The first season finale of Gotham is a lot like the entirety of the first season itself - mostly frustrating but with glimpses of possibility and enough moments to give you hope that the mediocre show can turnaround and become the good show it should be. But what kind of show does Gotham want to be? That is a question that has stuck with Gotham all season long and the season finale doesn't make it any clearer - does it want to be a villain of the week police procedural, a suspenseful crime drama about competing underworld mob bosses? Season finale "All Happy Families Are Alike" tries to cram it all in with some extra John Woo style shootouts just to be on the safe side.
Gotham Season 1 Finale Shootout
It's not the worst episode of Gotham, not by a long shot - "All Happy Families Are Alike" is actually a pretty decent episode (title aside) but if the entire season was leading up to a big clash between Sal Maroni, Falcone, Fish Mooney and Penguin - the end result of all the manipulating and scheming to get us to this point can only be described as underwhelming. The ending of the last episode had a better idea when it showed Falcone getting an underling's head sent to him in a box and Maroni taking down more henchmen Godfather style. This is the kind of gang war we were hoping for.
Sadly, we get a rocket launcher fired at Falcone as he's eyeing a chicken for his diner on one of Gotham's many seaside piers and this puts him straight in the hospital. Gordon interrupts Penguin as he visits his hospital room (which looks like something out of a horror movie) and a big shootout ensues between Gordon and Maroni's crew that may look good on paper but isn't very suspenseful or thrilling or well staged at all. Mostly, like a lot of the episode, it's more awkward than anything else.
Maroni, Falcone & Fish Mooney
Jim, Harvey, Falcone, Penguin and Butch all escape in an ambulance and head to what Falcone thinks is a safe-house but lying in wait is Fish Mooney and her new crew - featuring Selina Kyle as a new high ranking member. This is one of the best moves this episode makes as Selina Kyle spent most of the season wandering around trying her best to look like Gotham knew what to do with her character - making her a fan of Fish Mooney is something the show should have done way earlier.
Fish ties everyone up, except her old friend Butch, in one of the poorest and least secure looking rope and chain hook-ups to ever grace a television show. In fact, once Fish puts a bullet in Maroni's brain (nice job, Fish) and everyone starts firing off their guns, it's pretty hilarious how easily Jim, Harvey, Falcone and Penguin can quickly free themselves and manage to not eve get a scratch. This whole series of events in the safehouse is a great example of how frustrating the show can be. They escape, they get caught, they escape, all the action happens to service these plot points (we need to have a scene where Falcone tells Gordon he wants to retire) that a better writer could have figured out how to handle without making it so awkward.
Eventually Penguin and Fish end up on the roof, Butch is conflicted and torn between the two, Mooney ends up getting pushed off and falling into the water and Penguin has his "I'm king of the World!" moment. Yes, Mooney is sleeping with the fishes tonight. Or is she? In shows like Gotham we should never consider someone dead unless they get a bullet to the head like Maroni or we see their lifeless body on screen. It was big news when Jada Pinkett-Smith said she wasn't renewing her Fish Mooney contract after season one of Gotham finished up. But does that mean we won't see her at all in season 2? She was definitely one of the better characters in the show and one of Gotham's few original creations. She will be missed, that's for sure.
Barbara Kean Goes Banannas
Meanwhile on Gotham, Barbara Kean took my advice after the events of last week's episode with The Ogre and is seeking some professional help. But when she insists on Jim's current flame Dr. Thompkins paying her a house-call, you know things aren't going to end well. I actually do like what's become of crazypants Barbara and when she began flirting with The Ogre I was hoping she would turn straight up villainous without all the damsel in distress business that took place during the last episode. And the big reveal here is that she claims to be the one that actually did the stabbing when it came to murdering her parents. Cue Barbara picking up a knife and trying to do the same to Dr. Thompkins!
Thompkins ends up knocking out Barbara - and in one of the show's many missed opportunities, there's no wrap up to this plot thread as we simply leave Barbara lying unconscious on the floor. Maybe they want us to think Thompkins killed Barbara? That's even weirder, if you ask me. We pick up events in Gordon's apartment later on and there's absolutely no mention of what happened to Barbara - if they threw handcuffs on her and sent her to Arkham (is that place still open?) or to jail or what... This isn't a cliffhanger, Gotham, this is just failure to finish something you started.
The Riddler Goes Mad as a Hatter
Then there's Riddler... Oh, Ed Nygma... He gets one scene as Ms. Kringle comes in waving that fake letter from her dead boyfriend in Ed's face pointing out the not so clever slue he left there. He denies it, she walks off angry and we get to see more of poor Ed loosing his marbles. It's a little clumsy to just have one scene out of nowhere to remind us that Ed is tipping over to the dark side but Gotham does a good job with getting into his head in this brief moment. Voices talking to each other, evil looks... Yep, he's definitely headed to crazytown.
Finally, there's Lil' Wayne - as young Master B (as Alfred awkwardly calls him) is searching high and low in his dead Dad's office for some sort of secret - shhh, he'll know it when he sees it. After Bruce comes to a revelation about the philosophy of stoicism (does he even go to school?), he finds a hidden remote control in one of pop's old books. Indeed it does seem that Bruce's dad was even able to keep some pretty big secrets even from Alfred as a press of the button activates some mysterious music and a hidden door to be revealed from behind the fireplace. To be continued!
Looking Towards Gotham Season 2
This first season of Gotham ran in to some issues early on when Fox ordered more episodes than the show was initially prepared to give. I think this lead to a lot of heavy padding and some characters getting completely left behind for huge chunks of episodes (Renee Montoya, anyone?). You could easily pick out 9 or even 6 episodes of this first season that could easily make for a strong, albeit brief, season. I'm hoping the show can come back with a clearer vision and strong arc that will give this interesting cast of characters more to do and provide more momentum to the overall plot.
Gotham has proven it can be successful being a villain of the week procedural or a show that has fun moving characters like Penguin and Fish Mooney around, fighting for power while Jim Gordon battles corruption - if they're going to continue to mix these two elements, they'll have to find the right balance so that one doesn't completely leave the other hanging out to dry for half the season. Fingers crossed. Oh, and give the amazing Ben Edlund more episodes to write - you have an ace on the team and only gave him two episodes!
What did you think? How did the season finale of Gotham and the first season wrap things up for you? Are you looking forward to the second season? Take to the comments section below, dear readers!