Stranger Things, Season Two (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in May 2018, our “stranger” panel of frequent CPU! panelists and TV fans – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, and Michael; subtracting Chelsea and Rob, who departed the panel for busy lives behind the podcast; but adding panelists new to the panel but not to the podcast in Sarah and Jeremy – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 2 of runaway hit and Netflix original Stranger Things. If you have not watched any of Stranger Things, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

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PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “Stranger Things” – The Season Two Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Related imageModerator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Stranger Things” is a science fiction-horror web television Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “Stranger Things,” created, written, directed and co-executive produced by the Duffer Brothers, stars (in Season Two) Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, and Paul Reiser.

SYNOPSIS

The Hawkins, Indiana, National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the US Department of Energy but secretly conducts experiments into the paranormal and supernatural, including those that involve human test subjects, which start to affect the unknowing residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.  The first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy by his friends, older brother, and traumatized mother, as well as the local police chief, amid supernatural events occurring around the town, including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy’s friends in their own search.  The second season is set a year later, starting in October 1984.  The boy, Will (Schapp), has been rescued, but few know of the details of the events. When it is discovered that Will is still being influenced by entities from another dimension, his friends and family learn that there is a larger threat to their universe from that other dimension.

When: The second season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on October 27, 2017.

Where: The action is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the 1980s.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the links below – though it bears mentioning that Stranger Things may very well be the most popular and most requested panel/show to discuss since the inception of this humble little podcast.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU!, naturally, covered the first season of this “stranger” series.  To listen to that prior podcast episode, click the embedded link below:

Season One

Stranger Things was a runaway hit with the CPU! core, just as it was with the nationwide water cooler that is America when it first premiered in summer 2016, and we have a deep bench of eager panelists ready to be called up for their chance to talk about all the Stranger Things.  Because, really, what’s not to love?  If you grew up in the 1980s, this show appeals to your sense of nostalgia.  If you are older, this show and its youngest characters remind you of your adult children when they were young.  If you are younger, the child stars and characters of the series are easy to relate to because they are timeless archetypes, amalgamations of similar characters that appear throughout the pop culture of the past thirty or forty years.  In fact, the Duffer Brothers deftly pay homage to the atmosphere of the decade; the influences of auteurs on this scifi/horror drama such as Speilberg, Lucas, Scott, Carpenter, Craven, and others; and the appeal of the vintage and the tactile to an increasingly expanding group of disaffected post-millennials, who see bits of themselves in the Dungeons and Dragons playing boys or the quiet and scared yet powerful Eleven (Brown).

Going into our Season 2 discussion around the water cooler, our panel experienced somewhat of an “upside down” changeover itself.  Panelists Hilary, Kyle, and Michael return, eager to dissect and share their thoughts and feelings on the second Stranger season.  Joining them for the first time are two panelists new to the panel, but not to the podcast, specifically Sarah – who has been on a hodgepodge of panels too many to list but including American Horror Story, Doctor Who, and our Buffy-Verse retrospective – and Jeremy, who is on our Supernatural and 13 Reasons Why panels and who Looked Back at Six Feet Under.  Former panelists Chelsea and Rob (two of our Game of Thrones panelists) departed the panel for now in favor of busy lives behind the podcast, though they join the ranks of on the wait list folks who can barely wait to discuss their supreme love for this program.

As it turns out, the panel, new in composition though it was, found itself slightly more divided when discussing Season Two, with some panelists commenting on the hasty and superficial introduction of new characters like Billy (Montgomery), though they regarded other new introductions like Bob (Astin) and Dr. Owens (Reiser) as better handled, even if intermittently short-lived.  Still, the majority of the panel spent most of the chat gushing about this series’ latest season. Again, there was little bad or negative to say because everyone universally agreed that the creators and show-runners continued to nurture a character-driven, nostalgia-rooted story that appeals to our basic fears and nightmares, though most panelists also struggled with the controversial seventh episode of the season, exploring Eleven’s quest to root out her own origins.  In any event, most of the panelists still find the story to be tightly woven with an organic and logical flow, a perfect visual presence from art direction to cinematography to visual effects, and stellar if stranger performances all around.  If you are part of the Stranger Things fan club, this discussion will only continue to serve to validate your commonly held adoration for this unlikely sleeper hit.  Have I convinced you to listen via the embedded link below?

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our How to Get Away with Murder panel returns to the Water Cooler – sort of – but, I should warn you, gentle listener: the jug of water sort of broke, and a faint lilt of the Jaws theme started underscoring the drama of the spill.  That’s right, folks. Our HTGAWM panel very much tried on some water skis and scaled some predatory fish in their path.  Stay tuned for the reasons why the three HTGAWM panelists have become members of “Shark Jumpers Anonymous!”

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) What is Will’s connection to the Upside Down beyond his ability to seemingly straddle the inter-dimensional barrier – is it more than a lucky connection?  In other words, was his initial disappearance into the Upside Down truly random?  How was Will able to survive for so long there?  Is he special or immune to the Upside Down?  Is he something more than just the dimension’s first victim?  Was Joyce (Ryder) part of the drug trial that Eleven’s bio mom was part of, causing Eleven’s special abilities?

2) Will we see other psychic kids, akin to Kali/Eight and Jane/Eleven, such as some of the other numbered test subjects in the drug trials?  Did any others actually survive?

