‘Gotham’ Recap: “A Day in the Narrows” – Underage Against the Machine
While “A Day In The Narrows” doesn’t quite hold up to last week’s Gotham in the episode title department, it does continue the streak of these straight up cartoonishly absurd hours of television that Season 4 has been popping out on the regular, and I for one am into it. This episode stole plot points from both The Dark Knight and at least three of the Saw movies, and I am still in. to. it. I’m into it like Jim Gordon is into scowling, like this show’s producers are into recasting Ivy, like Bruce Wayne is into getting absolutely housed on champagne and raving to The Prodigy’s “Spitfire,” which is just a hilariously random song to officially exist in Gotham canon.
It’s also actually where we should start, because while the Professor Pyg stuff is a heaven-sent delight, Bruce Wayne’s B-plot has more impact on the whole “Batman” thing this show is allegedly building toward. A few weeks ago, Bruce Wayne learned that hiding his nightly mugger-beating activities would mean presenting a big, douchey billionaire face to the world. But following the tragic death of a boy Bruce knew for exactly one (1) day, that American Psycho-ass mask has gotten stuck on his face; he’s lashing out at Alfred, daydreaming about violently beating up bullies, moping more than his usual amount which was already two steps away from a 24/7 Jon Snow cosplay.
Basically, we have graduated from the Baby Batman story of Gotham’s first three seasons and entered into the Moody Hormonal Dark Knight era, the DC Degrassi, in which the future World’s Greatest Detective discovers underage drinking and the opposite sex. Alongside a former classmate named Grace—whose last name I’m pretty sure is “I’m Going To Die For Plot Reasons”—Bruce hits the town. Joining them for the ride is Stock Asshole #3 and Tommy Elliott, who seems to have aged roughly 25 years since Bruce beat the ever-loving fuck out of his face in Gotham’s first season. It’s all pretty trivial stuff—Bruce buys a club, and I have never related more to a character than the owner who sold his business to a child in less than a minute—but it’s important; Batman has more demons than most of DC Comics’ roster, and some of those people are, like, literally filled with demons. Not all the dark spots in Bruce Wayne’s past involve mystical cults and alleyway murder. Some of it is just a flawed dude being just the biggest asshole.
Speaking of dark spots and assholes, Jim Gordon spends this episode being right about everything and now he’s never going to shut up about it.
Professor Pyg is still kidnapping and killing crooked GCPD members, and because the GCPD staffs mostly children and the legally blind, Gotham City’s finest are powerless to stop him. To protect his investments, Penguin enlists an assassin named Headhunter, a jovial killer whose gimmick is having two guns and dressing like those punks from the worst episode of Stranger Things 2. He’s great. He’s dead by the end of the episode because Headhunter was too pure for this cruel show, but the time we shared was great.
Jim Gordon, because he loves doing things by the book and hates villains with themed names, disagrees. With Penguin’s goons in tow, Jim begrudgingly takes the search for Pyg into The Narrows, which this show hilariously tries to paint as the “worst” part of Gotham City. Like the people whose neighborhood was engulfed in fear toxin two months ago are like, “oooh don’t go to the street where they throw TVs.”
Miracle of miracles, Jim and Harvey manage to save one of the captured officers from being murdered. Because he is terrible at reading the room, Jim pours his soul out to this horrifically bleeding police officer in the ambulance. “There’s so much rot in Gotham,” he says. “All of it, high to low. Sometimes even I feel like breaking, you know?”
“You are one of the good ones, Jim,” the officer responds, and I swear Jim looks at him more tenderly than any single woman he’s encountered on this show.
Truthfully, it’s great stuff from Ben McKenzie, who has only gotten better at portraying The Last Good Man weariness with each season. But, as it turns out, it’s even better stuff from Michael Cerveris; thanks to some truly impressive prosthetics and someone in the Gotham writers room getting an advance screening of Jigsaw, Professor Pyg was posing as the injured officer the whole time. The whole thing—the ambulance, the capture, the sexual tension—was your classic bamboozle, a trap to lure half the GCPD and Harvey into an explosive trap. And, despite Jim’s warnings, Harvey walks straight willy-nilly into Pyg’s snare.
Of course, Jim saves everyone whose name is listed in the credits, thanks to a combination of plot armour and a bazooka But this turns out to be the exact PR boost the GCPD needs. The people of Gotham aren’t picky; they’re the same community that will one day embrace a guy dressed vaguely like a bat as their savior. Right now, all they have is a extremely rigid cop running into a building with a grenade launcher. Not the hero the city needs right now, exactly, but definitely the one it deserves.
Rating: ★★★ Good
-I feel like if your thing is sending pig heads to people as well as wearing one on your own head, you’re not allowed to lecture anyone about how you spell your name with a Y.
-With that said, holy wow Cerveris is just so great as Professor Pyg. I don’t care how, bump that wonderfully theatric man up to series regular. Fuck it, he’s playing Ivy now. Fourth time’s the charm.
-Gotham hasn’t quite reached this level yet, but this week’s Selina, Barbara, and Tabitha subplot stopped just short of “I don’t know, just give them something to do” levels of crowding up the episode. It’s okay to leave people on the bench, Gotham, especially characters this interesting.
-No but seriously, R.I.P. Headhunter. The only thing that could have made this random character more enjoyable is if we cut to Harvey Dent picking up his guns like, “the number two is…good.”