After a few episodes that were less than stellar (turning Captain Barnes into Judge Dredd? Not their finest hour!), Gotham (Mondays, 8/7C) is back on track with an episode that culminates in a couple of big surprises.
Time Bomb opens with Carmine Falcone (John Doman) treated his son Mario (James Carpinello) and Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) to dinner at the restaurant of the man he hoped they’d choose to cater their wedding dinners (rehearsal and reception). When the host’s maître de goes to bring Falcone’s car around, it explodes.
In other locations, Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) has Butch (Drew Powell) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) tied up and subjects Butch to torture to get him to admit to killing Isabella; Barbara (Erin Richards) confronts Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) about Butch and Tabitha’s going missing; Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) discover something unnerving about the mysterious key that Ivy (Maggie Geha) stole; Ivy does something that confirms her inability to think things through, and Carmine does something to end the attempts on his son’s life – revealing something about himself that we probably never saw coming.
Written by Robert Hull and directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper, Time Bomb finds Harvey (Donal Logue) in charge at GCPD – and facing a huge challenge as the hit on Carmine turns out to be not exactly what it seems.
With the city on the verge of exploding (what else is new?), Mayor Cobblepot shows his leadership skills by gathering the heads of the major criminal factions in Gotham and telling them to raise ‘protection’ fees 50%. What a guy!
We learn more about the new meanies that appeared last week, and they tie in with that key in an unexpected way. We also meet a new masked type, but he’s no good guy.
Time Bomb is an explosive episode, car bomb aside, because we learn considerably more about characters that haven’t always been front and center. Butch, for example, is something of a romantic and really loves Tabitha. And a revelation about Mario closes out the ep with a genuine shock.
Hull’s script gives us key bits of information about a number of different characters and their motivations – while teasing others. The phrase ‘The court of Owls’ is heard on camera for the first time – in an important sequence.
Culpepper does an excellent job of emphasizing important character and plot beats without sacrificing pacing. She has directed episodes of a number of genre shows (Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, The Flash…) and really understands how to balance the overtly comic book Elements with the more grounded elements to create a unique whole. Time Bomb never gives its audience a moment to question its reality – even in its most over the top moments.
Final Grade: A-