Gotham – S5 Ep12 – The Beginning Review

Writer: John Stephens

Director: Rob Bailey

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Morena Baccarin, Lili Simmons, Chris Chalk, Richard Kind, Francesca Root-Dodson, Kelcy Griffin, J.W. Cortes and Jeté Laurence.

It is both a sad day and a celebration. 2019 has given us the 100th and final episode of Gotham. The sadness comes from losing what has been one of my favorite T.V. shows over the last half decade, but this finale celebrates not just this crazy, quirky series, but the 80 year legend of Batman as a whole.

This final episode was a nod to five plus years of television, eight decades of comics and a loving tribute to over 40 years of Batman on the big screen. Writer and show-runner John Stephens has written a deep, heartfelt tribute to the Dark Knight, and the show was beautifully and evocatively directed by Rob Bailey.

The End… And The Beginning

I have to admit that this finale was entirely NOT what I was expecting, and I’m ecstatic about it. I thought that this would be big, action-packed blowout of an episode, akin to what we got in the season one finale of Titans. Yes, there was action, but the beautiful aspect of “The Beginning” brought much more than that. It delivered on a promise, set up by the pilot from 2014, and was a love letter to Batman fans, all at the same time. More than that, this episode felt as much like a pilot for an all new show as it did as the swan-song for the series that was.

I’m not usually one for spoilers, but there are some moments that have to be shared. These will NOT wreck the story, that much I can promise.

From the opening scene, with Bruce arriving in a far off land (in my mind it’s Nanda Parbat) we’re treated to a Batman history lesson. The determined look on his face, his thoughts – recorded for posterity and delivered to Alfred, and to us, the viewers – and the knowledge that a decade of training is ahead of him, was all masterfully handled. Everyone knows that Bruce Wayne travelled the world, honing his combat skills and becoming a master detective in the process. We don’t have to see all of that again on-screen, for it to touch the heartstrings or remind us of the legend. What we see is just enough. That’s how the rest of the episode plays out, too.

A Superstitious And Cowardly Lot

A top hat, a monocle, a bowler and a question mark festooned green suit. Even without seeing the image, you know exactly who I’m talking about. Seeing the final culmination of the long, complicated evolution of Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma brought joy to my heart. Having met and interviewed these wonderful actors, I could feel their joy and sadness all at the same time. I knew that they wanted to fully become Penguin and the Riddler. They wanted the costumes, the props, the look and feel of these legendary characters. They more than delivered.

This episode gave us the vintage villains that we’ve loved to hate our entire lives, but with the quirky original touches that only Cory Michael Smith and Robin Lord Taylor could create. Gentlemen, I salute you. The love, passion, blood, sweat and tears you’ve both put into your portrayals has been a joy to watch… no, scrap that. It has been a joy to experience, over the last 100 episodes.

Thank you.

The Cat’s Whiskers

While I was saddened to hear that the wonderful Camren Bicondova would not be portraying Selina Kyle in the final episode, after hearing her heartfelt thoughts, and seeing Lili Simmons in the role, I can totally understand the reasoning. All the other characters were adults when this series started, and adults change very little (usually) between their thirties and their forties. Make up and prosthetics will only do so much when it comes to making teenagers look like adults, with varying results. Lili gave us a wonderful Selina and a comic book perfect Catwoman. She looks enough like an older Camren Bicondova to suspend our disbelief, while giving us a performance all her own.

I’ve said in past reviews that I would like to see Camren and David Mazouz become Catwoman and Batman again. Now they can. Camren, thank you; Lili, congratulations on a job well done.

The Joke’s On You

They didn’t use the name “Joker” and the word “Batman” wasn’t uttered once in this episode. John Stephens, you are a clever, clever man. We didn’t need the names, because we know exactly who that was up on the screen. Kudos.

