orchestrated the hit on Jim’s father. Gordon receives a call from Catherine and the two prepare to meet. Nothing overly exciting about this particular arc in this episode, the reveal that Frank planned the hit was pretty apparent, but it should get interesting once Gordon and Catherine meet.
When Bruce is introduced to the Shaman, playing a series of tricks on his mind with maze-like hallways around the cells, and drug-laced acupuncture needles, Bruce is brought into a degree of training he’s never imagined before. Repeatedly brought to the memory of his parents’ death, forced to relive it in an extremely real feeling trance, Bruce begins to feel the weight of his buried emotions. Shaman’s cryptic manner of speaking implies that Bruce is still stuck in that moment, unable to progress to greater ability because he cannot move forward. The reveal is the Shaman’s goal is to create Bruce into something that can save Gotham from its historical cyclical self-destruction into chaos. One man cannot possibly save Gotham, but a symbol, a protector, a guardian, something that combats fear with fear, or you know, for those of you playing along with the home game, Batman.
Penguin, now healing from his wounds, is immensely dismissive of Ivy and her eccentric persona, despite her saving his life. I’m greatly enjoying the chemistry with these two, Geha’s iteration of the ‘grown’ Ivy is a very smartly played dichotomy between her chronological childlike innocence and emotional outbursts, coupled with her physical appearance, Geha is holding her own with the powerhouse cast quite well, matching quip for quip with the often times scene-stealing Robin Lord Taylor. The banter they share is incredible and I cannot wait to see how Gotham’s OddCouple 2.0 brings havoc to the city. After Penguin learns of his ‘loyal henchman’s’ plan to double cross him and sell him to the highest bidder, Ivy, very happy to say ‘I told you so’, uses her pheromone perfume to brainwash one of the thugs to murdering the rest, leaving just Gabe, as Gabe makes the fateful mistake of calling Penguin a freak, he snaps, stabbing him to death with a gardening tool. As Penguin buries Gabe’s body in the flowerbed, Ivy has the idea to create an army with some of the other ‘freaks’ of Gotham, recalling some Indian Hill characters Selena had told her about.
I have to give credit to McKenzie, for a first time director, he has shown a very strong eye and appreciation for the strengths of the cast. This episode had its highs, primarily with the Penguin/Ivy pairing, and its intrigue with the future of the situations Gordon and Wayne are currently in, and while the latter two’s storylines drug some during this episode, the potential more than makes up for that. Gotham has found its niche this season and it is driving home on all cylinders with some incredibly powerful story arcs that are weaving in and out of intersecting in an almost poetic fashion. I am very eager to see how the remaining episodes culminate, with so many different pieces in play, the team has to be very careful. Gotham can either end up with a masterpiece or a garbage disposal, I’m personally hoping for the former, but we will have to see. Tune in next week as Penguin and Ivy meet the rest of their freaks, and begin to plot towards war with the Riddler, until next time #keepitnerdy