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Gotham - Prisoners - Review

Gotham’s ‘Wrath of the Villains’ arc has been one of the best the show has done so far. Prisoners was a more slower, character driven episode without the heightened villainy we have been accustomed to as of late. Their were two major storylines occurring, Jim's and Oswald's so I've chosen to break my review into those distinctive narratives.

Choose Life, Detective Gordon

During the first opening scene of the episode, Jim adapts to the repetitive day as a convict under the safe haven of protective custody. However once that’s removed, that’s when things move forward, and rather quickly.

Jim’s moved to the F Wing, or more appropriately names, “Worlds End”, which in of itself suggests things are going to get grim. Why else would Warden Carlson Grey suggest “follow the rules and maybe you’ll survive.” I found the prison scenes to be enjoyable, I enjoyed seeing Jim in a new environment, what I would have liked was for Jim to have stayed in prison for a bit longer, maybe 2-3 episodes, similarly to the amount of time Oswald stayed in Arkham.

Furthermore, Warden Grey warns that “the only way out is parole or a body bag”. Immediately I assumed it’d be a body bag, and similar to a scene that stands out to me from a movie, The Count of Monte Cristo. The question is who would die for this to happen though.

The "highlight of my week is to see your smiling face", one of the best moments in the episode, was Harvey visiting Jim. Harvey is such a loyal friend, and from the pilot their friendship has developed into one of the most memorable things on Gotham. Harvey's visit to Jim brings bad news as he reveals that Lee lost their baby. This was very heartbreaking and I wasn't expecting that at all. I do wonder when we'll see Lee again, especially since we hear she's moved, perhaps the end of the season or early Season 3? Ben McKenzie's Jim Gordon has always had quite the tough, hard exterior so this devastating news allowed us to see a glimpse through his hard shell. Ben showed us a simple, moving and heartbreaking response. His face, etched with the pain and hopelessness of losing a child. He played it very well, one of his finest acting moments on the show.

With the weight of this tragic news on Jim's shoulders, he becomes undone to an extent, regardless of Harvey's caring words, “Jim don’t let this break you, don’t give up hope”. Puck, played by Peter Mark Kendall (Chicago Med, The Americans) defends Jim and in turn gets punched down by some of Weaver's men. As a result, we get to learn a bit more about why Puck was arrested and given a 6 year sentence. It did feel like it was very quick, Puck's admiration for Jim, but I guess Jim's good actions have had quite the effect on a rare few. Overall, Puck's main role was to help Jim not give up, to keep going to choose "life" regardless of the pain.

Sadly, as we move forward, Puck is violently attacked, a warning from Weaver to Jim. Even more tragically, Jim's inability to help Puck but solely watch him get brutally beat up as dirty cops held him back was difficult. The makeup department did a really great job with Puck's bruises etc. Carmine Falcone returning as a means to helping Jim escape was great.

“Don’t give up hope, I feel your sadness, you gotta choose life" and "You’re a fighter Jim, you got knocked down. Do you stay down or do you get back up" I think these are definitely strong themes that the end of the episode hints at for Jim's character. The final scene, that gorgeous, heroic score playing as Jim looks into the distance, towards Gotham, was really lovely, a bit fantastical but really nice and a great way to end the episode.

The Demise of Elijah Van Dahl

Melinda Clarke’s Grace van Dahl and her children, Sarah and Charles feature more prominently during Episode 2.16. When Melinda’s casting was first announced, I was very excited to see what kind of character she’d be playing as I’ve been a fan of hers since her incredible work on Nikita, where she played one of the best female villains I’ve seen. However Grace is more of the typical gold digging wife we’ve come to see many times on TV but Melinda does a great job regardless.

I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner scenes with Oswald, his father and the rest of the Van Dahl’s, the discussion about ghosts was interesting. What's more coincidental, Elijah talked about members of his family dying in his home and that turned out to be his fate too. If discussing ghosts wasn’t received well by the rest of the family, Elijah’s public expression that Oswald was his only “true blood relative” really struck a nerve with them. One of the moments that seemed to set Grace's plans in motion. The entire home of Elijah’s was gorgeous, a major round of applause to the Gotham set designer and the team that works so hard bringing the Gothic Van Dahl look to life, they did a perfect job.

One of the best scenes during the episode was the scene where Elijah was fitting a suit for Oswald, “I weep for todays causal youth”. Also, Oswald’s confession to his father about his dark past was really a wonderful scene, and Elijah’s response was very genuine, “Our lives together started the moment I met you at the cemetery, nothing before that concerns me, I forgive you for all your past transgressions. Be free of them and live here in peace”. This kind of love, especially so quickly, is rare but nice to see. Robin Lord Taylor was absolutely brilliant during these moments as he showed the shame Penguin felt, his turnt away face and Paul Reubens unconditionally response of turning his face so lovingly around, “Were all sinners my boy” was powerful. To acknowledge you child without judgement even if they've “killed people” made for a poignant father son moment.

Just before Elijah's demise, Oswald learns the real story behinds his Elijah's fathers death and how his violent tendencies pulled the trigger on his life. Elijah confiding his fears that a dark desire lies within Oswald was great development between the two, the both were the most vulnerable to one another and didn't lie. Unfortunately, now with loved ones, his father or mother, those in Oswald's path should tread carefully. Both Paul and Robin were great during this scene, I felt Oswald related to this story more than he would say but his reaction spoke volumes. Bravo to the casting director, they couldn't have picked a better actor than Paul Reubens to step into Oswald's fathers shoes, even for a brief time.

“You are loved and you are not alone, and the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Side Notes:

“The real killer is out there, eating donuts and getting laid”, I found this hilarious, can you imagine Ed like that. The only chance he had of a further "laying", died at the force of his own hands and I’m not entirely sure Ed eats donuts. Though that'd be fun to see.

I wonder if Elijah knows the difference between the taste of Peppermint and Heart Medication? I guess they could have explained it that he lost his taste etc. However, later on when the doctor came to check up on Elijah after his collapse, wouldn’t the doctor noticed the meds not making a difference? At least, I thought so, unless Grace paid off the doctor.

The interior prison scenes, especially those when Jim woke up during the morning and waited outside his cells and also when Harvey comes to visit Jim, are the same from Daredevil Season 2. Anyone else notice that?

I found it hilarious as Grace was on top of Oswald, he slid right out from under her in a very Penguin like fashion.

Puck's one wish was not to die in prison, I'm glad that he at least got that. If anyone's interested, the actor who played Puck is one the leads in CW's Mars Pilot.

Don't forget the watch Gotham, Mondays at 8|7c on FOX when it returns on April 11th for an even better installment in the "Wrath of the Villains" arc. Thank you for reading my special review as I fill in for popcultureguy, he'll be back with his great reviews when Gotham returns.

I hope you enjoy my review, sorry about the slightly long length. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments, what you hope to see, your favorite moments during the episode, what you missed seeing or anything else you'd like to discuss.

About the Author - Nirat Anop
Nirat watches a lot of TV Shows, some of his favorites are Orphan Black, Once Upon a Time, The 100, Game of Thrones, 12 Monkeys, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Flash, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and so much more.
He's a University Student. He will be Previewing Shameless. Feel free to follow him on Twitter, Tumblr or Google+
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