In the Gotham recap for the season 2 debut, Jim Gordon walks down a dangerous path doing wrong while trying to make things right….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Does Gotham take itself too serious or not serious enough?
This is the question I was left pondering during the Gotham season 2 premiere on Monday night in an episode called ‘Damned If You Do…” where we catch up with all of the characters about a month after the events ended in season one.
The strongest part of the first season of Gotham was the focus on the escalating mob war that was brewing in the streets between Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni while the more cartoonish moments took place whenever the organized crime story took a backseat. Whether it was some bad guy of the week story or a convoluted ‘Doll Maker’ that ended up being a fizzled out waste of time once he actually landed on the canvas, Gotham struggled to stay good consistently over 20-plus episodes.
As Gotham season 2 picks up, many of the same problems are still plaguing the show but that doesn’t mean it’s not watchable because the good still outweighs the bad. While the Arkham criminals are jumping around in striped jumpsuits like something Joel Schumacher would have directed in Batman and Robin, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin and his menacing friend Victor Zsasz are stealing scenes and eating up scenery that would make Frank Miller proud.
There’s a new big bad in town named Theo Galavan while Jerome aka the kid who we assume will be Joker is so over the top and smiley that something inside me says he’s just another red herring. Gordon breaks bad, Barbara remains moderately interesting and Bullock is sober.
With that said, let’s recap the Gotham season 2 premiere titled ‘Damned If You Do…”
So here we are one month after the events at the close of season one of Gotham and it’s time to do a round up of where everyone is as we pick things up.
Gordon has been demoted down to traffic cop and Bullock quit the force all together and now works as a bartender. Oswald is the new kingpin, Selina is his new house cat, Edward Nygma is talking to the man in the mirror and asking him to change his ways, and Barbara is locked up in Arkham still as crazy as a shit house rat.
Things kick off in the new season with a wild-eyed nut job drinking a bottle of glowing blue liquid fed to him by Theo Galavan and then walking out onto the streets of Gotham City while proclaiming that he’s Zardan or Zoltan or some such shit before shooting guns in the air and waving a sword around. Of course he does all this directly in front of Jim Gordon, who just happens to be directing traffic at that particular intersection. Gordon quickly subdues the whacko and handcuffs him when a rather portly police officer shows up to relieve him of his post well past the time when he was supposed to arrive. Gordon admonishes the man and ends up grabbing him by the shirt and pushing him away before taking Zardan to lockup.
At the police station, Commissioner Loeb dressed down Gordon for assaulting another officer and demands that he turn in his badge. Gordon hands it over and we’re right back to where we were last season when he ended up working at Arkham for one episode.
Speaking of Arkham — Barbara has started to serve her sentence there and immediately runs into a few familiar faces from the past including Jerome-might-be-Joker and Richard Sionis (the business man obsessed with masks who used to force applicants to battle to the death for a job). Richard immediately takes a liking to Barbara and in exchange for some favors that can’t air until past Gotham‘s slot at 8pm, he will grant her every wish including the use of a telephone.
Who does she want to call?
Of course, Barbara wants to reach out to Jim to tell him that she’s been framed just seconds before calling his new girlfriend Leslie and proclaiming that she’s coming to gut her as soon as she gets out of prison. Leslie is clearly rattled by the ex from hell but she’s locked up so nothing to worry about, right?
Oh and then there’s Bruce Wayne — who discovered the secret entrance to his father’s secret office hidden behind a secret door with a lock code that no one can seem to open. Bruce is more determined than ever to see what his father was up to just before he died and if it takes building home made explosives to open the door well then so be it.
Good Men Do Bad Things
After his unceremonious exit from the GCPD, Jim goes to pay Harvey a visit at the bar where he’s working these days. Harvey tells Jim that his life is going pretty well — he even gave up drinking because working as a Gotham police officer drove him to drink in the first place. Despite Harvey’s best warnings that maybe being a cop isn’t the best idea in the world, Jim is determined to get back on the force — by any means necessary.
What that involves is a visit to his old pal Oswald, who is now the kingpin in Gotham with no opposition to stop him. Oswald rules with an iron flipper and he’s converted Falcone’s old crew into his own. When Jim pays a visit, Oswald is more than happy to grant him a favor since they are such old friends but to get Commissioner Loeb to quit his job and Jim to get rehired he’s going to need a small favor of his own.
