Despite one of tonight’s plot arcs on Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 8/7C) being a goof, Mad City: Executioner manages to survive with lively Penguin/Nygma and Ivy/Bruce/Selina arcs.
Tonight’s episode of Gotham finds the Alice Tetch virus-infected Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) picking up right where he left off in last week’s ep – turned into a bald-headed, helmetless Judge Dredd. Declaring ‘I am the law!’ Barnes hangs three more criminals who have evade GCPD by some loophole or other and sets out to recruit Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to help him wage war of the sick city.
Meanwhile, Ivy (Maggie Geha) attempts to pull off a plant-based robbery but misjudges things and is nearly killed. Only by enlisting Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina’s (Camren Bicondova) help is she able to escape – with a very expensive necklace with a secret…
Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) learns about Isabella’s (Christina Speck) fate and sinks into a depression until Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) tells him she would want him to move on – which leads him to say farewell at the site of her death. A complication ensues that leads the former GCPD forensics specialist to two conclusions – one dead on (sorry), and one not so much.
Written by Ken Woodruff and directed by John Behring, Mad City: Executioner is almost a great episode. It moves well; gives almost all the featured characters interesting arcs, and ends on a terrific final image.
The problem is that Barnes turns into Judge Dredd – a big stretch for a DC show to make. Series creator Bruno Heller is British so it’s easy to see how this slipped through, but it is a rather big miscalculation when Barnes could have been played like a proto-Bane or some other single-minded, insane strong guy from the DC Universe.
The Ivy/Selina/Bruce arc works because Ivy is only physically older – she’s still the same not terribly bright kid inside – which means she doesn’t think things through and, thus, makes a big mistake that leads to all kinds of chaos (including throwing a spanner into the works of the barely begun Bruce/Selina relationship).
In the ep’s third arc, Smith and Taylor continue to play off each other superbly, as Oswald’s attempts to perk Ed up lead to a dicey situation for both of them. As usual, Oswald’s actions lead to unintended results – for good and ill.
Credit where credit is due, Behring keeps the ep’s balance of light and dark about right and moves things along at a pace that prevents the Barnes arc from screwing things up too much.
The cast performs well. In particular, Barnes may have turned into Dredd, but Chiklis makes us believe it despite the weirdness; Geha has Clare Foley’s younger Ivy’s mannerisms down and her sense of glee/astonishment at the whole idea of men just giving her stuff feels exactly right, and Bicondova gets Selina’s exasperation at Ivy’s dimness perfectly.
Also interesting is the addition of three new meanies. I wonder where that will go.
Overall, though Mad City: Executioner is the weakest ep of season three – though it sows the seeds for future awesome.
Final Grade: C+