What can I say about Cameron Monaghan that I haven’t already said in my reviews an numerous podcasts? To say that this actor IS the Joker would be doing him a disservice. Cameron Monaghan has portrayed EVERY version of the Clown Prince Of Crime; whether it be from the comics, T.V. or the silver screen. Cameron has given us his take on all of them. What’s even more incredible is that he’s also given us himself, and versions of the character we’ve never seen before.

We’ve had maniacal, we’ve had faceless, we’ve had brooding and sombre. I see touches of Romero, Capullo and Kane in Cameron’s Joker. I also get hints of Nicholson, Leto, Ledger, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland and Dick Sprang. I see an actor that has become the character, throughout the 79 years of his crazy, twisted lives.

Every actor that has played the Joker has added something new and special to the role, but each of them has played them as one character. Cameron Monaghan has inhabited every persona of the Joker and made all of them his own. He’s taken dozens of versions, from close to eight decades, and breathed life into all of them. This young actor has already achieved great things, and I will be following his career and all his future projects with great interest.

Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Black Bat?

Arkham Asylum. Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, a shining spotlight on a dark rooftop. They’re all there. Plot threads and resolutions to events from this season, and the four before it. Yep, we get all that too. Penguin, Riddler, Joker and Catwoman; the worst of the worst, played by the best of the best. Check, check, and triple check. Every item on the list.

Now the really clever bit.

Remember Batman ’89? Batman Returns? Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy? Can you remember how they looked? Do you remember how they made you feel? If you watch this final episode of Gotham, it will all come flooding back. A growl from the shadows, reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, a brand new Batarang, actually shaped like a boomerang. That’s all there too. What fans are given in this story are fantastic tributes to 80 years of Batman, married with things that are brand new.

After eight decades of this legendary, immortal character, that’s pretty darned impressive.

To those wondering why David Mazouz could come back for the finale, while Camren Bicondova didn’t; once you’ve watched it you’ll understand. This Batman is a shadow, a wraith, a ghost and a goblin. He is fear, he is darkness and he strikes terror into the hearts of criminals. We get glimpses, we hear wings, a movement at the periphery of our vision and a chill down the back of our spines. There are no hands on hip poses, or well lit close-ups… and they’re not missed. What we get is pure, undiluted Batman… and it’s magic.

Awesome Batman voice, Mr. Mazouz! Spot on.


I’ve loved this series from start to finish and I will miss it terribly. I’m very glad though, that the ending was well thought out, brilliantly written and lovingly crafted. I cannot hope to name all the incredible talents that have made these 100 episodes, but I can thank many that have made them special for me. Danny Cannon, John Stephens, Bruno Heller, Graeme Revell, David E. Russo, Ken Woodruff, Tze Chun, Iturri Sosa, and all the writers and directors, thank you.

Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Erin Richards, Morena Baccarin, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Drew Powell, Michael Chiklis, Maggie Geha, Benedict Samuel, Crystal Reed, Alexander Siddig, Anthony Carrigan, B.D. Wong, Clare Foley, Peyton List, Ben McKenzie and the magnificent Sean Pertwee. I haven’t forgotten you, thank you all.

All the producers, cinematographers, stunt performers, special effects creators, costume makers/designers and behind the scenes production talents too numerous to list. You’re all amazing. Thanks for 100 epsiodes that told one story. I cannot wait for the Blu-ray box-set! While the show has had a few ups and down over the years this final season has been fantastic.

“The Beginning” was a truly fitting end.

Gotham – S5 Ep11 – They Did What? Review

Writer: Tze Chun

Director: Carol Banker

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Morena Baccarin, Camren Bicondova, Chris Chalk, Shane West, Jaime Murray, Kelcy Griffin, J.W. Cortes, David Carranza, John Bedford Lloyd and Ann Harada.

These are dark days. Bane and Nyssa Al Ghul have Gotham City under their control and the situation seems bleak. Can the waning forces of the GCPD take on Bane’s army, even with the help of Penguin, Riddler, Barbara, Bruce and Selina? The war for reunification ends here, and Gotham City will never be the same again.

