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Gotham S1.21 "The Anvil Or The Hammer" review

There’s one almighty “Phew!” moment in “The Anvil Or The Hammer”. Sadly it’s not the one when the Ogre kills Barbara; that never happens. Looks like we’re stuck with the Bambi-eyed clothes horse for a while yet.

The moment does involve Barbara, though, even if she‘s not actually in it. It’s when Dr Thompkins goes all meta and confronts Gordon about precisely what’s concerning the audience: is he – shudder – still in love with Barbara? Luckily his response is along the lines of: “Are you kidding?!” with a complete absence of those worried glances that TV characters give when they hug one person but are clearly thinking about another. This truly does seem to be the writers telling us, “Nope, despite what it may have looked like at times, this plot over the last three weeks hasn’t in any way been an excuse to get Jim and Barbara back together.”

As we said – phew.

On the other hand, Leslie should be taking Gordon to task about some of his other dubious activities. Yet again this guy who wants to appear a paragon of virtue – an example to the other cops in the GCPD – is not just dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, but taking him back to his pad for a quickie afterwards. That is a metaphor. Gordon not only leans on the Penguin for another favour, he also openly admits to Bullock, “I'm about to violate departmental policy on interrogation techniques.”

Sure the guy is under a lot of pressure but he’s close to becoming what he despises. Plus, what if Loeb finds out?

Game Connections

The Gotham Royal Hotel previously played host to a level in the game Batman: Arkham.

“The Anvil Or The Hammer“ is a bit of a splattershot episode; the show blasts a hail of plot bullets and hopes a few hit the target. Some do. Ed’s scenes certainly do, as he resurrects the spirit of the Burton Batmans with some wonderfully gothic grisliness. Ed’s entire storyline this week is the blackest of black comedies, as he disposes of the evidence right under the noses of his police colleagues. In the case of the victim’s girlfriend, literally right under her nose. Ghoulishly brilliant stuff.

Bullock’s adventures in Pervland are also fun. Even if it is a very TV-friendly Pervland, Harvey’s expression at whatever’s happening on stage is worth the price of admission alone.

We get to meet Lucius Fox, one of the stalwarts from the comics. Chris Chalk may not have much to do here, but he immediately impresses, and certainly has presence. Within a few short lines you’re sold on the idea that this man is on Bruce’s side. Weirdly, Bruce is affected less by his words of assurance than Bunderslaw’s, even though Bunderslaw is clearly a slimy toad.

Elsewhere, the episode is on rockier ground. The Ogre plot line suffers on two fronts. One is Barbara. Sorry to harp on about it but it’s truly difficult to become invested in a scenario when you really don’t give a flying monkey’s whether the victim dies or not.

Secondly, the investigation returns to those amazing leaps of logic based on suspiciously handy clues that plagued the procedural elements of the show in its early episodes. Maybe we could forgive a phone call that revealed the Ogre’s location thanks to some convenient bumping noises and a train horn (a bridge, of course!) if a few minutes earlier we hadn’t had the whole “There was neon sign outside the window… I could read the last three letters!” schtick. Together they just felt sloppy.

After a few weeks’ of set-up Penguin’s scheme to ignite the shooting war between Maroni and Falcone was disappointingly dull. Not to mention fraught with potential failure on so many levels. He’s a very lucky guy that worked out. It could so easily have ended with Maroni gunning for him instead.

The episode ends on a high, though, with the shooting war boding well for an exciting end of season finale.

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Best Line

Maroni: “You’re gonna take Falcone a message from me. You’re gonna let him know that you messed up, and you’re gonna let him know I’m coming for him. Of course, you don’t need to be alive to tell him that.”

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Ed displays a compulsion that will become a defining MO for the Riddler in the future – leaving clues to the fact that he’s the perpetrator.

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Faint Skills

Good lord, Barbara can’t even faint convincingly. Even in this still you can tell how rubbish she is.

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Weird Trophy

So what exactly did Sid Bunderslaw do to win that trophy? Burying the truth?

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Addressing The Problem

1007 Mountain Drive, Gotham was the address given for Wayne Manor in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “The Demon’s Quest” and seems to be seeping into the zeitgeist as the accepted address, even though in DC continuity it isn’t. Check this out, for example.

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The byline for this newspaper article is for “Seth Boston”, which just happens to be the name of one of Gotham’s writers’ assistants.

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It’s Wossisname

Finally we get to meet Gotham’s Lucius Fox, a character who first appeared in Batman #307 (1979). He was played by Morgan Freeman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. He’s always been one of Bruce Wayne’s most trusted allies, and it looks like he’s being set up for a major role in season two. Here he’s played by Chris Chalk.

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Familiar Logo

We’ve mentioned before that Penguin’s nightclub’s umbrella logo look a little like the Bat logo, but especially so when you see inside an oval panel.

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Musical Notes

The track playing in the Foxglove nightclub is “Ghost Rider” by Suicide. The track playing over the shooting war montage at the end is “Boiling Point” by The The.

Gotham airs on Monday nights on Channel 5 in the UK, and on Fox in the US.

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Inexplicably good tie-in to the 1989 Batman film. What a soundtrack!