Oswald is having problems with a local businessman named Ogden Barker, who owed money to Falcone and by proxy that means he now owes money to The Penguin.
Jim flat out refuses to act as Oswald’s muscle, but the new kingpin of Gotham tells his old friend to sleep on it for a night before making his decision.
Jim’s angel on one shoulder is his girlfriend Leslie, who wants to leave this city with him and never look back. The devil on the other ends up being Bruce Wayne, who tells Jim after he visits for presumably the 80th time to tell him that he won’t solve his parents murders, that sometimes it’s better to do a little wrong if the resulting right is worth it. Bruce suggests that setting aside Gordon’s own personal moral compass might be the right move if the end game is saving Gotham from falling into the hands of evil men.
Gordon decides to flick the angel off his shoulder and go with Plan B instead.
So he visits Barker and the shady businessman doesn’t want to give up the goods. Gordon ends up pulling some kung fu moves, knocks everybody out and then just steals the money that’s owed to Oswald. On his run out of the club Barker owns, Jim ends up fleeing for his life and has to kill Barker in the parking garage to get away.
Deep down inside, Jim knew this was always Oswald’s plan and when he confronts him, the new Gotham don doesn’t even deny it. Oswald just wanted to see how far he could get Gordon to go and apparently the limit doesn’t even stop with murder.
To his credit, Oswald pays Gordon back immediately by breaking into Commissioner Loeb’s home, decapitating his bodyguard and then threatening to have Victor blow his brains out if he doesn’t retire and hand over the keys to the cop kingdom to somebody else. This was by far the best scene of the night as Oswald toys with Loeb and taunts the commissioner with just how much he really dislikes Jim Gordon.
Eventually, Loeb chooses life over occupation. He retires and hands over the commissioner’s job to Captain Essen, who immediately rehires Jim and makes him a detective again. He didn’t even have to find a second job at Arkham this time!
Rise of the Villains
Back at Arkham, life is running smoothly when Zardan gets placed in the same common area where all of our favorite criminally insane prisoners are hanging out. Zardan falls over with a pain in his stomach and that glowing blue liquid is coming back in a fierce way as it seeps out his mouth and ends up knocking everybody out in the room (would have been much funnier if he farted it out, but that’s just me).
From there, a beautiful girl we soon meet as Tabithan Galavan kills the Arkham guards and kidnaps the prisoners.
When they wake up, the lot of them are tied up to dollies Hannibal Lecter style and Theo Galavan is making his introduction. He proposes a partnership where they reign chaos down on Gotham City per his bidding and he gets to reap the rewards. What his grand plan in all of this probably won’t be revealed for a few more episodes, but so far Theo is all things sinister.
Barbara doesn’t know what she brings to the party, but Theo assures her that she can be an asset as well as Jerome, who just laughs maniacally from time to time to remind us that HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE THE JOKER! Richard is the one criminal who doesn’t want to go along with the plan because he doesn’t follow orders too well. So his comeuppance is being strangled by Tabitha’s whip and then stabbed to death.
Needless to say, the rest of the Arkham criminals are on board with Theo’s new plan.
Happiness vs. Truth
Following a lot of unsuccessful attempts to get into Thomas Wayne’s office, Bruce and Alfred decide to turn to homemade explosives to break down the door. After Alfred gives out the recipe to make an explosive (cause that’s a smart idea), the two man team finally blows the door and gains entry into his father’s study.
Inside, the room is covered in cobwebs but the lights still work and parked at the computer keyboard is a letter marked for Bruce.
Inside, Bruce reads the words of his father explaining how he wrote this knowing that his death was eminent and he wanted to leave something behind for his son — oh and he’s proud Bruce figured out the password to the door was BRUCE (that’s the kind of password somebody would use on their luggage!).
At the end of the letter, Thomas explains to Bruce that all he ever wanted was for his son to be happy but he also knows that he’s seeking the truth. Now according to Thomas Wayne, happiness and truth never go hand in hand and if you want one, you can’t have the other. So now it’s time for Bruce to decide — does he want to be happy as his father wished or does he want the truth?
Anyone want to guess which one he takes?
Gotham returns next Monday night at 8pm ET on FOX for a brand new episode.