3) Is Dr. Martin Brenner still alive, as was stated in the seventh episode of the season by the man who electrically fried Eleven’s bio-mom’s brain at Brenner’s behest?

4) Will the show explore the lab/facility more where Eleven was housed, either in the past with Kali and/or the one, if the same, in Hawkins?

5) Will we see other dimensions beyond the Upside Down?  Are there others?  Does Eleven have the power to open up pockets or rifts to those other places?

6) Does Billy serve a larger purpose to the show other than being an on-the-nose homage to all of the teen bully characters of ’80s films?

7) Will the female characters intermingle more, as panelist Michael wishes?

8) Will Joyce find love again – and will it be with Hopper (Harbour), as the show seems to be seeding?

9) How much in-school experiences, with Eleven in attendance and interacting with Mike (Wolfhard), Dustin (Matarazzo), and Lucas (McLaughlin) as well as Max (Sink), will we see in the next season?

10) What does the Mind Flayer really want?  Is it trying to destroy this world?  Occupy and conquer it?  Possess psychic children?  Reveal itself to be the Man in Black?

11) What is the Upside Down, really, beyond an alternate dimension?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Stranger Things podcast panel essentially recommends this show to anyone who breathes – or, at least, who watches and enjoys television.  Period.  The general consensus among the panelists is that this well crafted, well written, well directed, and well performed piece offers “something for everyone” and can appeal to young and old, man and woman, people who like science fiction and horror and people who do not, and everyone and everything in between.  The panel also generally agrees, even though one or two panelists struggled more in season two than in season one with the story while others preferred the second season overall, that the basic yarn is a riveting one, told with largely fanciful ideas and seamlessly crafted dialogue; in fact, the panel universally agrees that the story and the show will especially connect to those born before or during the Reagan era.  The only caution the panel would offer is that the program succeeds in providing some legitimate scares and moments of the disturbed or moments designed to unsettle the viewer, though, largely, without being “too scary,” even for the most squeamish of our intrepid panelists.  Those panelists also agree, though, that with proper forewarning, even the most sensitive or the most overactive imaginations among the viewing audience can find something to enjoy in this perfect nosh of creepy nostalgia.

LOOKING AHEAD

Stranger Things was (readily) renewed for a third season, which is expected to be released to the Netflix streaming library in 2019, though no official release date has yet been announced.  Our Stranger Things panel will, subsequently, reconvene some time thereafter to dissect Season Three, in or out of the Upside Down. As always, CPU! will stay abreast of and report all material Stranger Things coverage.  Until then!

Broadchurch, Series 3 and Series Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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A new episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in April 2018, our panel of some of our most frequent CPU! voices – including Moderator Kylie, Kristen, Nick, Hilary, Kyle, and Krista – are Around the Water Cooler and discussing Series Three of British mystery/crime drama Broadchurch as well as Looking Back at the series as a whole. If you have not watched any of Broadchurch, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler and Looking Back at “Broadchurch,” the Season/Series 3 Recap and Series Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Related imageModerator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Broadchurch” is a British television crime drama, which aired for three seasons from 2013 to 2017 on iTV in the United Kingdom and on BBC America in the United States.

What: “Broadchurch” was created and written by Chris Chibnall and focuses, at least initially, on the death of an 11-year-old boy and the impact of grief, mutual suspicion, and media attention on the surrounding town.

SYNOPSIS

Series One focuses on the search for the boy, Danny Latimer’s, murderer by detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). The second series primarily focuses on two plot strands: the trial of Joe Miller and the reopening of the Sandbrook case, a case Hardy failed to properly solve, which brings him unwanted notoriety throughout the investigation of the Broadchurch murder. Series Three is set three years after the events of Series Two and follows the rape of a local woman.

When: Series Three originally aired on iTV in Great Britain from February 27 to April 17, 2017, and on BBC America in the United States from June 28 to August 16, 2017.

Where: In Broadchurch, the action takes place primarily in the fictional town of Broadchurch, in the county of Dorset, in the South of England, on the scenic Jurassic Coast and in surrounding areas, such as the county courthouse. Series Two does travel to the fictional town of Sandbrook, as David Tennant’s character, Alec Hardy, investigates a case from his past.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below!  Of course, for the female members of the panel (Chief Couch Potato and moderator Kylie included), the primary reason was: David Tennant, David Tennant, David Tennant.  The male members of the panel sighed with moderate contempt and resignation at this revelation.  To them, we said, “Oh well!”  Just look at the man, for heaven’s sake:

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David Tennant: Perhaps the primary reason why the female panelists started watching Broadchurch

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU! previously covered Series 1 and 2 of Broadchurch on the podcast as well as compared and contrasted the relative (de)merits of American remake Gracepoint.  To listen to that worthy analysis, from early in the CPU! annals (and out of the vault), click the embedded link below:

Broadchurch, Series 1 and 2, and Gracepoint, Season 1

Our now undoubtedly famous Broadchurch panel, with some of our most frequent panelists – namely Kristen, Nick, Krista, Hilary, and Kyle – have returned to the Water Cooler to engage in a heady, topical discussion about the mystery of Broadchurch Series 3, which could not be timelier or more relevant to current events.  We also, of course, spend ample time admiring David Tennant.  At least, the female members of the panel do.  As we did in our last episode, all of the panelists have quite a bit to say about this stirring and intense mystery, which they see as largely successful, despite the fact that the show (still) did not find American audiences quite as readily.  We also spend some time briefly looking back at the show as a whole and comparing all of the series, including how they made us feel and think as ready and willing viewers.  As always, it’s a deeply analytical discussion about the success of the show and the story, as well as the effects each had on each of the panelists.

