TV Recap: Gotham, ‘Knock Knock’

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Knock Knock Plot Summary:

Galavan (James Frain) and his band of insane criminals begin terrorizing Gotham, lead by the deranged Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), who’s desperate to make a name for himself.  Meanwhile, Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) come to blows over Thomas Wayne’s mysterious and dangerous work.

After this week’s Gotham, I’ve finally come to terms that the first ten minutes of every episode are usually rough.  Why does this show always get off to a bad start?  You would think a gang of insane Arkham escapees throwing people off a building would be terrifying, but instead it’s goofier than that scene in Con-Air.  Remember that one?  It’s camp over load.  Everything from the dialogue to the music is just plain goofy.  After the initial shock though, the show once again settles into something great, and the second half alone made this one of the best episodes of the entire series.  There’s one scene in particular that not only made me buy into the episode, but a certain character who I was wishy washy on last week.

Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.

The first few scenes focuses on Theo Galavan and his gang of crazies.  The acting and tone reaches that level of superhero camp that I loathe so much.  I also started to get really nervous about Cameron Monaghan’s “Joker.”  I wasn’t thrilled with him last week, and his first couple scenes scared the laughing gas out of me.  Then we come to a moment where Jerome and another inmate (Dustin Ybarra) come to blows, and it all comes together beautifully.  The tone completely shifts into deranged mode, which is where Gotham shines brightest.  More importantly though, I was finally sold on Monaghan’s “Joker.”

From that moment on, the episode was near perfect.  Tense hostage situations.  A bloody showdown with the police.  Fantastic.  Everyone was great, most notably Ben McKenzie (Gordon) and Zabryna Guevara (Essen), but it was Monaghan who really anchored the episode.  It’s almost as if the writers said “Screw it,” and went full blown Joker, but held back just a tad.  The show is in a tight spot.  They want to do Joker storylines, but can’t use the full character in all his glory.  It was portrayed brilliantly this week, but I’m curious to see how they do moving forward.  I’ve been saying it since the beginning, and I’ll continue to hammer it home, dammit!  Don’t get attached to traditional Batman mythology.  If the end of this episode taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen, and that adds a true excitement and intrigue to the series I didn’t think was possible when the show first aired.

Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX.

Aside from Jerome’s star studded introduction to Gotham, Erin Richards continues to take Barbara to the next level of evil.  There’s a real twisted scene between her and Gordon.  At one point she gives Gordon this look of remorse and evil all at once, and Richards really knocks it out of the park.  As long as they tone down the camp with her character, she’s going to be a great villain.  As much as I’ve enjoyed Jerome and Barbara though, I’m not sold on Theo Galavan, the puppet master behind all this.  They need to make him more sinister.  He’s way too comic book villain right now, and belongs in a Marvel movie.

This was also another strong showing for Bruce and Alfred, following the momentum from last week.  While I praised the show for straying away from predictable Batman elements, this was vintage Bruce/Alfred.  Alfred wants nothing more than to protect Bruce, but by doing so he really pisses the kid off.  It’s a great scene that eventually leads to a huge development between the two.  Chris Chalk as Lucius Fox also makes a comeback, and has two great scenes with Alfred and Bruce.  He’ll definitely be a great addition to their dynamic as they all delve deeper into what Thomas Wayne was up too.

I’m giving this episode a high rating because 75% of it was awesome, and it certainly ends on a powerful note, but I’m still irritated at the potential this show is leaving on the table.  ENOUGH WITH THE CAMP!  They really need to get a consistent tone going.  Keep it dark and deranged.  Clean up some of the musical cues.  Eliminate some of the goofy villain dialogue.  The writers and directors should watch the first fifteen minutes of this episode and take detailed notes on what not to do.  This is a great product, just be more consistent.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.