Gotham returns from a month-long hiatus with “Beasts of Prey,” an episode that attempts to blend and kick off several storylines at once with middling success. These final four episodes of the Batman origin series have been teased as something big, but so far nothing set up about them is very intriguing. In this week’s Gotham review we take a look as Gordon and Bullock chase down flashbacks, Penguin acts like a generic mobster, and Fish Mooney does who cares what on a remote island.
The most important thing set up in “Beasts of Prey,” is the story arc of the Ogre. The problem with this is how Gotham chooses to set it up. Writers have essentially given up on any interesting way of introducing new Batman villains, and Ogre is shown in nothing but flashbacks. Flashbacks that have no relevance to the actual situation, give us too much information that we shouldn’t know about Gordon and Bullock’s investigation, and generally kill the pace of the episode.
At random points in Gordon’s investigation, a flashback will trigger showing Ogre and his Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired lifestyle leading to the death of the latest Gotham victim. These flashbacks don’t serve as a way of showing another character telling a story, or Gordon realizing more information – as most flashbacks do. Instead, the flashbacks are nothing more than a way to show that Ogre exists so he could look cool in trailers. Hearing all the terrifying things that Ogre does could have been so much more satisfying, especially when it comes to Gordon’s family being threatened, but instead Gotham chooses arbitrary scenes showing him torturing an unimportant victim.
It all does tie back together a bit as the investigation is all a ploy by Commissioner Loeb to get back at Gordon. By going after Ogre, Gordon’s loved ones are put in jeopardy because the serial killer is known to kill the families of cops who dare investigate his murders. Being the conveniently corrupt department that GCPD is, this means that the killer has been able to get off scott free with little to no press or fanfare from the police. As disappointing as the method of story telling is for the Ogre thus far, the whole plot of Loeb using him as a way to get back at Gordon is really interesting, and I like the war between the Commissioner and the future Commissioner.
I do believe it says something about Jim Gordon as a character that, when Bullock said Ogre would go after his loved ones, I paused for a moment to think about who Gordon’s loved ones actually are. I guess his girlfriend, Leslie, but their chemistry is just so poor throughout the show that it never feels like a relationship to begin with.
Speaking of arbitrary useless things, Fish Mooney is in this episode. Everything about her storyline ends as a resounding dud to this point. She once again takes advantage of the inmates to escape using a helicopter, but her plan comes together so easily and so pointlessly that it makes her time on the island, and her time on the show, seem even that much more of a general waste.
There is also the hilariously poorly-executed moment where all of the inmates have the perfect opportunity to kill Dulmacher with one swift kick to the head but they can’t because, as Mooney yells, they “don’t have much time.” You can practically hear her yelling “because he becomes a canon Batman villain!” instead. I get that Gotham has to not kill certain characters, but you would think they would find more creative ways to not kill them, instead of just having a character conveniently say they can’t do it.
I do have to admit that one brief shot of Mooney reaching into the door closing in Dulmacher’s office is a great shot. For as bad as Mooney’s character is, she is all about reaching in at the last moment to survive when no other option seems viable. I could be over-analyzing one shot of a hand reaching through a closing door, but given how long the shot paused on this moment, I can’t help but think it was on purpose, and it worked to great effect.
Even Penguin, who I generally consider to be the shining light of Gotham even in its worst episodes, has a generic and boring plotline wherein he wants to buy out a local bar where he can eventually poison Maroni. In order to do this he has to pursuade the bar owner by breaking up her daughter and a “silver-tongued guitar player.” Penguin obviously says he can do this, there is a scene where he cuts off one the guitarists fingers, and that’s that. The show could have easily just had Penguin buy out the bar without this extra bland scene and nothing of value would have been lost.
The one minor saving grace is a fun sequence with Bruce and Selina where they are questioning the homeless Reggie Payne who was in the Wayne Manor and ended up stabbing Alfred. As he’s hanging out the window reaching for his pills (the pills that Selina tossed onto a ledge during their little interrogation), Bruce hesitates to push him out to his death. Instead, it’s Selina who goes in for the kill, which pretty much summarizes their entire relationship going forward.
But outside of that, “Beasts of Prey” is almost an episode I would suggest skipping entirely if it didn’t set up a few key positions of characters before the next episode that might lead to some confusion if you were to skip it. Even then, it’s almost worth it.