DC on TV is back with new episodes! Sadly, the new season is without the renewal of Constantine but continues with several returning favorites and lots new ones to love. Let’s kick things off with our first show out of the gate – Gotham. We’ve seen the first four episodes of the season. Let’s talk about them.
Gotham kicked off its second season on September 21 and has been heavily promoting the “Rise of the Villains” for this season. Season 1 was a little hit or miss and dragged on in some cases, but was always best when it showcased its villains. The best parts of season 1 involved Robin Lord Taylor’s brilliant performance as Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin, Cory Michael Smith ‘s understated and equally brilliant performance as Edward Nygma aka The Riddler (who else had chills when he finally crossed the line?), and the deliciously over the top performance of Jada Pinkett Smith as the late (RIP) Fish Mooney.
Before we get in to the first four episodes of this new season, let’s recap the main points of Season 1, shall we?
We met a young Bruce Wayne and a badass Alfred Pennyworth who both crossed paths off and on with a young Selina Kyle. According to Gotham, that twisted relationship between Catwoman and Batman started very early. We also met young Jim Gordon, an idealistic young detective who through circumstances and his partnership with the cynical and jaded Harvey Bullock learns that sometimes you have to make deals with lesser evils for the good of the city. And we met the aforementioned villains who led us on an interesting journey.
Rise of the Villains: Damned If You Do… (air date 21 September 2015)
At the end of Season 1, we had Bruce discovering a secret passage within his father’s study. Season 2 kicks off with Bruce and Alfred descending stairs and coming across a locked steel door. We then move on to seeing Gordon getting dressed in uniform, with Lee helping with his tie, Bullock wiping down a bar, and Penguin reigning over nefarious characters. But perhaps most interesting part of the opening sequence is Barbara walking into a detention facility, which turns out to be Arkham, and giving a lingering look to Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan, “Shameless”).
This episode introduces us to a new player in town, Theo Galavan (and his sister Tabitha). Theo talks about magic and also breaks six people out of Arkham Asylum, including Barbara Gordon and Jerome Valeska. He seems to have plans and those plans may play havoc with the new self-proclaimed “King of Gotham”, Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin.
Penguin has claimed the city and uses this position to have Jim Gordon carry out a favor in order to gain back his position on the police force (which he lost at the beginning of the episode). At first Gordon refuses, but after harsh words from Bruce Wayne, he consents.
“Are you not sacrificing the greater good for the sake of your dignity and self-esteem, for vanity? Surely sometimes the right way is also the ugly way.”
Gordon carries out the favor and ends up killing a man in the process. In return, Penguin gets Commissioner Loeb to step down and Captain Sarah Essen is promoted.
This episode also gives us some really great moments. We see Edward Nygma’s personality crack and the brilliance of Cory Michael Smith. Bruce Wayne discovers his father’s legacy and a letter which tells him “you can’t have both happiness and the truth, you have to choose.” We also get some beautifully creepy shots that make us question whether Barbara or Lee is crazy. Barbara has never been better. There was a lot of criticism of her role in Season 1. I’d say she has completely redeemed herself in this episode. What do you think?
It was a hell of a season premiere. Gotham looks like it has a lot of potential this season.
Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock (air date 28 September 2015)
Galavan is very scary. He has the Mayor with a box locked on his head and starts talking about the city being cleansed in blood. And as if that wasn’t enough, the next scene is extremely disturbing with Jerome and the other escapees (minus Barbara) throwing living people off a building as an overture as what is to come. Which makes Galavan’s statement all the more ominous:
“Monsters are coming Mr. Mayor.”
As Galavan encourages the male escapees (of which Jerome is clearly the smartest and scariest), the Maniax, to get their next headline, Tabitha and Barbara are entering the room whipping the mayor. Barbara seems to be much more disturbed and relishing the evil.
Barbara ends up calling Gordon at the station and ends up walking into GCPD. He runs out to follow her and ends up very beaten and bloody. While that happens, the Maniax and more thugs walk into GCPD and massacre the force while forcing Commissioner Essen to watch. They kill just about everyone (Lee hid, and Nygma saved Miss Kringle) including Essen, though she was feisty and badass until the end. The massacre results in Bullock’s return.
“We are who we are right.”