This particular episode was recorded in April 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of all seasons of the British drama. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite)0, Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, our Stranger Things panel will finally return to the Water Cooler after a one-year hiatus to discuss and to digest the spooky, mind flaying second season of the acclaimed Netflix series.  It’s a lively discussion – and it’s better late than never!  Stay tuned!

Old Questions

1)  Will Joe Miller somehow return to Broadchurch, despite his banishment by the other residents of the town?  Kylie predicts that he will try to come back and to acquit himself in the town’s eyes because he has convinced himself, on the strength of his legal defense, that he is truly innocent.

ANSWER: Joe does not return to the town itself but returns to the series, when Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) seeks him out in his new home in a nearby coastal town.  Mark continues to struggle with his grief over Danny’s murder and to nurse a vendetta, wanting “justice” for Danny by ensuring punishment of Joe.  Though he tries to convince Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and the rest of the family to consider initiating a civil trial, given the failure of the criminal trial to convict Joe, they prove reluctant.  So, he takes matters into his own hands and finds Joe himself, with the very real intent to kill him, if he will not turn himself in properly.  Listen to the episode for details.

2) Series/season three is said to be focused around a sexual assault in the town.  Will the perpetrator be one of the characters we already know?  Or, will it be someone totally different?

ANSWER: The victim and perpetrators are new characters to the show and to the viewer.  Since we spend considerable time discussing both in the episode, you should just listen to it.

RECOMMENDATION & PARTING SHOTS

Our panel continues to recommend Broadchurch to fans of British television generally, fans of mystery and crime procedural shows, and fans of David Tennant.  Though Broadchurch remains moody, tonally dark, and extremely intense, and emotionally preparing oneself to watch this show may be necessary, the panel also universally agreed that Broadchurch Series Three is one of the better seasons (better than the second, not as good as the first). In any event, the panel continues to praise the entire show highly, noting it to be well-written, well-performed, well-shot, and well-directed and encourages anyone interested in high quality television to give it a look-see.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

Broadchurch has officially ended.  The entire series is currently available to stream on Netflix. Did you watch Broadchurch?  Let us know in the comments, and tell us what you thought of any or all of its three seasons – or series if you’re British!  And stay tuned! Though our Broadchurch coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if the show makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time, as, after all, CPU! continues to expand our panel formats in new and exciting ways.

In the meantime, from our Broadchurch panel and David Tennant sister-wife commune (and the men who scorn it) to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing Broadchurch series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

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Production still for Broadchurch, Series 3

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The Broadchurch Panel! (top, left to right, Nick, Kyle, Hilary; bottom, left to right, Krista, Kristen)

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Pilots, Premieres, and First Looks: Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode 7, “Marvel’s The Punisher” – The Season One Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for the punisher title card netflix

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Marvel’s The Punisher” is a web television series based upon the Marvel Comics character of the same name.  It is also a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What:  “Marvel’s The Punisher,” created by Steve Lightfoot, is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The series revolves around Frank Castle, who uses lethal methods to fight crime as the vigilante “The Punisher,” with Jon Bernthal reprising the role from Marvel’s Daredevil. Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Jason R. Moore, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Daniel Webber, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Jaime Ray Newman, and Deborah Ann Woll also star.

When: The first season of the series was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on November 17, 2017, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action is set primarily in New York City, New York, as depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below – though I will say that all of the panelists are fans of the Netflix original library and/or superhero/comic book based shows in their own right and have found themselves eagerly anticipating new entries in Netflix’s “Defenders” series of releases, including this first spin-off the series!  As a result, they’re committed to a CPU! series about same!

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING. HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing. I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens. There are things I like, and things I don’t. We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes. Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together. No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys. It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

Marvel’s The Punisher = 4.2, by average of the podcast panel.

SYNOPSIS

Frank Castle (Bernthal), known throughout New York City as “the Punisher” after exacting revenge on those responsible for the deaths of his wife and children, uncovers a larger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family.

THOUGHTS

As long-time listeners should know by now, CPU! is chock full of panelists with a proclivity for comic book and superhero TV shows and films, including your Chief CP. Our Marvel’s Defenders Series was born of this proclivity, as we have already covered the two available seasons of Daredevil, the first season of Jessica Jones, the one available season of Luke Cage, the one available season of Iron Fist, and the one available season of the crossover event miniseries, The Defenders.  Listen to the links below:

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode One, “Daredevil,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Two, “Jessica Jones,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Three, “Daredevil,” Season 2

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Four, “Luke Cage,” Season 1
Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Five, “Iron Fist,” Season 1

Marvel’s Defenders Series, Episode Six, “The Defenders,” Season 1

As such, it was only right that we cover the first spin-off series of this universe, now the sixth in Netflix’s series of Marvel-centered shows. Thus, we bring you our first ever Punisher podcast episode – and the seventh episode of our Marvel’s Defenders Series – featuring Defenders panelists Nick, Kristen, Hilary, Kyle, and Spencer.

