This week on Gotham, Bat-Jim (Ben McKenzie) teamed up with Valerie Vale to catch Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) — and failed — which was no surprise to anyone who has seen more than two episodes of Gotham. Meanwhile, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), who had rallied a mob of torch-waving townspeople in the wake of Gotham City's eternally ineffective police force, was practically handed Fish with a bow on top, but he let her go because of mommy issues. Yawn. So bored.
And then Bat-Jim banged Valerie Vale.
Still, there was at least something interesting to come out of Gotham this week.
While her screentime only made up a small percentage of "Burn the Witch," Maggie Geha's new (and improved?) Ivy Pepper emerged from the polluted Gotham River to replace the tragic teenage incarnation introduced to us by Claire Foley way back in Gotham's pilot.
The show wasted no time in sexing up the former frumpy sweater aficionado in a curve-hugging wiggle dress and bang-me pumps. Ivy claimed to have "changed" inside and outside after her monster-zap swan dive into Gotham's sewer system, meaning we're supposed to ignore the fact that last week Ivy was an awkward teenager and this week she's suddenly the sexpot that Batman fans have long known her to be in the comics. Keep that in mind when she's inevitably grinding up on some hapless victim and perfecting the magical, manipulative pout — it's okay, she's not really underage. Having naughty dreams about Ivy is TOTALLY COOL now.
This recast reeks of someone's uncomfortable wet dream with a side order of laziness. Rather than give us an original story for Ivy — which Gotham already had in motion with her ties to Selina and the Wayne Family Conspiracy — the series instead chose to wash all that away and plop a classic Poison Ivy character in the middle of this endless hot mess.
Sure, telling the story of how an antisocial, plant-loving, weirdo teenager grew into the titillating mommy monster that is synonymous with Poison Ivy would have had its own creepy problems, but to simply give up and comic book a hyper-sexualized Ivy into a plot that neither wanted nor needed her is to strip Poison Ivy of everything but her sexuality. Even in the comics, Poison Ivy is more than her looks. Heck, even in the forever-mocked Batman & Robin, where she was played as a plant nerd-turned-sex symbol by Uma Thurman, Ivy was more than a pretty face. Her origins gave her luscious crime spree more direction than a mere comic book schtick. I understood more about that Poison Ivy's motivation than this one that we've theoretically spent the last several seasons getting to know.
It's clear that Gotham ultimately determined it simply didn't know what to do with Ivy in the context that it created for her. We've seen her flunk out of the system with Selina, take on a stint growing magic mushrooms, and generally just hovering in the background with that frown on her face and not much else going for her. I just don't know if this recast was the answer.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.