The Season One finale of Gotham it took viewers all over the place. Maybe that’s because nearly everyone ended up either crazy or dead! There were big surprises, a lot of shock value, and fast-paced action that kept the episode moving. However, that didn’t stop “All Happy Families Are Alike” from feeling a bit disjointed and jarring.
The episode opens with Fish Mooney’s return. After several episodes of her MIA, Fish struts (or should it be swims? She does arrive by boat) back into Gotham City and greets Selina Kyle with a ambivalent, “Good morning, child.” To which Selina points out that it’s not morning and—despite how some people would disagree—she’s not a child. Fish isn’t fazed, though, and explains that morning will come soon, as will a brand new day. She’s back to turn the gang war in her favor.
Fish Mooney’s return to the show was welcome because Jada Pinkett Smith does a great job in that role. However, some parts of her storyline in this episode could have been handled better. For instance, after the slow burn of her time and eventual escape from Dulmacher’s hospital/prison, Fish’s presence and re-insertion into the fight for power seemed rushed.
Also, Fish’s relationship with Selina Kyle, though compelling, didn’t make much sense to me. Yes, Selina pointed out how great the gig was for her, but since we saw nothing to establish Selina’s decision to unite with Fish, I kept wondering about her motivation. But we do need her to one day become Catwoman, so I suppose this is Selina’s first big step toward siding with the villains.
Before we get into the Maroni/Falcone gang war, let’s discuss Bruce and Alfred. Bruce is still obsessed with learning his father’s secrets, despite Alfred’s objections. But it soon comes to light that Thomss Wayne spent a lot of time alone, “working” in a locked room for hours. Starting to look suspicious, isn’t it? Bruce now knows that the secret his father was hiding is in the study, it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is.
Bruce eventually finds Thomas’s Batcave, which we’re led to assume is where did his “good work” for Gotham, not his dirty business dealings at Wayne Enterprises. Like any comic book and/or superhero story, secrets are part of what defines a character, and I believe this new-found lair will play a defining role for Bruce in Season Two. As usual, the interactions between Bruce and Alfred were delightful to watch, mostly because Bruce, being a rebellious young boy, wants to ignore every bit of advice Alfred tries to give him (for example, that conversation over the pressing the button).
In the wake of what happened to her in the last episode, Barbara Kean is still recovering. Physically she’s fine, by psychologically she’s not. So Lee Tompkins agrees to spend some time giving Barbara trauma counseling.
Unfortunately for Lee, trauma counseling isn’t what Barbara needs. Barbara needs a straitjacket and a room at Arkham. I expected Barbara to have a few screws loose, but I didn’t expect her to have every screw loose by the end of the episode. In a fascinating but messed-up twist, we learn that Barbara was the one who murdered her parents, not the Ogre. She nearly murders Lee shortly thereafter.
There have been some theories floating around as to who Barbara will become now that she is, pardon the phrase, cuckoo-pants crazy. Will she be Batgirl? Oracle? Harley Quinn? Someone else entirely? Nothing is certain yet, but I like this turn of events with her. Erin Richards’ performance should be applauded, too; she gave such a convincing portrayal of how disturbed Barbara is now.
Speaking of disturbed, there’s Ed Nygma. Oh, dear, clever fool Nygma. He thought his beloved Kristen Kringle wouldn’t read between the lines. But she did. She figured out that NYGMA was spelled out in the letter Officer Dougherty left for her. And then her confrontation with Ed let loose the floodgates.
I’d like to add that Cory Michael Smith’s performance was very well done and enjoyable. His great performance, although a bit abrupt, marked the moment where Nygma truly became the Riddler. His mind couldn’t keep it together any longer, and his intense ramblings managed to be disturbing, funny, and sad at the same time. There were clues all season long indicating his eventual transformation into the Riddler, but Ms. Kringle catching on to his scheme was the catalyst to losing his sanity.
This episode did a passable job of tying up loose ends, but because it tried to tie up so many storylines, it ended up getting that disjointed feel. The shock and awe moments were there to help cover it up, but not completely rid the episode of its faults. Still, it was fun to ride along with everyone’s antics—which is putting it mildly.
There were deaths in this episode, too, specifically Fish and Maroni. I didn’t expect Maroni to die, but that’s what you get for antagonizing Fish. Also, it was important to have one of the mob bosses die so that the power struggle could move towards a conclusion. A conclusion that left Penguin on top of the heap, shouting that he’s Gotham’s new king. And as for Fish, even though Penguin flipped her over the wall and into the water, she might still be alive. She’s survived worse.
So what’s the verdict? I give this episode 8 out of 10. I appreciate it when a show pulls out the big guns for a season finale, giving its audience things to chew on during the between-seasons hiatus. However, Gotham stumbled a bit with making everything go smoothly. It lacked cohesion between the story lines, and I think that’s what made the episode feel so disjointed.
But despite the rough transitions, “All Happy Families Are Alike” presented some great climactic events that will have major repercussions for the season ahead. For instance, Penguin is the king Gotham now, but his inexperience will likely make staying at the top difficult. And as for Jim Gordon leaving him to die? I don’t think Penguin is going to let that go anytime soon. This episode also did well in establishing the criminal paths ahead for characters like Ed Nygma and Selina Kyle. Plus, that scene of Bruce and Alfred finding the “Batcave” hidden under the Wayne house was an excellent way to finish out the episode.
What did you think of the finale? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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Some Memorable Dialogue:
Gordon: “Selina, what are you doing here?”
Selina: “Chillin’, how about you?”
Gordon: “Kinda jammed up.”
Selina: “Yeah, that’s too bad.”
Gordon: *Meaningful looks*
Selina: “That’s mime for ‘help us out here?’ And totally blow the coolest gig ever just because we kinda, sorta know each other? Right?”
Selina: “How are you gonna kill ‘em?”
Fish: “I love this girl.”
Penguin: “Goodbye, Fish. It’s all good.” *Pushes Fish over the edge* “I’m the king of Gotham! I’m the king of Gotham! I’m the king of Gotham!”
Kristen Kringle: “Mr. Nygma, I just noticed something really weird. This note Officer Dougherty left for me, the first letter of every line spells out your name. You see? N.Y.G.M.A.”
Ed: “Yes, how . . . that . . . how odd. What an amazing coincidence.”
Ed: “What else could it be?”
Kristen: “So you know nothing about this?”
Ed: “Me? No, no . . . no.”
Ed: *Goes crazy*
Bruce: “What is it, do you think?”
Alfred: “I don’t know. I don’t care. And don’t you dare press that bloody button.”
Bruce: “Why not?”
Alfred: “It could be a bomb.”
Bruce: “Alfred, that seems improbable.”
Gordon: “We got to take Penguin and Gilzean, too.”
Bullock: “Penguin and Gilzean?”
Gordon: I arrested them for attempted murder. They’re in my custody.”
Bullock: “I don’t even want to argue with you!”
Fish to Penguin: “You will die a slow, painful death on the count of Butch.”
Falcone: “Gotham needs a lawman now. Not a criminal like me. A strong lawman.”
Gordon: “You looking at me?”
Falcone: “Someone needs to grab this city by the neck and shake it hard. That’s you, Jim. I know it in my bones.”
Maroni: We’re cool. Relax.”
Fish: “I am relaxed.”
Maroni: “I don’t think you are, babes.”
Fish: “Please don’t call me babes.”
Maroni: “See? Not relaxed. Guys, no, seriously. Don’t call her ‘babes.’ Or ‘toots’ or what have you. It’s a woman’s lib thing.”
Fish: “I am relaxed.”