TV Review: Gotham Series 1 Episode 21: ‘The Anvil or the Hammer’

Gotham’s serial killer plotline comes to an abrupt end, but a developing mob war looks promising for the series finale, says

GOTHAM: Jason Lennon (guest Star Milo Ventimiglia, L) and Barbara (Erin Richards, R) in ÒThe Anvil or the HammerÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, April 27 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX.

 Milo Ventimiglia as Jason Lennon and Erin Richards as Barbara Keane. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio/ FOX

 

This review contains spoilers

 

★★★★☆

 

“There will be chaos! Rivers of blood in the streets, I know it! I can see it coming!” So went Penguin’s stammering proclamation from the first episode, played at the start of every episode afterwards (at least in the first half of this season). Now, 21 episodes later, it looks like Gotham might finally be making good on that promise, as the mob families go to war and the GCPD steels itself. But first, there’s this episode, which is once again pretty good – mostly, it focuses on tying up the Ogre plot that’s dominated this four-parter.

Plot goes thus – now that Barbara’s firmly in his clutches, the Shrektacular serial killer gets to work on breaking her down, holding her at knifepoint, telling her to give in to those psychotic urges she apparently has and pick someone for him to kill, or she’s next. But Gordon’s hot on his heels, powered by potential guilt should anything happen to Barbara, leading to a violent shootout over in her parents’ house…

Naturally, one somewhat-unceremonious headshot later and the Ogre plotline comes to an end. Overall, it’s been an interesting experiment for the show to have a procedural plot dragged out. Though it’s given us some brief dips into nothing much happening at times, it’s meant we have a story that has consequences from episode to episode.

We’ve had some development for the city itself – this time, we run into a few of the Ogre’s surviving victims and hear their stories, giving Gotham a little more of a sense of history. Then there’s Gordon having to confront what becoming the face of justice in Gotham might cost his loved ones, and Barbara’s descent into crime – both of which mean that main characters of our show end up experiencing some growth! Well, something like growth. Maybe. If you squint. And Milo Ventimiglia’s been putting in a creepily psychotic enough performance to hold the whole thing together.

Meanwhile, Lil’ Bruce Wayne finally gets confronted by Bunderslaw, the corrupt stockholder who had Alfred stabbed a few episodes prior. He tells the kid the terrible truth – that there IS corruption in his company, and that generations of Waynes up to and including his father sat back and let it happen.

But then we get an appearance from his subordinate, Lucius Fox – mostly there because oh wow hey he’s a Batman canon character so he might as well show up for five minutes, but also to reassure Bruce that his father quietly worked against the system any chance he got. “Even good men have secrets”, he’s told, even though some of them aren’t quite as theatrical as dressing like a bat every night. Expect this subplot to show up a bit more in Series 2, I imagine.

And then there’s that mob war I mentioned earlier. Penguin manages to get that kicked off with a surprisingly simple plan – have his minion say “Don Falcone sends his regards” before stepping in to shoot Maroni, make sure the minion fails, watch the very alive and very angry Maroni declare open season on Falcone’s empire and step in to take over when the dust settles. Cue some surprisingly stylish scenes of criminals blasting each other, as the GCPD prepares for battle.

And I’m looking forward to it, quite frankly. It might be a little soon for the non-costumed criminals to wipe themselves out completely – that’s Batman’s job, after all – but I’m willing to bet that by the end of next episode the status quo should be shaken considerably. We can hope, anyway.

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