Though this season of Gotham still bears striking similarities to The Dark Knight trilogy, we finally have an episode that is decidedly different from that story. In “The Demon’s Head”, we get a much closer look at Ra’s Al Ghul and the danger that he presents to our heroes, villains, and the city of Gotham. This is very different from the Liam Neeson version we’ve seen in the Batman films, and finally has Gotham feeling fresh.
We all remember Bruce acquiring the dagger that Ra’s Al Ghul desperately wants, as he dropped a whopping 2 million on it so Barbara Keen couldn’t afford it. That story escalated in this week’s episode, as Bruce tries to get the dagger analyzed by history experts and ends up getting an innocent man and his grandson killed. A guilty conscience like this will certainly haunt Bruce, and it will be essential to his eventually becoming Batman. This story led to seeing Bruce and Gordon work together as a team, which incubated a warm feeling created by two heroes fighting for the greater good. Ra’s Al Ghul may be exactly what the show needs to push Gotham City into enough darkness to need the Caped Crusader and his police officer ally.
Of course one of the best features of Gotham is its extended library of villains, but when the show is at its best, the criminal underbelly and crime family stories feel grounded and gritty. Penguin took an enormous step toward that when he openly met with Sofia Falcone, only to draw out Falcone loyalists and kill them. It was an intense and shocking sequence, only made easier to swallow by the relatively newfound comic relief provided by Victor Zsasz, who has been an absolute delight. Sofia also knew how to perfectly get into Penguin’s head by comparing him to her father, which visibly rattled him. Crystal Reed’s addition to the cast will make an excellent anti-Penguin.
The entire episode had an intensity about it, even though some of it was quieted, and the greatest example of that was Ra’s Al Ghul appearing out in the open. Appearing in public and introducing himself to Gordon created this extremely uneasy, nervewracking sequence before Ra’s used the opportunity created by Alfred to escape. Sequences like this are Gotham at its absolute best. Not villains and heroes facing off in combat, but those two parties facing off in political, public stand-offs.
Here are a few other thoughts:
- An interesting tidbit: This episode was written by Ben McKenzie. McKenzie has now starred in, directed, and written for Gotham, and this was one of the best episodes I’ve seen from them in some time (and definitely the best of Season 4). I could tell the writing had improved significantly, so perhaps McKenzie should be running the entire show. Just a thought.
- I’m in serious need of a GIF of Victor Zsasz bobbing his head to the poorly thought out rap from the Riddler. Make it happen, internet! (sidenote: perhaps I will dedicate a sentence or two each week to what’s sure to be the next viral GIF.)
- While we’re on the subject of Victor Zsasz (again), I just wanted to commend whoever had the idea to make him funnier this season. Anthony Carrigan has always been great in the role, but this adds another layer and makes him so much more fun to watch.
- “Victor, how many graves did you dig?” “Two, but they’re roomy”
This was easily the best episode of Gotham this season. I’m anxious to see more writing from Ben McKenzie, and I’m excited that Gotham has finally set forth some higher stakes that aren’t derived directly from the film series. Of course, I understand that the source material is the same, but I’m always anxious for a new take.
What did you guys think? Did you enjoy this episode? Let us know!
Gotham airs Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX