I unapologetically love Gotham. I needed to say that up front, because the rest of this review is not going to be very nice. "I am Bane" tested me, and I find myself losing faith.
Normally, that wouldn't be so heart-breaking; every show has its filler episodes, and Gotham has had plenty. But, when all you have is a 12 episode season, perhaps a little less filler is in order?
It might just be me, though. Perhaps I read the news about the shorter finale season 5, and cross-referenced that with my incredible Gotham Filler VS Killer flow-chart, and convinced myself that if half of all Gotham is great, then a half-sized season should be incredible…
…I was so wrong.
First, let's focus on the good. Mama always said focus on the good.
B.D. Wong is back as Hugo Strange! Wong is always amazing, and doubly so when he'e guesting on Gotham. Sure, he's aping on George Takei, but it's so much freaking fun. He's the most sinister coward ever, and I love it.
Erin Richards and Morena Baccarin are having a lot of fun, and watching Lee push Barbara around in a wheelchair, while she's in labor and shooting the hell out of some goons, is the kind of delirious Gotham-goodness that I live for.
Cory Michael Smith and Robin Lord Taylor are also laying on the ham, but they've earned it, right? The whole "Riddler builds a submarine" story-line has Batman 66 written all over it, and frankly, I could watch these two host a basic cable cooking show and still love it.
And now, the bad. Mama always hated it when I focus on the bad stuff.
Shane West is a fine actor. But when you decide that the budget for turning a guy like West into a guy like Bane caps out with a breath mask, a left-over Luther costume from The Umbrella Academy, and Frankenstein boots, things are going to shoot right past Gothamy and straight into stupid. All West really had to work with was a synthesized voice and Crazy Eye Acting, which wasn't enough to sell the menace.
Bane's a stupid-ass character, anyway. *
And then there's Jaime Murray, who stepped into this mess as the enigmatic Theresa Walker. Murray has been on before, and she played Walker with enough restraint to be mysterious and spooky. A shadow figure, pulling the strings behind the scenes. In "I am Bane", Murray goes straight into scenery chewing mode, but there's next to no nuance, and tons of exposition burying everything she does.
It's hard to be a scary super-villain when you're trapped in a non-stop monologue loop.
And then, sadly, is Alfred's (Sean Pertwee) "I'll hold them off!" moment at the end, which, unless Bane can outrun a car, wildly unnecessary.
The final cherry on this Sundae of Sadness is FOX deciding to wait FOUR FREAKING WEEKS to air the last two episodes. Brilliant move. I'm sure everyone will remember to come racing back to watch, with our attention spans so amazingly enhanced by binge-worthy streaming shows.
I'm going to try and muster up enough enthusiasm for spoilers, I guess.
Back to Jaime Murray, sadly. The big reveal that Walker is actually Nyssa Al Ghul was handled pretty well, and I frankly didn't see it coming. But then we get 20 minutes of Murray strutting about repeating that she's Nyssa Al Ghul, and just in case you missed it, did you know she's Nyssa Al Ghul?
It's like the writers needed to catch up on keeping that a secret all season, and did you know that Walker was actually Nyssa Al Ghul?
Alfred and Selina (Camren Bicondova) leap out of a car to give Barbara and Lee a moment to speed away to safety with Baby Batgirl. Alfred gets curb-stomped, and then his back broken, because Bane, right? But still, why couldn't they just get. in. the. freaking. car? He can't chase you in those stupid boots, especially when Walker was Nyssa Al Ghul all along, right?
I swear, Gotham, it's almost like you want me to see you off the air.
I have spent five years telling people that Gotham may not always be good, but it's always entertaining. Now, I have to amend that. It's mostly entertaining, and probably should have learned a lesson from The Office and quit while they were ahead.
Gotham will be back on April 18th with more jibbity-jabs on an episode they're calling "They Did What?" (I know, right??). I'll be right here to talk about it, too, if I live that long. A month is a loooooong time to wait! Here's a peak at what's to come:
* Bane certainly has the potential to be a great character, but it takes a lot more nuance than Frankenstein boots and a left-over gorilla suit.