A Look at Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher- Poster

There’s been a lot of talk and hype surrounding Foxcatcher well before it came out, much of it dealing with Steve Carell’s performance.  Foxcatcher is a movie about being the best we can be, despite all obstacles, but it’s deeper than that.  It shows one man’s obsession to live out fame through his team as they prepare for the Seoul Olympics.  It’s a well made drama with great performances from the three leads and a big departure from what I would normally expect from Channing Tatum and Steve Carell.  Let’s jump right in.

The film begins with two dummies.  I mean, the film begins with Channing Tatum wrestling a dummy.  Tatum’s character, Mark Schultz, is a wrestler.  After a brief sparring match, he dons his gold medal and heads to McKinley Elementary School for some good old fashioned motivational talk.  His audience of kids is less than enthused.  Mark tells the students about how he won his gold medal at the XXIII Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  This medal represents who he is and what he stands for.  Moving stuff, really.

When Mark goes to collect his check, he’s initially mistaken for his brother, Dave, who had originally been scheduled to speak.  Easy mistake to make.  They did both win gold medals.

Later, Mark heads to the gym to train and finds his brother, Dave, played by Mark Ruffalo, talking to some representatives from U.S.A. Wrestling.  Once the reps leave, Dave and Mark get some training in.  While the sequence does play out a bit, I do like how methodical the two get when they practice.  Mark goes a bit too hard and headbutts Dave in the nose.  All the same, the practice continues.

That evening, as Dave drops Mark off, Mark asks why the representatives from U.S.A. Wrestling stopped by.  Turns out that they discussed coaching wrestling in Colorado.

Mark soon receives a phone call on behalf of a man named John du Pont.  This Mr. du Pont wants Mark to meet him at Foxcatcher farm to discuss a certain matter in person.

Film Review Foxcatcher

When Mark arrives, he’s left to wait for du Pont, who has been called away to provide tactical support for the local police department.  He makes his way around the fancy estate until it’s time to meet the man himself: John du Pont, played by Steve Carell.  The two talk and John admires Mark’s confidence.  That, he feels, is the most important element before a match because you go in knowing that you can win.  Du Pont himself is a coach and he loves the sport of wrestling.  He talks about Mark’s future and what he wants to achieve.  So what does Mark want to achieve?  He wants to be the best in the world.  To help, du Pont offers to train Mark for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Du Pont shows Mark around the farm, including a look at Team Foxcatcher’s training room.  Du Pont wants to stun the world in the Seoul games, but du Pont is on about more than that.  He’s a patriot and patriots gave up all they had for freedom.  Men like him and Mark must always remind themselves why that matters.

Mark tells Dave about his meet with du Pont.  He’s ecstatic.  Du Pont is going to pay him $25,000 a year.  Why that amount?  Well, it was the largest price that Mark had in his head at the time.  Huh.  Mark wants Dave to join him, though Dave is curious as to what du Pont will get out of this.  The answer is simple: winning.  Even still, Dave is hesitant to jump on board.  After all, he still has to be there for his wife and kids.  Mark, however, doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity.

Foxcatcher- Mark with Henry Beck, played by Guy Boyd

So Mark moves out of his home and into Foxcatcher estate.  He meets with Henry Beck, played by Guy Boyd, and answers some questions about his background: undergraduate education, whether he owns property and how he’d been raised by his brother.  Mark and Dave’s parents split when Mark was three.  While receiving another tour, Mark spots some horses.  These belong to John’s mother, Jean, played by Vanessa Redgrave, who is off limits, as is the big house.  If Mark ever spots Jean, he needs to respect her privacy.

As the day goes on, Mark passes the time by watching a VHS tape on du Pont history.  That evening, John shows up at Mark’s door and gives him a pair of binoculars for watching birds.  More important, he tells him that there are less than two months until the World Championships.  Mark promises to give all he has.

The next day, John introduces Mark to the rest of Team Foxcatcher.  After a bit of training, Mark meets up with John in his office.  John asks about Dave, as he’s still interested in both of them joining the team.  Mark tells John that Dave isn’t willing to join, regardless of however much money John offers.

Soon enough, it’s time for the 1987 World Wrestling Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France.  Mark wins his match handily, as does Dave.

Following this, Mark formally introduces John to Dave and his family, but the meeting is brief.  When John leaves, Mark chews out Dave’s wife, Nancy, played by Sienna Miller, for not saying hello to John, even though she did.  Mark says that Nancy doesn’t even know.  She just doesn’t know, man!  John is a patriot.  He and Dave have a sidebar in the hallway.

After Mark wins his next and final match, Team Foxcatcher celebrates in du Pont’s trophy room.  Du Pont calls for calm so he can talk for a bit.  On one shelf are some horses.  He has them removed because he finds them silly.  As much as John loves his mother, he does not share her love for horses, the same way she does not share his love for wrestling.  At least it all balances out.  He has medals put on the shelf in place of the horses.

While du Pont shoots with some officers, Team Foxcatcher continues to train.  Mark is then called into John’s office and given a check for $10,000.  Mark initially does not accept it, but John says that he earned it.  More than that, he tells Mark that he is so much more than just Dave’s little brother.  Yes, Dave was a good and inspiring mentor, but Mark will always be known as the younger brother who can’t be all he can be because Dave won’t allow it.  Now, Mark no longer has to hide in Dave’s shadow.  It’s time to distance himself.  Mark is grateful to John for his kind words.  John, though, prefers that instead of being called sir, wants Mark to refer to him as Eagle or Golden Eagle.  Well, then.

Just 387 days to go until the Seoul games!

I think one of the main themes I grasped from Foxcatcher was tragedy.  Mark Schultz is a man who achieved great fame through his win in the previous Olympics, but his life is one of solitude and loneliness, the only companionship coming from his brother, whose charm is helped by Ruffalo’s performance.  Du Pont is a man whose past his prime, but still wants to capture America’s glory through his team.  This, I feel, goes hand in hand with the film’s tone, as there are a lot of muted colors throughout.

Foxcatcher- John du Pont and Mark

To be honest, I had not heard of or followed the real life story this film is based off of, and if you don’t know how that one ended, I won’t spoil it for you, because I do think the film is worth seeing.  There are some changes to the history here.  For example, Vanessa Redgrave’s character had already died around the time most of the film’s events take place.  That particular change doesn’t vex me, but it’s worth noting that the directors did alter a few things.

Director Bennett Miller, also responsible for Capote and Moneyball, knows how to pace his film well, yet there are a few moments where the movie could have benefitted from some trimming.  When Mark first arrives at Foxcatcher farms, there are long scenes of him exploring the mansion.  I understand these moments help establish how different Foxcather is from his small world, but I think they just went on a bit too long.

FOXCATCHER

There’s a lot of focus on America as a whole: what makes the nation great and how we try to show our dominance over other nations.  If du Pont’s talks about America were any more red, white and blue, you’d start hearing the narration from the “Morning in America” political ad.  To be fair, this does help establish who du Pont is and why he wants to showcase what he has to offer at the Olympics by having his team represent the nation.  I get the feeling that du Pont himself did not get that much support, but doesn’t want that same lack of backing to befall his wrestlers.  During his efforts to recruit Mark, John talks about how the Soviets back their own, but America failed to honor what athletes like Mark did for his country.

Another big focus of the film is proving your worth.  John preys on Mark’s insecurity and how he’s lived in his brother’s shadow for so long.  Not that there’s any sibling rivalry, but Mark clearly got the shorter end of the deal: Dave has a loving wife and two kids.  Mark lives alone, eats noodles and plays with his Game Boy to pass the time.  At the same time, du Pont strives to receive acceptance from his mother- something he never gets.  She calls wrestling a low sport and doesn’t like seeing him low.  What little screen time she’s given, Vanessa Redgrave turns in a good performance.

FOXCATCHER

Really, everyone is on their A game in this film.  Dave is easy to get along with and doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body.  Ruffalo makes him so likable that I didn’t even want him to join Mark over at Foxcatcher.  After all, he had a pretty good life and family.  No need to give that up.  But he’s more than just a nice guy.  Dave is a leader and not the boasting kind.  He treats wrestling very seriously and will take as much time as possible to go over techniques and fundamentals with his brother or anyone else he trains.  I bought that he would be the one to bring Mark up after their parents left.  Dave is not a man who can be bought by money, which is why du Pont tries even harder to rope him into Foxcatcher.

But aside from the training, one of Ruffalo’s best moments comes from later in the film when Dave is asked by a documentary film maker to call John du Pont a mentor.  I won’t get into specifics, but John and Dave have a rocky relationship that doesn’t really smoothen out by film’s end.  To call du Pont, a man whose behavior toward Mark is questionable, his mentor is difficult to swallow for Mark and that’s very clear on Ruffalo’s face.

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Then we’ve got Steve Carell as John du Pont.  Carell drops any of the humor we’ve come to know him for, whether from The Daily Show or The Office, just to name two.  This is a big departure from the comedic roles we’re used to seeing him play and becomes a completely different person.  Here, he has a great, commanding presence as du Pont and though he’s soft spoken, there’s real authority in his voice.

We don’t really dig much into du Pont’s head.  We know his passion, but that’s because he tells us and the plot demands it.  Whenever du Pont is on screen, I got the vibe that something was just off about him, but couldn’t nail down what that was.  He has a massive hard-on for firearms.  There’s a scene where soldiers deliver a tank to his residence, but John won’t accept the tank because the 50 caliber machine gun isn’t mounted on the tank.  A tank alone is an intimidating sight, so he could have just taken that.

Foxcatcher- Carell's nose

I can’t say I’m sold on the makeup or prosthetics, though.  Most people have called attention to it already, but that nose Carell wears is just distracting.

Foxcatcher- Mark on plane

As good as Ruffalo and Carell are, I think Channing Tatum impressed me just a bit more.  Consider the opening scene: Mark puts his all into wrestling a dummy.  He goes home and eats in solitude.  He has very little social life and Dave seems to be his one companion.  When Mark gives his motivational speech to the school kids, it’s almost as if he doubts his own words.  He doesn’t really speak with conviction, even if he is proud of his gold medal.  He’s a very sensitive, but lost individual.

FOXCATCHER

That makes him the perfect target for someone like du Pont.  Foxcatcher mansion is unlike any place Mark has ever lived in and there’s real wonder in Tatum’s eyes as he explores every nook and cranny of Foxcatcher.

Foxcatcher- Mark looks at himself in mirror

As easygoing as Tatum is with his performances, there are moments where he shows great intensity.  At one point in the film, Mark is well over the weight limit for an upcoming match.  As such, he’s forced into a high speed regiment needed to burn off enough calories after a moment where he crashed and burned.  I won’t spill what led to some of his self-destructive moments, but there was a lot of raw anger and frustration from Mark when he reaches some low points.  All of those moments are handled well, thanks to Tatum’s performance.  One of my qualms with the movie, however, is that Mark’s downward spiral comes a bit too fast and could have had more development.

Foxcatcher is a tragedy.  It’s about a man’s desire to become the best and how another man sought to take advantage of that.  It’s about stepping out of another person’s shadows and becoming your own person.  While du Pont may seem to have honest intentions, as the film unfolds, you see there’s something a bit more sinister with his plans.  With strong performance from all three leads, Foxcatcher is an enjoyable film that I recommend people see if they have the chance.

A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 10: “Lovecraft”

Ten episodes in and Gotham is done for the first half of its first season with “Lovecraft.” Let’s dive right in.

Lovecraft- Killing the gardener

The episode begins at Wayne Manor. Three people head toward the mansion, but run into the gardener instead. He’s killed by one of the three, the female in the group, who smears his blood onto her face.

Lovecraft- Balancing on the banister

Selina helps Bruce balance on a banister. How that will be applicable in the real world, I don’t know, especially given how Selina derided Bruce for his training, but I’ll get to that later. But it turns out that Selina has a test for Bruce: go with her to the midtown bridge. That’s where kids go to make out. Selina has a real one-track mind. She asks Bruce about all the work he’s doing on his parents. He’s just trying to understand why, but Selina says there’s no answer to that. It just happened. She then asks Bruce if he wants to kiss her. Seriously, Selina? Stop asking that question. I wonder if the girl has just never been kissed before.

But Bruce has some sense in his head and refuses. He’d like to- okay, not that much sense- but he can’t help but feel that Selina has some ulterior motive. Tell me about it. She might claim that you touched her inappropriately, Bruce. Plus, he doesn’t think she’d consider him a suitable romantic partner, so there would be no reason for her to want to kiss him. What kind of kid talks like this? Selina tells Bruce that she’s just trying to be nice, but Bruce certainly doesn’t get a nice vibe from Selina. Not that she’s a bad person, but she doesn’t seem to care for other people. Well, at least the boy’s not stupid. Selina, taking offense to this, essentially tells Bruce to piss off and climb the damn bridge on his own. Hey, the bridge was your idea, Selina.

Lovecraft- Alfred greets Larissa Diaz, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt, who recognizes Selina

Ugh. Let’s get away from all this awkward dialogue. There’s someone at the door. Alfred meets with the woman from before. This is Larissa Diaz, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt. Diaz was apparently in a terrible car crash, judging from the blood on her head. As the kids approach the stairs, Diaz takes one look and immediately recognizes Selina.

The ambush begins. Alfred tells the kids to run while he deals with the three intruders, and manages to hold his own. Bruce and Selina hide in a closet while the assailants continue their pursuit.

Bruce and Selina eventually end up outside. Selina urges Bruce to continue running, though Bruce doesn’t want to abandon Alfred. He doesn’t get much of a choice when the intruders continue after them. Alfred does manage to shoot and down one of the three.

Lovecraft- Officers at Wayne Manor after assassination attempt

Not long after this, Gordon is on the scene and tells Alfred that there are 50 cops searching for the kids. Alfred pins the blame for the attack on Gordon, saying that it’s because of Selina being there that led them to Wayne Manor. Gordon doesn’t buy that. Bullock enters with a photo of Selina Kyle that had been taken off of the dead assailant. Bullock recognizes Selina as one of the kids abducted by the child snatchers. So how and why in the hell is she now being attacked by assassins at Wayne Manor?

Yeah, Gordon never did tell Bullock about his arrangement. He spills about Selina Kyle being in the alley when Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered. More than that, Harvey Dent is looking into Dick Lovecraft to find a connection and get him to reveal himself. And Gordon figured that Selina would be safe at Wayne Manor. Well, we know how that turned out. To say Bullock isn’t pleased would be an understatement. He’s pissed. Gordon didn’t tell Bullock because he knew that Bullock would try to stop him. Regardless of who said what, the kids are still missing, so Gordon will look into Lovecraft, while Bullock and Gordon go on the hunt for Bruce and Selina.

Lovecraft- On the road with Bruce and Selina

So thus begins the not-so-fun adventures of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. I’ll put this out there now: I’m not a fan of this subplot. Bruce wants to head back since some officers could be at the manor, but Selina is focused on moving forward. Also, Bruce can’t help but wonder why someone would want to kill him? I’ll address this later. Selina relents and tells Bruce that the two will find a phone in the city.