Our panel is, for the most part, highly complimentary of The Punisher solo series, though some panelists like this spin-off effort more than others.  Generally, all panelists love Bernthal and his charismatic portrayal of Marvel’s consummate antihero as well as Barnes’ version of prenatal villain Billy Russo and Bachrach’s performance as Frank’s undercover partner Micro.  Yet, most of us also found the show to suffer from a slow start, though this start was markedly offset by a speedy and powerful crescendo in action and suspense, as well as an off-putting supporting character in Agent Dinah Madani (Revah), on whom the panelists felt the story focused too much when she added so little to the overall pacing and relevance of the plot in the end.  To hear us hash out these opinions further, listen to our discussion via the embedded link below.

This podcast was (re)recorded in March 2018 as one of our lost episodes, erased via the much ballyhooed equipment failure previously advertised, though we think we recovered nicely.  Also, there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points throughout the first season of The Punisher.  Do you agree or disagree?  Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Wednesday, at long last, our Once Upon a Time panel returns to the Water Cooler, also affected by the aforementioned equipment failure, and will offer a re-recorded dissection of Season 7A in one of our twisty mid-season formats, which will include some of our “Newlywed Game” type hi-jinks to add spice to our already spicy group.  This recording follows the ABC network announcement that Once Upon a Time will end after this seventh season, and so this recording is one of the last three times our lively Once panel will gather together as a group.  As such, stay tuned for this funky and somewhat bittersweet “lost” episode!

RECOMMENDATION

The Punisher is recommended overall by our CPU! panel to fans of comic books, particularly from the Marvel universe; fans of the various Defenders series; and fans of the Punisher character.  The panel cautions that to truly appreciate what The Punisher offers as a program, it is best viewed after all solo Defender series/seasons released prior to the release of this series have also been viewed, particularly Marvel’s Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, as the Punisher’s back story is primarily established in “Daredevil” Season 2 (which does not make sense without viewing that series’ first season).  The panel also cautions that The Punisher is highly graphic and gory, featuring much violence and blood as befits a gun-toting antihero on a vendetta, so if you are an easily squeamish viewer, begin watching while prepared that you will see much in the way of blood and guts.  The panel also generally and universally agrees that The Punisher is well-performed, well-written, and well-directed but for some qualms from some panelists about pacing and about Revah’s Madani character, which failed to connect to any of our six panelists, your Chief CP included.  In any event, and despite the critiques described above, the panel almost universally had great fun watching this series and believes that anyone who considers themselves a fan of any or all of the individual Defenders would have fun watching it too.

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW

The Punisher was automatically renewed by Netflix for a second season, though no tentative release date has yet been announced by the streaming giant, as the producers of the series are currently vetting scripts, according to panelist Kyle.  As always, CPU! will be following all Defenders series, solo and crossover and related spin-offs, throughout all of the series’ runs as part of CPU!’s Marvel’s Defenders Series, so we will definitely return to podcast about Season Two following its release.  In addition, the CPU! Marvel’s Defenders panel will return very soon to review Marvel’s Jessica JonesSeason 2, which was released to Netflix today!  Until then, stay tuned!

Gotham: Season 4A, “A Dark Knight” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in February 2018, our panel of staunch Batman and comic book enthusiasts – including moderator Kylie, Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 4A, covering the arc entitled “A Dark Night,” of Gotham. If you have not watched any of Gotham, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think in the comments below and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Gotham,” the Season 4 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for gotham season 3 title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs fall through spring, currently on Thursdays at 8:00 PM on Fox.

What: “Gotham,” a crime series developed by Bruno Heller and primarily based upon the characters of to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), the real life identity of Batman. As originally conceived, the series would have served as a straightforward story of Gordon’s early days on the Gotham City Police Department. The idea evolved not only to include the Wayne character but also to tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy, Two-Face, the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and the Joker.

SYNOPSIS

A new recruit in the Gotham City Police Department named James Gordon (McKenzie) is paired with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to solve one of Gotham City’s highest-profile cases: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce (Mazouz), who is now in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy’s future in becoming Batman.

When: Season Four premiered on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Gotham City, the primary setting of the Batman franchise.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episodes embedded below!

As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2014-2015 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am).  I said:

“This is one of the most anticipated pilots of the new season, by critics, fans, and this blogger.  First, as a DC girl, Batman is my second favorite of their properties, after Superman, of course. Second, picking up the story from this prequel point is potentially brilliant; this could be must-see TV for a long time to come, folding in a Smallville like examination of the rise of Batman and the foes he fights, all from the perception of to-be Commissioner Gordon.  I’m super excited for this one and can’t wait to see a full episode.

I asked some fellow panelists to join me in evaluating how effective Gotham is in its storytelling muster and how successful it has been serving as the “prequel” it has become. Scroll down, and take a listen!