All Out War

This episode ties up everything that started in “Year Zero.” The montage at the beginning of the first episode of this final season now makes perfect sense. Enemies become allies, old friends are now bitter rivals and the show comes full circle.

I’m so glad that Fox decided to let Gotham go out after 100 episodes, otherwise this chapter would have been it. “They Did What?” contains some truly magical moments, incredible fight scenes and a totally “Batman” solution to the problem that is Bane. There are nods to Batman: Year One and Batman Begins, moments of heroism and humanity and seeds sown to ensure the future of all of the characters we’ve come to know and love, over the last six years and five seasons.

Little Baby Batgirl

Another highlight is the proper introduction of Barbara and James’ daughter. Anyone wondering how Gordon would allow his child to be named Barbara gets a solid answer this week. Discovering her FULL name however, was a joy, a surprise and totally fitting. Nice work, Mr. Chun.

A scene that really stood out has to be the denouement between Edward and Oswald. We may have seen the beginnings of Riddler and Penguin over the last few years, but I honestly feel that those aspects of Nygma and Cobblepot were truly born in this episode. I cannot wait to see our boys all grown up in next week’s finale, aptly titled “The Beginning.”

Joker’s Wild

Exciting times lie ahead. The Joker, The Riddler, Penguin and a Selina Kyle who’s all grown up. Oh… and a certain Dark Knight that some of us write news about too!

Monocles, question marks, cat claws and Batarangs. I hate to see Gotham end, but also cannot wait to see how the incredible talents that have made this show so great will bow out.


Some of the dialogue in this episode was a little clunky, but the pacing, characterization and performances were all first rate. The action was tightly paced and there were enough surprises to keep even this old cynic happy. Apart from one episode this season has been arguably the best in the series’ entire run. Next weeks’ finale needs to be pretty spectacular to meet expectations.

I’ll be here, for sure.

Gotham – S5 Ep10 – I am Bane Review

Writers: James Stoteraux & Chad Fiveash

Director: Kenneth Fink

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Morena Baccarin, B.D. Wong, Jaime Murray and John Bedford Lloyd

It’s finally happened; Bane is here! After his introduction in episode five “Peña Dura” and his defeat at the hands of Jim Gordon, Eduardo Dorrance is back. To say that he’s slightly miffed may be a gross understatement, but he’s nowhere as annoyed as his employer, General “Walker.”

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

After the crime against entertainment that was the script for “The Trial Of Jim Gordon” the writing, and just about everything else, is back on point this week. The introduction of Bane, Barbara’s birthing blues, and all the related action are brilliantly acted and directed. Erin Richards and Morena Baccarin make a formidable duo, and seeing them face Oswald, Edward and an army of henchmen was great fun.

Look out for some crazy action scenes with Lee pushing Barbara in a wheelchair. These ladies are number one with a bullet and are on a roll, all guns blazing! Literally!

I always love seeing the deliciously devilish B.D. Wong as Professor Hugo Strange. His methods are highly suspect, but no-one can argue that he gets results. There are real revelations as to who has been pulling his strings, as well as those of Eduardo Dorrance this week. I’m not going to give anything away, but Walker finally reveals her true identity and agenda. Let’s just say that her daddy issues are off the scale!

Insane In The Membrane… Insane In The Bane

Though I found last week’s episode extremely disappointing, “I am Bane” delivered. Shane West’s version of this classic Bat-Baddie is the third live action version, and – in my humble opinion – is at least on a par with Tom Hardy’s benchmark interpretation from Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises. This isn’t some dim-wit steroid junkie, like the abysmal Batman & Robin Bane… this dude’s legit.