Lovecraft- Liza enters as Falcone and Penguin talk

Then we cut to Falcone Mansion. Penguin is brought before Falcone himself. Falcone is livid that someone knew about the armory. He blames it on Maroni and Penguin’s failure to report it, but Penguin insists that Maroni had nothing to do with this. If he did, Penguin would have said something about it. And since moles aren’t Maroni’s forte, this means that there’s a mole in Falcone’s ranks, but from where? Falcone already knows that Penguin is going to say Fish Mooney, but Penguin’s personal past with Fish makes Falcone doubt anything that Penguin has to say. Penguin, though, doesn’t get why Falcone still tolerates her, given how she’s still plotting to betray him. Even if that’s true, Fish makes Falcone a lot of money. Plus, she’s not the only powerful person who would want to screw over Falcone. Penguin decides to find the mole himself since this is dirty business.

Following this, Penguin has a talk with Gabriel, who figures that Penguin should just tell Falcone the truth. It’s not that easy. The key is timing and Liza is a ticking time-bomb.

Gordon goes to Dent. Lovecraft isn’t at his home and he hasn’t been by his office, which Allen and Montoya are watching. Despite the attack, Harvey calls this a win. They made Lovecraft panic and Harvey will get him to call off the assassins. Gordon still wonders how Lovecraft would know where to find Selina, given how he never told Harvey her name. So he couldn’t have done it. Plus, Harvey never mentioned Gordon’s name because they agreed not to use names out loud.

Ahem. Out loud. There’s your loophole. Harvey did, in fact, leak Gordon’s name to select sources. All for deep background, though. Not sure why Harvey would reveal this when he had to know it would put him in hot water. Gordon is furious and pins this on Harvey. Lovecraft probably hasn’t left Gotham yet, though. He has a series of condos that he keeps under his mistress’ name.

Lovecraft- Harvey and Alfred talk with Kyle Massey

Bullock and Alfred talk to Kyle Massey, but he hasn’t seen Selina. That is, until Alfred slips him a nice $100 bill. Okay, now he might know something. Selina has a new fence some someone popped the old one. If they want more details, they should talk to Fish Mooney.

Lovecraft- Falcone murders at his mob dinner

At the Falcone Mob Squad Dinner, the host gets things off to a great start by shooting Banion. Why? Banion was supposed to guard the armory. Maybe he looked the other way. Regardless, anyone else who crossed Falcone will wish for a quick death. He’s just doing this for the family. And to make up for loss profit, he’s increasing tariffs by 25 percent. When Falcone asks Fish for her opinion, she tells the others present that they are a family. They swim together or sink together. Trust goes both ways.

Lovecraft- Bruce tries to use a phone, but has no change

Bruce and Selina find a pay phone, but Bruce Wayne doesn’t carry change. He’s too cool for that. Selina doesn’t get why Alfred matters so much to Bruce, but it’s because he’s family. Selina eventually gives him a coin and she prepares to head off. She admits that the assassins came for her, not him. She just wanted to freak him out. Cruel as this is, Selina tells Bruce that she’s right about her: she’s not a nice person. That’s why she claimed he was the target- she just wanted to hang out. That’s a dick move, Selina. Anyway, Selina’s gonna split. Bruce stops her, saying that she has to testify once Detective Gordon finds his parents’ killer. Selina is a bit more cynical than that.

So she makes her way up a fire escape. Rather than do the sensible thing and just let the crazy girl go, Bruce follows her. She jumps across one rooftop and through Bruce initially hesitates, he jumps and lands atop the building right after her. Fine. Selina tells Bruce that if he wants to hang out with her, she has to go by his rules. I feel like she’s skipped a step somewhere.

Lovecraft-Bruce and Selina enter the hideout from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film

Bruce still can’t call Alfred because he’s disappearing. Selina says that they have to be like smoke, and smoke doesn’t make phone calls. She takes him to an underground hangout that looks more like the hangout from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

Butch, meanwhile, is nervous about Falcone. If he suspects Fish, why hasn’t he made a move. Hey, there are still 10 other people he could suspect. For now, Butch is going to stick to the plan and reach out to Saviano and Turski, neither of whom is pleased that their taxes have gone up.

Lovecraft- Butch not about to let Alfred and Harvey see Fish

Alfred and Bullock arrive. Bullock shows Butch the photo of Selina, but Butch stonewalls him. Hey, story time: Alfred once knew a fella named Butch. The guys called him Butch because he wasn’t. It was a wind-up name. In no time, Alfred puts Butch on the ground and holds a knife to his throat.

Fish then makes herself known and Bullock shows her the photo. She correctly guesses that Selina is the Lovecraft witness. Streets talk. Fish isn’t keen to helping out, but then Alfred points out that Bruce Wayne is also missing. Fish wants to lend a hand, but it’s none of her business. Then Alfred throws on the charm, telling Fish that petty self interest shouldn’t outweigh honor and compassion. Fish decides to make a few calls. Go Alfred!

Selina then helps Bruce into a dress. Okay, not really, but some new clothes.

Lovecraft- Ivy speaks with Selina and Bruce

And look, there’s Clare Foley again as Pamela Is-I mean, Ivy Pepper. Juvie caught her, so she’s been adopted upstate. Bruce recognizes Ivy as Mario Pepper’s daughter. Rather than stay incognito, Bruce introduces himself. Ivy isn’t thrilled to see the boy who she feels might have been responsible for her father’s death and mother’s suicide. Selina then must have realized that this scene needed a point, so she asks Ivy if she’s seen Clyde the fence. He’s working out of the factory on the narrows. With that, the two leave. Selina is scared of Ivy. I have no idea why.

Well, that scene was almost pointless.

Gordon enters one of the locations given to him by Harvey. Luckily, he finds Lovecraft at this one. He prepares to arrest Lovecraft for conspiracy to commit murder, but turns out that the same people hunting Selina Kyle are also after him. Hell, that’s the only reason he’s hiding. He knows too much. Lovecraft isn’t this big villain that Gordon thinks he is. The people who really run Gotham are laughing at Gordon because of his morals and ethics.

Lovecraft- Gordon speaks with Lovecraft about the assassins and the Wayne murders

Lovecraft motions to his briefcase. Before the Waynes’ murder, there was a run on Wayne Enterprises’ stock, like someone knew something bad was coming. Lovecraft figured that he deserved a cut, so he started digging.

Lovecraft- Copperhead fights Gordon's stunt double

The remaining two assassins enter for Lovecraft. A fight breaks out with Copperhead getting the better of Gordon (and Gordon’s stunt double) and the other killer going after Lovecraft.

Gordon wakes up to a call from Bullock. Fish has a lead on Bruce and Selina’s location. They’re located at a spot called The Factory. Cat used a fence named Clyde. Gordon searches for Lovecraft, only to find him dead in his bathtub with a bullet through his skull…and Gordon’s firearm nearby.

Lovecraft- Selina and Bruce talk to Clyde, played by Devin Harjes

Over at The Factory, Selina and Bruce speak with Clyde, played by Devin Harjes, who looks and sounds like a slightly larger version of The Count on Arrow. Selina’s got the goods for Clyde, including a fancy watch. Yeah, this is Bruce’s stuff. Selina wants $1,000 for the watch, but Clyde only offers $50. Quite a massive discount. Bruce feels the need to point out the actual value of his, well, valuables. Selina refuses any more offers and prepares to leave, but Clyde’s men grab the two. Selina better watch her step or Clyde’s foot soldiers will poke Bruce’s eyes out.   Probably not as effective as scratching them out. Bruce and Selina are taken upstairs and locked in a room with no one to stand guard and watch them.

The two realize they may be able to escape through the windows up top and begin stacking any and everything that will help them get higher up.

Lovecraft- Clyde and Copperhead meet

At the same time, Copperhead and the other assassin arrive and deliver Clyde his money. In exchange, he presents the key to the room where the kids are being held.

One person is sent up to retrieve Bruce and Selina. Sure, that will work just fine. He’s knocked out and the kids head downstairs.

Lovecraft- Bullock at The Factory, Gordon arrives as backup

Bullock and Alfred arrive at The Factory, but immediately take on enemy fire. Bullock falls back to wait for backup, but Alfred rushes in. Soon enough, Gordon arrives.

They follow Alfred in while Bruce shows off his new skill to Copperhead. This skill involves the fine art of throwing beams. They all miss. She nabs Bruce, but doesn’t want to hurt him. He’s not on the contract. Before taking her leave, Copperhead gives Bruce some advice: don’t mistake bravery for good sense. Alfred and Bruce reunite.

Lovecraft- Mayor James speaks with Jim and Harvey

Naturally, the mayor isn’t happy. I guess he decided to kick Captain Essen out for the moment while he reams out Gordon, because she’s nowhere to be seen. Mayor James is at a loss on what to tell the media about Lovecraft’s death. Gordon has a suggestion: tell the public that Lovecraft was a crook and killed by whoever he would have implicated if he lived to testify. No, Gordon. Just no. Mayor James doesn’t go along with this. After all, it was Gordon’s gun. On balance, he believes that Gordon didn’t kill him. His version of the story is that Lovecraft committed suicide due to Gordon’s relentless questioning. That’s what will people will hear.

When asked for his opinion, Dent goes along with Mayor James’ story. James still has to contend with Gordon. Dent knows how to walk the line. Gordon, however, doesn’t know where the edge is.

Mayor James then delivers the official version of Lovecraft’s suicide to the press.

Lovecraft- Gordon bids farewell to Bullock

Gordon has been reassigned as a security guard at Arkham Asylum. It’s either this or quit and Gordon won’t give Gotham’s power players that satisfaction. At least Bullock’s next partner may be easier than Gordon. And Nygma gives him a hug. At least it wasn’t the hand on the shoulder.

Alfred learned nothing from all of this because he still leaves the windows open. This allows Selina another chance to slip in and return Bruce’s stuff. Bruce offers for her to keep it, but she wants to keep things honest. Plus, she’s got something else.

Lovecraft- Selina kisses Bruce

God-damn it, Gotham!

Following this, Alfred enters and then he shuts the window. You idiots.

And Gordon heads into Arkham Asylum.

So that’s the end of the first half of Gotham’s first season. We’ve been introduced to a world before Batman, before Commissioner James Gordon, before much of what we associate with the Batman mythology. The unfortunate thing is that Gotham still doesn’t know how to strike a balance between the dramatic and campy affairs, resulting in episodes with muddled writing and odd character decisions.

I’ll gripe about the series more, but for now, this episode. Taking more focus away from the detectives meant that this episode had us spending more time with Bruce and Selina Kyle. Gordon mostly points fingers and plays catch-up while Bullock and Alfred are the ones who get leads on the missing kids.

This episode had a few characters forgetting things they should have been aware of due to what they previously encountered or heard about. Even though they weren’t after him, Bruce failed to see why assassins would come for him, even though the Goat just murdered the children of Gotham’s one-percent not that long ago. On that same note, neither he nor Alfred thought it necessary to keep all doors and windows closed at all times to prevent any unnecessary intrusions. Hell, this is how Selina entered Wayne Manor the first time. Why isn’t Bruce smarter at this point? He should know by now that he’s a target.

I appreciate that he doesn’t just follow Selina without question. She might be the best chance to find his parents’ killer, but he acknowledges rightly that she doesn’t care for people. The fact that Selina took offense to this just proved him right. I’m not sold on him chasing after Selina when she tried to slip. The girl is head over heels for Bruce. Chances are the two would cross paths again, anyway. Bruce’s occasional naïveté irks me more so because we’ve seen how meticulous and smart he can be when he really looks into something, such as his parents’ murder. Yes, the boy has lived a sheltered life, but he’s had his eyes opened to the harsh world around him. Start thinking smarter, Bruce.

Lovecraft- Selina saves Bruce from falling

May as well get these two done right now. I’m not a fan of the dialogue and interactions between Bruce and Selina Kyle. I wasn’t fully sold on the food fight from last week, either, but that felt more natural than Selina saying things like ‘kiddo.’ Seriously, whoever writes dialogue for Selina has someone much older in mind. If Selina was so bothered by Bruce saying she’s not a nice person, and then screw with him just so they could hang out, why even let him tag along with you? Selina should consider Bruce a non-issue since she’s got other things to worry about- like being hunted by assassins. When she talked about wanting to try and be nice, I got the feeling she only did it because she felt she had something to prove, not because she wanted to be nice. And returning Bruce’s items just felt like a way for the show to put them on good terms instead of her doing it out of the goodness of her cat heart.

Lovecraft- Selina after hearing that Bruce doesn't want to kiss her

Oh, and what’s up with her repeatedly asking if Bruce wants to kiss her? I’m surprised she hasn’t puckered up a lot more often. If people found the kiss between Bruce and Selina to be cute, fine. I just found it forced.

I’m not seeing any organic chemistry between these two. For as little time as we’ve seen them, Selina has mocked Bruce’s attempts at disciplining himself, saying that it would do him no good on the streets of Gotham. But then we see her teaching Bruce how to balance himself and that didn’t even do him any good against Copperhead. Make up your mind, Selina. If Selina is going to mock Bruce’s training, why even lend a hand when what she had to teach served him no better than him burning himself? I don’t care whether Bruce and Selina are still young- I’m not cutting the show any slack when they’re trying to force this relationship on viewers so soon. Putting the two of them together at this point in the show’s history wasn’t exactly a bright idea.

Lovecraft- Gordon learns that Harvey spilled

And that leads me into Gordon. You know, Gordon has every right to be upset at Harvey for leaking his name, but let’s go to the source. Gordon had to have known that putting Selina Kyle with a billionaire orphan could lead to danger. Hell, Alfred even told him that this could lead to danger. Gordon blames everyone but himself and while he might not have led assassins to Selina, he’s still the one who put her in Wayne Manor in the first place. In hindsight, I have to wonder whether it would have been a good idea for Gordon to keep Selina with him. He’s an officer of the law. A straight arrow, but still an officer, so chances are assassins might not have been as forthcoming, but I’m speculating. My point is that Gordon should have held himself accountable because he didn’t have to stick Selina with Alfred and Bruce. And, again, Gordon still no real reason to trust Selina yet. All he has is a composite sketch. Other than that, he’s no further along with the Wayne murder investigation than when it began.

Lovecraft- Gordon tells Mayor James to kiss his ass

And he’s not even the one who gets stuff done. He’s still one step behind while his partner and the butler get leads. In fact, Gordon’s own ego and sense of duty are what get him canned. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or that he should go along to get along, but telling the mayor to kiss your ass doesn’t do you any favors at all. I do have to wonder why Mayor James chose Arkham, of all places, to stash Gordon. It’s not even connected with the GCPD. It just seems like a way to put Gotham close to what will soon be a major rogues’ gallery.

Lovecraft- Harvey Dent spills

Speaking of rogues, Dent isn’t as straight of an arrow as he’d have us believe. His leaking of Gordon’s name kicked off this assassination attempt and he’s willing to play by the rules, even if he’s ignoring a murder that’s being played to the public as a suicide. This seems like the sort of man who would be replaced with Harvey Dent.

