GOTHAM S2 EP9 "A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW" REVIEW!
By Jarrett Kruse
It definitely seems that GOTHAM has gone out of its way this season to cross every "t" and dot every "i" but it is getting to the point where the show is losing me getting any enjoyment out of it. In other words, enough is enough. At this juncture, it just feels excessive for the sake of being excessive, bloody for the sake of being bloody and without a doubt, sadistic for the sake of being sadistic. Without a doubt, tonight's episode, "A Bitter Pill to Swallow" really put me off in such a way that I am glad we are coming up on the holiday hiatus because for lack of a better word, it is just starting to feel like overkill. Sometimes that can be a good thing but here it just makes you wonder if any of these people ever have time to sleep when they are not killing someone. Sometimes even a show as dark as GOTHAM needs to give the viewer a little room to breathe and look at the narrative from above as a whole to see that what looks like a mess from up close, actually makes a lot of sense when looking at it all from above. Unfortunately, GOTHAM seems to be losing its footing and things look hazy while looking down on it all with no clear picture of what exactly is going on.
It is another dreary day in Gotham City when Theo Galavan, the now jailed Mayor's sister Tabitha enters a local tavern and orders a "Highsmith Royale." Despite the bartenders objection that it is a bit early for that kind of order, Tabitha insists and a secret door pops ajar for her to enter. What we see next is right out of Chicago in the 1920's with an old style speakeasy with gambling, booze and broads. It is run by a woman who is clearly not to be trifled with but who takes the orders as far as hits go and to whether or not her establishment can acquiesce the clients request. Tabitha wants Jim Gordon dead, today, if not sooner. While I am sure that places like this exist in big, corrupt cities, it seems to be that there are more of these in Gotham than regular bars.
At Galavan's penthouse, Gordon is on his way up to meet Barnes to try and collect any potential evidence in the case. It is then that Jim's fellow elevator rider attacks him with a garrot and although he is a "pro," he does not get the job done and is knocked out by the time they get to the penthouse. Barnes & Gordon are smart enough to know that their is going to be a second and if need be a third wave of assassins. The woman that runs the Highsmith Royale calls an excommunicated assassin by the name of Eduardo who looks like Pepe Le Pew with jet black hair and a giant white silver streak. He is in the middle of torturing someone and, ahem, eating whatever he is cutting off of him. I think it was the guys ear but this is what I am talking about as far excessive. It felt creepy watching this, out of context for a FOX show. And uncomfortable.
Nygma has brought Cobblebot to a safehouse where he is tending to him and his injuries. Oswald does not want much to do with Nygma but slowly the Riddler to be is breaking him down as he regains his strength. There are several scenes between the two during the episode as they form some kind of strange bond. Nygma admits to Penguin to being a murderer and feels cleansed that he can speak to someone about his new hobby. Oswald is still very much mourning the loss of his mother at the hands of Galavan. Nygma even goes as far as bringing one of Galavan's minions for Cobblebot to seek revenge on but Oswald seems uninterested. However as the episode progresses and the two form some kind of crazy alliance, each is part student, part teacher and they are both teaching each other new things. By the end of the episode, the two are feasting on Chinese food and ready for the entertainment--Galavan's stooge. It is a weird symbiosis seeing Cobblebot and Nygma together because the latter is still at his forensics day job and has not leaked his secrets to anyone just yet. The problem for me was that I as not invested at all in this new alliance. Maybe down the line but right now it just seems forced on us and I hate when new alliances are forced upon us especially with characters so iconic as the ones that live in the world of Gotham. Are they pals now that they have shared a day together and presumably off screen torture this guy, "Leonard"? Is Nygma going to be Cobblepot's apprentice as he rises back to power? We'll see I suppose.
When the second wave of assassins make it into the penthouse, Gordon, Barnes and rookie female cop Parks are able to fend them off. However, as they are leaving, Barnes takes a knife to an artery in his leg and they are immobile. Now, Eduardo is on his way up and has already taken down four cops standing guard out front and tells Gordon he is "feasting on" the dead. Ucch. Instead of waiting for him to come up, Gordon goes down to the street to take on Eduardo head on and its a good enough of a fight and Jim comes close to losing it at one point having a gun inside Eduardo's mouth harkening back to a story Barnes told earlier in the episode. Instead of killing him, he arrests Eduardo, Barnes is brought medical attention and all seems right with the world. After all of the hoopla, Lee is cleaning up Jim's wounds when his cell phone rings that the young rookie Parks was basically eaten by Eduardo before they could book him. And they show the incident and it is gruesome and it is far and away unnecessary considering what the viewer has had to endure already this episode. He basically goes for her neck in the GCPD and bites into it as she bleeds out. It is heinous and vile and really just the final straw for me making me just not care for this episode at all. No forward movement to the narrative at all except for learning that Nygma and Penguin have created some sort of sick kinship.
I will say that I continue to love the Alfred character who is light years smarter than Bruce or anyone that enters the Manor and that includes Silver St. Cloud who tries to draw young Bruce to her hotel. Alfred is always one step ahead of Bruce and clearly if the young heir cannot handle his own guardian, he is not prepared to take on the likes of Galavan and his people. Although Selina does show up at Bruce's window and says that she has proof that Silver is a fraud. We will see I guess. I would love to see more of this side of the show, more of the hidden chamber from last season, more Batman stuff is what I am saying I suppose.
In the final scene, Tabitha goes and visits her brother Theo in the clink and he is outraged that she had the moxie to try and have Gordon killed. He goes on to say that it is a very bad time, especially with the "brothers arrival" soon. This obviously ties into Brother Creel (character actor Ron Rifkin) and the last shot of a bunch of hooded men meeting up at the docks and killing a night security guard before the credits roll. Overall though, a tremendous disappointment after last week's grand episode with a solid ending. It most definitely is time for a mid-season hiatus from GOTHAM. I think it's time to take a break and reevaluate just what exactly the endgame is for the characters in season two because it feels like the secondary characters, like Galavan & Tabitha and now these killer monks have really taken a lot of acreage over say, the primary cast of the show. It is almost like the inmates are running the asylum. And where was Harvey this week?