Gotham’s “Burn the Witch” – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Confusion

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Plot: Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) pulls out all the stops in finding Hugo Strange (BD Wong) in an effort to cure the illness that her new powers have brought.  Everyone in Gotham is hell bent on finding her.  Meanwhile, Ivy (Maggie Geha) re-emerges a whole new woman, and Bruce (David Mazouz) comes face to face with the Court of Owls.

The second episode of Gotham’s third season was a bit of a mixed bag. The freaks are still hit or miss.  We had some forced moments.  Some of the storylines left us in murky areas. Having said that, the high points were so good, it cobbled together another solid episode. No pun intended, but the highlights consistently centered around Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), as per usual.

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

Penguin as the people’s champion of Gotham City has so far been a stroke of genius as an early season storyline.  His ability to rally crazy mobs is massively entertaining. I wouldn’t be shocked if we were moving towards an Oswald mayoral bid, which has always been a staple for Penguin in the world of Batman.  It was the vintage Oswald relationships that really sold him in this episode though. Anytime Oswald and Gordon (Ben McKenzie) scheme together is always a delight. Gordon hates him so much, but also knows he can be beneficial. It never ends well for Gordon. The moment of the episode was Oswald’s tense interaction with Fish Mooney. The resolution of this scene was top notch writing, giving us a true understanding of who both these characters are at their core. Outstanding.

Fish was also at the center of a lot of mayhem. She came off as both desperate and powerful throughout the episode. The Fish/Bullock (Donal Logue) dynamic is always fascinating, and we see it once again here, including a classic Harvey line at the end. The randomness of the freaks and their powers still pisses me off, however they may have solved that problem for good. I’ve always appreciated the fast pace storylines for Gotham, considering this is network television, and they have to produce a ridiculous number of episodes.

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

One of the storylines that escalated quickly was the OMG moment for Bruce at the end. I wasn’t expecting that so soon. Other than the big whopper at the end, the rest of Bruce and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) was pretty forgettable. While I loved the atmosphere of the first scene between Bruce and Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix), leader of the Court, it completely fizzled out. It left their conflict in a very confusing place.

One of the elements I’ve always defended on this show is whenever they introduce a big name Batman villain. It’s always organic. Never forced.  The emergence of the adult Ivy felt forced. While the actress shows a lot of promise, I’m not sure where the sudden plant obsession came from, unless I need to revisit season one. There’s an abandonment connection they try to make with her and this dude (Nicholas E. Calhoun) she encounters who lets his plants die, but it’s pretty flimsy. There’s some potential here, but this is a wait and see character.

The episode never got bad, but it was a mix of great and “meh.”  It was nice to see Strange again, and Barbara (Erin Richards) continues to be a high source of entertainment.  I feel like the writers constantly say in the room, “Let’s make Barbara crazier.”  It’s working well right now, but let’s hope it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

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.