OK, I know this may be asking too much from a show that has been off the air for a couple years now, but…why couldn’t it have been about the bad guys? Jim Gordon is such a bland, do-gooder character whose only real personality trait seems to be barely contained righteous rage at, oh, everybody, but the villains seem to be both more interesting and more fun.
Case in point: Gordon goes to see Hugo Strange in this episode. It’s in the episode’s cold open after Strange rather approvingly watches Theo Galavan run around confused in a lab full of people he just killed quoting lines from the Galavan holy book for the Order of St. Dumas. Gordon shows up to chat with Strange, asks some questions, basically says he knows full well Strange is behind a lot of weird stuff, and both men basically accuse the other or lying due to observable tells before Gordon leaves. It’s a simple, straightforward scene, and Gordon is just…doing it that way.
But then we have B.D. Wong clearly chewing some scenery and enjoying the taste as Hugo Strange. He doesn’t shout. He just seems to…ooze out his dialogue. He makes Gordon look outclassed even when Gordon ends the conversation by saying he could also tell Strange was lying.
And then there’s Ed Nygma. He’s in Arkham, and he, well, he’s more or less running his cellblock. He knows how all the inmates mental illnesses work in order to basically get whatever he wants and is only biding his time before he can figure out a way to escape. The man does love puzzles after all. By episode’s end, he does find a way down to Strange’s basement lab, but that’s a minor development for now: he inadvertently gave Strange the idea on how to “fix” Theo Galavan: just tell the guy he’s really Azrael, the angel assassin for the Order of St. Dumas, give him a sword and some bulletproof armor, and send him off to kill Gordon.
By the by, I didn’t know if psycho crazy was in James Frain’s wheelhouse before all this, and I’m not sure now, but it isn’t the worst possible fit for the guy.
Needless to say, “Azrael” fails to kill Gordon. A bunch of nameless cops? Yes. Put Barnes in the hospital, sure, but he broke his sword in the process when Barnes used a metal bar to fight back. And Gordon got his helmet off long enough to see Azrael’s face, along with a lot of people on TV including Butch, Tabitha, and a really mad Penguin.
Point is, the bad guys are a lot more interesting here. At the least, the actors look like they are having a lot more fun, and that sort of thing helps.