Gotham: “Look into my Eyes” and “New Day Rising” Recaps

Synopsis of 3×0 and 3×04: Cobblepot makes a play for the mayor’s office and wins in a landslide. Bruce and Alfred try to deal with Five, who attempts to take Bruce’s life and is captured by the Court of Owls. Jarvis Tetch hunts for his sister in Gotham and plays with Gordon’s sanity.

Rating:
I mentioned in my recap of the second episode of this season that one of the most enduring decisions Gotham makes from season to season is front-loading the beginning of the year with all the action one could ever really want.

The third and fourth episodes of the season, “Look into my Eyes” and “New Day Rising” respectively, carry on that noble tradition, cramming the Donald Trump parody a different show would tease out all year into two episodes, introducing the would-be Mad Hatter and setting Five, the genetic, super-powerful clone of Bruce Wayne on a path to villainy all off in less than 90 minutes.

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I probably would have had a problem with this in past seasons but this has increasingly just become the speed at which this show operates now. You get used to it or you don’t and thankfully, what’s here is mostly fast and fun enough to work.

Cobblepot’s rise from criminal to mayor is abjectly ridiculous but it’s also big, dumb and kinda funny in the way that this show can occasionally be. Tetch’s search for, capture of and loss of Alice is played fast and scary, keeping him as a credible threat both to Gotham City and Gordon personally in a compelling way.

Mad Hatter has always been one of those Batman characters who people tend to like despite the character not really being in that many good stories and that’s more a testament to Louis Carol than anything else but I feel like the show’s really tapped into something here.

He’s arguably little more than a combination of Johnny Depp and the Babadook as he haunts his victim’s mansion, killing indiscriminately and setting a group of sibling wrestlers against the GCPD but his style and visuals fit the show’s weird combination of Tim Burton and Batman ’66 better than most of the series’ past villains have.

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There are some smart character beats as well. Nygma’s new relationship with the Penguin isn’t really based on much of what’s been established between the two but it’s mostly effective. The show’s built Edward as a guy who constantly is enthralled by power and who’s willing to sell out his ethics and abilities for whoever can give it to him.

His willingness to help Cobblepot secure a seat at the table legitimately is a compelling bit of character development and it’s sold well. Likewise, Selina’s recognition that Five isn’t who he says he is works well based on how well we’ve gotten to know the aspiring burglar over the years.

I’m still not sold on this season of Gotham but, if nothing else, it’s been a wildly more confident show over the last four episodes, better realizing its limitations as well as its strengths. There’s a solid chance the whole thing could spin wildly off the rails at any time but I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t happen quite yet.