Review: Gotham (S2 E4/22), Monday 1st February, Channel 5

gothamWhile the first three episodes of this season concentrated on the reign of terror of The Maniax, and ended with the surprise death of proto-Joker Jerome, we now move on to the real mover behind this wave of evil – the enigmatic Theo Galavan (James Frain). Frain proves the adage that if US dramas want a real villain, they call in a Brit – though he’s playing the part as an American. Mind you, there are tinges of European decadence to Galavan, particularly in his pervy relationship with his sister.

Galavan’s plot becomes clearer when he kidnaps Penguin’s mother, and forces the crimelord to kill off the other candidates for Mayor – Galavan intends to stand himself, boosted by his hero status after he killed Jerome. A little bit of satire on American politics here?

Possibly the character replacing slain Sarah Essen is also meant to be a political comment – Captain Nathaniel Barnes (played by stalwart Michael Chiklis) is a straight shooter who makes even Jim Gordon look lily-livered. He does appoint Jim as his second-in-command, not knowing of course that Jim is tainted by his connection to Penguin.

Barnes also appoints a group of rookie cops as a ‘Strike Force’ (or as the viewer can easily anticipate, ‘cannon fodder’).

So Galavan moves ahead with his plans, as yet unsuspected. His next move is to cosy up to Bruce Wayne, introducing him to a tasty bit of jailbait in the shape of his ‘niece’ Silver St Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind).

This little minx is obviously capable of twisting hormonal young Bruce around her little finger, but what is Galavan’s plan for her? Certainly as Alfred has rather brutally warned off young Selina, Bruce has no other friends to turn to.

Elsewhere, romance is taking a surprisingly positive turn for Ed Nygma, who has a date with Ms Kringle, and gets to kiss her, despite almost letting slip that he killed her cop boyfriend.

While this episode is more of a pot-boiler than anything else, it moves us closer to understanding what Galavan is up to, and it gives us a fine opportunity to see the great acting of Robin Lord Taylor, who as Penguin is almost indisputably the star of the show.

We loved Penguin’s demented outbursts in the gang conclave (and we liked the fact that one girl gang seemed to be dressed as Priss from Blade Runner), and we loved his grief-stricken ravings over the kidnapping of his mother.

If you want a portrait of how obsession can drive people to extremes, this is the one to watch. We doubt whether you’ll ever see the like from Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), whose outrage at the fate of his parents pales in comparison to Penguin’s. For not the first time it’s true that the really compelling characters here are the villains.

Chris Jenkins

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