Lovecraft- Ivy is weird

Sticking with rogues, Ivy Pepper just appearing felt random. Until Selina asked about Clyde, the scene didn’t serve much purpose other than to remind us that Ivy’s father had been framed for the Wayne murders. The scene was oddly humorous because of how weird Ivy was, but if she hadn’t been in the episode, it wouldn’t take anything away from the episode. I’m surprised she didn’t have some potted plant with her. You know how Gotham loves its little winks and nods.

Lovecraft- Alfred once knew a fella called Butch

Bullock and Alfred have the most success getting leads on the kids and Alfred is becoming one of my favorites on the show. He’s more militant than past incarnations and I think that works in Bruce’s favor because we’ve seen Alfred be willing to help toughen him up. The fact that he could hold his own against the likes of Copperhead and Butch showed that you don’t F with the butler.

Lovecraft- Maroni speaks with Penguin

It is strange that Falcone wouldn’t be the least bit suspicious of Liza. As far as we can tell, she’s the newest person to join his ranks, so I would think he’d show more caution around her. Given everything that Penguin has told him, I have to wonder if Falcone has a long term plan to counter what Fish is planning.

So then, we’re ten episodes into Gotham and it still doesn’t know what kind of show it wants to be. The show isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great, either. And you can tell there’s potential buried underneath the sloppy writing: Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue still have great chemistry, Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as Penguin and Sean Pertwee’s job as Alfred are the standout roles. But a few good performances don’t cover up convoluted plots and a desire from the writers to remind us that this is a show about Batman. I’d rather see the detective aspect played up a bit more and it looked like the show was headed in that direction with “Spirit of the Goat.”

If you want an example of what Gotham could be like when it manages to succeed on most levels, ranging from writing to action and dialogue, watch “Penguin’s Umbrella.” And that’s still seven episodes in. While I enjoy some of the performances, a lot of the show comes up short. It’s still early on and a lot could change, but the show has stumbled a lot out of the gate. Whether as a fan of Batman or television in general, I can’t say that I enjoy the majority of Gotham.

Lovecraft- Arrow

I enjoy the majority of Arrow.

Four Walls and a Roof- Abraham gives Rick a map with the route to Washington

I enjoy the majority of The Walking Dead.

The-Flash-The-CW-October

Hell, I even enjoy what little of The Flash series we’ve seen so far.

But Gotham still has a long way to go before it knows what kind of show it wants to be. If you love this show, that’s no problem. You’ve found more enjoyment in it than I have. But hey, maybe things will pick up in the second half of the season.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 5, Episode 7: “Crossed”

As we approach the midway point for Season 5, The Walking Dead has delivered several episodes that focused on one particular plot point: Beth in the hospital, Abraham’s team traveling to Washington, or Carol and Daryl in pursuit of Beth. It was inevitable that we’d return to multiple storylines in a single episode, and that’s not a bad thing at all, but the pacing differences are noticeable. Not to say that “Crossed” was bad. Not at all. It had the challenge of balancing multiple storylines while also advancing the storyline before the mid-season finale. While this episode was good, some storylines worked better than others.

Crossed- Rick says his goodbyes to Carl as he, Tyreese, Daryl, Sasha and Noah leave the church

The episode begins back with Rick and company at Gabriel’s church. They’re cutting down pews to board up the windows and doors. Sasha in particular is going to town on some pews, not like they did anything to her. The group splits in two: Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha and Noah will head for the hospital, while Carl, Michonne, Gabriel and Judith remain at the church.

Then Judith immediately starts crying. Babies, am I right? Carl and Michonne get to work boarding up the front door while Gabriel tries his damndest to scrub the blood off the floorboards.

Crossed- Tyreese tries to get Sasha to open up about Bob

En route to the hospital, courtesy of the truck Daryl swiped, Sasha remains silent. Tyreese tries to get her to open up about Bob’s death, but Sasha wants none of that.

We then briefly return to the hospital as Beth watches Carol rest.

Crossed- Team GREATM is running low on water, Abraham still shell-shocked

Abraham and company have now exhausted all of the water from the fire truck. Tara did find something to do with her spare time: come up with a group name- GREATM. Great, I guess. Rosita tries to snap Abraham out of his funk, but the sergeant is still shell-shocked over Eugene’s big reveal. Eugene himself is still on the ground behind the truck. Try as she might, Rosita cannot get Abraham to react. It’s only when she yells at him to look at her that Abraham rushes to his feet and stares down Rosita as if he’d like to strangle her.

Maggie makes the situation better by pointing her gun at Abraham, promising to put him down if he doesn’t get back down. So should he be up or down? I’m getting mixed signals here.

Crossed- Rick's plan of attack on Grady

After Noah gives what intel he has, Rick details a plan to attack the hospital with as little noise as possible since Dawn is not expecting them. Tyreese suggests that they just find some officers and take them hostage. That way, Dawn will be forced to trade them for Beth and Carol. Rick is skeptical. Tyreese’s plan might work, but Rick is convinced that his plan will work. But then Daryl also backs Tyreese’s idea.

Crossed- Carl wants Gabriel to pick a weapon

Gabriel’s still not getting the blood out. Carl has plans for him, anyway. He lays a batch of weapons before Gabriel and tells him to pick one so he can learn how to defend himself. Gabriel finds it funny that a group of murderers would even offer to teach him how to fend off other murderers. Carl justifies what the group has done by saying that they had to protect themselves. You cannot just stay in one place forever. Not in this world. Soon enough, someone finds your hiding spot and you’ll have to fight your way out. So Gabriel picks the machete, which he doesn’t know how to properly hold.

Crossed- Beth argues with the officers on what to do about Carol

Back at Grady, Dawn still wants Noah found and brought to her. One of the officers tells her that they planned on him screwing up, but that has not been the case yet. More than that, there’s the matter of the woman in exam room two: she was half dead when brought in. There’s no need to waste resources on her, so why not just pull the plug?

Beth, who picked a convenient spot to mop the floor, lashes out at the officer for the resources wasted on his DVD player. This new patient, Beth says, has only been in the hospital for one day! Why get rid of her now? Regardless, Dawn wants the machines turned off. This new woman is not worth the effort. Beth is upset, but Dawn’s hands are tied. She thought Beth was weak- maybe she thought different after hitting her in the head enough times- but now feels that she is in a position to save this woman’s life. With that, Dawn gives Beth a key to the drug locker. At the same time, someone transmits to Dawn via radio that they heard shots.

With no water left, the fire truck brigade is in need of more. Glenn, Rosita and Tara go on their own adventure while Maggie remains with Abraham and Eugene.

And we immediately go south when Tara makes a joke that doesn’t go well with Glenn and Rosita. But hey, Tara doesn’t even want to go to D.C. anymore, anyway. She turns her ire on Eugene. He wasn’t strong or fast. He was pretty useless. Tara really fails to see the irony, doesn’t she?

Crossed- Maggie pulls down the ladder

Maggie gets in her daily workout by pulling the ladder from atop the fire truck and setting it up while also shading Eugene. She goes over to Abraham and tells him to get over himself. He’s not the only one who lost something. Plus, it’s not going to get any better than this. Great job keeping hope alive, Maggie.

Crossed- Beth asks Steven how to best keep Carol alive

Beth asks Steven what he would give the woman in exam room two if he could save her life. Due to her internal injuries, he responds, it would just be one big guessing game. Steven tells her to keep her eyes open- Dawn didn’t give her that key out of the goodness of her heart. He does advise Beth to give the woman some medicine that will ease her blood pressure, but that’s all she can do for now.

Crossed- Rosita filters water and tells her story

Glenn, Rosita and Tara finally do find some water. It’s not the cleanest looking water, but luckily, Rosita knows how to filter out the filth- a nifty skill she picked up from Eugene. Well, at least there’s that useful skill. We then learn how Rosita came joined up with Abraham and Eugene: she was with a group of people when the shit hit the fan. In Dallas, Abraham rushed in with his truck to help her group. Eugene had been with him and informed her of his mission. Seeing her skills, Abraham asked Rosita for her help- the first time anyone had ever asked her that since all of this started. My best guess is that if men asked Rosita for anything up until that point, it wasn’t help.

Crossed- Officers capture Noah, walk into trap

So a pair of officers follows the shots and come across Noah. They manage to subdue him before finding themselves surrounded by Rick and the others. So long as they follow Rick’s orders, they don’t have to die. More than that, there’s food and water for them, if they need it. One of the officers, noticing how Rick carries himself, asks if he was ever a cop.

But then another car speeds up and the officer inside, Licari, played by Christopher Matthew Cook open fire. The captured officers manage to escape. The car speeds away, but Sasha does manage to get a shot in one of its tires.

Crossed- Daryl and officer fight

They continue in pursuit, but Daryl lingers behind to check a FEMA van for the other cops. He’s ambushed and fights with an officer. They fight dangerously close to some walkers. Not ready to die yet, Daryl, in another of his awesome moments, rips the head off of a walker and bashes it in the officer’s skull. A few gunshots later, Rick returns. He’s ready to kill the officer, but Daryl warns him against it, telling him that three hostages are better than two. Thank you for the math lesson, Daryl.

Crossed- Officers negotiate with the group on how to deal with Dawn

Rick and the others have their three hostages. These cops are different, Noah says. They’re good cops. In fact, they acknowledge that most people at Grady want Dawn gone. One of the officers, Shepherd, played by Teri Wyble, suggests that she and her partner- who I’ll identify in a second- be returned so they can talk with Dawn. Shepherd’s partner shoots this down. The hostage situation can work, but he feels only he can get through to Dawn, given their eight year friendship.

Crossed- Dealing with construction walkers

Back with the fishy adventures of Glenn, Rosita and Tara, the three kill the walkers they passed on the way to the creek and then take their clothes. Luckily, one of them wore mesh. And Tara swiped a knapsack.

Crossed- Michonne checks on Gabriel

Michonne checks up on Gabriel. All of this is still new to him. She tells him that the things they do are worth it to survive. They just want to help him any way that they can. When Michonne leaves, Gabriel goes back to prying open floorboards in his study.

Crossed- Beth gets drugs while patient 'coughs'

Then we get the best performance of the episode. Beth hands one of the hospital patients some strawberries. He enters a coughing fit, which attracts several officers and gives Beth enough time to grab some medicine from the drug cabinet. She heads to the exam room, administers the dosage and tells Carol that she was at least there.

Tyreese tries again to get Sasha to talk. She said her goodbyes. At the very least, she should hold onto that, even if she wasn’t able to deliver the killing blow to Bob.

Crossed- Gabriel escapes from the church, finds nail in his shoe

After prying open enough floorboards, Gabriel slips underneath, crawls through a passageway and escapes the church. Then he falls because there’s a nail in his foot. You know, I’ll get to this later. He limps away from the church.

Crossed- Sergeant Bob Lamson tells Rick about how to deal with Dawn

The other officer explains to Rick’s group that Dawn will not compromise, but secretly, she wants to. Rick asks the man if there’s anything else he needs. He’s fine, but he finally identifies himself: Sergeant Bob Lamson, played by Maximiliano Hernández. Well, isn’t that a fine coincidence. Even though Rick tells Bob that he’s still a cop, Bob is convinced that all of the real ones are gone.

Crossed- Gabriel fends off a walker

Gabriel makes his way away from the church, but he hears noises all around him. A walker ambushes him. Gabriel throws the walker to the ground, causing its guts to spill out. That’s a damn effective body slam if I ever saw one. He almost crushes it with a rock, but hesitates and stops when he sees that the walker has a cross around her neck. Well, that’s awfully convenient.

Crossed- Bob tells Sasha about Tyler

Bob tells Sasha about Dawn picked him because she wanted someone trustworthy. He became friends with another of Dawn’s selections: Tyler. It took two days to evacuate and neither of them slept or ate, but it was worth it. One day, Bob was supposed to drive the last batch of survivors to the zone, but Dawn pulled him off of it. She wanted someone she could trust and put Tyler on it instead. Things went south and Tyler ended up out there, mounted to the asphalt. In fact, he’s still there. It would have been Bob, but Tyler saved his life. Sasha offers to finish him off with a mercy shot. They won’t go outside, though.

Crossed- Maggie asks Abraham if he wanted her to shoot him

Maggie tries again to snap Abraham out of his funk. She asks if he wanted her to shoot him. At first, he thought he did, but then he didn’t. Smart thinking. Oh, and Eugene’s making noise again. He’ll be fine.

Bob shows Sasha the spot where Tyler is: 20 yards right of the Sedan. Sasha looks through the scope of her rifle. She can’t spot it. She also couldn’t spot Bob head-butting her and knocking her out while he makes his escape, which is just what he does.

“Crossed” had the task of delivering storylines on multiple fronts and give viewers something to hold onto as we approach the finale for the first half of the season. While I find The Walking Dead a lot stronger when episodes are contained, we’ve seen in the past that it can balance different storylines and still give us effective episodes. This wasn’t entirely the case this week, as some storylines were not as effective as other ones.

Crossed- Carl talks about survival

I didn’t pick up much on themes and messages in this episode, but one thing I did grasp was the importance of standing up for yourself in the face of impending danger. This isn’t new to The Walking Dead, but we saw it play out with both Beth and Gabriel. Well, sort of with Gabriel, but I’ll get to that later. Living a sheltered life and continuing to try and live like that makes you ill-equipped for the world these people live in. That’s where Gabriel is right now and where Beth is slowly distancing herself from. Never wanting to fight or kill is what made someone like Mika an easy target for death. That, and Lizzie was probably insane. Sure, there’s something to be said for pacifism in a world where the dead walk, but Carl had a real point: you can’t just expect to stand on the sidelines the entire time and think you’ll be all right. Again, going back to “The Grove,” this reminds me a lot of Carol’s conversation with Mika- if you’re not willing to toughen up in this new world, you’re pretty much just walker bait.

The problem with balancing every storyline is that some get more attention than others. This doesn’t mean the quality of longer segments is better, though. That said, I did find the segments involving Rick’s group in Atlanta a lot more interesting than Beth’s.

Crossed- Gabriel listens as Carl talks about learning how to fight

Okay, onto the characters. Gabriel is a bit too timid right now and I wish he’d break out of this habit. Granted, in the comic books, Gabriel was the same way and I don’t recall him ever taking part in the killings that the rest of the group did. The difference is that, in the comics, Gabriel was a bit more calm and collected. The television version seems to break into a sweat at almost anything. Man up, Father! The man needs to grow a spine.

And don’t get me started on all the religious symbolism. Gabriel tries to leave the church, but falls because there’s a nail in one of his feet. I hope that, by season’s end, he doesn’t somehow put his hands on a building and accidentally force nails through them as well.

Crossed- Gabriel can't bring himself to kill a walker

Gabriel doesn’t seem like a man who wants to put a reanimated person out of their misery. We saw this first at the food bank and we saw it again when he couldn’t bring himself to kill the walker. I doubt he would have hesitated if the walker didn’t have the cross around her neck. Sure, the person may have known Christ in her former life, but she wasn’t the only person. Why not end their suffering instead of having to look upon the face of a creature that’s not a human being anymore? Leaving them to suffer with their guts spilling out, I find, is a much worse fate. If Gabriel’s to make it in this world, he will need to get his hands dirty.

