Gotham took a break from its main adventures with a trio of side stories that felt more like filler than fantastic. The introductions of iconic Batman villains are always welcome and it’s great to have new blood in the mix, all with a dash of chaos. Plus, since each costumed villain is unique, they can inject so much fun in pushing the plot forward. The problem, however, is that if they’re introduced without an overarching purpose, their appearance amounts to being a cameo that’s shoehorned in. Jane Doe, The Ventriloquist, and the infected citizen, all paled in comparison to villains of the past.
What worked in Jane Doe’s favor, on the other hand, was that her storyline helped to shed light on Harvey Bullock’s backstory and connect the greater group. Throughout Gotham’s four seasons, we didn’t get much of Harvey’s past and what led him to his corrupted career. The spotlight had always focused more so on James. Harvey got the obvious “he’s-not-totally-good-but-not-totally-bad” plot. Here, Harvey developed new layers and his guilt over ruining Jane’s life was revealed. The revelation explained a lot of how it led him down this murky path, which was sorely needed since he needed to break out of the one-note sidekick characterization that pigeonholed him for seasons.
I don’t feel sorry for Harvey with his guilt, though. He stood by and let Jane’s life fall apart. In addition, he played a part in getting her mother convicted. He made a decision that he didn’t mind keeping quiet all these years until karma reared its head. It’s not our fault his skeletons broke out of the closet and we can’t simply ignore all the criminal activities and bad decisions he’s made over the year since then, like taking bribes from Fish Mooney. He made his bed and now he needs to pay rent for it.
Gotham made a great decision with connecting Jane Doe’s transformation to the events of Gotham’s second season and Indian Hill/Hugo Strange. It brought the story right around and tied into a development that many long-time Gotham fans would remember. Her shapeshifting abilities and psychosis had to have been derived from somewhere and now we have the perfect answer. These choices matter. Jane Doe was a villain created by the sum of all the parts and it was fantastic!
Barbara Kean’s storyline since her pregnancy announcement shifted to the background, but Gotham subtly teased her progression with little breadcrumbs. Could we finally be seeing a “good” Barbara again? (Well… more like non-criminal.) Now that she’s pregnant with the future Batgirl, she seemed determined to give her baby a great life and if that means a life without crime, she’ll do it. Hopefully, this new path brings her and James closer together. His walls were slowly coming down when she visited the GCPD. If they reached a good place together, it might make all the difference for the future.
When it came to The Ventriloquist, I related to The Riddler’s baffled astonishment on so many levels. From the design of Scarface the dummy and his introduction with the handgun, you would think that Gotham was pulling our leg. But nope, The Ventriloquist and Scarface are legitimate Batman villains. The connection to Mr. Penn offered a nice surprise to the twist; he’s a character we’ve known since Gotham’s season four premiere. Though, didn’t Mr. Penn die during the chaos at Haven? His “resurrection” seemed too convenient.
Both Oswald and Edward could’ve easily disarmed Mr. Penn when he wasn’t looking. Come on, the scary villain was in the form of a ventriloquist dummy, he’s barely a hunk of wood! Even when I played old Batman games or watched the cartoons, I wasn’t shaking in my boots over this baddie. While the entire subplot was filler, the positive development came in Oswald and Edward’s friendship. They’re so good together as BFFs and they have great chemistry! I’m happy that they’ve buried the hatchet and admitted what we’ve known all along.
Similar to The Penguin and The Riddler, Bruce Wayne and Alfred got over their lingering tensions. Alfred shouldn’t have blamed himself over Wayne Manor blowing up. He had no control over himself or his actions and there’s nothing he could’ve done under The Mad Hatter’s hypnotism and Jeremiah’s plotting. Though it’s understandable, since we’ve all beaten ourselves up over stuff that wasn’t our faults. Still, Bruce and Alfred are one of the strongest pairs on Gotham. It’s great whenever they can get back to being on the same page again. This growth eliminated any hurdles that could’ve stood in their way.
On the other hand, I just wished they had a better story that didn’t take them on a wild goose chase. Don’t get me wrong, Bruce and Alfred did great by saving the patient’s husband in the tunnel, but the plot felt disconnected from everything else that was happening during “Nothing’s Shocking.” Hopefully, this introduction of the poisoning side-effects will have a greater purpose later on. There had to have been more Gotham City citizens affected by the contamination. It would be a shame if this only served as a one-and-done occurrence.
“Nothing’s Shocking” coincidentally stayed true to its name. There were moments of slight surprise, but nothing that captured Gotham’s typical jaw-dropping nature. The Ventriloquist, Jane Doe, and the infected citizen bided our time with side stories that built up the characters and kept us distracted from the main adventures. Now that we’ve gotten a dose of some new characters, can we get back to the story? Gotham is running out of episodes before the upcoming series finale.