Episode Title: Damned if You Do…
Original Airdate: 9-21-15
It’s been a while, but aside from Fear the Walking Dead which is a cable show and not exactly on the typical Fall network schedule we are back into the 2015/2016 television season and the first one out of the gate is Fox’s Gotham. Last season was very hit and miss with me and seemingly the rest of the audience. Many fans of Batman that I know of didn’t enjoy the campy and over the top nature of some of the characters, but other people still really enjoyed the character arcs and look of the show. For myself, I went back and forth from episode to episode. I wasn’t a fan of Fish Mooney’s caricatured portrayal of a villain, but I enjoyed some of the other characters and really enjoyed the look of the show. This season kicks off with more of the same at the moment, with several returning villains from last season and everyone in a very different situation more or less.
I was honestly a little bit at a loss at the beginning of this episode. I remembered quite a few things from the end of last season, like Penguin’s rise to power, Falcone’s retirement, Mooney’s death, and Barbara’s turn, but I didn’t remember Gordon being on such bad terms with Commissioner Loeb that he had been dragged down to traffic duty and Bullock had quit rather than suffer the indignity. I knew he was on bad terms, but I thought he still had leverage with knowing about Loeb’s sister, so that part had me a little bit confused. I do get that he should be in a low place in order for him to rise back up again, but it’s still pretty tough to see what this show is angling for his long game.
As for the villains, there are plenty. Penguin is lording it up as the king of Gotham city, ruling the underworld with Butch at Cat at his side with nothing much to do just yet. I will say that I do like where the Penguin is at for the moment. He’s not exactly resting on his laurels as he has a few detractors here and there throughout the city so it’s obvious that he doesn’t have an iron grip on the underworld just yet. But he seems to be stable for the moment and has machinations to help strengthen that grip for now. If I were to guess the direction of his character arc right now, I would say that this will be the rise and fall of the Penguin, with his fall coming just after midseason only for him to mostly bounce back by season’s end.
Of course, there is a new group of villains that is a combination of some old villains and some new ones via Arkham Asylum and the breakout that happens this episode. I’m not very fond of the name that I believe will be given to these villains based on Gotham’s social media as the Maniax just sounds so very 1990’s extreme culture, or sorry I should say X-treme culture. Barbara is in full-on villain mode with her crazy calls to Gordon and Leslie. I’ve heard rumblings that she’s being groomed to be an alternate Harley Quinn, especially as they are also playing up Jerome as the pre-Joker. Honestly, I really hope that those are just fake-outs as I’m not very fond of either of those two characters. I do like crazy Barbary a tad bit better than doormat lesbian Barbara, but I could care less about Jerome trying to act like he’s going to be the Joker someday in a way that makes him seem like a replacement for last season’s Fish Mooney.
To wrap things up here, I do want to mention just a little bit about baby Bruce and his quest to break into the batcave. A batcave that once he does finally break in, it appears to have been abandoned for years upon years, rather than just a single year since that would have been the last time his parents were still around. Honestly, I did think that the bit with the explosives was fun, but overall the payoff wasn’t quite worth it. Oh, but I can’t end this without talking about the person who is supposed to be the main character of this show Jim Gordon. Gordon from the movies is generally known to be the one good cop in the middle of a corrupt police force, minus the small handful of good cops that are part of his own personal task force. But here we see him start down the path of least resistance, the needs of the many outweigh the needs or morals of the few, or the one as it were. In order to regain his foothold in the Gotham PD, he does a bad, bad thing in the hopes that it will ultimately be worth it in the end. For some, this might cross a line that they might not think Gordon had ever crossed before, but there are stories about him in his early days where he doesn’t always make the right choices. He does cheat on his wife with his partner at one point, so it’s not a big stretch that he would dirty his hands a little bit and have to deal with the weight of that dirt for the rest of the season. I do hope that he doesn’t get overly bogged down by that dirt, but I also don’t really want to see him hit rock bottom before he gets the chance to work himself back up. It’s just a matter of time, but for right now, I’m willing to see where this show goes and where it’s going to take me.