Crossed- Rick almost shoots one of the officers

This doesn’t mean he needs to become an outright murderer. In fact, a lot of situations on this show, we’ve found, can be resolved without violence. Take the group in Atlanta. Rick wants the situation with the people at Grady handled as quickly as possible, even if that means violence. But he’s not just planning to rush in, guns a-blazing. This, I feel, is one aspect that makes Rick qualified as a leader. Not the de-facto leader, but as someone who could lead the charge. Even if he knows that people will die during this assault, he’s taking steps to minimize as much violence as possible, but also maximizing the chance that they can rescue Beth and Carol with as few casualties on their side as possible.

I imagine much of this has to do with his past as a police officer, which gave him a connection to Lamson, Shepherd, and Licari. In fact, I think this is probably the most cordial Rick has been to a group of strangers in a long time. Rick, when he has the time, will try to cover as many bases as possible before executing a plan. He can’t account for every possible angle, but more often than not, his plans, no matter how violent, have garnered him the results he wanted, even when he had to compromise.

Tyreese and Daryl, however, don’t see it that way and know that there can be a resolution without violence. The people of The Walking Dead know that optimism and welcoming someone with open arms can lead to betrayal. Sometimes you need to introduce yourself with your gun to show that you mean business. That’s not ideal, but that’s me looking at it through the perspective of our more ‘civilized’ world. So Tyreese and Daryl believe that a hostage situation is a lot better because it lowers the possibility of anyone being hurt. At the same time, they hope, it forces Dawn in a situation where she’ll want to keep her people alive. That’s a lot to assume and there are many variables to consider- such as Bob head-butting Sasha and leaving- but I’m interested in seeing whether this trade will even still happen.

Crossed- Daryl wants the third cop alive as a hostage

Side-note on Daryl: the man had one of the best uses of a walker I have seen on this show in quite some time. Ripping that walker’s head off and using it as a weapon felt like a bit of dark humor, but it did help him get the better of that officer. Plus, no way in hell a character like Daryl would go out like that. And on his desire for a peaceful solution, I can see that building off his talk with Carol when he told her that they didn’t need to kill the walkers that posed no immediate threat to them.

Crossed- Sasha should have been able to do it

And, to be fair, we did get some advancement with how Sasha is processing Bob’s death. She shouldn’t just hold onto her anger forever. She had a chance to say good-bye. Even though she wasn’t the one to finish him off, she should remember him for who he was, not what he would have become. What are the odds that one of the officers from Grady would turn out to have the same name?

Crossed- Dawn to Beth

As long as we’re talking about the folks downtown, I want to go to the hospital. My issue was with the officers. Beth wants to help Carol. I get that. She hasn’t been at the hospital that long and probably hasn’t formed any close relationships with anyone there. Therefore, I found it strange that Dawn or anyone else there didn’t raise an eyebrow at the fact that Beth suddenly has all of the questions and wants to save the life of this one patient that, in their minds, she barely knows. Wouldn’t they find that the least bit suspicious and question her motives? At the very least, someone should have asked if Beth had ever seen the woman before. As far as everything else in the hospital went, it was alright. Beth is now in Noah’s position, so she can eavesdrop on conversations and get word on what’s happening outside. That and it doesn’t look like she’s getting suckers shoved in her mouth anymore.

Crossed- Glenn, Tara and Rosita go looking for water

Then we have Team GREATM. First off, I don’t see that name sticking, but I give Tara a point for trying. That’s about all I’ll give her, though. I’ll say this: I like seeing Glenn take over as a leader with Abraham in his funk. He’s got the right traits for it. He’s level-headed, but not afraid to use violence when necessary.

Crossed- Rosita

We did get to learn a bit more about Rosita, though. This is something I wish we’d gotten during “Self-Help,” and I’m glad we learned about her circumstances before she met Abraham and Eugene. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

Crossed- Abraham stares down Rosita

Maggie and Abraham also didn’t get a lot to do. Though Abraham didn’t say much, I loved the look on Michael Cudlitz’s face when he stared down Rosita. Here’s a man who just learned that the mission he’d fought for was one, big lie. The people who died in the process, the time and resources wasted and the hope raised- all dashed at once. That’s a lot to take in, especially given how Abraham almost chose to take his own life after finding nothing worth living for, before Eugene ran into him. Angry is not enough of a word to describe his disposition. Yes, Rosita wants to help him, but given how Abraham exploded at Eugene, I think she should have shown more caution. This is not a man to bother right now. So when he glared at her, almost like she was Eugene, I could tell exactly what he felt at that moment.

Crossed- Maggie aims her gun at Abraham

I think Maggie could have handled the situation a bit better than pointing a gun at him. Given Abraham and Rosita’s relationship, I doubt he would have hurt her. Other than that, Maggie tells him to get over himself in one scene, then tries to approach him with ease in the next scene. Yes, Abraham isn’t the only one to lose something, but he did devote a significant amount of time to a mission that was based on a lie. Let the man take time to soak that in. I honestly doubt Maggie would have pointed a gun had it been Rick who learned this news and fell into disarray.

“Crossed” wasn’t as good as the previous “Slabtown,” “Self-Help,” or “Consumed” by virtue of it having to juggle several storylines instead of focusing a lot of time to develop one. This doesn’t mean the episode was bad. Not at all. I am enjoying the build-up to Rick’s confrontation with Dawn’s team at Grady. With everyone separated, it was inevitable that we’d get an episode that tried to give us a look at every single group. While Team GREATM or even Carl and Michonne at the church didn’t really go anywhere, the strength came mostly from the folks in the heart of Atlanta preparing for a showdown as we head into the mid-season finale.

Crossed- Glenn saw a fish

Seriously, GREATM is not going to catch on.

A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 9: “Harvey Dent”

Remember how Selina Kyle barely had any screen time in the episode named after her? Well, here’s her time to shine. Welcome to “Harvey Dent.”

Harvey Dent- Gordon tells Selina that she needs to describe the Wayne killer to a sketch artist

The episode begins with Gordon bringing Selina Kyle to Barbara’s. Not his own place, though. That would make sense. While Selina ponders why Barbara would be worried about Falcone, Gordon tells her that she’s going to be of great use. A sketch artist is coming soon, so she can describe the killer to them. In the meantime, she won’t be going back to juvie against her will. Chances are she’d just break out again, anyway. But Selina won’t be staying at Barbara’s, either. Instead, she’ll be at Wayne Manor.

Harvey Dent- Ian Hargrove, played by Leslie Odom Jr., is transported

We then head to Blackgate Penitentiary, where prisoner Ian Hargrove, played by Leslie Odom Jr., is being transported. Hargrove, we learn, is a genius bomb maker and blew up a dozen buildings, including the commissary last month. Before he’s put into the transport vehicle, he slips some matches out of his mouth before his hands are covered. How no one saw that happen, I don’t know.

Harvey Dent- Alfred does not want Selina Kyle to stay at Wayne Manor

Gordon shows the completed sketch to Bruce and Alfred. Gordon believes that Selina is telling the truth. Why he’s done this, when she’s given him little to no reason to trust her, I don’t know. Anyway, Alfred is not a fan of a common street criminal like Selina staying at Wayne Manor with Bruce. Understandable. And Gordon has no idea how long Selina will be staying, either. He says no, but Bruce is in favor of it, saying that Selina may be the best chance to find his parents’ killer.

Alfred is still skeptical and Gordon gets why, but he’s still making progress. He, Montoya and Allen are meeting with, and run with me on this, a trustworthy assistant district attorney. In Gotham of all places! If things go according to plan, Selina would need to testify. Witnesses flee all the time, but the ones that stick it out usually care about the victim. Elsewhere in the manor, Bruce and Selina officially meet.

Harvey Dent- Ian Hargrove in transport

Back with Ian Hargrove, one of the transporting officers notices Ian fiddling with his gloves. As the officer goes to see what Ian has in his hand, the vehicle is intercepted by a truck. The vehicle swerves and crashes into a car. Armed men emerge, kill the officers and free Ian.

Harvey Dent- Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Nicholas D'Agosto, offers kid a second chance

And then it happens. Outside the steps of a court building, a kid receives a pep talk. The man giving the advice is Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Dr. Ethan Haas himself, Nicholas D’Agosto. Harvey is offering the kid a chance to reform himself, at the flip of a coin. If the kid wins, he can walk free, but it’s the slammer for him if he loses. And if he wins, he must make a promise to God that he’ll go back to school and get his life together. Harvey flips and the coin comes up heads. Well done, kid.

Jim meets Harvey and asks what happens if a kid ever guesses wrong. The kids always pick heads, for some reason. Lucky for them, Harvey carries a two-head sided coin. Whatever works.

Harvey Dent- Harvey's proposal to Gordon, Montoya and Allen

Harvey is shown the sketch, but there’s still no identifying the perp so far. Harvey lets Gordon know that this won’t be enough for a trial. The witness would be useless in court, but the idea is valuable. He shows Jim, Montoya and Allen a photo of Dick Lovecraft- a billionaire who made his money from property ownership, as well as dabbing with chemicals. Whether it’s the mob or Wayne Enterprises, Lovecraft has dealt with them all. After Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed, Lovecraft doubled his fortune, part of it coming from the Arkham deal. Before Thomas’ death, Lovecraft clashed with him many times over deals and politics. They just had two different visions for Gotham. Did you hear what I just said? The men had two different visions for Gotham! Almost like two sides of a coin.

Though there’s no concrete proof yet, Harvey would bet his career that Lovecraft is involved. His plan is to use the witness to go after him. Sure, Selina can’t connect Lovecraft to the murder, but that doesn’t mean a story about a secret eye witness can’t be leaked. This, Harvey feels, would blow a case open and eventually connect the dots to Lovecraft. From there, Lovecraft would get nervous and so would everyone around him.

Soon enough, people will talk. Gordon thinks this is a risky plan, especially if Lovecraft isn’t actually involved. Plus, he doesn’t want to make Selina a target. Probably shouldn’t have shacked her up with a billionaire orphan, Gordon. Harvey recognizes the risk, but sees it as a win-win situation since they’ll have rattled Lovecraft’s cages. They don’t even have to file papers. No names, either. Just a story.

Harvey Dent- Bullock tells Gordon about Ian Hargrove's escape

When Gordon arrives at GCPD, Bullock informs him about the escaped prisoner. Turns out Ian Hargrove was ruled criminally insane as well. Bullock finds it all odd that someone busted Ian out since he never used accomplices before. Gordon suggests finding out who Hargrove talked to inside and outside of Blackgate, but Ian had been isolated from the general population and only had one visitor during his two years there: his brother, John, who is being brought in for questioning.

Harvey Dent- Alfred doesn't run a bloody hotel

Alfred teaches Bruce to box. While the continuity from last week’s episode is nice, this scene won’t end up having a payoff. I’ll explain that later. Selina finds the whole act foolish and wants foot, but she slept through breakfast and lunch won’t be until noon. Bruce tells Selina that Alfred will be glad to whip her up something, but Alfred will do no such thing because he doesn’t run a bloody hotel. He has a point. But regardless, Selina shows herself around. Bruce warns Alfred to be nice to their guest. Alfred promises to be nicer, but not before picking on Bruce for fancying his new girlfriend.

Harvey Dent- Penguin literally sniffs around

Penguin enters Liza’s apartment and literally sniffs around for clues. He finds a framed photo of Liza and Falcone, goes through her purse and sniffs both her perfume and towel. Upon hearing some noise, he leaves and heads upstairs. Liza returns and notices something is amiss, but when she checks in the hallway, she finds no one there.

Harvey Dent- Gordon and Bullock speaking with John Hargrove, played by Luke Forbes

After some more shots of skyscrapers, we cut to Gordon and Bullock speaking with John Hargrove, played by Luke Forbes. John doesn’t know where Ian is, but he defends his brother, saying he’s not a killer. He only blew up munitions factories and offices- any place that made guns, bullets or missiles. Not the best way to get a point across, but Ian thought he was doing the right thing, until he ended up also killing two janitors one time. However, Ian felt guilty about that. He even turned himself into the police and pleaded guilty. We learn that Ian has had a history of mental problems. He’s not a bad man, just sick. So there’s still the question of who would free him?

Harvey Dent- Officers eat snacks

As this conversation takes place, Ian prepares a bomb and sticks on a GGC Metalwork lapel. From there, one of the shooters delivers the basket, filled with sweets, to the Gotham Munitions Factory. The officers, none the wiser, accept the basket and feast until one of them hears something ticking. Seconds later, Ian watches his work explode.

Harvey Dent- Bruce plays 20 questions with Selina

Next, the show must assume we didn’t think the explosion would hit the front page, because we come back to the front page of the Gotham Gazette. In big bold letters, the banner headline reads “EXPLOSION ROCKS GOTHAM!” Honestly, this is something I would expect from the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film. But anyway, Bruce is reading about last night’s explosion. Selina is still uneasy about being there. Bruce, the suave man that he is, begins to poke into Selina’s life by asking her what it’s like to live alone on the streets. Selina’s not digging this line of inquiry.

She turns it on him and asks why he’s not in school. You know, that’s a good question! But for better or worse, Bruce is working on his creating his own curriculum to work at a pace and study what he likes. Selina is skeptical. After all, Bruce is a billionaire, so what’s there to learn? Bruce isn’t a fan of Selina’s attitude and turns it back to her past. Where are her parents? Selina snaps- telling Bruce that she’s not an orphan and she’s got family all over. She’s probably right. I’m sure if you searched Gotham hard enough, you could find a few stray cats just roaming.

Harvey Dent- Captain Essen and the detectives discuss the explosion

Captain Essen is none too pleased about the five dead guards. With the entire office destroyed, there’s little that forensics could analyze from the crime scene. Plus, cameras were destroyed, so there goes the security footage. What Gordon and Bullock do know is that the perps made off with a compound called HMS. Military grade stuff that’s ten times more powerful than C4. Essen must already be tired of these routine cases, so she simply tells the detectives to get to it. Well, I give her this, she’s to the point.

Gordon then gets a call from Alfred: he’s not a fan of the little minx and doesn’t think this arrangement will work out. Gordon just tells him to hold tight for a bit longer.

Harvey Dent- Penguin literally sniffs all over Fish

At Fish’s, Butch arrives with two cell phones in tow. Oswald enters. He was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. After all, he’s just trying to be friendly. And how does he show friendship? Getting a good whiff of whatever Fish has. And then he’s off. Fish pays it no mind. She has better things to worry about.

Harvey Dent- Bullock notices something off with Gordon

Bullock delivers another Box O’ Evidence. This one has all of Hargrove’s contacts and phone records before he entered Blackgate. Bullock notices that something is off with his partner, so Gordon tells him that Barbara left. Bullock believes it’s all a ploy. Barbara will return.

Harvey Dent- Nygma talks about video games

And then Nygma out of nowhere. He asks the detectives if they play video games. He adores them because they offer so many challenges and puzzles, sort of like detective work. Moving on, he did get a chance to analyze the shrapnel and found a damaged name plate that belongs to abandoned metal factory.

Harvey Dent- Ian Hargrove tells Gordon and Bullock that the Russians have plans for Falcone

We then cut to said metal factory, where Ian is preparing another bomb. Gordon and Bullock show up in no time at all. Ian doesn’t put up a fight. He tells the detectives that he’d been kidnapped by Russians and told that if he didn’t make bombs for them, his family would be killed. Why the bombs? The Russians have big plans for Falcone.

