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REVIEW: Gotham 2X07 “Rise of the Villains: Mommy’s Little Monster”

I should preface this review by saying that, prior to the airing of, “Mommy’s Little Monster,” I did a back-to-back episode binge of Gotham… meaning that I essentially spent the entirety of the past week being somewhat disappointed by a lackluster series that clearly has so much potential. The transition from Season 1 to Season 2 did spark a bit more interest in me as the villains took a more central role and drew attention away from the less-than-enthralling plotlines that Gotham is still trying to push.

The point of this tangent?

I wasn’t expecting much for my first live-viewing of Gotham and actually winded up being pleasantly surprised by, “Mommy’s Little Monster.”

Is it the greatest episode of television to have ever graced my TV screen?

No, certainly not.

But, “Mommy’s Little Monster,” may actually be one of the best episodes of Gotham’s sophomore season. Granted, that’s not exactly saying much, but the seventh episode might be indicative of a potential, “rise,” in the quality of Gotham’s over-arching plot. Spoilers ahead!

The episode opens where the last left off, with Butch and Penguin at the abandoned warehouse where momma-Penguin is being kept. Penguin is likely the only person who thought he’d finally scored a victory because everyone else probably saw the Galavan trap coming from a mile away. Theo and Tabitha appear from the shadows and, when Butch doesn’t follow Penguin’s order to shoot them and instead shoots Penguin’s other goons, it’s revealed that Tabitha’s skill set includes finding trigger words and breaking Gotham thugs from their weird state of hypnoses.

Upon realizing that Butch is no longer in his control, Penguin pleads with Galavan to let his mother go. The other man acquiesces and the Cobblepots share a happy reunion that turns tearful when Penguin’s mother is stabbed by Tabitha from behind and dies in her son’s arms. Galavan is wholly nonchalant, demanding that Butch kill Penguin before walking away, stopping only when Penguin screams that he doesn’t have the guts to kill him himself. Penguin’s dig, “No wonder your family was run out of town, you come from a long line of cowards,” is a smart thing to say considering, thus far, Galavan’s only weakness is his narcissistic familial pride, and prompts the other man into action. Theo moves to Penguin, raising a gun to shoot him in the head, and is thrown for a loop when the other man stabs him in the neck and successfully escapes.

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Cut to the sub-plot of the episode, which centers around Ed and the repercussions that come with murdering one’s girlfriend. He’s plagued by nightmares and, when he finally comes to, he’s joined by his creepier half… who gleefully reveals that he’s gotten rid of Kringle’s body. Ed is understandably upset to learn that he’d essentially been possessed by his Mr. Hyde the night before and is even more upset when given a riddle that forces him to embark on the sickest scavenger hunts of all time. (Let’s just say one clue leads to him finding a hand in a vending machine…)

Meanwhile, Theo is still GALAVAN-ting (C’mon, it’s my first review. I get one pun-pass and I’m taking it) around Gotham in his bid to become the fallen city’s new Mayor. And it looks like everything is going accordingly because ten minutes into the episode he gets his wish. His creepy schmoozing of young billionaires and torture of any potential adversaries has finally led Galavan exactly where he’s wanted to be.

Despite Galavan’s predicted landslide victory, the tension between the law enforcement and other government agencies (namely the justice department and Mayoral office) continues to grow, unsurprisingly due to his relentless scheming. After waltzing into the GCPD and claiming he was stabbed by Penguin, Galavan further reveals a piece of his Gotham-domination plot by stating that, “The moment I’m sworn in I’m implementing a curfew and I’m ordering your Strike Force to begin door-to-door searches until Mr. Cobblepot is apprehended.”

For once Gordon actually seems to pick up on something before the others, questioning Galavan’s proposal and pointing out that it will essentially involve placing Gotham under Martial law. Of course, the new Captain, who’s really just interested in bringing a, “dangerous fugitive to justice,” quickly gives Galavan his support and claims that the GCPD will be acting within their legal rights.

It’s an ominous scene because we see that Galavan doesn’t plan on wasting a single opportunity once in an official role of power. His plan is on the cusp of coming together, with the Mayor title a sure thing, meaning there’s only one more thing to be dealt with… rather, one more person.

And of course said person is Bruce.

Good thing Galavan has a mini-me to work that angle.

If anyone was questioning whether or not Silver was really related to Theo, this episode should have cleared things up and put the answer firmly into the, “Hell yes,” category. She’s just as manipulative and cunning as her puppet-master uncle confidently responding to his demand to keep Bruce occupied with, “See this finger? I’ve got little Bruce wrapped tight around it.”

Despite the fact that there were multiple gunfights in, “Mommy’s Little Monster,” perhaps the most intense showdown of the episode was between the teen girls clashing over Bruce. Silver is quick to call Selina gutter trash away from the ears of young Master Wayne, and is even quicker to demand that she stay away from him.