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

If you haven’t caught up on CPU!’s Gotham coverage, which we’ve been covering (more or less) since its auspicious beginnings, listen via the embedded links below:

Seasons 1-2A

Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains

Season 3A, Mad City

Season 3B, Mad City/Heroes Rise

Our Gotham panel, now consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, previously compared notes on the second half of the third season and spent time in so-called “Mad City” as well as ruminated upon the “Heroes Rise” arc, with various levels of trepidation and frustration, as we considered the success or lack thereof of the following plot developments: the return of Jerome Valeska, the Joker-Not-Joker (we loved it); the Riddler’s embrace of his Riddler identity (we loved it); the Court of Owls releasing the Tetch virus in gaseous form over Gotham City (we hated it); the implosion of the Penguin (we always love him); the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig; we were confused by it); and the continued stagnation of the Jim Gordon character, given all of these other distractions (we struggled with it).  We now discuss the first half of Gotham’s fourth season, encompassing the arc entitled “A Dark Knight,” which introduces Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), daughter of Carmine Falcone, as a new player vying for control of Gotham City’s criminal underworld, currently under Penguin’s thumb and under the thumb of his “Pax Penguina,” a plan that forces the police to look away from criminals under Penguin’s “official” licenses; the Riddler’s perceived loss of his intellectual sharpness after being melted from the ice in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge; Bruce Wayne’s dabbling in vigilantism and subsequent spiral into darkness, despite Alfred’s struggle to prevent otherwise; the plots of Ra’s al Ghul, presumably preparing Bruce to be his successor; the new criminal alliance between Selina Kyle, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Barbara Kean (Erin Richards); Harvey Bullock’s (Donal Logue) fall from grace and Jim Gordon’s ascension to captain of the central office of the GCPD; Lee Thompkins’ (Morena Baccarin) new role as gang boss who also happens to treat her charges medically; the introduction of Solomon Grundy, formerly Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell); and the appearance of new criminal sociopath Professor Pyg (Michael Cerveris).  How did the panel like this first half of the fourth season?  Listen to the embedded link below to find out

This podcast was recorded in February 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season and all episodes that have aired to date. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly!  Next Thursday (as we work to return our equipment troubles to peak form), we launch a new panel ready to laugh about the Netflix situation comedy concerning septuagenarians and reluctant friends facing drastic new life changes in Grace and Frankie.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions/Predictions

1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Penguin and Riddler have a falling out, which motivates them toward their most sociopathically driven selves?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Surprisingly, Penguin and Riddler stayed friends, supporting each other on occasion in this half of the season.  Penguin ended up in Arkham after confessing to the murder of Galavan to cover for Jim. Strange brainwashed him (if you want to call it that) into submission; Penguin ended up finding his real dad (played by Paul Reubens), who had fallen victim to a gold-digging former waitress and her sociopathic children. When the presence of a biological son emerged, the new wife poisoned Penguin’s father, who seemed to understand Penguin as no other could.  This murder, once discovered by Oswald, brought out the old Penguin, rather suddenly and menacingly. In the meantime, when Lee began to ask questions about the deceased Miss Kringle not picking up her paychecks, making Jim aware that there was a possible crime to solve, Nygma embraced his most Riddler-esque tendencies and staged riddle-filled capers and committed more murders before Jim finally caught him, clearing Jim’s name and landing Nygma in Arkham.  The moral is: Penguin and Riddler found their psychoses independently of one another, which is a shame because they are infinitely watchable together.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Well…it seems their mutual affection and cordial friendship have taken a controversial turn.  Penguin, as it turns out, develops a romantic devotion to Edward after Ed offers Penguin some admiration and validation for achieving victory in running for mayor despite being a well-known criminal mastermind, enthralled as Ed is by Penguin’s ability to manipulate the people of Gotham.  In the meantime, Ed only has eyes for women, specifically any and all women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Miss Kringle, the GCPD employee with an affinity for poodle skirts that he strangled in season 2. When Barbara Kean informs Ed of Penguin’s misplaced devotion in an effort to start trouble, a devotion which causes Penguin to order a hit on the Kringle doppelganger Isabella, who could very well have been Ed’s sociopath soulmate, Edward vows to destroy good old Oswald in revenge.  I imagine Ed’s penchant for riddles and a war with Penguin are going to get him where he needs to go to be the fully realized Riddler, while Penguin is pretty much Penguin, angling for power and acceptance but struggling to attain and keep it, the thematic undercurrent of this particular antagonist. The panel hopes that a war between these future arch-villains would be great, but we’re more than a little worried about the ability of this show’s writers to capitalize upon their own potential.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ed’s gone full-on Riddler, and the two arch-villains’ enmity has peaked.  The show allowed the war: Ed works with Barbara, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean to try to take down Penguin. Ed eventually gives up on those yokels and shoots Penguin, leaving him for dead, which gives him enough guilt, reluctant confidence, and logic loops to ascend? descend? toward adopting the official moniker of “The Riddler.”  Penguin, nursed back to health and the world of the living by a surprisingly botanical Ivy, declares his revenge, complicated by his love and devotion for Ed. Penguin manipulates Ed’s slavish devotion to completeness and detail – and his ego – such that Penguin freezes Ed, with the help of Mr. Freeze, noting that the chunk of ice known as “The Riddler” would feature prominently as a centerpiece in his to-be-opened Iceberg Lounge.  The podcast panel generally approves of most of this story-line and can’t wait to see “The Riddler” get out of the ice and cause his puzzling and enigmatic mayhem, with Penguin, Gotham City, and everyone.

ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ed’s number one fan, Myrtle, manages to unfreeze him from the titular iceberg in the Iceberg Lounge, but the effect of being flash frozen leaves Ed somewhat brain-addled himself.  He loses his sharpness of wit and intellect, at least temporarily, and cannot seem to evoke muscle memory related to the formulation, remembering, and/or deduction of the answers to the most basic, child-inspired riddles.  While Myrtle patiently nurses Ed back to some semblance of health (and pays for her devotion at the end of the barrel of one of Victor Zsasz’s well-aimed guns), Penguin, who reunites with a vengeful Ed fleetingly, decides not to kill him, figuring Ed’s apparent lack of smarts and presumed ensuing suffering, as he grapples with losing what made him arguably exceptional, to be the greater revenge than Ed’s out and out murder.  So, I guess that’s something.  Also, I think Penguin and Riddler are now, finally and officially, enemies or, at least, competitors… Thus, it may be time to abandon this question.

