TV Review: Gotham 2×09 ‘A Bitter Pill to Swallow’

The biggest problem with a lot of prequels is the feeling of security. Given that many characters will no doubt appear down the line, there’s rarely a time where it appears like they are in actual danger. Gotham is a series that has largely dropped the ball on providing shocking deaths. Because it is a series tied to the Batman lore, it is difficult for me to garner any suspense when characters like Gordon or Bruce Wayne are in peril. We know who they will one day be so they surely won’t die right? I’d like to see Gotham do something as shocking as killing off Maroni in the season one finale. Given the timeframe of this series, I doubt we’ll ever see Batman himself. Therefore, Gotham shouldn’t join itself at the hip with continuity. It should stand on its own as a canonical series set within a world that will one day require Batman.

To my surprise, I actually found myself engaged with Gordon’s predicament on last night’s episode. It was the first time this season where I felt like Gordon was actually expendable. Gordon and Capt. Barnes spend the brunt of the episode trapped within Galavan’s suite. Now that Theo is in prison, Tabitha Galavan takes matters into her own hands. She hires some mysterious underground gang of assassins to take out Gordon. It is a clichéd story technique and one that I wasn’t fond of at first. It did serve as yet another introduction of another future Batman adversary. It was nice to see an alumnus of Doctor Who running things though.

This time, we got to meet Eduardo Flamingo. Even as a longtime Batman fan, I know very little about this character. I did like that they chose to introduce a lesser known member of Batman’s rogues gallery. Given the recent castings of Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange, I think this may be a short-lived trend.  Actor Raul Castillo walks a fine line between intimidating psychopath and cannibalistic cartoon. I liked his fight with Gordon quite a bit. There was some solid hand to hand choreography and editing techniques. Flamingo’s constant cackles following being punched by Gordon presented a strange parallel to Joker and Batman. Gordon has been dangerously close to losing it over the last few episodes. I am glad that he didn’t needlessly kill Flamingo but may have to live with the consequences.

While being escorted to his cell, Flamingo bites and fatally wounds a rookie police officer. This officer was the only survivor of the holdout with Gordon and Barnes. The way that her death scene was staged and shot possessed a haunting atmosphere to it. It’s a continuous pan-up shot as she’s bleeding out on the floor of the G.C.P.D. Gotham has increased the violence quota this season but it hasn’t gone into overkill (no pun intended). Death has consequences unless you’re a member of the Strike Force who are basically cannon fodder at this point. Gordon complimented the officer shortly before her death. I hope that this guilt becomes some sort of plot point or the last straw before Gordon loses it.

What bothers me most about Gotham, even at this point, is my see-sawing on Bruce Wayne. It seems like I constantly flip-flop on liking and disliking his storylines with every episode. He’s the character who suffers the most from inconsistent writing. Earlier this season, he promised Alfred that he would resume his training and never question him again. What does he do this episode? He throws a big tantrum and Alfred subsequently grounds him. I know Bruce is a teenager and all but he’s not making it easy for me to like him. As I said previously, I don’t look forward to exploring the Bruce/Selina/Silver triangle with any episode.

All in all though, there were a lot of pleasing elements to this episode. The suspense carried its’ momentum throughout and the violence was actually shocking. The lighter moments were surprisingly during the Penguin/Riddler scenes. It presented both characters in new lights. We got to see Penguin sullen about his mother’s death and Riddler acting as a sort of secret admirer and aspiring killer. Barnes also got to expose his own back story to a degree. We finally got to learn why he’s such a firm believer in law and the system. Maybe I am just glad to see Michael Chiklis on a regular basis…


Rating: 9/10


Matt is a 21 year old film buff and recent graduate from The University of Rhode Island. Growing up in a small town in the smallest state, Matt began developing a taste in film and general geekdom at a young age. After years of watching various DC and Marvel animated television shows as a boy, Matt has become quite the afficinado in the realm of comic books. Towards the end of middle school, Matt began delving into the world of film by watching anything he could get his hands on. Nowadays, his tastes range from classic film noir and the mindbending works of David Cronenberg to the latest trends on the independent scene. Don't worry; he's still one for the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC animated adventure. Comics aren't the only source of literature Matt enjoys. He can sometimes be spotted reading the works of Stephen King or even the plays of William Shakespeare. As an aspiring film critic and screenwriter, Matt is always looking for inspiration and new ideas.
  • reader

    I was definitely engaged in all things Gordon and kudos to Ben McKenzie for bringing the action and the drama/emotion in equal measure. That’s a full order to have that kind of presence and what a difference without being dragged down by the procedural and limiting writing from last year.

    I wished for more background and story from Gordon to go with Barnes’, but I guess it was a singular focus to make a specific point. I hope that Gordon’s moment will come since he’s the main character and anything about his past is broad and sketchy and too vague.

    Great performances to go along with the intensity. The B-plot with Nygma and Penguin was entertaining and furthered that story.

    I never can get interested, never mind engaged in anything Wayne-related, so that was just a distraction.

    I agree that it was another strong, powerful and entertaining ride and the action sequences were excellent to go with the developing story of the main character(s). It wasn’t gratuitous, but even had some dark humor and sarcasm to it in measured doses, from the elevator setting the tone to the final battle with Gordon and Flamingo. I’d watch it again.