TV Recap: Gotham, ‘Azrael’

Gotham-Wrath-of-Villains-Frozen

AZRAEL PLOT:

Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce (David Mazouz) begin to investigate Hugo Strange’s (BD Wong) involvement in the Wayne murders, while Hugo sends a newly revived, but unstable Theo Galavan (James Frain) after Gordon. Meanwhile, Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) attempts to unlock Strange’s secrets in Arkham.

Everybody seemed to have the crazies on this week’s Gotham. The inmates at Arkham were their usual insane selves, while Nygma controlled them all, acting ever more the brilliant mastermind, but looking as nuts as ever. There were even scenes where the entire purpose was just to show how crazy Gotham’s villains were becoming, most notably Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) and Barbara (Erin Richards), who seemed even more insane after being declared sane by Hugo Strange. Imagine that? Speaking of Hugo Strange, he was the focus and architect of everyone’s nutty mood swings.

The episode began with Gordon in full-fledged interrogation mode. He was not wasting any time, going right for Strange after last episode’s revelations. This was a great exchange between the two adversaries, as they basically try to out psychoanalyze the other. It was a great showcase for what these character’s greatest strengths were, as they try to expose each other’s biggest weakness.

This was really about Strange’s most prized possession, that being the revival of Theo Galavan. Galavan is predictably nuts and unstable, allowing for Strange to revel in the ultimate opportunity for manipulation. He even described it himself as being like a kid in a candy store. In an effort to get Gordon off his back, they paid off the tease from last week, as Strange turned Galavan into the nut bar vigilante Azrael. Azrael was hit or miss. I loved seeing James Frain play a totally different character, and while parts of him were bad ass, the character came off a bit goofy. This was a great opportunity to create a real unsettling character who’s off his rocker, something Gotham has been great at, but for this episode it was mostly a miss. The character definitely has potential though in the next couple weeks.

This episode suffered from the more silly side of Gotham, especially with Nygma’s interactions with the Arkham inmates. While Cory Michael Smith nailed the conniving Nygma, per usual, I didn’t love the quirks of his little Arkham gang. This harkened back to the early days of Gotham where the show dipped its toes into the silly. It wasn’t horrible, but they could have toned it down. It was great seeing Nygma in his element though while in prison, and him and Gordon share a fantastic exchange that lays out brilliantly why Nygma will eventually break free.

Speaking of Gordon, he and Bruce continue to be the highlight of the show. The foreshadowing of what both these characters will eventually become was easily the best writing this week. Bruce also had a funny but matter of fact conversation with Barnes (Michael Chiklis). This was definitely a big Barnes episode. You dislike the character, but also completely understand his point of view. He’s only trying to do what is right within the law, but he slowly learns that Gotham is the wrong place for that.

There was no doubt some great character moments, but the episode was a little sloppy in terms of pacing and dialogue. A solid episode, but the insane factor tipped over too many times into the juvenile and ridiculous. We did get two foreshadows of a Batman villain I’ve long wanted to see on the show, and no doubt we’ll get for season three at least.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

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.