But then the Russians return and a shootout commences. It lasts long enough for the Russians to snatch Ian and leave.

Harvey Dent- Selina Kyle has the most amazing mother

Selina tries to slip out of Wayne Manor and I’m honestly wishing that she did, but Bruce stops her. He apologizes for all of his questions. When Selina spots a photo of Martha Wayne, Bruce beats himself up for not doing anything to stop the shooter. Selina tells him that there’s little he could have done. She then talks about her mother. She’s in show-business and makes millions, but it’s really a cover for her secret government job. Once she’s done, she’ll return for her daughter. This Selina Kyle is not a good liar. She asks Bruce if he’s ever kissed a girl and would he want to kiss her. Given the places Selina must have been prior to being stuck at Wayne Manor, I don’t think that’d be a wise decision for Bruce. Or anyone, really.

Harvey Dent- Mayor James not pleased about the bombings

Mayor James is furious at the GCPD. He’s getting nonstop phone calls about a potential terrorist.   Gordon isn’t taking this. In fact, he blames Mayor James. Why? Because he put the mentally ill at Blackgate, even though there’s no facility there to help them.

Harvey Dent- Dick Lovecraft, played by Al Sapienza, speaks with Harvey

Harvey- remember him? This episode is named after him- informs Dick Lovecraft, played by Al Sapienza, and his team of lawyers that he plans to bring charges against him. Lovecraft isn’t worried. After all, Harvey can’t prove fraud, but Harvey is going after more than that: conspiracy to commit murder. He plays his eye witness card, yet Lovecraft remains strong. Harvey then snaps in a brief flash of anger. Then he’s cool again. It’s almost like there are two sides to Harvey or something.

Harvey Dent- Bullock and Gordon look at rap sheet of Gregor Kasyanov, played by Steve Cirbus

Back at GCPD, Gordon and Bllock look over the rap sheet of one of the Russians: Gregor Kasyanov, played by Steve Cirbus, worked for Nikolai before his death. They figure he’s working for someone else, but that someone could be anyone if they have money and a beef with Falcone. Now who could one of those people be?

Harvey Dent- Fish meets with Russians

Right. Fish. She meets up with Gregor and preps him for his hit tomorrow.

Harvey Dent- Selina thinks little of Bruce's training

Bruce practices holding his breath underwater while fully clothed. Selina watches and wonders why he would do such a thing. His response is that he’s building self-discipline and willpower, though Selina believes such things won’t work in Gotham City. To make it in Gotham, you’ve gotta be mean! Bruce, Selina says, is just a nice boy. She must not have seen Bruce’s exploits on Saved By the Gotham Bell last week.

Harvey Dent- Nygma tells Jim and Harvey about explosives

Nygma works with explosives while listening to a trivia show on the radio. When he receives explosive results, he returns to Gordon and Bullock with what he’s discovered: the Russians are dealing with a highly volatile explosive that’s hard to manufacture and can only be used once. It would be used to penetrate iron. Gordon guesses something like a bank vault, but Nygma shoots that down. Iron hasn’t been used for bank vaults for at least a century. Steel is the preferred metal. Bullock figures that such a location would be the Gotham Armory, which had recently been purchased by a private investment group.

Harvey Dent- Ian and Russians at Gotham Armory

At the Gotham Armory, Ian sets off his bomb and the vault door soon falls down. Inside is a boat load of money that the Russians soon load into their truck.

Harvey Dent- Explosion

Soon, the police arrive and the Russians find themselves surrounded. Gordon tells Ian that his family is safe. He inches his way toward the police but a “Final Countdown” ring tone gets everyone’s attention. Seconds later, the getaway truck explodes.

Harvey Dent- Food fight

Bruce and Selina eat, though Selina gets more joy lobbing bagels at Bruce’s head. If Bruce hits her, Selina will let him kiss her. A little early to be playing up this friendship, isn’t it, Gotham? Also, Selina, no one wants to kiss you that badly. A food fight breaks out to that Pirates of the Caribbean-esque tune while Alfred watches the spectacle and does not intervene. Convenient enough, he gets a phone call from Gordon. Alfred still isn’t a fan of Selina, but hey, she’s a breath of fresh air.

Harvey Dent- Penguin confronts Liza

Liza enters her apartment and finds Penguin waiting there. He’s onto the fact that she’s a spy for Fish. Sure, he can’t prove it, but the suspicion alone is worth considering. When he offers to call Falcone, Liza stops him. Penguin has a deal: she’ll keep working for Fish and keep her mouth shut, or she’ll die.

Harvey Dent- Harvey tells Gordon about Lovecraft

Harvey- yeah, you know this guy, right?- shows up at the GCPD to update Gordon. He tells Gordon that Lovecraft was scared and that he’s involved with the murder. Not entirely true, but sure, whatever makes Harvey smile. Though Gordon is still on board, he wants to be sure that he and Harvey move on this together.

Gordon then learns from Bullock that Ian Hargrove is on his way to Gotham. Under a directive from Mayor James, all of Blackgate’s inmates will be shipped to Arkham for the help they need.

Harvey Dent- Mayor's press conference

We then cut to Mayor James speaking at a press conference. Gotham has been rocked by terror, but now Arkham will be converted into a facility for the city’s criminally insane. Better start installing a revolving door while you’re at it, Mayor.

Fish is happy with the Russians gone. No more loose strings. The point wasn’t to steal money- it was to hurt Falcone.

Gordon calls Barbara. He needs her.

Harvey Dent- Barbara and Montoya

But Barbara needs Montoya more. Why? I don’t know, nor do I care.

Well, that happened. After being on a bit of an upswing, beginning with “Spirit of the Goat,” Gotham slipped back into mediocre territory with “Harvey Dent.” The bombing subplot and Fish’s involvement with it were not interesting, Bruce and Selina’s conversations felt like they had been written for people much older than them, the end reveal with Barbara and Montoya was not at all interesting, and Harvey Dent may as well have been called Two-Face with all the foreshadowing.

You know, let me just get Harvey out of the way. This episode made the same mistake that “Selina Kyle” made: the title character is barely in their episode. I think Harvey may have had less screen time here than Selina did in the second episode. Hell, Selina appeared more than Harvey and her subplot with Bruce wasn’t even that interesting.

The trouble I’ve found with Gotham is that the show doesn’t seem to know what to do with some of the main Batman villains before they actually ended up as part of Batman’s rogues’ gallery. Oswald is called “Penguin” in the first episode, even though there’s no reason to call him that yet. Selina likes to be called “Cat,” even though few people actually address her as such. Nygma talks in riddles and asks questions- and apparently likes playing video games.

Harvey Dent- Harvey and his coin

Harvey Dent is a giant offender here. The coin flips, the talks of making bets, the brief flash of anger- to the common viewer, these may not mean as much. And I understand that not everyone who watches Gotham is a Batman fan with previous knowledge of the source material. But this seems more like the show wants to remind us who Harvey Dent will eventually become. Though I like Nicholas D’Agosto as an actor, I wish he’d been given a more subtle approach to playing Dent. Here, it’s about as subtle as a train wreck. I’d much prefer that just be a straight laced Harvey Dent for now. Heck, don’t even give him his trademark coin yet. Make it a habit he picks up over time. That would at least be some sort of development.

Harvey Dent- Subtlety

And is it really necessary to have scenes where half of his face is in light, the other in darkness? That just seems so amateurish, in my opinion. We know. There are two sides to Harvey Dent. I would like it if Gotham just gave us villain who started off normal and didn’t try to spoon feed us winks and nods. I can’t see all of these people becoming villains before Bruce dons the cowl for the first time. There are exceptions. If Penguin became a mob boss before Batman came around, given his slow rise, that wouldn’t seem too out of place.

Harvey Dent- Bruce and Selina meet

And on that note, let’s move onto Bruce and Selina. I get the feeling this episode wanted Bruce to just move on with his life because neither he nor Alfred acknowledge last week’s events. Selina calls Bruce a nice boy, but just last week, we saw Bruce standing up for himself. Some continuity would be nice. The fighting lessons seem to be there just for follow-up. Also, why the hell isn’t Bruce in school? Alfred made such a big deal out of him going to school and making friends, so now he’s fine with him making his own curriculum? What the hell? Why even put Bruce in school if you’re not going to have him stick with it?

The dialogue and moments between Bruce and Selina were awkward, and not in a charming way. Bruce is a bit too intrusive with his questions and Selina is a closed book. Bruce has good intentions, but he’s too forward and Selina Kyle isn’t one to open up to someone she barely knows. It’s a rocky start and I’m not expecting sparks to fly between the two of them, but I wish that the two had been written better for this episode. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Bruce back at school and confronting his issues head on. That was a lot more satisfying than this.

Harvey Dent- Alfred watches food fight

Side-note, I understand Alfred’s reasoning for not trusting Selina or wanting her around, but I appreciate that he’s open to her staying after seeing she makes Bruce happy. And I did get a kick out of his snarky remarks to Selina.

What I want to know is why the hell Gordon seems so trusting of Selina? After all, she hasn’t given him anything that he couldn’t figure out himself and there’s no telling yet whether the sketch will lead to an arrest. So why would he even trust her in the first place? Gordon, did you forget that she tricked you into crawling down a sewer that smells of poo gas?

Honestly, the rest of this episode was entirely forgettable. I didn’t find the bombing subplot or Hargrove that compelling. The only worthwhile thing to come out of it was the reopening of Arkham. Penguin felt a bit more cartoonish this week in a way that I’m surprised Fish didn’t find at all suspicious. Barbara going back to Montoya- I don’t care about that, either. I already don’t care about Barbara as a character and this last minute reveal is less shocking and more mundane.

So “Harvey Dent” puts its title character in the backseat and saddles him with a list of things to check for so we know he’s Harvey Dent. In his place, we get a mediocre plot, some not too inspiring scenes between Bruce and Selina and a stinger that was more of a groaner. It really says something when I find the best scene of the episode to be Nygma talking about video games and creepily placing his hands on Gordon and Bullock. This conversation added nothing to the episode, but I did get a laugh out of it.

I couldn’t be bothered to say anything else in this episode was memorable- that’s a problem. A problem I hope Gotham fixes as it still struggles to find itself.

A Look at The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything- Poster

The Theory of Everything looks at the lives and relationship of Jane and Stephen Hawking. It spans years after the two year death sentence that Hawking had been given after his accident that would eventually confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Based off of a book written by Jane Wilde Hawking herself, the film takes care with its subjects and gives us a close at how their relationship developed as Stephen’s condition worsened. The film focuses more time on the family man as opposed to the physicist and shows how, despite not feeling whole, we still find hope in our lives.

The Theory of Everything- Biking

The film begins in Cambridge, England, 1963. We’re introduced to two pals biking to a party: Brian, played by Harry Lloyd, and our protagonist, Stephen Hawking, played by Eddie Redmayne.

The Theory of Everything- Jane and Stephen talk at party

Also at the party is Jane Wilde, played by Felicity Jones. From a friend, she learns that this Hawking is strange, but very clever. Jane and Stephen talk. He tells her that she’s a cosmologist and is looking for that one equation that explains everything in the universe. Sounds like a simple enough task.

We get a look at the busy life of Mr. Hawking. The next day, he and his colleagues are given a 10 question exam by professor and advisor, Dennis Sciama, played by David Thewlis. Stephen is also a member of the university’s rowing club as well.

At a pub that night, Stephen considers calling Jane, but no need for that since she’s just a few seats over. He plucks up the courage to talk to her and asks if she plays croquet. Typical pick-up lines.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen with Professor Dennis Sciama, played by David Thewlis

When Brian returns to their dorm, he finds that Stephen hasn’t been working on the exam. Stephen has bigger things in mind: he’s applied for a PhD in Physics. He soon gets to work on the questions. He soon returns to class, but was only able to get through nine of the questions. Professor Sciama takes Stephen into a room once occupied by greats like J.J. Thomson and Ernest Rutherford. It’s a room full of possibility and Stephen looks on in wonder at what he sees. Professor Sciama has a great opportunity for Stephen: travel with him to see Roger Penrose speak.

Elsewhere, Jane leaves church and finds Stephen waiting for her. It’s time to meet Stephen’s parents: Isobel, played by Abigail Cruttenden, and Frank, played by Simon McBurney. The parents ask about Jane’s passion- she loves art. More than that, she’s studying Spanish poetry. Jane and Stephen are also very different. After all, she goes to church, but Stephen doesn’t believe in that sort of higher authority. A physicist cannot allow his belief to be molded in the supernatural.

The Theory of Everything- Gala

Later that evening, they attend a gala. Stephen is not a dancer, but he is very observant. For example, he tells Jane to take a good look at the men’s shirts. They’re glowing in the light. The reason for that is due to Tide. As the two discuss their lives, Jane tells Stephen that she chose to major in Spanish poetry because she loves to travel. Soon, she refers to the creation of the Heaven and the Earth by quoting the first few scriptures of Genesis. The two join hands and dance.

Professor Sciama and Stephen attend Roger Penrose’s lecture on black holes. Penrose, played by Christian McKay, tells his audience that black holes are created when stars collapse. There’s no light whatsoever in a black hole and the stars become denser and denser. The end result is a space-time singularity.

When he returns, Stephen then relays this lecture to Jane, but with one change: what if you applied the theory of singularity to the entire universe? What if you reversed the process to see the beginning of time? It would be like winding back a clock. Stephen gets to work on his equation, with Professor Sciama advising him on the mathematics. Stephen is flying high right now, but as he leaves class and makes his way across campus, he trips and hits his head hard on the pavement.

Stephen is brought to a doctor for examination. The impact is immediate: Stephen has little to no movement in his legs and is unable to push in when the doctor asks him to. Then Stephen learns: he has a motor-neuron disease that destroys the cells that control the muscles, breathing and anything related to movement. In time, his muscles will begin to decay and he’ll have no voluntary movement. His life expectancy is two years and the doctor, unfortunately, cannot help. Stephen asks if his brain will be affected, and it won’t be, but soon, no one will know his thoughts.

Brian learns of Stephen’s disease when he returns to their dorm and Stephen tells him about Lou Gherig’s disease, though Brian isn’t up to date on baseball. Since Stephen isn’t taking Jane’s calls, she first learns about it when she runs into Brian at a pub. She comes to his dorm again- as he’d hidden from her the first time she stopped by- and tells him how much she missed him. He doesn’t discuss his condition, though. In fact, he wants her gone. Jane doesn’t leave that easily, though. She still owes him a game of croquet. If he doesn’t come, she’ll never come back.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen and Jane play croquet

The two play, though Stephen’s movement is inhibited due to the fall. His feet drag and he’s not as mobile as he had been. Croquet comes to a quick end. Stephen returns to his dorm and begins to wreck it. He still wants Jane gone, as he needs to work.

Stephen is still able to attend class, but now with the assistance of a cane.

Stephen’s father tells Jane that she doesn’t realize what lies ahead. She has the weight of science against her and this is a huge defeat for everyone. Jane is defiant. Everyone thinks that she doesn’t look strong, but if there’s still love, she and Stephen can and will fight this.

