TV REVIEW: Gotham S4E4 ‘The Demon’s Head’

Last night’s episode of Gotham was written by none other than Ben McKenzie, who stars as the bullheaded police detective Jim Gordon. As shocking as it was to see his name in the credits for “The Demon’s Head,” he turned out a tight and tense script that rivals the show’s best work and made great use of the characters involved in the plot. Sadly the show’s revolving cast means that means some favorites – such as Selina Kyle and Harvey Bullock – were left out in the dust. But instead of focusing on what the hour lacked, it’s time to dive right into all the riches it did contain.

This season of Gotham has largely centered on Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazouz) journey towards becoming Batman, which has been in stark opposition to R’as Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) returning to power. The battle of wills between the two characters is incredibly uneven, given that Bruce is just a teenager who has only just begun to fight for justice, but the show makes the most of this dynamic. Not only is it a nail-biting treat to see Bruce trying to step into a world he knows next to nothing about, but it also provides Jim Gordon the chance to be the mentor he promised to be all the way back in season one.  As smart as Bruce is, he’s no detective or Batman yet, and he needs Jim to use tough love on him and light the way.

Of course, any mentoring of Bruce can’t be done without Alfred (Sean Pertwee) following close behind, and their father-son relationship continues to be the heart and soul of the series. That dynamic was also reflected in the grandfather and child duo who were the tragic victims of “The Demon’s Head,” all over the ancient knife that Bruce was trying to keep from R’as Al Ghul. Though it seems the knife is safe for now, two innocent had to die for it and now Bruce feels responsible because he has not yet developed the ability to formulate back-up plans at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but despite R’as being escorted to prison, it seems he is exactly where he wants to be. Overall, this plot was fascinating and lacked nothing except for perhaps a dash more of Barbara Kean’s (Erin Richards) brazen attitude with both R’as and Jim.

R’as wasn’t the only character in a battle of wills on last night’s Gotham, however. Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) was trying to capture his arch-nemesis the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), only to be disappointed when he found out that Edward latest frozen ordeal has rendered him unable to craft brilliant riddles. This story mostly served as a fun interlude, as well as to cause concern regarding the well-being of two street performers caught in the middle of their feud – but it took up much less real estate than Oswald’s other power struggle.

Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed) is back in town and means to take the city’s crown from Penguin. Her plan is a little convoluted, but involves an impressive display of crocodile tears and the sacrifice of a few pawns to gain Oswald’s trust. Watching her bend others to her will while letting them think they have the upper hand is a joy, and with only two episodes under her belt she’s already become an invaluable character. The only issue I have is the romance that keeps progressing with Jim, given that they don’t have much in common other than attraction and a desire to bring Penguin down. It seems part of the design to keep sending Jim along a darker path, but I’m not sure what the specific purpose of these two people kissing is. She wants Jim on her side in the battle to come, but what does he want? Other than a pretty lady with a dangerous streak, which is ever so endlessly his type.

Jim’s awkward romances aside, “The Demon’s Head” was a surprisingly taught and twisted hour of television that elevated the best Gotham has to offer and set the stage for plenty of power plays to come this season.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox at 8/7c in the US.

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