Gotham: “Damned If You Do…” — Sept. 21, 2015
The Gotham Season Two premiere is action packed. There are character developments and action galore. So, without further ado, here’s Special Contributor Ralph S. take on it. – David F.
The first season of Gotham started off rather tamely, but by the season finale things had gotten rather interesting. The show doesn’t waste any time getting viewers up to speed with what’s going on with the major players in season two of this latest retelling of the Batman/Dark Knight mythology.
The story opens with a quick montage showing how things have changed for some of the major characters since the season one finale. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has had a slight career setback. He’s been busted back to patrolman after pissing off Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb (Peter Scolari). However, he is still together with Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) who’s trying to give him that emotional support that we all need during those trying times.
Gordon’s former partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is now tending bar at a local neighborhood pub. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), Gordon’s former main squeeze, is reporting to Arkham Asylum after slicing up her parents. And then there’s the Penguin. After apparently doing away with Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkette Smith) last season and exhibiting some adept skill at manipulation and deception our man Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) has risen to the position of Gotham’s top crime lord. This is made crystal clear in the scene when Oswald has his henchman Victor Zazz air out some poor bastard’s head with a .45 automatic.
And, oh yeah, young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) have found a secret entrance in Wayne manor that leads down to what appears to be a locked door. How interesting.
But all is not as peaceful as it seems, for there is a new player who is making plans to make his existence known very shortly.
We find Gordon on traffic duty. Ever vigilant, he manages to subdue what appears to be just another idiot who fancies himself a super villain. This guy, calling himself Zaardon (spelled with two A’s for silliness) the soul reaper, dressed in a costume that makes him look more like a super dufus, shoots off pistols and swings a ninja sword around until Gordon makes short work of taking his fat ass down. After booking Zaardon, who’s obviously bound for Arkham, Gordon has an unwelcome confrontation with Commissioner Loeb. It seems that during the apprehension of this latest nut job Gordon shoved a fellow officer who got in the way during the arrest. Loeb now claims that’s sufficient cause to kick Jimbo off the force, which he wastes no time in doing. Gordon hands over his badge and gun to his commander, Capt. Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) and walks out but not before telling Loeb that it’s not over between them.
Oh yeah, during the scenes in which Gordon’s predicament is played out we catch a glimpse of Crime Scene Tech Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) who made the jump from just plain weirdo to full-fledged murderer last season. Ed’s now talking to himself in the station’s bathroom mirror and his reflection is talking back to him. Obviously Ed’s going to have himself a very creative time during the coming season.
Meanwhile Barbara’s managing to meet new people in Arkham. The first one, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) who approaches her on behalf of the top psycho in the joint’s food chain Richard Sionis (Todd Stashwick). Jerome, who right now has my vote for the one most likely to be the Joker, tells Barb that she’s gonna need a powerful friend in a place like this and Richard can get her anything she wants. She asks for a phone.
The Penguin is discussing some business matters with his crew, which now includes Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) and the young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), when Gordon shows up to ask a favor. Now what could an ex-cop who wants his old gig back possibly want from the city’s new crime kingpin? No need to answer that but it’s obvious that Oswald’s gonna want something in return. If Gordon will go collect on an outstanding debt that the Penguin is owed all will be as it once was for the ambitious protector of the law. Gordon has to think about it first but… well you know.
While thinking over the Penguin’s offer Gordon has a drink, or several, at the neighborhood pub where Bullock works. Bullock tells his old partner that maybe things have worked out for the best. Citing himself as an example Bullock says that walking away from the G.C.P.D. was the best thing that ever happened to him. “Look at me now,” Bullock says. “I’m sober (for 32 days so far). I have a woman who does not dislike me. I live in a house. I sleep at night. I’ve never been happier in my life.” Gordon congratulates his friend for those achievements and takes off. Somehow I don’t think he’s quite convinced about that walking away part though.
He next visits stately Wayne manor and informs Alfred and young Bruce about his situation — including the possible deal with the Penguin. Gordon apologizes for not being able to keep the promise he made to Bruce last season to find the guy who murdered the boy’s parents and clean up the police department. In considering Gordon’s problem Bruce tells him that sometimes, “The right is also the ugly way.” Bruce tells Gordon that it appears he’s sacrificing the greater good for personal vanity. Gordon leaves Wayne manor with more to think about.
Apparently he doesn’t take long to think about it. Gordon goes to collect the debt and after some aggressive negotiations, which end with the debtor flat on his back oozing life from two holes in his chest, he manages to get the Penguin’s money. Upon delivering the cash Penguin promises to keep his end of the deal and he assures Gordon that there will be no legal repercussions from this little escapade.
Barbara gets her phone and uses it to call her ex and proclaim her innocence. When he hangs up on her she calls Leslie. When Gordon tells Leslie not to pick up the call, Barb leaves a quaint message on the machine for them to hear. “I hope you die screaming bitch,” she says in her most dulcet tones. After that enlightening experience Gordon fesses up to Leslie about his deal with the Penguin. And while Jim’s confessing, Penguin and Zazz pay Loeb a short visit. After some initial resistance Loeb agrees with the Penguin that it’s time for him to step down from his post after reinstating Gordon as a detective. Loeb apparently does like breathing.
During Loeb’s retirement ceremony the new player makes his first appearance. Theo Galavan (James Frain) is the new chairman of development at the Gotham Chamber of Commerce. He’s also a rich philanthropist who dabbles in science. Oh by the way he’s also the brains behind that unwitting bozo Zaardon. Before going on his five-minute criminal rampage Zaardon consumed a concoction given to him by Galvan and now that he’s safely locked up in Arkham it’s time for Zaardon to serve Theo’s purpose in a rather unseemly manner. After passing out Zaardon begins to emit a bluish gas that, of course, causes everyone to pass out. Theo’s sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) makes an explosive entrance into Arkham and breaks out six of the residents, Barbara and Jerome among them.
Meanwhile at City Hall Sarah Essen, the new police commissioner, gives Gordon back his detective shield. Convenient how all that worked out now, ain’t it? After arriving at their destination the six escapees discover that their benefactor, Theo, has grand plans for them. They are to be a distinguished band of outlaws. When Theo takes a special interest in Barbara jealousy rears its ugly head in the form of Sionis, who’s also among the six. When he challenges Theo over Barb, Theo expresses his displeasure in Sionis’ behavior by unleashing his sister Tabitha. Displaying skill with her whip that would make Indiana Jones envious Tabitha, aka Tigress, makes short work of the disagreeable escapee. The remaining five quickly fall in line.
Bruce, after a small crisis of conscience and a persuasive conversation with Alfred arrives upon an explosive solution to his problem of opening the stubbornly locked door. Utilizing Alfred’s military expertise the pair construct a fertilizer bomb and use it to blow the door in. Why Land o’ Goshen, it’s a cave, fancy that. And sitting on the desk in the cave Bruce finds a note addressed to him from his father. In the note, Bruce’s late father expresses his doubts about the direction of the family business and he also presents his son with a choice. “You can’t have both happiness and the truth. You must choose,” the note says. In the note the father begs his son to choose happiness unless… “You feel a calling. A true calling.”
Well, I think they’ve done quite a job setting the stage for this season. It should be fascinating to see where things go from here.