Gotham: Season 4 – a review


The brains behind the show Gotham have done something very smart. They’ve announced that Season 5 will be the final season of the series, and that it will be a shorter season as well—13 episodes, just enough to get it to 100 episodes, that old syndication milestone.

I applaud this decision. I had already decided to stop watching the series, which tends to meander too much for my tastes at 20+ episodes per season. Now that I know only 13 episodes remain of the entire series, I’ll probably watch it sooner rather than later.

Season 5 will be where we get to see Bruce Wayne finally become Batman. And, I hope, Jim Gordon will grow a mustache and become the police commissioner, Selina Kyle will become Catwoman, and Penguin and The Riddler will become more of who they’re supposed to be. We know that Jerome or Jeremiah Valeska will never truly become The Joker, since that name is reserved for the DCEU. That’s a shame, because the actor Cameron Monaghan has done a bang-up job capturing the spirit of The Joker. Better, in my opinion, than Jared Leto and Heath Ledger.

While I’m applauding the decision to end this series, this doesn’t mean that I hated it. I’ve watched four entire seasons. I couldn’t do that with a series I didn’t like. At least somewhat.

The things I’ve really liked about this series have remained consistent. I like Ben McKenzie as this younger version of Jim Gordon, the detective and police captain. I still want the mustache, however; I will forgo the glasses, if I must, but the mustache is necessary. Sean Pertwee has also been great as this street-tough version of Alfred Pennyworth. This has not been the comic book version I grew up with, but it has somehow been better. Donal Logue’s version of Harvey Bullock is the first version of this character that I’ve liked. He’s made Bullock relatable, even if he’s still basically a dirty cop underneath.

David Mazouz has been a great young Bruce Wayne as well. Camren Bicondova has also been a treat as Selina Kyle, the young woman who will be Catwoman. Alexander Siddig (Bashir!) was also a perfect addition as Ra’s al Ghul.

I guess I could just keep naming off actors and characters because I do believe that the casting and the acting on this show have always been top-notch. That’s not where the problem is with this series.

The problem has been, since the beginning, that the multiple plotlines become too complicated and often seem to lead nowhere. In this season alone, subtitled A Dark Knight, we had story threads involving Sofia Falcone, Professor Pyg, The Penguin and a mute kid, Solomon Grundy (Butch) and Tabby Galavan, The Riddler and Doc Thompkins, Barbara Kean and Ra’s al Ghul, Harvey Bullock on and off the GCPD, Alfred Pennyworth fired and re-hired as Bruce’s butler while Bruce tries to be a bad rich kid and then suddenly reforms himself, Ivy Pepper and the growing list of actresses who have played her, and then Jerimiah and Jerome Valeska and our unsatisfied quest for the Joker. Predictably, Jim Gordon has another girlfriend who turns evil, Alfred’s termination is temporary, as is Bullock’s departure from the force. Ra’s al Ghul dies and comes back, as he is wont to do. And, oh, yeah, Hugo Strange is still around, doing that thing he do.

See what I mean? It’s a Gordian knot that screams to be hacked apart with a broadsword. Or, if you will allow it, a Gordon-ian knot.

There are so many individual things that I like about this show. Taken as a whole, however, the series becomes tiresome. An analogy: I like spaghetti bolognese, and I like Jelly Belly jellybeans; but, I don’t think I would find them palatable together—Gotham is a lot like that for me. The whole is somehow less that the sum of its parts.

I like the idea of Gotham, the city, as the crucible that creates the Batman. And, the ending of this season, with all of the bridges leading in and out of Gotham destroyed, changes the setting into something familiar from the Arkham video games. A shorter final season should also result in a more focused story. I look forward to watching it. I may wait until the season is over next year, but I will watch it.

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