Gotham: "All Happy Families Are Alike" (Season 1, Episode 22)


Uh... Okay.

Gotham's first season finale is pretty much the whole season in a microcosm--entertaining in brief moments that float atop a disjointed, frothy mess. The overall effect is more laughable than dramatic. And that's even before young Bruce discovers his dear old deceased Dad had a Batcave of his own. Seriously.

In preparation for this review, I read synopses for the episodes I've missed (everything after 13). It's painful to try and take in that many different characters, subplots and rambling retcons in one sitting. At least there are only two tidbits I need to bore you with:

            1. Gordon rescued the ever more ridiculous Barbara Keane from a serial killer who had murdered her parents.

            2. Crime lab creep Edward Nygma murdered the boyfriend of Miss Kringle, the woman he's been sexually harassing.

That's it. I spared you the ridiculous journey of Fish Mooney (kidnapped by an organ harvesting network that sent her to a secret island off Europe where she escaped to come back for the finale) because the main through plot of this show has been in suspended animation. There's been a lot of static motion so the gang war between Moroni and Falcone can come to an end in the finale, with Fish and Penguin chewing scenery for effect exactly as they did in the premiere. There's not an original moment to it.

We open with young Selina Kyle and some kids warming themselves by a burn barrel at night. They watch Fish Mooney return to Gotham by boat. Fish engages Selina in some brief, pointless banter. Then we flash forward to a second opening labeled "Two Weeks Later." That's irritating. The only reason we had that false opening is to try and establish a relationship between Fish and Selina, something that never existed in the first 21 episodes and makes zero sense here.

So what's happening two weeks later? Bruce is sulking about his father. He needs to know the  nameless secrets he's sure the old man must have had. He and Alfred spend a lot of time carrying on about how Thomas Wayne used to lock himself in his study and play classical music for hours. That's about as exciting as it sounds.  

Jim Gordon runs around being gruff while the mob war engulfs Gotham. He's gruff here, gruff there, gruff and stuff everywhere. He's not a character so much as a walking mood ring. The one bit of news we learn from Harvey Bullock is that City Hall has switched sides and is now backing Moroni over Falcone. Whatever.

For some reason, Falcone chooses the middle of a mob war as the time to go down to the waterfront to buy a chicken. His car gets blown up by a guided missile. It's unclear, however, what happens to the chicken. All we see is Falcone wake up strapped down to a gurney in a really crappy hospital room. For some reason, City Hall chose to leave Falcone in a hospital room for Moroni to come and kill him there, with the knowledge of all kinds of people like innocent nurses, rather than just call Moroni in to finish him off at the illicit waterfront chicken smuggling operation. I suppose the smugglers deal street grade eggs throughout Gotham.

To make a dull story brief, Penguin shows up to kill Falcone before Moroni. If only he'd been driving a zamboni while eating rigatoni. It seems Penguin has too much respect for Falconi to let Moroni kill him and thus must do the deed himself before becoming Gotham's new kingpin. But it also seems that gruff Jim Gordon wants to save Falconi from Moroni--Falconi is the bad man Gotham needs. You know, someone to smack it around. Moroni, it seems, is just so much bologna. The hospital gun fight is an okay set piece, after which Gordon, Falcone and Penguin go on the lam with Bullock.

Bruce and Alfred are still boring as they search Thomas Wayne's study. The ever excruciating Barbara reaches new levels of "nails on a chalkboard" while being counseled by Jim's new squeeze, Dr. Leslie Tomkins. Barbara is acting quite creepy even for this show. She's either going to try to kill Leslie or have a lesbian affair with her. You'd think it has to be the former. On a show this garish, though, it was probably fifty-fifty in the writer's meeting.

Gordon takes Falcone to a safe warehouse. That's the base of operations from which Falcone will try to retake Gotham. Of course Fish Mooney shows up to turn the tables on Falcone. Young Selina is now her Number One hench girl as well, casually up for general mayhem and murder from out of the blue. It's a good thing they put in that senseless opening scene, huh? Otherwise this would seem even more forced and stupid than it does.

Fish calls Moroni to come over for a Falcone killing party. When he arrives, he calls her "Babes." Fish gets pissed and shoots him in the head. Everyone starts shooting everyone while Gordon, Falcone and Bullock escape for an entire quarter of a block. That's when Falcone decides he isn't the bad man Gotham needs after all. He's just an old loser ready to retire. Jim is so demoralized by this turn of events that they all stop running to hide in a transportainer. Selina finds them in about twelve seconds. Gordon and company are summarily marched back into the warehouse to face the exact same dilemma with Fish they were facing ten minutes ago before Moroni arrived. Fortunately, Penguin rturns rom out of nowhere with a machine gun. He starts mowing down the rest of Fish's gang.

The best moment of the show is when Barbara goes totally ape-s**t insane in her apartment. She confesses to killing her parents herself, then starts chasing Leslie around with a steak knife. It's utterly ridiculous, but Barbara's awful acting gives the whole thing a bit of a sublime, Monty Python feel. The fight between the two women ends with Leslie banging Barbara's head off the floor multiple times. That's when, for some reason, Gordon arrives with Falcone. Tragically, they, too, did not ride over on a zamboni.

Penguin fights Fish on top of the warehouse. He does better than you'd think for a guy with a gimpy leg. But our hour is just about up, so Fish just lets him push her off the roof into the river far below. I'm not kidding. I think she even stepped up on a ledge to assist him. The whole thing was ineptly staged.

Penguin is so happy. He's the kingpin now.


Edward Nygma goes all giggle works when Miss Kringle figures out he killed her boyfriend. He's never belonged in this show, so I don't care.

Bruce finds a secret button in his father's study. It causes the lit fireplace to recede while classical music plays. The path to the Batcave is revealed!

Honestly. That happened.

So how does the chimney on that fireplace work, what with the entire structure sliding ten feet back to reveal stairs to the Batcave? On the plus side, at least it wasn't a sliding pole.      

This show sucks. It had potential and squandered it. It will be back next season, though, to further milk the audience's thirst for painfully blatant Batman foreshadowing. Who knows, maybe Barbara will be the first Joker.

If she is, please have her drive around in a zamboni.