Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gotham "A Legion of Horribles" Review: Curiosity Killed the Bat

With the possible end of his mad scientist routine looming, Hugo Strange got even stranger this week in "Legion of Horribles," cranking out future Batman rogues in his little monster factory with a swiftness that had even loyal Mrs. Peabody questioning his motives, sanity, and logic. Reanimated crazies, conveniently wiped blank by the whole dying-and-being-resurrected thing, offered Strange the perfect canvas to create monstrous masterpieces... or the occasional affront to mother nature. After Azrael, Strange steadily built on that modest success to create a legion of depraved "gods."
Then along came Fish Mooney. Pulled from the polluted river after her not-all-that-tragic death at the end of last season, Fish has returned, poised to become the wrathful ocean queen in Hugo Strange’s menagerie. Except, conveniently or not, she didn’t lose her memory in the reanimation process and now we have undead super-powered cuttlefish Fish because comics. I can’t help but feel like the return of Fish Mooney is a step backward for Gotham even though I knew it was coming and had spent most of the second half of the season alternating between mentally preparing myself or outright denying that it was going to happen. All you have to do is look at Jada Pinkett Smith’s over-the-top scenery-chewing to feel your stomach drop like a pair of custom-fitted cement shoes into the mafia’s favorite river.
"My name’s Fish Mooney, bitch!"
No. Please no. Not this hammy nonsense again. Gotham has evolved in Fish’s absence, and while it’s still completely nutrageous at times—Azrael, the Maniax, Penguin’s rocket launcher—Season 2 grounded Gotham in something resembling its own version of "realism.”"The craziness was dialed back. The casting has been on point. The visible and narrative tone has taken a turn for the serious, and Season 2 Gotham has forged forward with Baby Batman and Hilariously Unlikeable Jim Gordon with confidence. What once were weaknesses—Baby Batman was too Batman-y too fast; Jim Gordon was unbearably unlikeable in a totally unfunny way—have been turned into strengths of their own. Bruce’s story has turned genuinely interesting, with his relationship with Selina forming the foundation for all the hard decisions we know he will have to make as Batman later on in his life. Gordon is… well. Gotham has a multitude of other non-sucky characters to distract audiences. Unfortunately, Fish isn’t one of them.
Are we going to rehash the tiresome Fish vs. Penguin rivalry again? Penguin has already proven that he can rise above awful circumstances and that is more than a goofy henchman with a scene-kid haircut and a limp. What would be the point of that storyline now? What would be the point of any Fish storyline be? Gotham’s underworld is still recovering from the damage done by the mob wars of Season 1 and the meddling of Mayor Galavan mid-Season 2. Sure, there’s a power vacuum, and the new and improved Penguin seems the logical heir to the throne. Conflict is good, but again, we’ve seen the Penguin/Fish throw down, and it wasn’t all that interesting the first time around.
As far as trying to position Fish as a new rising threat in the vein of Azrael—more dangerous than Hugo Strange’s "first born" because she’s not delusional and out of her mind, I just can’t see it. She’s just too cartoonish of a character—a flaw only exacerbated by the tone that Gotham adopted without her. Maybe wiping her memory would have been the way to go if Gotham wanted to bring Pinkett Smith back so badly. Then again, maybe that’s asking too much of a character whose sole purpose seems to be "menacing sex pot." I just don’t have the energy for the overacting, you guys. Fish was only back for maybe five whole minutes this week and it was exhausting.

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