Well…that was unexpected.
Rarely has Gotham gone for the “I can’t believe they just did that moments”. Not that they couldn’t have, but at times it wouldn’t have been needed. But when they did, we knew it, and it worked.
“All Happy Families Are Alike” not only delivered several of these moments, some back-to-back, but did it in a way that was both very rewarding very fulfilling, and showed that this series still has plenty of stuff left to show. And not all of it will be as we “predict”.
One of the big problems with Gotham is that we’re dealing with characters (most of them anyway) that we know their fates in one way or another. Penguin WILL be a big crime boss, Edward Nygma WILL become a killer obsessed with riddles, and on and on. Because of that, we felt that many of these characters were untouchable in certain aspects, and thus their deaths or exits from the series would be either impossible or forced in one way or another. This episode proved otherwise.
Let’s start with Falcone, a man who’s ties to Gotham and Batman have been shown numerous times over the years in the comics, not the least of which was a very powerful recent run in Batman Eternal, in which he was the big bad (along with Penguin) for much of the first arc in that run. To see him brought down so low, for EVERYONE to betray him and want him out, and thus leading to the decision that he would retire was very interesting.
I’ve heard some say, “What about his resolve from before? That he “never felt more alive!”, what about that? That was a different circumstance. He was betrayed by one of his generals, and the person he loved was a plant. His rage allowed him to say that, because he refused to go out like that. Most importantly, not all of the people in Gotham (that he had in his pocket) were against him. Just Fish and her goons. Now though, everyone was out for Falcone to “retire”…in the permanent way. All his contacts and connections were gone, why wouldn’t he reflect and choose to go south after that?
Then there’s Maroni, a man who in the comics is the reason Harvey Dent is Two-Face. It was speculated that he would have to live just so that could happen…apparently not! Not only did he get shot point-blank in the head by Fish Mooney…it was incited by Penguin! So…everyone got a bit of revenge. True, I wish it was done with a little more class and reason than just “he vexed me”, but hey, I’ll take it.
The people above caused one of the best parts of “All Happy Families Are Alike”, the action! From Gordon’s one-man stand against Maroni’s goons, to the shootout at the safe house, parts 1 and 2! Penguin going all Rambo on everyone, it was great. We were promised big action, and we got it.
That’s not to say that guns were the only things going off. In a super surprise, Barbara and Leslie had a storyline that showed just how messed up the Ogre made Barbara. What started off as a “oh she’s going to force a wedge between Jim and Leslie”, turned into a…”why are they playing murderous music…OH MY GOSH WATCH OUT LESLIE!!!” kind of thing. This was great, as it showed not only growth for both characters…but Barbara is out of the picture for at least a little while. I’m pretty sure she’s not dead, just knocked out by Leslie (go Leslie!!!), so there’s definitely more to come.
But, true to form, someone (significant) did die in the finale. Fish. Which is sad, because she was easily one of the best parts of the episode. True, her “revival” came out as a little weird, as we didn’t know what happened after she got shot. But from the moment she entered Gotham again, you knew she was out to make a play. And boy did she ever. Oh, and she got Selina on her side! How’s that for foreshadowing? Oh, and if you’re wondering why she would side with Fish…do you know who Selina is? She’s a “survival of the fittest” kind of girl. She no doubt saw an opportunity with Fish that she never would’ve gotten on the streets. Why wouldn’t she join her?
Then, as the true ending to their season long storyline, Fish and Penguin had their own epic fight that ended with the Penguin literally on top of the world. I doubt his “ascension” won’t go without a few hiccups, but it’s good to know we’re getting one step closer to the Gotham of Batman’s time. Speaking of which…
Bruce! Yes…we totally saw this coming. And yes, the previews basically showed the extent of what we saw. And YES, they totally did a Lost on us in the finale. The only glimmer I see here is the fact that the birth of the Batcave came cause of Thomas Wayne, not cause Bruce found an old cave shaft under the house. True, we still don’t know what’s down there. BUT, we know that whatever it was, it consumed Thomas Wayne for years. And he didn’t want ANYONE to find out what he was doing. Intrigue galore.
Finally, I wanted to save this for last. Nygma took a really big step into becoming the Riddler. And not so ironically, it was one of his tricks that made him go that way. Kringle finding out Nygma’s “reading between the lines” gag from last episode was really well done. As was him losing it shortly after. Not sure if he just had a mental episode, or if he’s truly developing split personality disorder, but it is very interesting. And something that’ll hopefully be a focus in season 2.
As the show ended, and by extension the season, there are a lot of questions. Will Penguin truly be on top when we return? Will there be anyone besides Jim to challenge his reign? And what of Jim? He seemed almost hopeless at the beginning of the episode, resigned to his fate if you will. But now? Who knows what will happen. For me, that’s part of the fun. Season 1 had a lot of ups and downs. But this finale set a lot of things in motion, and I can’t wait to return to Gotham.