Episode 9: “Harvey Dent”
by Dan Tomasik
Gordon works together with D.A. Harvey Dent to tackle a bomb threat. Meanwhile, Selina moves into Wayne Manor.
Last week brought up one of DC’s most famous Batman stories; The Killing Joke. This week, which features the introduction of Gotham’s own idealistic white knight, district attorney, Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto), seems a good time to bring up perhaps the most famous Batman story; The Long Halloween.
An epic mystery spanning an entire year, it ties in Bruce and Selina, Batman and Catwoman, Falcone, Maroni, and the origins of Two-Face. A mysterious killer begins targeting members of Falcone’s operation on holidays. Gordon, Dent and Batman are cracking down on Falcone, determined to break up his empire. One of the main conflicts is their determination to stop Falcone without crossing the line and becoming criminals themselves. Months pass, leads turn to dead ends (and sometimes dead bodies), victims pile up, and still the case seems unsolvable. Tensions rise, Dent is accused of being Holiday by Gordon and Batman, one openly, the other secretly. Maroni testifies against Falcone, but throws acid in Dent’s face while on the witness stand. Dent is scarred on the left side of his face, driving him over the edge; Two-Face is born.
(I highly recommend reading the whole story)
Harvey Dent isn’t like other villains. Whereas many began as low-life criminals or average citizens, Dent began as a force for good. Not just employed by the side of good (GCPD has proven that such a position means little), but genuinely trying to make Gotham a better place, legally. As said in The Dark Knight (which drew heavy inspiration from The Long Halloween), Harvey was the hero Gotham needed. Did he often try to shoulder too much? Without doubt, yes. Did he bend the rules? Yes. Did he start to lose control at points? Yes. Did he ever growl out death threats at mobsters in his office? No, very much no. Harvey wasn’t someone who had a villain side lurking beneath his good guy exterior, he was good both outside and in. He was one of Gordon’s only comrades in a city of people who had all but given up.
Gotham’s been on a roll the last couple weeks, but it seems this week it’s fallen back a few steps. “Harvey Dent” is a decent, if mostly forgettable episode. It’s not bad, don’t worry. It’s just that it seems to be drawing attention to some of its own flaws. Like Fish Mooney’s secret weapon. I know I give Mooney and Jada Pinkett-Smith hell every week, but in my defense, she’s screaming for it. Mooney’s “secret weapon” that’s been built up for weeks is a standard honeytrap scheme. A scheme that Penguin has proven to be easily shaken by one drop-in. If this girl can’t handle unexpected visits from Oswald Cobblepot, how can she be expected to hold up the ruse against Carmine Falcone, the foremost expert in seeing through BS?
Speaking of Penguin, he seems to be growing into his role as a future crime lord quite nicely. In a city like Gotham, there are all kinds of gangs and all kinds of crime bosses. There’s the untouchable boss (Falcone), the cocky boss (Maroni), the schemer (Mooney), and the freak (Cobblepot). Each has different methods of gathering power, seizing it, and maintaining it. Money, power, respect, fear, etc. However, the most important ingredient in a successful crime boss is figuring out your enemies’ moves whilst keeping yours hidden. That’s what Penguin does better than anyone else. He’s good enough at it that he can get away with his bizarre behavior.
Oddly, there wasn’t a lot of Harvey Dent for his namesake episode, but we did see a fair deal of Selina and Bruce. Seeing the two children side-by-side, it becomes clear that Selina has the better actress. Bruce isn’t bad by any means, but much like his self-training, it can’t compare to experiencing the adult world firsthand. Selina has been acting opposite the grown ups of Gotham since episode 1, whereas Bruce has mostly been dealing with only Alfred. The Bruce who can stand as Selina’s equal won’t come around until the future. Watching them play together is wonderful, though.
Chill out, Harvey. You won’t become a villain for, like, 10 years. Also, you need a better bit for that double-sided coin of yours. The moment a kid chooses tails, it’s gonna fall apart. Mooney needs to either make a bold move, rework her plan, abandon it, or get overthrown by that aide of hers that seems to know way more about being a crime box than she does. Penguin needs to keep doing what he’s doing, because it’s fantastic. Lastly, Gotham needs to find a new curveball to throw at Gordon. Barbara’s-seeing-a-woman just doesn’t have the kind of kick they think it does. Honestly, what are they expecting? What does leaving Gordon for a woman have to do with anything?
Episode Score: 7.0