Gotham (2013) season 1, episode 9
WRITER: KEN WOODRUFF
DIRECTOR: KAREN GAVIOLA
AIR DATE: November 17 2014
It’s a painful truth (for DC, that is) that most of their really interesting villains are squarely in the realm of the Dark Knight, while Marvel has always been able to spread out their villains in their comic world. In the first eight episodes of Gotham, we have already seen several future villains (or not so future, considering some of them are already into nefarious acts) at work. The most recent episode of the series introduced one of the keystone figures of Batman’s history, before he became a villain. ‘Harvey Dent’ gives us the man who will one day become Two-Face.
Nicholas D’Agosto kicks off his run in the role, playing the prosecutor Dent, one of the more tragic villains in the comic world, because before his downfall, he was an inherently decent person who believed in justice. We get much more of Two Face in the comics than we do of Harvey, a character scarred and traumatized, his personality split, his decisions often determined by the flip of a coin. The television series goes against canon by having Harvey be a couple of decades older than Bruce, but it’s a minor quibble. He certainly looks the part of the dashing and ambitious district attorney, and while we see him early on making use of a coin to scare a young offender into taking the right path - a nice touch considering the coin is double-headed - there are also hints of the darkness yet to come in the character. It stresses again that while the scarring by acid triggered his downfall, the foundations were always there in his psyche.
The core of the episode this time out concerns itself with a bomber by the name of Ian Hargrove (Leslie Odam, Jr.), being used by mobsters working for Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) in her schemes against Falcone. Gordon (Ben Mckenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) are looking into the case, and not all about the bomber is what it seems, they quickly discover.
Harvey Dent and James Gordon
Other plotlines get pulled forward. The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) continues to advance his own agenda, picking awayA at Fish’s schemes without her realizing he’s onto her. Barbara (Erin Richards), who has left a Dear Jim letter at her apartment, has fallen back into an old habit with a former lover - quite a twist. At Gordon’s request, Selina (Camren Bicondova) comes to stay at Wayne Manor for her own protection. While Alfred (Sean Pertwee) is hesitant at first, and Bruce (David Mazouz) is curious about her witnessing the murder of his parents, things change by episode’s end, as Bruce and Selina find themselves getting along rather well. It’s a treat to see the two really share the screen for the first time - there have been moments where they’ve occupied the same area in earlier episodes, but they haven’t spoken until now. It gives us hints of both characters yet to come, particularly in how Selina watches Bruce being taught how to fight, and her remark about him being so quiet when he wants to be. The two young actors bring a fresh energy to their scenes, particularly by episode’s end.
Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle
It serves as a curiousity that Ian Hargrove, an original character who’s not quite what he seems when things start out, ends up being a catalyst, in a way, for the formal re-establishment of Arkham Asylum as an institute for the criminally insane. The Asylum, as the season and the series carry on, will continue to loom large over Gotham City. The episode also nicely establishes a pivotal character in Gotham’s history in the right way. While we know Harvey will one day become a psychological mess known as Two Face, D’Agosto gives us a Harvey Dent that we can find interesting and complicated. I hope we see more of him as the season carries on.