GOTHAM Recap: “Harvey Dent”

     November 17, 2014


Gotham has the strangest approach to Easter eggs I’ve seen in a comicbook adaptation so far.  It’s as if the showrunners are well within their rights to feature James Gordon and Bruce Wayne, The Penguin and Harvey Dent, but refuse to explore the rest of Batman’s lesser villains for the weekly antagonists.  The Balloonman?  The Spirit of the Goat?  Really?  Where are Killer Moth, Kite Man, and Calendar Man?  If the creative forces behind this Batman prequel are “saving” these gems for future episodes, I have to ask “Why?”; if they’re not planning to include them at all, I have to ask, “Why bother?”  Though tonight’s introduction of the episode’s title character was a decent one, the show has a long way to go to bring back the Bat-fans.

Hit the jump for our Gotham recap.

Gordon’s Quest

gotham-harvey-dent-nicholas-dagosto-ben-mckenzieWell Barbara’s willpower sure didn’t last long as she’s putting quite a bit of space between her and James.  He’s too busy playing babysitter anyway as he’s got his hands full with the young Selina Kyle, who he’s planning on dumping off at Wayne Manor after she tells a sketch artist about the man who murdered the Waynes.  Once she’s off Gordon’s hands, he’s free to meet with a new hot-shot attorney in town.

Our first intro to Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto) comes with a strong dose of the dualistic nature of the character as he uses a two-headed coin to give a random juvenile a chance to set his life on the straight and narrow.  The ambitious and overly confident lawyer wants to use Gordon’s witness to go after Lovecraft, yet another of the city’s billionaires, for the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  Gordon agrees to it only if he keeps his name and Selina’s name out of the official documents.

Dent makes his play with Lovecraft and his team of lawyers.  He straight-up tells him he’s charging him with conspiracy to commit the murders of the Waynes.  Lovecraft laughs in his face, causing Dent to snap momentarily, giving us a glimpse of the madness lurking beneath the skin.  When Dent tells Gordon how the meeting went, he comes off as pretty damn crazy.  Gordon’s not too sure about the guy, and tries to keep him on a short leash.

When not dealing with Dent, Gordon was making a stink with the Mayor about Blackgate Penitentiary housing the mentally ill.  Gordon’s even more upset when Bullock tells him of the plan to transport the criminally insane to the 200-year-old Arkham Asylum instead.

As a final moment, we see Gordon pleading with Barbara to come back (from her equally posh vacation home), where she happens to be shacking up with Renee Montoya.  We see this laughable moment as Gordon confesses his love for Barbara via voicemail…

gotham-harvey-dent-david-mazouz-sean-pertweeWayne’s Coming of Age

Alfred’s very against having the juvenile delinquent (and murder witness) living under the same roof as Master Wayne, but young Bruce thinks it’s the best way to make progress on solving his parents’ case.  Oh yeah and he’s also pretty smitten with the young girl (almost said ‘kitten’ but I restrained myself).

Nodding back to Bruce’s anger and frustration in last week’s episode, this hour finds him boxing with Alfred to bone up on his fighting skills.  Bruce is happy to bend over backward for Selina, but Alfred’s being a bit of a baby about having to serve the new addition. (Still, the boxing sequence was a nice fatherly moment, or at least a big brotherly one.)  Bruce tries to get to know her a bit more, but takes a wrong step when he asks about her parents.  Alfred takes the opportunity to call up Gordon to tell him that it’s just not going to work out.  Too bad that Bruce and Selina start to patch over their earlier misunderstandings.

For some strange reason, Bruce decides to see how long he can hold his breath underwater … fully clothed.  Selina tells him that she understands what he’s trying to do, but on the streets of Gotham, he’s got to be ruthless, not just strong.  It’s a reminder of how far Bruce has to go to leave the Rich Kid persona behind and become the Bat.  But first he has to hit Selina in a food fight.  Alfred fights the urge to reprimand the two of them here, and opts to let them have a little fun instead.  He then has a change of heart and allows her to stay as a potential relationship between the youngsters begins to flourish.

gotham-harvey-dent-donal-logue-ben-mckenzieBullock’s Path to Redemption (or Not)

Early on in this ep, Bullock is relegated to sitting at his desk and doling out exposition on Hargrove for Gordon (and the audience).  He then plays bad cop while interrogating Hargrove’s brother about the mad bomber’s whereabouts.  The brother says that Ian blew up places that manufactured weapons because he felt he was doing the right thing; he turned himself in when people got unintentionally killed in his last explosion.   He pleads with Gordon and Bullock to find him and get him the help he needs.

Meanwhile, we see Hargrove working with some sort of Russian thugs, making a pipe bomb of sorts and hiding it within a gift basket for guards at a munitions factory.  Boom; the guards are dead. It’s then revealed that the gang stole some highly explosive material during the caper.

Gordon is confiding in Bullock about Barbara leaving him, and things are getting very bro-y until Nygma interrupts them with a piece of evidence.  He finds the nameplate that Hargrove slipped into the bomb in hopes of bringing the cops to him.  They find Hargrove and free him, or at least they try to; the Russians show up and a firefight ensues.  The Russians, who are planning an attack on Falcone, make a getaway with Hargrove in tow.  And who do they meet up with?  None other than Fish Mooney.

Thanks to a bit of theatrical mad science from Nygma, the detectives figure that Hargrove is using the high explosives to help the Russians break into an iron vault owned by Falcone, a vault chock full of money.  Gordon, Bullock, and plenty of backup arrive in time to attempt to save Hargrove.  A cellphone-activated bomb (with a “Final Countdown” ringtone for funzies) blows the money-laden truck skyhigh; Butch is then seen a safe distance away pocketing his phone and creeping back to Mooney’s place.

gotham-harvey-dent-nicholas-dagostoPenguin’s Rise to Power

Penguin investigates Liza’s apartment, looking for evidence to implicate her as Fish Mooney’s assassin.  He seems to find something of interest in the scent of her lilac perfume, and he leaves with an article of her clothing like a super creeper.  He then makes his way over to Fish Mooney’s place and takes a deep whiff of her perfume: lilacs!  What a great detective!

Later, Penguin waits for Liza at her home.  He threatens to out her to Falcone and tells her he wants her to keep working for Fish, or she’ll die.  Fin.

Gotham started out as one of my most anticipated comicbook shows of the year, but has been crashing and burning the last couple of weeks.  Rather than draw from the lesser known villains in Batman’s expansive Rogues Gallery each week, they continue to create their own brand of off-kilter antagonists that are wholly unmemorable.  So far, the introduction of Penguin has been the most solid, with their young Catwoman on the fence and Victor Zsasz a promising start; the newly introduced Harvey Dent has yet to be decided.  And why, oh why, are they forcing this Barbara Kean / Renee Montoya romance angle?  No one cares.

Is it too late to reboot Gotham on The CW?

Rating: C+

Rogues Gallery:

  • gotham-harvey-dent-david-mazouz-camren-bicondovaSo this makes two Batman villains that Gordon brings home to meet his girlfriend… No wonder she left.
  • There’s a nod to Blackgate Penitentiary, which is about as close as this series gets to dropping Easter eggs.
  • Alfred: “Throwing a punch is just as important as taking one, Master Bruce.”
  • Cat: “In Gotham, people don’t fight with gloves on.”
  • Butch (about Penguin): “Man, that dude’s creepy.”
  • Harvey Dent: “Don’t threaten me! I will rip … you … open!”
  • Selina (to Bruce): “You’re the weirdest kid I’ve ever met.”