The Theory of Everything- First child

They do. The two are soon married following this, have a child and even move in together. Stephen now uses two canes to get around and must shuffle himself down the stairs at home.

However, some good news comes when he comes before Professor Sciama and two other professors who have been looking over his theory. There are holes and unanswered questions in a few chapters. But the section regarding black holes is just brilliant. Well done, Dr. Stephen Hawking. So what’s next for Dr. Hawking? Prove that time has a meaning.

At a celebratory dinner, everyone is ecstatic at Stephen being the first in his family to receive a doctorate. More problems arise. It’s hard enough for Stephen to eat, but now his hearing begins to go. Not feeling so hungry anymore, he excuses himself and struggles to make his way up the stairs.

The next day, Jane presents Stephen with a wheelchair. He makes his way into the chair and it does make moving around a lot smoother. That evening, as Jane is helping him with his sweater, he finds inspiration as he stares into the fireplace.

Following this, Stephen speaks with Professor Sciama about his revelation: what if a black hole wasn’t black at all, but just heat radiation. Once a star becomes a black hole, the hole itself will soon vanish.

Jane and Stephen eventually move up too an electric wheelchair, but the care begins to take its toll on Jane as she must contend with Stephen and not one, but now two children. Despite Stephen’s occasional issues, he wants no doctors. Frustration is clear in her tone, but she doesn’t let it consume her. Jane’s mother suggests that she return to church since she used to love singing.

She does and begins a friendship with the choir director, Jonathan Jones, played by Charlie Cox.

Stephen’s work continues. He has a new project: disprove his own PhD and show that the Earth itself has no boundaries or beginning. Therefore, God must die.

And on that note, we’ll stop.

Telling a story based on a real life figure can be challenging. You want to be respectful of the original source and people, but also not just tell what could be explained in a documentary. You also want to stay as close to the person’s life and not add in unnecessary drama for the same of tension. That’s the big problem I had with Jimi: All is By My Side. In concept, it sounds like an interesting film, but on-screen, the history was far from flawless. Stephen Hawking has been around for a long time and is still alive. There have been films made about his life already- none of which I have seen- and if The Theory of Everything just told us the same story, there’d be no point to trying to tell us a story we’ve already seen before.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen plays with kids

We know Stephen Hawking is a physicist. We know that he had been diagnosed with a motor neuron disease and confined to a wheelchair. However, there’s a lot more in-between that. What was his personal life like, before and after his accident? What drives him? The film doesn’t answer all of these questions, but it does give us a look at how Hawking and his family dealt with the disease that took more and more control of his body. Some folks say that the movie comes off too much like a melodrama instead of a close examination of Stephen Hawking, the physicist. Others say too little time is spent on Hawking’s life before his accident. I understand these perspectives, but I feel this movie is less about Hawking the physicist and more about his relationship with Jane Wilde.

The Theory of Everything- Marriage

Screenwriter Anthony McCarter and director James Marsh based this film primarily off of Jane Wilde Hawking’s book: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking himself has called the film “broadly true” and while there are some changes between fact and fiction, most of them don’t change my opinion of the movie. I repeat, most of them. For example, Jane first met Jonathan while caroling, not at a church. She felt that any wrong move could impact her marriage with Stephen. In the book, Jane and Stephen’s differences over religion and science started off as not a major problem, as was the case in the film, but over time, they became contentious. These changes aren’t too big of a deal to me personally.

The Theory of Everything- Spinning

A lot of the film’s messages and themes are handled very well. The movie examines how we overcome massive obstacles in our lives- obstacles that completely change us. It deals with the pain of loss, both physically and mentally, as seen through Stephen’s deteriorating condition and Jane’s growing frustration at having to be there for him while putting her life on hold. Though Stephen worsens over time, I never felt that the film treated him like a victim. We see a glimpse of his rage early on when he initially doesn’t want to see Jane anymore after he receives his diagnosis, but even as his condition worsens, he trudges on with his work. Much of what he wants and desires must be conveyed through facial expressions, which is where Eddie Redmayne’s performance shines. It also comes through in the direction, where some scenes are even set up and filmed like math equations- this comes at the hands of cinematographer Benoit Delhomme, who also worked on A Most Wanted Man earlier this year.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen speaks through device

Faith is also another central theme. Hawking believes in science and not, as he puts it, in a celestial dictatorial premise. He acknowledges that we are all different and, at one point, dose mention God in one of his works, but for the most part, he is a man of science, not religion. His helps come from those around him, but also through his own willpower. For example, during a family outing, Jane and Stephen’s father insist that he seek medical attention, but Stephen wants no doctors. Sure, I found it odd for a moment that a man of science wouldn’t trust modern medicine, but this is all a part of his struggle. He has challenges, but he never lets them deter him. The same applies to Jane, who does believe in a higher authority. Her faith pushes her, but also because she wants to prove, as she stated early on, that love and marriage could persevere, despite Stephen’s condition.

So while I agree with the criticism that the movie doesn’t spend a lot of time on the actual science and mathematics behind Stephen’s theory, I find that this movie is more about his personal life. If people come into this expecting a deep look at Hawking’s philosophies and theories, this movie is not for them.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen works on his theory

But if they’re looking for a film in which an actor transforms himself into Stephen Hawking with such an uncanny resemblance, look no further than the fantastic job done by Eddie Redmayne. It’s scary how Redmayne embodies Hawking. When Hawking is confined to a wheelchair and must army crawl his way up stairs, you can tell what he’s feeling and going through just by watching Redmayne’s facial expressions. Whether it’s the slightest twitch of his lip or the way his lead limps to the side when in a wheelchair, Redmayne isn’t just playing Stephen Hawking- he becomes him.

The Theory of Everything- Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking

Even before the accident, Redmayne’s eyes are full of wonder and possibility when he explains and works on his black hole theory. When he and Professor Sciama walk through a laboratory, Redmayne looks like a kid in a candy store, but instead of wanting to play with everything, he wants to pull it all apart to see what makes it work. There’s so much wonder and fascination when he talks about the universe that I felt Hawking would be fine spending the rest of his days exploring the wonders of the universe. Having never seen the other films about Stephen Hawking, I won’t try to compare Redmayne’s performance to them, but this was a very strong portrayal.

The Theory of Everything- Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde

And just as powerful in her performance is Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking. She’s not reduced to being a common housewife and she doesn’t have any sort of unnecessary angst or anger toward Hawking after having to help him so much. Jones shows a lot through her facial expressions and I could feel Jane’s growing frustration at having to put her life on hold. There’s a great scene near the middle where Jane is doing housework while Stephen and the kids play around. It’s brief, but she has a look on a face that defines what her life has become: a life put on hold. Jane has aspirations and wants to make something in her life, but she has to put that on hold and go at a slower pace because she has to be there for Stephen. Stephen, though his movement is limited, doesn’t stop with his studies and theories. By contrast, Jane has to care for him, meaning she must devote less time to her own life and needs.

The Theory of Everything- Stephen and Jane in bed

But what’s great about Jones’ performance is that she never lets Jane be consumed by the growing dissatisfaction in her life. When we first meet Jane, she’s fully confident about who she is and what she believes. She maintains her devotion to her faith and to Stephen, despite his illness, and never feels like she’s made the wrong choice in marrying him. This is both a strike for and against the film, but I’ll address that in a bit. I like the fact that Jane doesn’t see Stephen as the typical nerd because he’s into physics and she never looks down upon or thinks differently of him because of his devotion to science. In fact, it’s their differences that make them such a good fit for one another. Yes, their dance under the fireworks feels a bit cheesy and Hallmark for my taste, especially since they had not known each other for that long, but for the purpose of getting them together before Stephen’s accident, I’m fine with it.

Once the two are married, however, Jane almost becomes a background character, only there to help Stephen when he needs it. He doesn’t treat her like a servant and we know that he didn’t want any doctors, so it’s up to her to be there for him. She’s struggling, but I never got the sense that she was overwhelmed. As burdensome as it may be, Jane never treats Stephen like a burden. She made a choice to marry him and she’s going to stick with him…for as long as the narrative allows.

Now I don’t have too many issues with the film, but I do want to address a few qualms. I do agree that this film kind of skips over a lot of events too fast. Whether that’s for the sake of moving the plot along or the film just wanted to focus more on Jane and Stephen’s relationship, I don’t know. Yes, this is based off of a book written by Jane Hawking, but we never really get that much into Stephen’s head. Where did his interest in physics come from and how did he become so intelligent? That’s probably asking the film to start a lot earlier than it did, and that’s not necessary, but I do wish we got to learn more about Stephen Hawking: the physicist alongside Stephen Hawking: the married man.

A lot of his theories and the discussions on black holes are limited to a few scenes, but we never spend an extensive amount of time with him developing his theories. When Professor Sciama and his colleagues review Stephen’s theory, they tell him that parts of it are full of holes and unanswered questions. Okay, so what happened? As soon as we learn that they think his black hole theory is brilliant, the scene moves on and the story continues. The point I’m trying to make is that I wish the film had a bit more focus on his passion for physics. As is, we only get glimpses of it. Now I argue against this because the film’s focus seems to be on Jane and Stephen’s relationship, but given how impactful Stephen’s research became throughout the course of the film, I wish we saw he came to came up with these theories and what the public thought of them. The few times we see Stephen discussing his work, it’s during a group presentation. Smaller scenes of Stephen just working would have been nice.

I also feel that the filmmakers chose to take the safe route when it came to Jane and Stephen’s relationship. Again, to go back to Wilde’s book, Jane and Stephen’s relationship sometimes became a power struggle. Those sorts of struggles were toned down for the film and anything that could have been serious or damaging to their marriage is handled like a delicate glass sculpture. Jane develops feelings for Jonathan, but the most we see her do is approach his tent during an outdoors trip while Stephen is elsewhere. Stephen also develops a friendship with a caretaker, Elaine Mason, played by Maxine Peake, but this happens so late in the film that any fallout feels inconsequential.

The Theory of Everything- Wedding

Having to put your life on hold while taking care of your significant other is sure to cause tension at some point, but the film doesn’t touch on that. In fact, Jane and Stephen seem to weather their relationship almost too much like a fairy tale. During their wedding, the ceremony is filmed like a home movie, for example. The two rarely argue or go to bed angry at one another. At most, Jane blows off some steam, but she doesn’t explode. I’m not saying the two needed to be at each other’s throats, but a little tension would have been nice because I can’t imagine Jane enduring all of this without the slightest issue. As I mentioned, Jane never feels like she made the wrong choice. I’m glad she’s showed commitment, a bit of friction would have made this marriage a bit more interesting. What we got is still good, but their love is far from perfect and I wanted the film to explore both the positives and negatives in more detail.

These strikes do not detract from my enjoyment of the film. The biggest strength of The Theory of Everything comes through the amazing chemistry and believability of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Stephen and Jane Hawking. Redmayne in particular becomes Hawking and instead of just playing the man, he embodies him. Despite Stephen’s accident and Jane having to sidetrack her life, their devotion to one another exemplifies what Hawking meant when he tells an audience that there is no boundary to human endeavors. A minor setback is not the end of the world. We adjust and keep on moving forward.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 5, Episode 6: “Consumed”

And now we get the ongoing adventures of Carol and Daryl. After spotting the car that kidnapped Beth, Daryl and Carol head off from the rest of the group in pursuit. This episode helped fill in some blanks and, like the previous two episodes, set up what’s to come as the mid-season finale approaches. Let’s dig into “Consumed.”

Consumed- Flashback, Carol leaves after Rick banishes her

We begin in the past, after Rick and Carol’s confrontation during “Indifference.” Following their argument, Carol drives off. After she weeps in the car for a bit, she winds up at a law firm. Inside, she makes some noise to alert any lurking walkers, but finds that she is alone, so she sets up camp for the night.

Consumed- Flashback, Carol returns to the prison

As she drives along on the next day, she notices smoke coming from the direction of the prison. She heads there and sees the guard tower on fire, which shows that this takes place sometime during or at least after the Governor’s attack.

Consumed- Daryl and Carol watch an officer get back into the car

The episode then begins proper in the present with Carol and Daryl continuing their pursuit of the car. Daryl recounts how he and Beth ended up cornered in the funeral home, but he managed to spot the car with the cross on its window. The two keep following behind, but the car tank is running low. Luckily, the other vehicle comes to a stop. The two contemplate what to do if they manage to get a hold of whoever is inside, but soon, the car continues north. Both follow, but maintain a good distance. What looks like a police officer gets out of the car at one point, heads off, and then returns as the car pulls off. Daryl tries to start, but the tank is now empty. No problem. Carol knows a place they can stay that’s just a few blocks away.

Consumed- Daryl and Carol try to get some sleep

The two make their way to Carol’s destination just as walkers approach. They check for signs of life, but nothing. After finding a pair of bunk beds, Carol decides to take first watch. Daryl, however, doesn’t get any sleep. Instead, the two talk about wanting fresh starts. Daryl is trying, but he wants to pick apart Carol’s mind first. What’s eating at her? In Carol’s eyes, they don’t get to save people anymore. Daryl asks what Carol would have done if he hadn’t found her by the car. She doesn’t know.

A noise springs the two into action. It’s just a few walkers rapping on the glass outside. Carol goes to kill, but Daryl stops her, saying that they don’t have to.

The next morning, Carol awakens and finds spots smoke. She heads outside and finds Daryl burning a wrapped body.

Consumed- Flashback to The Grove, Carol and Tyreese bury bodies

And after this, the episode then flashes back to “The Grove” as Tyreese and Carol deal with the aftermath of Lizzie and Mika’s deaths. As Carol looks up, she spots smoke in the distance which, I presume, comes from Beth and Daryl’s direction.

Consumed- Daryl and Carol sneak past walkers into parking garage

Back in the present, Carol and Daryl figure they need to head to the top of a building in order to spot the car. They find a parking structure, but roamers block their path. Daryl lights a notepad on fire and tosses it. The walkers are drawn to it, giving Carol and Daryl the opportunity they need to slip into the parking garage. They make their way up and find walkers in sleeping bags and tents. After heading through a chained door, they enter a fancy office. Also, Carol and Daryl do not appear to be alone…

Consumed- Looking outside office

Once again, the two wonder aloud how they ended up where they are now. Carol also remembers that Daryl hasn’t asked what happened to her after she met up with Tyreese and the girls. Daryl figures things could not have gone well since Lizzie and Mika aren’t around anymore, but, as we know, it was much worse than that. Why, Carol asks, should they start over? Daryl’s response: They have to. Something grabs Daryl’s attention and he looks through the scope of Carol’s sniper rifle. He spots a white van with a cross on it sitting very close to the edge. That’s their next destination. They stock up before leaving. Minor side-note, it bugs me that they didn’t take the computer. Not that they could do anything with it, but still. Also, Carol and Daryl have very different tastes in art.

As the two head back, Carol goes through the chained door first. However, she immediately tells Daryl not to follow her. Why?

