Gotham: Season 4: Episode 4.1 “A Dark Knight: Pax Peguina” — a review

Goodbye, Tetch virus. Hello, Gotham Season 4.

There were plenty of things to like in the third season. I liked the whole Mad Hatter and Captain Barnes/Executioner stuff. But, I did feel that the season seemed to lag a bit in the middle, and almost lost me as a viewer. But, I’ve already written about that.

I am a fan of Gotham. An OG fan, not a Johnny-come-lately as I am on many series. And I will stick with this one until the bitter end. I was afraid that end was last season, since the series seemed to be on the bubble for renewal. That didn’t happen, however, and we were given the gift of another season.

It appears that this season will be broken up into separate story arcs, as I suggested. Not that I think anyone is actually following advice that I’ve given. Rather, it just makes sense. America is finally hopping on the shorter season bandwagon that the Brits have known about for quite some time. Fewer episodes means tighter—and often better—writing that you simply don’t get when trying to stretch a story arc out for 22 or more episodes. The initial arc in Season 4 is called “A Dark Knight.”

Episode 4.1 “A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina” establishes the premise for this season. Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin, has set up the base of his criminal empire in Barbara Kean’s old club, which has been rechristened The Iceberg Lounge. He’s no longer mayor of Gotham, but he is the man in charge. Penguin is issuing licenses of misconduct to the city’s criminals, punishing anyone who commits crimes without first purchasing a license from him. The new mayor and the police commissioner are also on board, for a percentage of the take. Crime stats are down, all thanks to Penguin.

But, guess who’s not on board for this new, innovative method of crime control? That’s right, perennial Boy Scout Detective Jim Gordon. Gordon doesn’t like this set-up, of course, and seems prepared to wage a one-man war on crime—again—if he has to. His old partner, Harvey Bullock, is still the captain, and seems to be trying to work within a corrupt system the way he always has, but he’s still Jim’s friend.

Gordon isn’t the only one who’s working outside the Penguin system. Young Bruce Wayne is continuing his path to becoming Batman. He’s already dressing in black and beating down criminals in the street, with Alfred Pennyworth as his support staff. He has a ways yet to go before he is Batman, however. He proves to be still vulnerable, and at the end of this episode falls through a skylight before he can capture some criminals and appears to be arrested by the GCPD.

Selina Kyle (with the whip!) and Tabitha Galavan are trying to scrape by outside the Peguin system as well, and seem to be down on their luck as the season opens.

Meanwhile, Ed Nygma, The Riddler, is frozen in a block of ice in The Iceberg Lounge, Penguin’s Han-Solo-in-Carbonite trophy,  and Ivy Pepper is being mistreated as a Penguin lackey. Victor Zsasz continues to work for Penguin and remains a charismatic psychopath.

Elsewhere, a bad guy named Merton (with familiar eyes and real last name—Buscemi) springs Jonathan Crane from the insane asylum in order to replicate his father’s fear serum. This inadvertantly creates The Scarecrow as well, of course. And, well done, creators of Gotham. This is one good-looking comic book villain to television villain transition. This show knows how the fans want to see their favorite characters.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of this story arc. In the first episode, it appears that both Lee Thompson and Barbara Kean are no longer in the picture (Editor’s Note: SPOILER Barbara returns in the second episode—dead doesn’t stay that way on Gotham) Butch seems destined to return at some point as Solomon Grundy. Nygma won’t stay on ice forever, of course. How will the ice get melted? By someone who uses fire as a weapon perhaps? Hmmm….

I like this series. And, I liked the way this first story arc kicks off. I think this season will be a fun one. Hopefully, not the last.

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