West plays Bane strong, scary – but most importantly -smart. In the comics this character could well be the most intelligent, strategic and downright sneaky villain that Batman has ever faced. We mustn’t forget that Bane is one of the very few characters to decisively take Batman down. If that’s not terrifying, then nothing is. In this episode alone three of Bruce’s nearest and dearest face his wrath, which means that a showdown with Baby-Batman is imminent.

I cannot wait!

Speaking of babies… No. I won’t, actually. Sorry.


I will never watch last week’s episode again, but this chapter is definitely one that I’ll revisit gladly. Humor, action, explosions, revelations and thrills, this instalment has them all… plus another evil, EVIL cliffhanger.

I’m so glad we’re getting two more episodes of this show, as – if the original plans for this season had been delivered upon – the tenth offering this season was due to be the last. Thankfully though, we will see Gotham hit 100 episodes and, hopefully, the quality will be as good for chapters 11 and 12 as it has been for every other, except last week’s catalogue of horrors. I’m not so glad that we’re going to have to wait almost a month for them, though.


Gotham returns with it’s final two episodes on Thursday April 18th and Thursday April 25th… I’ll be waiting.

Gotham – S5 Ep9 – The Trial of Jim Gordon Review

Writer: Ben McKenzie

Director: Erin Richards

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Chris Chalk, Peyton List and Anthony Carrigan

It’s the trial of Jim Gordon, but like everything else in this series, nothing is truly as it first appears. With the hope of reunification with the mainland in the balance, due to increased violence and gang warfare, Gordon, Bullock, Oswald and Barbara get all the warring factions in one spot, in an attempt to negotiate a ceasefire. The plan is scuppered when an unexpected old enemy resurfaces, with catastrophic results.

Guilty As Charged

This episode was written by Ben McKenzie and directed by Erin Richards, who play Jim Gordon and Barbara Kean, respectively. When I heard that these cast members were branching out and taking on these new challenges, I got very excited. Ben McKenzie’s directorial debut on Gotham, the episode “13 Stitches” was quite strong, which made me keen to see how he’d fare as writer.

I was bitterly disappointed.

This wasn’t just the most poorly written episode of Gotham ever, it’s arguably one of the worst written pieces of television that I’ve ever sat through. The plot was decent, and there were some clever ideas, but the dialogue was absolutely diabolical. The conversations were wooden, stilted, unnatural and would even have felt old fashioned in a 1940s B-movie. The vast majority of actors in this series are first rate performers, and I could tell that they were struggling to speak the lines they’d been given. It was painful to watch.

Barbara’s Keen

Thankfully, apart from a few poorly executed dialogue scenes, opposing camera angles and headache inducing fast cuts, Erin Richards did a competent job as first time director. Some of her lighting choices were beautiful to look at, and her use of camera trickery and special effects was actually very good indeed.

The strength of this show has always been its cast, but with the diabolical script they were handed, even they struggled. I adore Sean Pertwee and Robin Lord Taylor, who tried to deliver the lines as best they could, but even I could tell that they were suffering almost as much as I was.


This was one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write, because I love this show. If anyone came into Gotham with this as a first episode, I wouldn’t blame them if they blasted their screens with a shotgun and swore never to watch TV again.

The plot and some ideas were decent. The dialogue, however, was horrific. For a novice director, I believe that Erin did a pretty decent job. Again, the actors in this show are stellar, but I could feel that they wanted to rip their own tongues out this week.

I was going recommend only watching the last five minutes of this episode, but that wouldn’t be fair on either Ms Richards, or the cast. Instead I’ll strongly urge everyone to watch this episode with the sound switched off until the final scene. Pump some heavy metal, or your music of choice as a soundtrack instead.

Gotham – S5 Ep8 – Nothing’s Shocking Review

Director: Kenneth Fink

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Andrew Sellon, Dan Hedaya & Sarah Pidgeon

Almost every season of every TV show ever made will have a “Filler” episode. A story that’s a flashback, or that stars more of the supporting cast, to give the big names a break. Back when it was announced that season five of Gotham would be its last, the show was reported to be running for ten more episodes. A few months later the producers adjusted that number to twelve, so that the series could end on its 100th episode. This is one of the stories that was added last minute, and very little was known about it, almost until the day it aired.