Consumed- Noah tells Daryl to put down his crossbow

Because there’s Noah, who has changed his wardrobe since we last saw him. He’s also a bit more frantic since “Slabtown,” as he immediately demands Carol and Daryl drop their weapons. He’s not out to kill them, though. He only needs their weapons and figures that these two strangers can take care of themselves. Hell, he even says please. But then he cuts open the tents and leaves them for the walkers. Carol and Daryl make quick work of the walkers and Carol prepares to fire one shot at Noah, but Daryl stops her from potentially killing him.

Consumed- Daryl picks a lock, Carol talks about being somewhere else

Daryl gets to work picking a door’s lock with his knife. Carol has three bullets left in her gun. She asks Daryl if he thinks she really would have killed him. After all, she claims she only aimed for his leg. Daryl isn’t swayed. It was just some random kid and the two can find more weapons. Carol, however, admits that she doesn’t want anyone to die, but she can’t stand around and watch it happen. That’s why she left. She had to be somewhere else. But, Daryl counters, she’s right there. She’s trying. If she’s going to Hell, at least she’ll pull off what she has now for as long as she can.

Consumed- Flashback, Carol burns Karen and David's bodies

The episode then flashes back to around the time of “Infected,” as Carol watches fire consume the bodies of Karen and David.

Consumed- Finding truck on bridge

Back in the present, Daryl and Carol walk along the bridge and approach the van. The two get in just as walkers approach. They soon must contend with the roamers. The two put up a decent fight for a moment, but they’re outnumbered and must retreat back into the van. Time to buckle up! They strap in, Daryl hits the gas and the van heads right over the edge and lands hard on the ground below. In real life, I’m pretty sure this would knock out anyone else for a considerable amount of time, but since this is television and we’re talking about Carol and Daryl, they’re ready to go in a few seconds. Just watch out for falling walkers.

Consumed- Recovering after car crash

After this, the two stop for a bit to regain their strength. Carol looks a bit worse and has some nasty bruises, but she insists she’s fine. They only have about three more blocks until they hit Grady Memorial Hospital. For now, they need to find a place close by. Carol inquires what the two expect to learn just by watching. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Consumed- Daryl and Carol eat chips

The two enter another building. Without his crossbow, Daryl makes due with a machete next to a nearby walker. The hospital is right across from them, so time to start hospital-watching.

Daryl then returns to Carol’s point about how he’s not who he was before. What did she mean and what was he before? Back then, she says, he was like a kid. Now he’s a man. As for Carol, she and Sophia stayed at that shelter for a day and a half before she went back to Ed. Even then, she still got beaten. Life went on and she prayed for something to happen, but she didn’t do anything. Who she was back then, she got burned away. At the prison, she got to be who she thought she should have been, but then she got burned away, too. Carol needs to keep away from fire.

We ain’t ashes, Daryl says. True. A noise gets their attention. They find a walker pinned to a wall with one of Daryl’s crossbows. The walker is still alive, but Daryl finishes it with a machete slice right down the middle.

Consumed- Noah pinned under bookshelf, Daryl refuses to help him

Further on, after following the sound of gunshots, they find Noah struggling with a walker. He pushes it onto Carol, but Daryl kills it. They stay in pursuit until they see Noah unable to move the bookshelf used to block the door. Daryl rushes in and tackles Noah, causing the shelf to fall right on him. The walker behind the door continues to struggle forward. Noah pleads for help, insisting that he was just protecting himself, but Daryl isn’t a fan of being followed. Daryl swipes a carton of cigarettes from Noah and lights up. Carol wants to help him up, but Daryl reminds her that she almost died because of him. She didn’t, though. The walker gets through and almost gets Noah, but Daryl downs it with an arrow.

Consumed- Flashback to No Sanctuary, Carol removes the poncho and cleans herself up

The final flashback takes place during the events of “No Sanctuary.” Carol removes the poncho and uses it to clean herself up. Oh, so that’s how she did it.

Consumed- Daryl asks Noah about Beth

Carol and Daryl move the bookcase and Noah is now free. He looks out the window in horror. Noah needs to keep moving since he’s certain others will be after him after hearing the gunshots. When Daryl asks who these people are, Noah tells him that people from the hospital are searching for him. Daryl then asks if he ever saw a blonde girl with them. Identifying this blonde girl as Beth, Noah reveals that Beth helped him escape from the hospital, but she’s still there.

A station wagon pulls up. Time to go. Noah leads Carol and Daryl toward a clear building next to them, but his limp causes him to fall.

Consumed- Carol doesn't look both ways before crossing the street

While Daryl helps him up, Carol rushes out and forgets to look both ways before crossing the street, because she runs right into the path of the station wagon and takes a hit head on. Daryl tries to rush out and save her, but Noah holds him back. He says that the men can help her with medicine, machines and a doctor. If Daryl goes out, he’ll have to kill them and then Carol won’t get any help at all. What will it take to help out? A lot. The folks at Grady have guns and a lot of people. Lucky for Noah, so does Daryl.

Consumed- Daryl and Noah drive off

Another fire, another distraction for the walkers as Noah and Daryl make their getaway in a truck.

“Consumed” was a strong episode for Carol and Daryl and a nice way to fill in some of the blanks established in previous episodes. A lot can come out of conversations. As I’ve said before, The Walking Dead is strong not when it’s about killing walkers, but just ordinary folks talking about their situation, and “Consumed” is a good example of that. While not a lot actually happened this week- after all, it was mostly Carol and Daryl walking around- we got a lot of quiet moments for the two to just discuss what they’d been through, what they will go through and how they’ve changed.

This was a well paced episode and I never felt like it moved too fast for the sake of getting to the next scene. There were few direct walker encounters and the ones we got, Daryl and Carol made quick work of them in no time. Each time we flash back to Carol in previous episodes, the scenes are brief and to the point. They serve a purpose and help explain how Carol found herself where she is now.

Consumed- Daryl tells Carol that they ain't ashes

A big point of this episode came from the two acknowledging their shortcomings. These are not the same Daryl and Carol that we met in Season One. Carol isn’t a battered housewife and Daryl doesn’t just wait for Merle’s instruction or try and respond to a situation with violence. Ever since Daryl took it upon himself to look for Sophia when everyone else had grown tired of the hunt, we saw the first sign of his devotion to Carol. Not in a romantic way, but just to strengthen their bond. But they’ve seen their share of heartbreak and disappointment. Daryl had to force himself to kill a reanimated Merle, but hesitated at killing this creature that was no longer his brother. His world had been shattered and he had to make the difficult, but necessary choice. And remember back during “Still,” when Daryl admitted to Beth that he hadn’t been strong enough to stop the Governor. Daryl has grown, but he still knows that he can’t save everyone, even the people closest to him.

That’s what makes Carol’s line about not wanting anyone to die stick out so much. They’d love for everyone to survive for as long as possible, but that’s just not possible at all, no matter how young. Even if they refuse to accept it, the ones they love are going to die. Sometimes, people like Carol and Daryl have to be the ones to deliver the killing blow. Or, to go back further, look at Carl when he had to take it upon himself to kill his own mother. They do what’s necessary in order to survive, but they come out of these experiences as different people. An exception to this would be the Governor, who kept his transformed daughter alive. Same with Morgan, who kept his son chained up- in the comic, anyway. It’s hard to let go of the people close to you, but when they pose a threat, you do what you have to do.

Consumed- Daryl asks Carol what she would have done if he hadn't been by the car

The Walking Dead, as both a comic and television series, gives us a world with no straightforward good or bad decisions. There are necessary decisions to be made, but in a bleak world where people are willing to kill to survive, these people are still able to question not just their choices, but their humanity as well. By committing these murders, they lose parts of themselves. Carol and Daryl lose more of the people they were, but in the process, they’re reborn as they come to terms with the murders they commit. Could Karen and David have lived, as Rick believed, if Carol left them alive? It’s possible, but Carol took it upon herself to make a hard choice for what she believed was a greater good: saving everyone from the further threat of disease. Carol had good reasons, but, as was the case with killing Lizzie, she lost some of herself in the process.

Each day is all about surviving until you can make it to the next one. In a sense, Carol and Daryl will always have a chance to start anew. Dwelling too much on the past makes them unable to look forward.   Rather than mull their decisions all of the time, the two grow from them and understand that this is part of their humanity. As Daryl told Carol during one of their exchanges, she wasn’t somewhere else at that moment. She was there, with him, and trying. They’re both being proactive and trying to make a difference. It may not always be a difference for the better, but still some form of change.

As has been the case before, there’s a good amount of humor and light hearted moments sprinkled throughout the episode to balance against the drama. Whether it’s Carol taking the top bunk and leaving Daryl the bottom one with pink sheets because she thinks it’s more his style, Carol liking the office painting and Daryl thinking that a dog wiped its ass on it, the fact they made a conscious to drive over the edge of a bridge to get away from walkers- with the walkers then slamming down hard on the dashboard- or even Daryl taking Noah’s cigarettes and smoking one right in front of him, there were a few moments that did make me laugh.

Consumed- Flashback, Carol cries in car

But let’s talk about Carol. We know what she’s been through and how it’s hardened her. As much as Carol tries to maintain a tough exterior, the flashbacks show that she’s still disturbed and haunted by what she does. We see her and Tyreese bury Lizzie and Mika- two deaths that will stay with them forever. Carol has a lot of demons that she keeps in because, as of recent, she’s not one to open up. In a way, that makes her a perfect match for Daryl because he never pushes the situation, but he’s slowly able to get her to talk without coming off as patronizing. If I had any issue with the flashbacks, and this is more of a missed opportunity since the show explained so much, I wish we’d seen how Carol managed to meet up with Tyreese, Judith, Lizzie and Mika during “Inmates.” She just appears with the girls. It’s minor and doesn’t change my opinion of the episode, but if the flashbacks filled in what Carol had been doing at certain points, why not there?

Consumed- Carol talking about becoming who she wanted to be

But Carol’s biggest change since we first met her is how proactive she’s become. She no longer allows herself to be a victim. She started off Ed’s punching bag. On the farm, she grew angry at people not taking her seriously and treating her like a casualty after Sophia’s death. She’s making the choice to assert herself and show some backbone. This is her redemption. Or her rebirth from the ashes, since this episode liked to play with fire. As a result, she’s turned into a strong survivor who will do whatever it takes to, as she says to Daryl, keep pulling off what she’s doing as best as she can in the event that she’s going to Hell.

Consumed- Daryl tells Carol that she's trying

Though the forces of Hell would have to go through Daryl, too. While Carol is more prone to showing emotion, Daryl tends to keep his feelings bottled. He does have moments where he opens up, mind you, but not as often as the other characters. He’s opened up to the likes of Rick and Beth, but he has a true bond with Carol. Daryl is more practical when it comes to moving forward. He doesn’t mince his words or beat around the bunch when trying to make a point. He tells Carol that they aren’t ashes after she talks of being burned. When Carol spoke about needing to be somewhere else, Daryl told her that she was right there and trying. Either that or Daryl is just a man of few words.

Consumed- Daryl lights up while Noah remains pinned under the bookshelf

Of the two, Daryl seems more willing to trust, but with hesitation. He didn’t know Noah at first, but even after losing his weapons, he didn’t want Carol to kill him. He stopped her from dealing with walkers outside the building since she didn’t have to. But once they found Noah again, after he threw a walker to Carol, Daryl figured that he had given Noah one chance too many, so why not let him die? He seemed genuinely angry that Carol would consider rescuing Noah after he almost got her killed.

Consumed- Carol grabs Daryl's hand before they drive over a bridge

I like these two as a pair because they seem so similar, but different at the same time. For my money, I think Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride might have the strongest chemistry than any other pair I’ve seen on the show so far. The two come off like long friends who can open up and tell each other anything without feeling like they’re being judged.

Consumed- Noah holds up Carol and Daryl

It doesn’t look like Noah covered much ground, but he did manage to find clothes that fit him. He’s motivated by his desperation to escape, but also because he knows that he left Beth behind. As we see, he doesn’t want to rob Carol and Daryl of their weapons, but he’s doing what he feels is necessary to survive.

Consumed- Noah tells Carol and Daryl that Beth helped him escape the hospital

Given how “Slabtown” ended, we knew that Noah would run into Carol and Daryl, plus we’d get an explanation as to how Carol ended up in the hospital. And I think it’s safe to assume that Noah is the person with Daryl after he returned to the church.

I really enjoyed this episode. It helped develop Carol and Daryl’s bond while also expanding on their need to progress instead of always looking back at their conflicted lives. The flashbacks helped explain some of what Carol had been up to during the time she had been separated from the group. As with the two episodes before it, “Consumed” takes place at a different time, but is still building toward the same finale. Again, in the long run, not a lot actually happened in this episode, but I prefer a slower paced episode with some time for character development than rampant running and shooting with little room to breathe.

A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 8: “The Mask”

This week’s villain is Black Mask. I wonder if it’s the businessman with the masks in his office.

The Mask- Fight Club, Office Style

The episode begins in a rundown office. A man walks out and dons a black ski mask just as another man rushes out. The two fight until one victor emerges.

The Mask- Nygma examines body of Coleman Lawson, played by Bryce Biederman

The next morning at a crime scene, Nygma examines the body of one of the men from last night’s fight. This is Coleman Lawson, played by Bryce Biederman, but Lawson has no wallet or ID on his person- just a nasty gash on his neck. He died at midnight, but he’s been in this location for a few hours. He also put up one hell of a fight. Nygma may have little to work on, but he catches a break when he finds a finger in Lawson’s mouth.

Gordon figures it couldn’t have been a mugger since muggers don’t move the bodies. He’s a bit short with other officers since, you know, they all abandoned him.

The Mask- Oswald wants a broach

Now that he’s back and better than ever, Oswald Cobblepot decides to commit a heinous crime: petty theft. He approaches a woman on the sidewalk and demands her broach.

The Mask- Oswald presents broach to Fish as a peace offering

He then presents it to Fish as a peace offering and as a way to agree to Maroni’s terms: he still has drugs and unions and pays tariffs for the ports. What Oswald needs is for Fish to talk to Falcone about there being no bloodshed, but Fish assures him that there may be a few drops. Oswald is then introduced to his replacement, Timothy, played by Robbie Tann. Remember him.

Though Oswald feels bad about the broken bonds, things don’t get much better when Fish stabs him with the broach. Even though Oswald suffered, Fish feels he has not suffered enough. He takes the broach and leaves.

The Mask- Bruce doesn't want to go to school

And since Alfred won’t let him make crime webs for the rest of his young life, Bruce is taken to the Andres Preparatory Academy. After all, he needs to be around people his own age, even if he feels that friends are childish. Plus, he’s not even sure if he wants to be a normal kid.

The Mask- Gordon speaks with victim's mother

At the police department, Gordon speaks with Coleman Lawson’s mother about any enemies he may have had. He only worked at a coffee shop, so chances are he only would have made foes of people whose orders he fudged. When Gordon brings up the fact that he was found in a business suit, Lawson’s mother explains that he had been looking for a job in finance.

The Mask- Bullock reports to Essen

Bullock, meanwhile, reports to Essen. No update on the thumb so far, but he’ll take a look into the black market next. She asks about Gordon himself is doing, but Bullock tells her that Gordon is, of course, still pissed at the other officers for running out on him during the encounter with Zsasz. Seeing him reminds the other officers of what cowards they are. Essen sympathizes, but she also believes that Gordon needs to move on since he can’t do this job alone.