2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Riddler’s riddles get more complex and mind-twisting?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex.  Mind-twisting? Eh.  Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above).  We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there!  He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin.  Now, if only Batman was around…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: As stated above, Ed suffers a minor cognitive setback as a result of being frozen by Mr. Freeze’s icy weaponry.  Lee informs Edward, however, that there is nothing physically wrong with his brain, and that his condition is presumably psychological, a fact made evident by the reemergence of Edward’s schizophrenic struggle with his Riddler identity, who returns to talk to him from the other side of the mirror again.  The panel expects a full return of the Riddler any day now, as long as he is able to sort out his feelings for Lee, even if she sorts them out for him.

3) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the writers going to treat the nascent Ivy character (who the podcast panel presumes will be Poison Ivy) better?

ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Well…this answer is in the eye of the beholder.  Ivy was starting to grow plants in this half of the season and helped Selina and Bruce in some of their escapades, but the pundits have announced that the show is recasting the part. Ivy will apparently be older and sexier, like the Poison Ivy most people know.  The panel is at a loss as to how this could be rendered believable in the story, especially as the writers are not batting at any kind of decent percentage right now in terms of consistency with the source material or, even, with following any of the rules they set up for themselves in this version of the Batman mythology.

NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Is making her randomly grow into an awkward, teenage sexpot via the touch of an Indian Hill escapee with the power to make things rapidly age and to drain life constitute treating her better?  Listen to the podcast episode for our panel’s verdict.

ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ivy’s on the struggle bus; she’s strange, awkward, and not especially better as a teenage sexpot.  The panel struggles still…

NOT SO FAST!  ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 4: Ivy tries to help Penguin in the face of competitors who challenge his position, as the one and only crime boss in Gotham City, and of wavering police involvement, but he mistreats her, owing to the fact that she is kind of needy and not that bright.  As a result, Ivy decides to ally with a gang who tries to take down Penguin’s “Pax Penguina” license scheme by taking Penguin down himself and robs some sort of potion store or apothecary, in which the audience sees her drinking some of the inventory.  Plus, the producers have announced, through the typical TV pundits, that the part of Ivy is again being recast and will soon be played by Peyton List (Frequency, The Tomorrow People), a dire prospect for this Chief CP.  Moreover, panelist Spencer believes that the first episode returning from the mid-season hiatus will address Ivy’s newest transformation.  What the hell is going on with this character, you ask?  We ask the same question, repeatedly apparently.  Sadly, we also currently have no answer, so this particularly question and answer section grows and grows – in confusion and in length – and presumably like Ivy’s plants, if she ever gets that botanically savvy in the end.

5) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Bruce have his inspiration to be Batman?  And how will that happen if he didn’t see bats when he fell into the cave?

ANSWER: Still waiting… And it’s concerning.  Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows) in Season 3, starts Season 4 by dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, balaclava, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot – and, with a little help from Lucius Fox, who creates some conveniently fashioned bulletproof armor to protect Bruce’s adolescent bod.  Unfortunately, however, Ra’s distracts Bruce via his own side plot to ensure that Bruce will inherit the embalming knife of Demon’s Head status, thereby rendering Bruce Ra’s’ successor.  Thus, via manipulation and threat against another adolescent only trying to help and, in so doing, to befriend Bruce, Bruce ends up stabbing Ra’s with the knife, and it seems the seemingly immortal character of Ra’s wastes away into dust and ash as a result of the knife piercing his flesh.  Bruce takes his decision to murder Ra’s, even in an attempt to protect his friend (who Ra’s kills anyway), hard and descends into a dark void of guilt, self-pity, and belated grief for his dead parents, replete with hard partying and spoiled billionaire brat behavior. All the while, the young Mr. Wayne turns his back on his initial attempts at vigilantism and all while still seeing no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).

6) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Selina have her inspiration to be Catwoman?  She can wait awhile, but since everyone is finding themselves much sooner than they should be, the writers might as well give Selina the idea to be a cat. Maybe she’ll take whatever drug Ivy’s got going on and get all sexy feline on us.

ANSWER: Still waiting… but she continues to learn whipping skills from Tabitha and is quite the prodigy with this unusual weapon.  Also, she displays cat-like reflexes while walking the edges of rooftops and seems to be significantly smarter than gal pals and partners in crime, Tabitha and Barbara.  Yet, inspiration is fleeting for all of our junior Gotham characters so far, and this fleetingness disturbs the CPU! Gotham panel greatly.

7) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?

ANSWER: This question forms the subject of some significant debate in this podcast episode.  Panelists Kyle and Spencer wholeheartedly believe that the producers, as well as Cameron Monaghan, the portraying actor behind Jerome Valeska, have gone on record to say that Jerome is not the actual Joker, and that the audience is slated to see the character and individual who would become the Joker in the coming half season.  Panelist Hilary, with some hesitant agreement by Nick and Kylie, feels that the rumored protesting of Jerome-as-Joker is a red herring or deflection from the fact that he really is the Joker or some early version of him, given the fact that Mr. Monaghan is really one of the best almost-Jokers (and real Jokers) our panel of Batman fans has ever watched.  In short, this is still a question, but we will see Jerome in Season 4B because we saw him in Season 4A talking to Penguin through the wall joining their adjacent cells in Arkham.