This is one of those “Filler” episodes… but it’s oh, so much more besides. “Nothing’s Shocking” is absolute class.

Rogue’s Gallery

Giving Gotham a deadline and a definitive ending has strengthened it immeasurably. The writers, directors and cast are giving every line, every scene and every shot their utmost. In all honesty, this episode isn’t essential to the ongoing plot, and not seeing it at all wouldn’t damage the story in any way. Missing it, however, would be a crime.

This season Ecco more or less became Harley Quinn. We’ve seen Poison Ivy, the birth of Bane and even met Magpie. Last week Bruce and Jeremiah fought at Ace Chemicals, leading to the birth of the one, true Joker. The research that’s been done in bringing never seen before members of Batman’s rogues gallery to the screen, and updating others, has made this particular Bat-fan very happy indeed.

This episode is a fan-boy’s dream! The Ventriloquist and Scarface make an appearance, but to my mind so do two other classic Bat-Baddies. I’m not one for spoilers, so let’s just say that one of them’s a biter, while the other’s really just a plain Jane that’s trying to save face. Come back and re-read this review after watching the episode, then you’ll know exactly what I’m getting at. See you later alligator, you’ll come back all doe-eyed, I promise.

It was wonderful seeing Andrew Sellon again, and having him use his real life talents for ventriloquism on the show was an absolute joy. His throat was clearly making the sounds, but those lips did, not, move! The little touches, with Oswald mis-remembering his name and calling him Arnold instead of Arthur were inspired. In the comics the Ventriloquist’s name is Arnold Wesker. Brilliant.

Bull In a China Shop

Donal Logue is one of this show’s unsung heroes and most underrated cast members. This episode deserves to be seen, as it’s a testament to this actor’s talent. For once Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne and Alfred are supporting characters in the story, as Harvey Bullock takes another huge step on the road to redemption. His former parter Dix has returned, once again played by TV legend Dan Hedaya, and trouble has come back with him.

When we first met Harvey Bullock in season one he was a cop treading water in the darkest depths of the so called “Grey area.” Here was a guy who was almost more criminal than lawman. Over the last five years we’ve seen Bullock grow, arguably every bit as much as Bruce Wayne himself, into a true hero. Yes, he’s made mistakes and has skeletons in his closet, but he knows it, owns it and is fighting for redemption.

Riddle Me This. Why Don’t Penguin’s Feet Freeze?

I’ve not made it a secret how much of a huge fan I am of both Cory Michael Smith, and Robin Lord Taylor. They are every bit as much the dynamic duo of Gotham as Bruce and Alfred, or Bruce and Jim Gordon. These two gentlemen are the backbone of the show and their on-screen chemistry is a thing of beauty. Their love/hate relationship is one of my all-time favorites. They, as always, also deserve a mention this week.

Erin Richards also gives an outstanding performance. In reality we should hate this Barbara, but Erin gives the character so many layers, and subtle nuances. In this episode she’s not quite herself… well, she is, but she’s also completely beside herself at times. Yes, come back later. My cryptic gene’s on overdrive today.


Veteran Gotham writer Seth Boston has well and truly delivered this week. He has fit more into 45 minutes of TV than should really be possible. Every actor shone, every line of dialogue fit and this episode stands well on its own, as well as part of a stellar final season. Even the guest stars were incredible! Sarah Pidgeon’s Jane Cartwright is vulnerable, sympathetic and terrifying in turn. Dan Hedaya isn’t a 49 year screen veteran for nothing, and his return to the show is a welcome one.

Kenneth Fink has directed a brilliant piece of television. “Nothing’s Shocking” was beautifully shot, intricately paced and Fink got great performances out of every single cast member.

This episode was all killer, no filler.