The Mask- Oswald's mother sees that his hand has been injured

Since Fish didn’t like the broach, Oswald gives it to his dear, sweet mother instead. When asked about his damaged hand, Oswald tells Mom that someone was just mean to him. His success makes other people envious and the restaurant business can be troubling at times. The problem is that the person who did this to Oswald isn’t afraid of her boss. Mom understands. When she was young, her teacher did nothing to stop her when she had to deal with another student, Magda. Magda, it turns out, had ‘private lessons’ with the teacher. Well, Mom put a stop to that. Oh, not by revealing the lessons, but by denouncing Magda’s father to the secret police. Go, Mom!

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon speak with Dr. Felton, played by Frank Deal

Gordon and Bullock visit a black market doctor, Felton, played by Frank Deal, who is working on a man whose been shot. Dr. Felton doesn’t know anything, but Gordon finds a shirt with black ink, similar to the man they found this morning. Whoops. Felton reveals that a man did stop by around three in the morning, but didn’t give a name. However, a business card fell out of his pocket.

The Mask- Gordon arrests Dr. Felton

So Gordon decides to arrest Dr. Felton for lying. Alvarez isn’t pleased with this. The doctor always lies, he says, but you have to shake him a little bit. Alvarez doesn’t like how Gordon is screwing everyone over and fails to see the irony in this until Gordon gets in his face.

Bullock prevents a fight from breaking out and pulls Gordon aside. He tells Gordon that he has every right to be angry, but he has to play along to get along. Keep in mind that Falcone let them live. Bullock suggests that Gordon let the doctor out, and then they’ll get more work done tomorrow. Gordon considers this, but ultimately doesn’t let the doctor walk.

The Mask- Gordon finds Barbara had loaded one of his spare guns

We follow Gordon to Barbara’s. The lights are out, but they quickly come on and Barbara managed to get a hold of Gordon’s spare gun. She’s nervous and still feels that Zsasz is stalking her, but Gordon promises not to let anything happen to her.

Back at the rundown office building, a man in a black mask walks past three caged men and lets them know that it’s up to them when they get out.

Next morning, Gordon is ready to leave, but Barbara asks him to leave his spare gun. He hesitates, but decides to leave it.

The Mask- Nygma examines body

Back at GCPD, Nygma works on the body. Oh, by the way, what do a dead man, a cruise ship and an emu have in common? That’s right. Nothing. I certainly hope Nygma’s riddles and questions are better than this when he becomes The Riddler, if he ever does in this universe. Just as Nygma makes a discovery, another doctor storms into the room. Looks like Nygma wasn’t supposed to be here.

The Mask- Tommy Elliot, played by Cole Vallis, asks Bruce about his dead parents

Meanwhile, over at Saved By the Gotham Bell, Bruce meets up with Tommy Elliot, played by Cole Vallis, who immediately asks about Bruce’s parents. Did he watch them die? Were there guts? Is Tommy an asshat? Yes.

The Mask- Fish and Liza meet in confessional

Liza and Fish meet in a confessional. A bit cliché, but hey, no one will see them together that way. Liza’s update isn’t as detailed as Fish would like: she cooks and sings for Falcone, but for the most part, she’s made little progress. Fish tells her about Falcone’s private office- there’s a ledger in the right bottom drawer and she wants Liza to copy the last two pages. To do this, Liza will need a key from Falcone’s key ring. To do that, she’ll need to slip past Falcone, so Fish gives her a vial. Inside is a liquid that should put Falcone out for two hours. Fish doesn’t intend to kill Falcone now. If she did, there would be no chaos. And if Liza is caught, she’s probably dead. Good to know.

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon talk to Richard Sionis, played by Todd Stashwick

Bullock and Gordon head to the office and find almost every employee sporting some sort of bruise. They meet the man in charge, Richard Sionis, played by Todd Stashwick, and show him a photo of Coleman Lawson. Sionis isn’t familiar with the man and he believes there’s any number of ways the company’s business card could have ended up in his pocket. The detectives ask about Sionis’ many weapons: they inspire him. Finance is a tough business, so one must be a warrior. Gordon disagrees, saying that a businessman just needs to be a businessman. And about the masks? Masks free the soul, Sionis says. And for the bruises? Touch football gets rough. Gordon figures that Richard had Coleman killed, but there’s still no proof.

As Gordon leaves, he steps in a bit of blood and follows the trail to the men’s room. He finds two banged up men. One manages to overpower Gordon, but when he tries to escape, he runs flat into the door and hits the ground. Maybe Gordon should have waited for Bullock.

The Mask- Tommy asks Bruce about his parents again

On the next episode of Gotham’s Freaks and Geeks, Tommy taunts Bruce some more about his dead parents. Bruce, to his credit, tries to remain calm, but the second Tommy talks about Bruce’s mother, Bruce slaps him across the face. Ding-ding.

The Mask- Penguin's men bring Timothy to him

Timothy is brought to Oswald. Penguin has a few questions for his successor, but first, he’s gotta get the crap kicked out of him. There is an order to these things.

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon interrogate Adams

Gordon and Bullock speak with the man from the office, Adams, played by, Brian Morvant, though Bullock soon goes to Captain Essen and tells him that Adams was part of the hiring process. The top three candidates were told to fight it out and all signed confidentiality agreements. The fights take place in an old office building, but the windows are boarded up and the candidates entered it blindfolded.

The Mask- Nygma knows all about printer toner

But Nygma may be onto something: printer toner. The medical examiner’s report said the black on the business suit was ink, but it turned out to be toner. More than that, Nygma found staples and graphite chips, meaning that this man must have died in an office building! Yeah, Nygma’s a bit late to the party, but this discovery made him think about another case from a year ago: a young man in a business suit whose esophagus had been lacerated from an index card shoved down his throat. Four men have been killed with office supplies in the last three years. Essen immediately pushes for a confession, but there’s a problem.

Mr. Adams now has a lawyer and any statements made were now done under duress. Unfortunately, he showed up before Adams could sign. The pressing need for now is to find the building. Essen doesn’t think this makes any sense, but no more than the Balloonman or Goat did. Gordon figures nothing changed in Gotham. All this could have been bubbling under the surface, but it needed a spark to get things moving: a spark like the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. How? The Waynes stood for a decent Gotham. This is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll get into this later.

The Mask- Bruce is outmatched

Bruce is late when Alfred comes to pick him up from Gotham School Musical. He admits what Tommy the asshat said, but knows that he’s outmatched by a boy who is much bigger than him.

The Mask- Gordon enters office building

Following a brief confrontation with Bullock, Gordon heads to the abandoned office and finds three caged potentials, but he’s soon tased by Sionis.

The Mask- Selina Kyle still needs something to do

Oh, and Selina Kyle has moved up to stealing fur coats. A girl has gotta shop. And I guess if you’re gonna get screen time, Ms. Kyle, the writers have to give you stuff to do.

The Mask- Bruce after getting in three punches on Tommy

Alfred gives Bruce a watch that belonged to his father. Why will this come in handy? Because Bruce goes up to Tommy’s house, knocks on the door, and once Tommy answers it, Bruce punches the crap out of him. Well, three solid hits, but it’s still something. When Alfred shows up, Tommy tells him that Bruce tried to kill him. That’s true, and Alfred let him try. Keep that in mind, Tommy.

The Mask- Gordon in Fight Club

Gordon awakens and finds the three men waiting around him. They’re given orders to kill. The first one to get Gordon wins. Heck, there’s even the promise of a $1 million bonus. Hard to compete with that, really.

The Mask- Bullock's speech

Back at GCPD, Bullock isn’t hearing back from Gordon. He needs to check some addresses, but gets no help from his fellow officers. This prompts him to call everyone’s attention. They may dislike Gordon, but damn it, he’s still a cop and no one stood up for him when he needed it. That won’t happen again. It takes a moment, but Captain Essen is the first to lend Bullock a hand. Soon, others join in.

The Mask- Gordon prepares to fight Black Mask

However, Gordon manages to hold his own and takes down all three men. Now, though, he must face Black Mask. He taunts Gordon, asking about his fellow cops, but Gordon is confident that he won’t need them. The two fight and Gordon manages to overtake Black Mask. He has the opportunity to kill, but he won’t. Then the cavalry arrives.

The Mask- Liza returns to Fish

Liza returns to tell Fish that she wants out, fearing that Falcone may be onto her. Is this all worth it? People already fear Fish, but Fish wants more. After all, she watched one of Falcone’s men murder her mother. She then made a promise to never again be powerless. The ledger, which Liza does turn over, is a threat. Pull it and Falcone becomes undone. Though Liza is afraid, Fish promises to never let anything happen to her.

The Mask- Timothy admits to Penguin that there's a mole in Falcone's ranks

A pity that she won’t be able to say the same for Timothy, who spits out that Fish has a mole in Falcone’s ranks.

Gordon thanks Bullock for having his back, but he’s still wrong about him. Gordon doesn’t like to fight, but he’s not afraid to, either. Someone has to fight for the city and he will still go after all of the corruption.

Barbara gets a call from Jim, but ignores it and heads out.

Alvarez informs Gordon that officers brought in a perp that knows him. The charge? Breaking and entering. Whoever did this must have been a real pro. Some master thief that the police have never been able to-

The Mask- Gordon finds Selina waiting for him

-yeah, it’s Selina.

The Mask- Bruce is ready to join Fight Club

Meanwhile, Bruce admits to Alfred that he enjoyed hurting Timmy. He’s angry all the time, but Alfred doesn’t know if it will go away. Now Bruce wants to learn how to fight.

After last week’s very well-done episode, Gotham sort of slipped back into its rhythm of bad guy of the week with “The Mask.” That’s not a bad thing and there’s no way that Gotham can pull off the same quality as “Penguin’s Umbrella” every week so far, but there’s still a lot to like about this episode.

First off, I like the immediate connection to the previous two episodes and Gordon’s strained relationship with most of the police department. It’s one thing to have left Oswald alive, but last week, Gordon saw how few allies he has in his corner. Keep in mind that almost every officer walked out on him when Zsasz entered the department. The only reason Captain Essen left is because Gordon asked her to. Now Gordon realizes that only the likes of Essen and Bullock will back him. I actually like this dynamic because it gives Gordon an even greater incentive to prove to everyone that his way works.

The Mask- Gordon doesn't care that he's screwing over the other officers

Few in Gotham’s ranks are honest and upstanding. Remember that Oswald told Falcone that Gordon was the only one with a conscience. We see that on display here when he refuses Dr. Felton, even though he’s screwing everyone over. Gordon is holding onto a lot of rage and he has every reason to. Sure, he’s got Essen and Bullock, but the bulk of the police department abandoned him. He sees no reason to, as Bullock puts it, play along to get along. He’s going to keep playing by the rules and bring in Gotham’s crooked elements, even if that makes him an enemy of Gotham’s finest. Bullock says at one point that Gordon likes fighting cops and going against the establishment. That’s probably true, but I doubt Gordon does it just to screw with people. He’s doing it because, as he says, someone has to.

Batman 614- Gordon stops Batman from killing the Joker

There’s a line and Gordon won’t allow himself to cross it and become as corrupt as the cops he must work with. This all reminds me of The Killing Joke or Gordon’s conversation with Batman in Batman #614– the philosophy he’ll come to stand by in his later years is developing here. If Gordon wanted to become a corrupt cop, he could at any point, but he won’t because he truly believes that the law, despite how often it fails, can still work. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t want to see Gordon just be filled with angst all of the time, but I appreciate the show giving him some serious conflict with his fellow officers.

The Mask- Captain Essen regrets not standing by Gordon when Zsasz came

That said, there’s one thing Gordon said that bothered me: he told Captain Essen that the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne may have been the spark that set off these murders, including the office related deaths. It’s an interesting theory and nice way to try and connect Sionis’ involvement to the Waynes, but we learn from Nygma that there have been office related deaths well before Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered, so this whole connection doesn’t make any sense.

The Mask- Black Mask

A bit on Black Mask: this could not have been a less subtle way to show us the villain. I mean, Sionis has masks in his office. The only thing left to add would be the very mask he wore during battle, unless I just missed it during the scene where Gordon and Bullock talk to him. I’m also not a fan of the mask itself. It’s a bit goofy looking, for my taste. I blame the Green Goblin’s mask in the 2002 Spider-Man film for that. When the villain is wearing a cartoony looking mask and I can still see their mouth moving behind the mask, I can’t take them seriously.

The Mask- Bullock speaks to the department in defense of Gordon

I am glad that Bullock and Essen are standing behind Gordon when no one else will. Sure, Bullock is trying to play both sides, but he’s more willing to be a good cop instead of just being corrupt. His speech was a good way to knock the other officers out of apathy and a nice character moment for him, but in the end, it didn’t do anything. Gordon ultimately bested Black Mask and the three potential employees on his own and by the time Captain Essen arrived, he didn’t need any help.

The Mask- Barbara leaves again

Well, Barbara looks like she’s gone again. Fine, I guess. I’m still not invested in her as a character. And given how she was adamant on Jim letting her into his life, it’s strange that she would walk out again. But then, we don’t know the reason or whether she’s actually gone for good. I doubt it, but we’ll see. Also, why is drinking her vice? Did she run out of pot?

The Mask- Fish and mom

With so much emphasis on the mob last week, I didn’t mind seeing the Falcone and Maroni war take a backseat this week. Fish is taking careful steps to take down Falcone and she’s got a decent motivation for herself, even if she did lie about her mother dying. She cares for Liza, yes, but Timothy looks like he’s done for, same as Lazlo was. Heck, she really only needs Butch to get things done.

And given what we know about Oswald, I have to wonder whether the ledger will be as impactful as Fish thinks it will.

The Mask- Bruce and Alfred

Bruce, my boy! So Bruce Wayne gets a taste of adolescent violence as he walks the halls of Gotham School Musical. I didn’t mind watching him beat the crap out of Tommy Elliot since, let’s be honest, the prick had it coming. I don’t know how realistic it is for students to suddenly ask a kid about their dead parents, but with Tommy laying it on so thick, he was begging for an ass-kicking. That’s just what he got. It was a strong moment for Bruce, but really, at this rate, the kid will be Batman by the time he graduates.

And I did get a kick out of Alfred prepping Bruce for this confrontation. The chemistry between Mazouz and Pertwee is growing very well. I really liked when Bruce asked Alfred to define normal and make a good case for it.

The Mask- Selina Kyle needs to shop

Did we really need to have another Selina Kyle scene? She could have just been brought in at the end of the episode without having some establishing scene of the officers catching her. And given how quick the girl is, it’s strange that she managed to get caught. Whatever. I hope there’s some sort of payoff to this.

While not as strong as “Penguin’s Umbrella,” “The Mask” helped push Gordon’s conflict deeper as he battles against the Gotham City Police Department with few allies on his side. By episode’s end, all looks to be well, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Meanwhile, Fish is confident that she’s making the right moves to take down Falcone, but Penguin, as we’ve seen, is one step ahead of her.

Oh, and never cross Oswald’s mother, or she’ll report you to the secret police.