‘Tonight’s The Night’ was a thoroughly entertaining piece of TV, and one of the best episodes of Gotham since the time of Jerome. Having one over-arching story (that of Galavan’s quest for vengeance) has glued everything together and given mostly each character a reason for existing. Even Barbara has had something to do. This episode is her shining moment, where all of the potential of her mentally scarred character was pushed into the foreground, rather than lurking in the foreground. Bookended by two weddings, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ packed enough in between the bookends to be rewarding TV.
Jim’s on to Galavan (even if that particular plot strand from the las episode felt underwhelming), and Galavan had a plan to distract Jim: send Barbara to him! Barbara turned up at the GCPD right after Lee demanded that Jim should “not make this personal.” Babs immediately stole the scene. The later interrogation scene between Barbara and Jim sizzles; Erin Richards as Babs pulled out all the stops to deliver a devlish performance (Ben McKenzie wasn’t too bad either!) and their dialogue was utterly enthralling. When Jim lent over and kissed Babs I was rather shocked (and was a later bone of contention between Jim and Lee; when he referred to it as a judgement call, she immediately questioned it!). Of course, Babs wanted to show Jim something…which is villain-speak for an ambush in the streets!
“I know it’s a trap”
The old ‘villain leading the hero into a trap’ has been done to death, but the continued presence of Barbara lightened up what otherwise could have been a repetitive sequence. The barbs and snipes aimed at Jim were expertly done. The ambush occurred and a sedated Jim woke up tied to a chair in the church that Barbara had wanted them to marry in. It’s rare for Gotham to get deep beneath their character’s skin, but Jim, Barbara and the late arrival Lee) felt totally exposed to their emotions. Barbara pointed out that Jim is rarely honest to himself, let alone anyone else. He’s been more honest with Lee than he was with Barbara, but he’s never fully let go of Barbara in his heart. And that was plain to see. The only minor irritation was Jim’s method of escape; he rubbed the ropes to rip them, but wouldn’t Barbara have heard the rubbing? She was close enough to him!
That was but one story that Gotham was telling; the other main was Galavan’s pursuit of Wayne Enterprises. He made a deal with Bruce: Bruce would sign over Bruce’s 51% of shares in Wayne Enterprises (worth billions) and Galavan would give Bruce the identity of his parents’ murderer. David Mazouz as Bruce struggled to convey the emotion needed for this deal, especially when telling Alfred about it (his trembling lower lip was laughable!), but at least Bruce is relevant to the ongoing storyline! He’s become more articulate and clever over this season, and he’s at least showing the brains, if not the braun, of the future Dark Knight of Gotham.
“Savour every moment”
Unfortunately, we had to suffer another Nigma sub-plot. This time it involved burying Kringle and an unfortunate passer-by in a secluded forest. It lacked humour and barely achieved anything, except for draining tension from the other two storylines. At the end, Nigma bumped into an injured Penguin, so maybe Nigma’s entire subplot isn’t entirely without worth. But at least the other Nigma storylines over Season 2 have provided a little humour. This one was just boring! One other thing that didn’t work was Bruce’s sudden change of heart before signing Galavan’s deal. I at least expected Gordon to interrupt it by arresting Galavan! Why did Bruce change his mind? In his previous scene with Alfred, he thought it was his moral duty to sign it…did I miss something? Also, Bullock’s convenient discovery of where Barbara was holding Jim hostage was…well…all too convenient!
However, with a few niggles aside, this was ‘Gotham’ at its best; surprising, thrilling and willing to explore the depths of the characters. Barbara was given the limelight for once, and lapped it up in Richards’ best performance yet. Even McKenzie rose to the challenge. The strange love triangle and Bruce’s dilemma pushed the show to deliver, and deliver it did. Apart from the Nigma subplot, there was very little to dislike about ‘Tonight’s The Night.’ My only concern is that they are rushing through Galavan’s plot to quickly…I mean, he’s only been Mayor for a short period, and he’s already been arrested!
VERDICT: 9/10. One of the best episodes of ‘Gotham’ yet. Delivering a towering performance by Erin Richards as Barbara, and covering emotionally complex stories, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ was most impressive!
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(Click here for my review of Gotham, Season 2, Episode 7: Mommy’s Little Monster)