This week, Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 8/7C) finds Oswald Cobblepot fretting on election day and The Great Jervis Tetch hiring luchadores to help retrieve his sister.
Gotham City isn’t just getting darker, it’s getting crazier.
Mad City: New Day Rising opens with Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel, Secret City) acquiring a new lair – a stored away amusement park – in a dramatically overstated manner.
Meanwhile, Oswald ‘Penguin’ Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) is nervous about the election – and butch (Drew Powell) seems to be going behind his back – while Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seeks to boost his confidence.
Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) runs into Lee (Morena Baccarin) at GCPD, hitting on the note of regret that Tech played upon in last week’s episode – while Tetch seeks to employ The Terrible Tweeds, five luchadores, to help him spring his sister, Alice (Naian González Norvind), who is being held in an interrogation room in the same building.
New Day Rising is full of fireworks, at least emotionally. Gordon’s encounters with Lee lead to an unexpected conclusion; Nygma’s faith in Cobblepot faces a challenge when it turns out that Butch has been buying members of Gotham’s election board, and Alice reveals – however circuitously – why she’d rather die than let her brother get her back.
In a parallel arc, Bruce Wayne’s clone (David Mazouz) helps Selena (Camren Bicondova) with a job before facing Bruce and Alfred (Sean Pertwee).
Writer Robert Hull and director Eagle Egilsson give us a deeper look into Tetch’s motivation – and abilities – in an episode that moves well, but feels just a hair off. Since we know that Jervis Tetch will become one of Batman’s deadliest enemies, the Mad Hatter, it seems a bit weird to lean so hard on the character so early.
New Day Rising feels a bit weird in another way, too: the balance of grounding and comic book authenticity seems to be too much to the comic book side. The early overemphasis on Tetch is merely one example of that.
It’s not enough to discourage fans, but it is awkward.
The Wayne clone arc almost makes up for that in an unexpected way. We’ll no doubt be seeing him again.
Norvind gives perhaps the ep’s best performance as the desperate, horrified Alice – a scene in which she is dressed like Wonderland’s Alice is both disconcerting and emotionally raw.
Still, New Day Rising is mostly effective and definitely sets the stage for future encounters with the deranged Tetch – and the series isn’t done with Alice, yet, either.
Final Grade: B