In the midst of all this disturbing violence, we also get some powerful scenes with Bruce and Alfred. In an effort to protect Bruce, Alfred ends up destroying the computer down in Thomas Wayne’s lair and as a result Bruce fires him. The pain on Alfred’s face is so palpable and it’s even worse when he says goodbye to Bruce. Alfred clearly lingers trying to get Bruce to tell him to stay and when Bruce fails to do so, Alfred leaves. It’s painful to watch. Luckily, Bruce does go after Alfred and meet him at the train station.
“I don’t want you to go, Alfred. But you’re either with me or you’re against me.”
Alfred tells Bruce that he is too young and not ready and Bruce asks Alfred to train him, to make him ready. This scene does a great job of proving Alfred’s point: Bruce is still a stubborn little boy at times, even if he is mature and wise beyond his years.
I don’t know about you, but I was left with so many questions and started to wonder what Penguin’s ultimate goal was with Essen in charge and how Penguin feels about this madness in his city. How much does Lucius know? Where will his involvement lead Bruce? And Alfred can be bloody scary.
Rise of the Villains: The Last Laugh (air date 5 October 2015)
This episode begins with Gordon throwing someone out of a window. In the first season, he progressed from being a boy scout to something a little less wholesome. The death of Sarah Essen has pushed him much further into the realm of violence. He’s clearly taken the lead in the precinct and is shouting orders at everyone, but they are following because they all want to track down Jerome and the others involved in killing Essen and 9 other cops.
While Theo is orchestrating everything, he is also giving Jerome a lot of authority. Jerome and Tabitha pay a visit to Jerome’s father which is interrupted by Gordon and Bullock, but not before his father relays a prophecy and Jerome kills him.
All this leads up to the main event, a charity gala for the children’s hospital, which Lee organized and all the important people, include Alfred and Bruce, attend. Unfortunately for all the important people, Jerome and Barbara have replaced the magician and his assistant. After an decent opening performance, Jerome reveals himself and kills the deputy mayor. Theo Galavan gets his own performance in, standing up to Jerome and eventually saving Bruce Wayne from Jerome’s knife by killing Jerome. The final shot of Jerome in the scene is a bloody smile, so very Joker-esque.
And the final scenes of this episode were brilliant. We see lots of people rewatching news broadcasts with Jerome’s laugh and Jerome’s violence and those people start imitating the laugh. And while one person imitates the laugh and stabs a couple people to death, we hear the Blind Fortune Teller’s words again:
“You will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from sleep screaming at the thought of you. Your legacy will be death and madness.”
It’s a perfect way to provide ambiguity to the origin of The Joker, which has never truly been defined and should probably stay that way, in my opinion. But let’s all compliment and give a hand to Cameron Monaghan, who was brilliant in his role and certainly seems to have gotten the last laugh.
Rise of the Villains: Strike Force (air date 12 October 2015)
Strikeforce begins by juxaposing two dramatic methods of getting attention. Penguin fires a shotgun into the ceiling while Captain Nathaniel Barnes throws a chair down on the ground. Both were quite effective at gaining each the attention they required. Penguin is angry that his empire is crumbling thanks to the Arkham breakout, and is angry he doesn’t know who orchestrated it. But when Tabitha pays him a visit and takes him to see Theo, Penguin quickly realizes who the power player is and sadly is forced to do things even he doesn’t want to do. Theo is holding his mother hostage and it seems Penguin may crack under the pressure. Once again, Robin Lord Taylor just does a fantastic job of portraying the character. Even with his abhorrent actions, it’s hard to hate the Penguin.
The new Captain wastes no time in trying to clean up the GCPD by firing several crooked cops and making his intentions very clear. He chooses Gorgon to be his second in command and Gordon handpicks several cadets to be the new Unit Alpha of his Strikeforce team. These young, new cops all have reason to hate the violence and decay happening within Gotham. It will be interesting to see how Gordon handles the charge to take down Penguin given his prior decisions.
This episode also shows Theo digging his claws into Bruce (tempting him with a girl and agreeing that somewhere there is information about his parents’ death). And Edward Nygma finally getting his date with Miss Kringle, and even a kiss by night’s end. This may have been my favorite scene in the episode. I love Edward Nygma’s awkward character and find the fracturing personality fascinating. I want to root for the awkward side and hope the dominant evil side can be kept at bay. The “villains” are certainly the best part of Gotham.
How are you all enjoying the second season of Gotham? Is it better, worse, the same as Season 1? Have you checked out Gotham’s Instagram? Or the Gotham Chronicle? Fox has got some pretty clever additional marketing going on with these sites, and I recommend checking them out.