Gotham: Season 4
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Gotham: Season 4

As a rule, origin stories tend to be overly pedantic. This is particularly true for fictional characters that have managed to persist for generations. In the case of Batman, his comic books were fodder for serialized movies during the thirties, the literal rise of movies with sound, to the special effects-driven films that drive the DC side of the great comic book inspired franchises that currently overwhelm every aspect of the cinematic arts. The stigma that once existed between movies and television has been substantially eroded. Superhero stories and their inevitable orogen stories have’ proliferated on television. A prime example of this trend is the Fox TV aeries, ‘Gotham.’ This is another reboot of the Batman story. Several comic book characters have risen to such iconic stature that they are infused in the zeitgeist of our culture-forming modern mythology. The origin of Batman is ingrained in our cultural DNA. The principle point of view character is the man destined to become the stalwart of justice in the Gotham Police Department, James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie). By the fourth season under consideration here, Gordon rapidly rose from detective to Captain of the department and beacon of hope for the honest citizens of Gotham. The little boy, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), was barely 13 when the series premiered, undergoing one of the most intense periods in anyone’s life. His main leading lady, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), incredibly interpreted by Camren Bicondova, who is two years older than her on-screen love interest. Despite their tender years the pair manages to project an extremely complicated and nuanced relationship. Their ability to successfully explore such a complicated emotional and physiological construction that in many ways rivaled more experienced performers such as Mr. McKenzie and his real-life wife, Morena Baccarin. She plays Dr. Lee Thompkins, who initially was a medical examiner for Gotham Police Department transitioning through Gordon’s love interest finally becoming the criminal queen of one of Gotham’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The differentiating factor between this series and most comic book-based television shows tends frivolity, but the landscape of this genre has recently undergone drastic changes embracing the darker, emotionally intense stories.

The two dominant comic book publishers, DC and Marvel, has been in extreme competition for over sixty years. Marvel has undisputedly dominated the film industry while DC has carved out a less lucrative yet well-crafted and internally consistent universe. Most of DC’s properties are represented by the aptly named ‘Arrowvese’ which interconnected four, soon to be five, distinct shows. While less complicated logistically, ‘Gotham’ faced and successfully overcame many challenges. They are specific to retelling a very well-known origin story to an audience comprised of both newcomers to the story and those of us that grew up knowing it in detail. The fourth season, under consideration here, is officially the penultimate. Even with stellar ratings and network support, the unavoidable reality serving as the underlying theme is finite. A countdown clock started with the first episode when Detective Gordon befriended the newly orphaned billionaire, Bruce Wayne. It was unavoidable that time and events would converge to the narrative of Batman. During the fourth season, the preparations for the foreseeable conclusion are solidifying. Most of the principal characters have been introduced, at least in their nascent form. Besides the most infamous members of Batman’s rogue gallery, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) best known as The Penguin and Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), nom de guerre, The Riddler, have been established as the most influential criminal masterminds in Gotham.

Suitably, the most attention was given to forming the foundation for Batman’s most vicious archnemesis, The Joker. Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan)., was the brother of Jerome, an insane result of immoral experimentation in Arkham Asylum, creating a psychopathic killer. He ultimately enters into a demonic alliance with Ra's al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), the leader of the most feared covert force in the world, League of Shadows. He is practically immortal due to the ‘Laurus pit, a pool of water capable of raising the dead. It was this master of stealth, and martial arts set his plans to include training Bruce as his successor, between that tutelage and training received from his guardian and majordomo of Wayne Manor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Unlike the traditional elderly butler, this Alfred was part of the Royal Air Force Special Forces, trained and battle-tested in tactics, weapons, and combat. Alfred possessed the training, bravery, and devotion to the Wayne family to directly challenge Ra’s al Ghul when he abducted Bruce for his training in deadly stealth and combat.

Keeping track of the numerous intertwined storylines is much akin to watching a three-ring circus. There is a center ring holding the main action, but you cannot lose track of the events unfold on either side. Bruce and his adventure are secondary to the main events occurring back in Gotham. Gordon is overwhelmed by the rapid increase in crime and the ineffectual response by police. Many are on the take, paid for by the Penguin, now the duly elected mayor. He has created a system, Pax Penguins, which legalizes crime if a tax is paid. They remain good cops, such as Gordon’s partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), now promoted to Captain, just gave up, literally unable to fight city hall. Gordon remains the bastion of truth and justice, the sole beacon in a city plunged into darkness. Penguin has allied himself with the most powerful women on the scene, Jim’s former fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), now an insane criminal, her main henchwoman, Tabitha Galvan (Tabitha Galvan), and their young protégé, Selina. Another beautiful and exceptionally devious young woman is added to the mix when Gordon reaches out to an expert to help fight the rapid increase in criminal activity. Gordon traveled down to Miami to ask the former Gotham Mob Boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Although Falcone declines his daughter, Sofia (Crystal Reed), she follows Gordon back to Gotham ostensibly help, but her true motivation is to prove herself to her father by uniting all crime in Gotham under her control. Gordon is useful to achieve that goal and a potentially fun diversion. They do become involved until Jim discovers she pulled strings to have him promoted to Captain. The promotion may have been tainted, but Gordon realizes he needed the authority if he was to make a substantial difference.

The entire purpose of the penultimate season is to bring all the characters to the precipice if their destinies and the circumstances posed at the tipping point. With this category of the premise, it is not feasible to generate and maintain the requisite dramatic tension, rather than building to a potential outcome, the end is clearly defined, and the series must mesh as well as possible with expectations of the fans. The most obvious and significant step towards this objective occurs when Bruce utilizes the training he has been receiving, focused by the prophetic mission stated by Ra's al Ghul, concerning the preordained advent of a dark knight to protect Gotham from the tsunami of evil crashing upon the city. Bruce begins to patrol the rooftops of Gotham dressed in black body armor prepares to pounce on the criminals. The final season has already begun, and it is immediately obvious how well this season succeeds in laying the foundation.

Posted  01/25/2019

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