8) Will Riddler escape his freezing cage?  (All panelists predict yes…or there will be hell to pay.)

ANSWER: Owing to the efforts of the so-called “Riddlerette,” Edward’s numero-uno fan Myrtle, the madly-in-love devotee melts the Iceberg ice and breaks Edward free from his frozen entrapment, though the side effects are plentiful, and the risk to Myrtle’s short-lived life astronomically high.  In short, Ed’s back in the land of the non-frozen, and Myrtle is pushing up daisies, on order from Penguin to the delightedly homicidal Victor Zsasz.

9) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?

ANSWER: As we answer above…no.  Not yet.  Apparently not ever.  We are wondering if the Gotham people realize they are supposed to be making a Batman prequel…

10) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4?  What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?

ANSWER: If there is a Big Bad, or a character who can earn such a moniker, in Season 4, it is most likely Sofia Falcone, who manages to manipulate just about everyone she meets, leading her to steal the reigns of the criminal underworld right out from the volatile clutches of crafty but helplessly lonely Oswald Cobblepot.  The aforementioned prophecy, we presume, is one which forecasts Bruce, somehow, as the successor of Ra’s al Ghul, an individual somehow fit to inherit immortality and the powers of the Lazarus Pit from whomever holds the ancient embalming knife.  Yet, the word “prophecy” is not mentioned once in this season, and we are not even sure if Ra’s al Ghul is here or gone, so this question may be moot or simply no longer applicable in the end.

11) Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?

ANSWER: She has not so far, but she has made progress.  She’s got ambition, she’s got whip skills, and she’s got brains and survival instinct more finely honed than the brains and instincts of her partners, Babs and Tabby.  Except, now the Twisted Sisters are working for Sofia, so who knows what this alliance might mean to Selina’s progress toward feline felon.

12) Is Fish dead once and for all?  Is Barbara?  Or, are they going to do the detestably unthinkable and change Barbara into Harley Quinn, despite not being named Harleen Quinzell and despite not being a psychiatrist at Arkham (though Joker-Not-Joker Jerome is in Arkham right now…hm…)?

ANSWER: Panelist Spencer remains unconvinced, given Fish’s proclivity for resurrection in prior seasons, that Fish is for good and all dead.  Chief CP Kylie’s money is on Fish’s permanent death, rendered final by Jim Gordon in Season 3.  In related news, Barbara benefits from an unspoken alliance with Ra’s al Ghul and the almighty Lazarus Pit, which brings her back from the brink after Tabitha electrocutes Babs in Season 3.  There was previously a heavily floated rumor that the show was going to introduce a proto-Harley, but so far, the producers and writers have steered clear of such an introduction, likely due to the fact that DC parent company Warner Brothers is developing a film devoted solely to the character of Harley Quinn.  The panel breathes heavy sighs of relief and praises Warner Brothers’ interference for once – Gotham does not need nor would it benefit from the skewed introduction-for-the-sake-of-it of Harley Quinn.

13) Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?

ANSWER: In the wind, presumably, as he has not appeared so far in Season 4.

14) Is the Court of Owls truly defunct?  Or, are they the DC equivalent of Hydra in the Marvel universe?

ANSWER: It was established in Season 3 that Ra’s al Ghul somehow formed the Court.  Ra’s now appears to also be defunct, so if there is anyone carrying on the work of the Court of Owls currently, the audience does not know it.

15) If Butch is really Cyrus Gold, how Solomon Grundy will we see him get in the coming season?

ANSWER: We will seem become 100% Solomon Grundy, in fact.  Those who found Butch aka Cyrus shot in the head dump him into Slaughter Swamp, a polluted pond forever altered by waste from Indian Hill.  When he emerges, he is fully zombie Solomon and later overhears the song that inspires the adoption of his name.  Butch is so Solomon, it turns out, that he occasionally experiences flashes of cogent Butch-ness, at least following a few good blows to the head.  Tabby discovers this potential pitfall when pitted against Solomon Grundy in what would become Lee’s underground fighting ring and later attempts to test this discovery and return Butch to full Butch flavor by beating Solomon over the head with a few choice solid objects.  In fact, when we last see Solomon, he seems to be Butch again and calling after the spent “Tabby,” despite his Solomon Grundy appearance, after she attempts to beat Butch back to the forefront of Grundy’s mind.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

16) What will it mean for Gotham when Penguin opens the Iceberg Lounge?

ANSWER: Mostly, the Lounge provides safe haven for Penguin’s lieutenants and those criminals registered under Penguin’s licenses as well as Penguin’s staunchest allies, chief among them Harvey Bullock.  The Lounge is still standing and still flourishing, at least so far, though Penguin is thrown into Arkham during the mid-season finale, and Sofia’s reward for Barbara, Tabitha, and Selina’s alliance is to give her back the Lounge, which was under Babs’ control in Season 3.  Barbara essentially sucks at running businesses, though, legitimate or otherwise, so it’s not looking good for the Lounge these days.

