The Bat Takes A Bow

[Contains asymmetrical war-paint and SPOILERS!!!]

Clare Foley as ‘Ivy Pepper’ in “Gotham” (S1-2)Gotham finale-d out last week, after five seasons, and a hundred episodes, which fluctuated wildly between the exciting, satisfying, and infuriating. The analogy I’d use, in terms of the show’s approach to plotting and characterisation, is of a cheerful drunk sat in front of “one-armed-bandit” machine, compulsively pulling the handle… never pausing to see if he’s “won” or “lost”, just happy to watch the tumblers spinning, spinning, spinning…

Perhaps the most conspicuous victim of the writers’ capriciousness was poor Poison Ivy: She was introduced in the first season as a grumpy/grungy ragamuffin played by Clare Foley, and remained awesomely antisocial/unkempt throughout the second season, before falling down a magkical well* (in ep #3.1), which transformed her into a fully-grown sex-idiot played by Maggie Geha! Then she decided that she wanted to be taken more seriously, and guzzled a load of crazy chemicals that drained all the fun out of her (in ep #4.2), so she could re-emerge as a boring-ass, standard-issue femme-fatale played by Peyton List (in ep #4.12). Meh. Personally, I liked the way they started out planting the seeds (pun!) for future villains, who’d be the same age or younger than Bruce himself, hinting at how they might grow up to be the “rogues” he’d have to battle in the future… but at some point the writers just decided to turbo-charge the process, so that Batman would just be fighting a bunch of creaky old has-beens (or rotting corpses) by the time he finally got his cowl on!

Francesca Root-Dodson as ‘Ecco’ in “Gotham” (S5)And I’m not even going to discuss their pseudo-proto-Harley-Quinn-stand-in, because the f*ckers killed her off in the finale, in the prime of her pseudo-Harley-ness… though I do have to give props to Francesca Root-Dodson for her performance this season, as she’s definitely my fave live-action Harley to date (I know that isn’t saying very much, but it’s not nothing either!) Back in the first couple seasons, tedious socialite ‘Barbara Kean’ (Erin Richards) was sent to Arkham Asylum to retrain as a kooky-killer-gun-moll, and it looked like they were trying to sell her as a pseudo-Harley-stand-in, but thankfully that phase eventually passed, and she levelled up to become a nightclub-owning-crimelord/assassin-cult-leader/batgirl-baby-mama… crikey, she’s certainly kept herself busy, eh? If there were an award for “Most Improved Character”, she’d win by a landslide, and I think a goodly share of the credit for that has to go to Richards, for having the versatility necessary to ride out the writers’ random “brainwaves”…

Nonetheless, in hindsight, this show should really have been called “The Oswald Cobblepott Hour”, because he (and Robin Lord Taylor, the actor who played him) was the most consistently entertaining and engaging element in any (and every) given episode. When he was on-screen, I was riveted… then when it cut back to some blah scene with Gordon and/or Bruce, I knew I could start eating again, because I wasn’t going to miss much… yawn…

In other Bat-news, I probably wouldn’t give the prequel series Pennyworth a second glance, except for the fact they’ve cast Paloma Faith and Jason Flemyng as the villains, which has now made it a must-watch for me! Pesky!


* Technically she was prematurely aged by a life-stealing meta-human while falling into a sewer-hole, but it’s basically the same thing, right?

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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