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Umm… Silver, this is Selina you’re talking to. She doesn’t take threats standing down, especially coming from fresh-faced girls that she knows are up to no good.

Unfortunately, despite generally being right about most things, Selina still hasn’t quite grasped the concept of tact, and calls Silver out in front of Bruce in a ruthless way that provides the other girl with the perfect opportunity to produce a few crocodile tears that Bruce falls for and Selina sees straight through. It leads to yet another end to the Bruce/Selina friendship, but the, “for now,” is so ingrained in Gotham’s plot-pattern that I’m not all that concerned.

The back half of the episode focuses predominantly on the looming showdown between Penguin and Galavan. The recently elected mayor (again, the narcissist of all narcissists) decides to throw himself a victory party and everyone who’s anyone is going to be there.

Including Penguin if all goes according to plan.

Which it might have if it weren’t for the fact that Penguin got all of his villainous cohorts to dress like him and hobble to the party in a pack so as to throw off the GCPD and sniper Tabitha. The Penguin army manages to crash the party (literally, they literally crash through the windows of the party) and shoot anyone in sight. Gordon manages to pull Galavan away from the gunfire to the relative safety of the parking lot but then the real Penguin rolls up with his trusty shotgun with the intent of killing the new mayor.

Cobblepot tearfully tells Gordon that Galavan killed his mother, prompting Jim to say, “I know.”

Because this was the episode where Gordon finally decided to take notice of his surroundings and put the numerous suspicious pieces together. His earlier interrogation of Butch left him with the knowledge that Galavan forced Penguin to do his bidding, leaving Gordon to use the remainder of the episode to come to the realization that Gotham’s new mayor is the city’s greatest threat.

His suspicions only rise when Penguin mentions that Galavan’s plan involves someone Gordon cares about, but just before the identity of said someone is revealed, Tabitha and her trusty sniper shoot Cobblepot from her perch on the rooftops and promptly puts an end to the conversation. Penguin escapes once again (does he just bathe in Crisco because dang he manages to slip away from everything) but it’s clear that he isn’t done with the Galavan clan.

Vengeance for his mother’s death will be had, it’s just a matter of when.

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The party ends in a tense showdown between Gordon and Galavan, with the latter claiming his disappointment in the former. Theo mentions that he thought Gordon was going to rid Gotham of its monsters, to which Gordon replies, “I am. I’ve just decided I’m going to start with you.”

It sets up what will likely be the predominant focus of the rest of 2A, if not the entire season, and finally makes Gordon seem a bit more capable.

While the Gordon/Galavan standoff would have been a solid way to close the episode, Gotham instead opted to finish up with the Ed plotline. After tracking Kringle’s body to the Medical Examiner’s room in the heart of the GCPD, we witness the chilling merge of glasses-wearing Ed and his villainous contact-wearing other half. The latter’s screamed question of, “How did it feel?” prompts the former to finally give in and say, “Beautiful.” It was a creepy scene to watch, made creepier by the maniacal laughter that followed and Ed’s implied sawing up of Kringle’s body.

Gotham’s whole, “Rise of the Villains,” tagline never seemed quite as appropriate as it did in this week’s episode, with Theo literally rising to an official place of power. We know he’s been a power-player since his first introduction, but now said power comes in a Gotham-official capacity and was handed to him by the citizens so easily fooled by his orchestration. Gotham and its citizens are mere puppets to Galavan, something he’s emphasized time and time again. The fact that he’s now in control of the city because the people wanted him to be creates an ominous feeling that will likely be explored as the season progresses.

“Mommy’s Little Monster,” managed to finally establish a decent pace and create a solid fusion between action and actual plot. This episode was good simply because things actually happened, and, more importantly, they happened for a reason. 

Hopefully Gotham will continue on this trajectory because this was the first episode of the show I’ve seen in awhile that actually managed to successfully integrate all elements into one cohesive storyline.

Episode Grade: B

Episode Highs:

  • Selina had the absolute best line of the night, sniffing the tea given to her during the awkward lunch at Wayne manner and commenting, “That smell really does slap you in the face doesn’t it Alfred?” A dead-pan quip that perfectly referenced her last encounter with the Wayne butler.

Episode Lows:

  • Bruce’s obliviousness is genuinely worrying at this point. Bruce, c’mon man, how are you not seeing through all of the Galavan trickery? You’re making yourself look every bit the too-trusting child you are, which will likely hurt you and the people around you when you inevitably buy into whatever it is Galavan is selling.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Do you think Gordon will manage to convince anyone else that Galavan is the mastermind behind Gotham’s latest crime-spree? If so, who?
  • How long will it take before Bruce has his epiphany and remembers that Selina has been the most consistent thing in his life (other than good ol’ Alfred)?

What did you think of, “Mommy’s Little Monster?” Sound of with your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen