Tweetable Takeaway: Gotham blasts into it’s second season with break-ins, break-outs, and villains on the rise. Tweet
Airtime: Monday at 8pm on Fox
Gotham returns with its second season. “Damned if you do,” takes place a month after the events of season one. Bruce Wayne has just discovered a secret massage leading to a secured door under Wayne Manor, Jim Gordon is back in uniform, and Harvey Bullock is tending bar. The real story is the evolution of the Gotham villains. This season, Rise of the Villains blasts off to an incredible start.
If you haven’t been watching yet, you are missing out on incredible performances of deeply tormented characters. The Gotham team at Fox mines the rich dramatic possibilities of this dark world in ways not possible in a movie, or even a trilogy.
In addition to a more powerful Penguin, we get shadows of Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman in this first episode. Barbara arrives at Arkham Asylum where Jerome and all the other inmates appreciate her company.
Hard times for Jim Gordon.
Theo Galavan, new to the show, gives a glass of blue goo to a man, Zaardon, to drink. Zaardon hits the streets of Gotham all pumped up on blue and armored shouting, “I am Zaardon, the Soul Reaper.” People scatter as he fires his two huge guns into the air. Officer Jim Gordon directs traffic on an adjacent street and responds. He gets Zaardon to lower his guns, but the man also has a pair a deadly swords. Still, Gordon takes the lunatic down peacefully, before Zaardon can actually hurt anyone.
Gordon’s relief, Officer Franks, arrives late to the scene, munching on a roll. Gordon shoves him back to scare off a group of kids scavenging Zaardon’s weapons. Gordon tells Zaardon he’s headed to Arkham Asylum. As he locks him up in the holding cell, Zaardon says, “dark days are coming.” Then, the felonious brute burps out blue gas.
Gordon cleans up in the locker room where he finds Ed Nygma standing in front of the mirror. He’s always kind to Ed and Ed is always a little weird. This is the kind of scene they really nail at Gotham. Ben McKenzie brings humanity and compassion to his Gordon. All of his interactions are layered and real. At the same time, Smith brings a different kind of humanity to Nygma, a man clinging to a world that has always been cruel and unrewarding to him. When Gordon is called to the captain’s office, we see Nygma having an argument with his reflection in the mirror. The alter Nygma tells Ed they need more fun in their life; romance. This worries and angers Ed, he shouts at his reflection, his aggressive inner voice.
Officer Franks files a complaint against Gordon with Commissioner Loeb for laying hands on him. Loeb still doesn’t like Gordon. The captain tries to defend Jim, but it doesn’t help. Loeb fires Gordon, makes him turn in badge and gun. Gordon promises Loeb, “I told you I’d break you. I will.”
Hard time for Barbara too.
Jerome introduces himself to Barbara, and tries to make friends. She is cold at first, tells him to move on. Jerome points out they have something in common; they’re both in for killing their parents. He tells her, the king of the Arkham inmates, Richard Sionis, likes her and wants to be friends. Is it possible that inmates at Arkham are actually nicer to new kids than high school students? Again, she isn’t interested. Jerome explains that the guards don’t really care if something bad happens to an inmate and a girl might need friends to protect her. Barbara asks one of the quieter, bigger thugs if he’d be her friend and protect her from harm. Thug agrees. Jerome adds that Mr. Sionis also has the means to get things, comfort items, anything she might need. Now she’s interested, Barbara needs a telephone. Barbara meets Sionis about the telephone and makes their friendship formal.
Zaardon arrives at Arkham. He creates a big stir and disrupts the other inmates with his rant. Then, he lies down and burps up a huge blue cloud that fills the room. It explodes knocking out the walls and doors to the break room.
Jim Gordon has to cross some lines to get his job back cleaning up the streets of Gotham.
Gordon and Lee are happy together. He is upset about losing his job, but she is supportive, happy he is away from such a toxic environment. She tells him it might be for the best. Still, he feels like he quit. He tells her there is no legitimate way for him to cop again. However, he is willing to bend the law a little if it gets him back in the circle of justice.
Penguin, Butch, and other criminal staffers go over the books. A man named Ogden Barker refuses to pay and is falling way behind on interest. Penguin workshops the issue as Gordon arrives seeking a favor. Penguin asks others to leave, but Selina gets to stay behind and hear the conversation. Penguin doesn’t beat around the bush, he tells Gordon immediately he will do what he wants; get his old job back and get rid of Loeb. However, Penguin wants a favor in return. He wants Gordon to collect the Barker debt for him. Gordon says “no.” He has no intention of being on Penguin’s leash.
Gordon goes to the bar where Bullock bartends. Harvey is sober but Gordon drinks heavy. Bullock claims he’s the happiest he’s ever been. He tells Gordon it’s the job that makes them drink, makes them angry. He tells Gordon it was the right move to step away from Penguin and the job, he’s not the kind of cop that can take a pay off and have it on his conscience.
Gordon’s next visit; Wayne Manor. He apologizes to young Bruce for not being able to keep his promise and find people that killed his parents. Gordon confesses he could get reinstated if he did this dirty deed for Penguin, but his personal honor prevents him. Bruce astutely points out, “Are you not sacrificing the greater good for the sake of your dignity and self-esteem, for vanity?” Jim leaves.
Gordon arrives at Ogden Barker’s club, and asks the man for the money he owes Penguin. Barker teases Gordon about being this once righteous cop, and now he’s just a bag man for Penguin. Barker won’t pay Penguin. He says the only man he owed money to, was Falcone, and Falcone is retired. Gordon uses his fighting skills to disarm and take down Barker’s men. He grabs the cash and runs out. Someone yells, “Stop, thief.” A cop chases Gordon, but he gets away. Gordon makes it to a parking garage, but Barker catches up and fires on him. Gordon returns fire and kills Barker.
Gordon delivers the cash to Penguin. He tells Penguin that he felt set up, that he knew Barker would engage him. Penguin assures Gordon he will uphold his end of the bargain and he will be getting his job back soon.
Gordon feels weird the next time he’s with Lee. He gets the call from Barbara at Arkham. She tells him she never confessed to killing her parents. She claims Lee lied and attacked her, set her up. He hangs up, but Barbara calls back and it plays on the message machine, Lee knows it’s her. Lee wants Gordon to leave the city with her, but he says he can’t, he’s done a “bad thing.”
Loeb hears a disturbance in his house in the middle of the night. He goes downstairs and finds Penguin with Victor Zsasz. Zsasz has decapitated Loeb’s security. Penguin explains that he thinks Loeb is too righteous of a man to live in his city. He knows he will have to kill him. Zsasz is ready to kill Loeb and has a gun pointed at him through the whole discussion. Loeb agrees he to do what Penguin asks.
Secret nooks and crannies of Wayne Manor.
Bruce and Alfred discover stairs leading down to a secret entrance, a door Alfred claims he didn’t know existed. The door has an electronic key lock on it, and Bruce tries entering random combinations. None of them work. Alfred is cautious; he thinks they may find something that his father did not want him to see. There might be something behind that door that would make Bruce ashamed of his father. Bruce will not be deterred, he keeps entering combinations until he gets frustrated and smashes the lock.
Bruce reads up on how to blow the door open. He decides to make the explosives himself, but Alfred catches him. Alfred tries to dissuade him but he intends to do it with or without Alfred’s help. Alfred decides to help. Together they come up with enough blast to open the door. It isn’t a Batcave, but Bruce’s father has left him a letter on the keyboard of a computer that has three monitors. Bruce reads; his father felt like his life was coming to an end and there was still so much he wanted to accomplish. He tells Bruce, “You can’t have both happiness and the truth, you have to choose. Please choose happiness.”
Gordon returns to duty and the villains form a club.
Gordon straps up as a detective again. The captain immediately informs him that Barbara and five other inmates escaped from Arkham. Theo Galavan has the five Arkham outlaws tied up in his office. He tells them he wants to form an outlaw team and they all have special qualities to add. Jerome is on board, he thinks he has plenty of special qualities to make him a criminal mastermind. Sionis does not want to take orders or be part of the team. Galavan likes Barbara, but she does not see how she belongs there. He tells her that she is ferocious and beautiful which is enough. Sionis wants her to go with him. Galavan wants her to stay and has his sister, Tabitha, kill Sionis. A whole new crazy guy has a crush on Barbara.
Eric Rodriguez | Contributor