17) Is Bruce Clone Batman’s Bizarro equivalent, Batzarro?  Or, will he die?  Did he die? The panel is universally against crossing DC comic concepts when just the Batman franchise seems difficult for this writing and producing team to wrangle.

ANSWER: Still a question and one we hope never finds an answer.  The panel is happy and excited by the prospect of never having to watch Bruce Clone again.

18) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end.  Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.

ANSWER: This is still true.  Though the panel feels that Season 4A improves upon and corrects for several of the ills of many of Gotham’s past half seasons, the writers and producers have also proven themselves to be less than adept at capitalizing upon story momentum or developments that offer some sense of logic and/or dovetailing with the Batman canon, even as the show and its creators profess to be off canon.  This creates strong feelings in our panelists and makes for consistently spicy discussion.  Panelist Spencer offers a whole gas tank analogy in the latest podcast episode…

New Questions

1) Where is Scarecrow?  Jonathan Crane achieves his full transition in this most recent half season, but what happened to him?  Was he caught and returned to Arkham Asylum?  Is he at large?  Where did he go?  Especially since the producers are also re-casting this part.  What the hell is going on with the Scarecrow character?

2) How long will it take for Bruce to realize that he is spiraling and circling the drain known as rock bottom.  How much time must the audience wait for Bruce to find Alfred again?

3) Will Jim Gordon be able to maintain his position as captain of the Central GCPD without betraying his secret alliance and/or dalliance with the plotting Sofia Falcone?

4) Will we see Fish Mooney again?  The panel votes no and hopes she is dead for good and for real.

5) What is Sofia Falcone’s endgame, and how long will she hang onto to her position as leader of the underworld?  Will we watch her become her comic-inspired identity, The Hangman?

6) Is Ra’s al Ghul actually dead?  What was with his interchange with Barbara in prison?  Why did her hand glow?  Is his essence in the embalming knife?  Is it in Barbara’s hand?  Is it actually in Bruce, a reflection of his current darkness?  Has Bruce achieved the status of “successor to the Demon’s Head?”

7) Will the Riddler persona reemerge from the vexed and confused Edward Nygma?  Soon?

8) Is Jerome Valeska actually the Joker?  Or, is he the model for a watchful new individual who will be inspired by and who will adopt a Jerome-esque version of the Joker persona?  What will Penguin and Jerome do together after joining forces in Arkham?  Will they involve other well-known inmates in their plot(s)?

9) Will Lee and Jim reunite, and how?  Will Barbara Gordon be conceived on this show, and who will be her mother – Barbara Kean, even though she is crazy in this show, or Lee?

10) Will Ed make a play for Lee?  Will her (inevitable, one would hope) rejection of him lead to the reemergence of the Riddler identity?

11) Is Professor Pyg actually dead?  Alternatively, the producers have allegedly said that Michael Cerveris’ Pyg is not the true Pyg.  If he is not, who is, and will we see him?

12) What happened to the young orphan cared for by Penguin, the boy known as Martin?  Will he become a factor in the future, assuming Victor Zsasz hid him as promised and as requested by Penguin?

13) Will we see Tommy Elliott, Bruce’s old/new friend, show some indication of his future Hush persona?

14) Did Tabitha succeed in jogging what is left of Butch out of Solomon Grundy’s addled brain?

15) Will Jim succeed in bringing Harvey back to the fold?

PARTING SHOTS

The CPU! Gotham panel and all of its panelists continue to identify moments truly loved and moments truly hated while watching and while discussing the first half of Season 4 in this latest podcast episode, though the panel also universally feels that the show and its story progression improved dramatically in this season’s first half compared to what emerged from the third season.  Most panelists, in fact, continue to enjoy watching the show, even if reacting to the show in these podcast episodes has repeatedly proven to be the very definition of “cautionary tale.” Panelist Hilary continues to mostly hate the direction of the show but likes to talk about it, so she persists without jumping the shark, reluctantly, and has resolved (finally) to change her mindset, preferring to focus on the moments that giver her positive “Batman” feels.  Simultaneously, other panelists, like panelist Nick, grow more impatient with the show’s “two steps forward, four steps back” approach to character progression, an approach which proves more frustrating than titillating or, minimally, entertaining.  Still, all panelists persevere, finding our discussions about the controlled disorder of Gotham endlessly engaging, even when the show itself is not, and if we do say so ourselves.

Further, the previous unrest among the panelists, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, at least for now.  The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.”  In fact, most of the panel finds this half of the fourth season to be the show’s new high point, even as it, still, contained some low points. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal.  Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers and, thereafter, cause declining ratings and waning network support.  Finally, the panelists encourage the writers/producers not to squander the story momentum of the first half of Season 4 – or the goodwill the story’s better direction earned with many of the show’s loyal viewers.  After all, there is something to be said for retaining a loyal and devoted audience in this competitive age of a saturated entertainment complex, on big and on small screens alike, and the Gotham writers and producers would do well to keep these concepts in mind when writing for the next go-round – particularly considering the core base of Batman fans no doubt following the show’s progress.

LOOKING AHEAD

Gotham returns from mid-Season 4 hiatus on March 1, 2018. The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the fourth season finale, which will likely air in or around May 2018. The network’s decision about whether or not Gotham will be renewed has not yet been announced as of the publication of this post, but pundits see a 50/50 chance for renewal (and rightly so) based upon current ratings and show progress.  As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional Gotham coverage. Until then!