Camren Bicondova, David Mazouz/Fox
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Even on its best days Gotham plays like a collection of footnotes and sidebars to the real Batman show most of us wish we were watching, and there’s no clearer example of this than the continuing saga of Fish Mooney on Dollmaker Island. Here’s a character with no canonical connection to the Bat-story who now has no connection whatsoever to anything else happening on the show; she’s literally off on an island of her own. At least when Fish was in Gotham she had a role to play in the city’s underworld power struggle, and by extension Oswald Cobblepot’s transformation into the Penguin. Now she’s an oddball tangent on a show that already suffers from excessive sprawl.

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Maybe the Dollmaker storyline has some importance to Fish’s development that has yet to be revealed, but given Jada Pinkett Smith’s comments indicating this is a one-and-done season for her, it’s hard to justify spending nearly half this episode in her company. At least “Beasts Of Prey” brings our time on the island to a close in relatively entertaining fashion. Too often we’ve been expected to take Fish’s criminal genius on faith (her rise to the top of the basement-dwellers’ pyramid was particularly rushed and unconvincing), but here she pulls off a con that’s workable if not quite brilliant. Using the time-tested “whoops, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be outside” method, Fish determines that there are two means of escape from the island: a boat and a helicopter. She also learns that reaching either vehicle alive will be close to impossible thanks to the presence of the Catcher and his armed goons.

After an improbable close call with Dr. Dulmacher, who chooses to believe Fish’s intentions with the letter opener are for her own neck rather than his, Fish rounds up the biggest and meanest of the basement gang for a run at the boat. Unfortunately for these lunkheads, they’re merely decoys intended to draw the Catcher and company away from the chopper so that Fish and her actual allies can escape by air. (She can fly the helicopter, of course, because you never know when that skill will come in handy.) They get away, but not before Fish takes a bullet in the gut. With three episodes left in the season, we’re probably not quite done with her yet (and who knows, maybe Smith is running a long con of her own with her comments), but it’s hard to imagine the show justifying this arc in the remaining hours.

Back in Gotham, Jim Gordon has even more reason to justify his increasing cynicism. When an eager young patrolman comes to him with an unsolved murder, he raises Gordon’s hopes that there’s a younger contingent within the GCPD intent on rising above the rampant corruption in the department. The case involves a serial killer known as the Ogre (but unrelated to any existing DC Comics characters going by that moniker), who we learn from plentiful flashbacks is Jason Lennon (Milo Ventimiglia), a young man looking for love and unwilling to take no for an answer. His story isn’t resolved this week, but it becomes clear that the case was referred to Gordon on Loeb’s orders because of the Ogre’s m.o. of taking vengeance on any cop who investigates him. Yet again, Gordon’s illusions are shattered: there is no youthful core of idealists within the GCPD, just another layer of corruption dragging him down. Gordon’s manhandling of Loeb in the GCPD bullpen seems ill-advised, but the message is received. Angry Jim Gordon is still angry.

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So is Alfred, healing from wounds but not quickly enough to allow him to seek retribution from his old pal Reggie. That leaves it to young Bruce with an assistant from Selina — one he desperately needs, as it’s apparent he still has a long way to go in the street-smarts department when he looks up addresses of gun ranges in order to find a man said to be holed up in a shooting gallery. Bruce gets what he wants from the meeting (the name of the man behind the attack on Alfred: Bunderslaw), but when he has the chance to end Reggie’s life, he freezes. Selina shows no such restraint, thus establishing a dynamic between them that will undoubtedly play out for however many seasons this show lasts. That continues to be the major problem with Gotham: the inevitability of it all, and the sense that it’s all fated to end before the fun really starts.

Stray observations:

  • Never Mind The Bullocks: “Let me say it in Spanish: No.” Bullock is a man of many talents, but I wouldn’t have pegged him as bilingual.
  • Oswald’s storyline this week is something of a trifle, as he obtains ownership of a bar by the slightly unorthodox means of cutting off the fingers of the owner’s daughter’s boyfriend. Ed Nygma, meanwhile, is hardly annoying at all this week.
  • Your regularly scheduled Kyle Fowle will be back on the beat next week.

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