TV Recap: Gotham, ‘Into the Woods’

Gotham-Wrath-of-Villains-Frozen

Into the Woods Plot Summary:

Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is on the hunt for who framed him, while Barnes (Michael Chiklis) goes on the war path to bring Gordon back to custody.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) deals with the aftermath of his father’s death, while Bruce (David Mazouz) continues to learn the streets from Selina (Camren Bicondova), and Barbara (Erin Richards) begins her therapy sessions with Hugo Strange (BD Wong).

A couple weeks ago we experienced our first ‘eh’ episode of Gotham all season.  That didn’t last long.  This episode was packed to the brim with tension and high octane storytelling.  We had intense stand offs, cover ups, revenge and good ole fashion Arkham therapy sessions.  Many characters got a chance to shine, but it all starts with the man himself, Jim Gordon.

Ben McKenzie was on fire.  Gordon was a man on a mission, and McKenzie carried that ferocity all the way through the episode.  He was also the calm, cool, collected Jim Gordon, and reminded us why he’s the great detective that he is.  As everything boiled to the surface, Gordon kept his emotions in check when it mattered most.  It also seemed like Gordon had a scene with all the major characters this week.  One of my complaints this season is Bullock (Donal Logue) being relegated to the background most of the time.  Not this week.  We saw the Gordon/Bullock relationship in full force, as Bullock was ready to do anything to help his partner.  This also lead to a great and contentious scene between Bullock and Barnes.  All the interactions between Gordon and Bullock were heartfelt and funny, but it was Gordon and Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) who stole the show.

Cory Michael Smith continues to nail this character.  It almost makes me sad we’ll never get to see him as the full fledged Riddler.  All the scenes between him and Gordon were uncomfortable in the best way possible.  These are two guys who are extremely good at what they do, and watching them try and out think each other was pure pleasure.  The writers really gave Nygma some outstanding dialogue.  There’s one scene that reverts back to the whole split personality trope, but other than that, this was one of Nygma’s best episodes.

Speaking of Batman villains, Oswald has a rough time adapting to life with his new family after the death of his father.  While a very predictable storyline, I didn’t care.  This NEEDED to happen at the end, and it was insanely satisfying.  While predictable, I didn’t expect the big WOW factor they hit us with, so that was nice.  My only complaint is they could have drawn this out a bit more.  They breezed by this ending, but I’m guessing it was just a time constraint.  There was a lot going on in the episode, and the focus was rightfully on Gordon and Nygma.

Gordon, Nygma and Oswald provided a ton of story, but Bruce and Selina got their time as well.  I’ve said this from the beginning, but the chemistry between David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova really is stellar.  Every time these characters are paired together, it’s rarely a miss.  Their first scene in particular was a blast.  Once they got intertwined with the main storyline, it got even better, including some real fun bits with Selina.  Alfred (Sean Pertwee) comes back this week as well, and was wisdom-like as usual.

I’ve always complimented the pacing for this show, and this episode in particular was efficient as hell, closing off big plotlines, but doing so effectively.  We didn’t get much of Barbara this week after her surprise recovery, but this was a good planting of the seed episode for her.  No doubt she will be the focus next week, as will many of our characters who now find themselves in different situations after this week’s cataclysmic events.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really 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.