Episode Title: Strike Force
Original Airdate: 10-12-15
I feel like Gotham is finally starting to get back on track, though there’s still plenty here to nitpick on. They have a new police captain, a new villain mastermind whose bad acting comes only when his character is acting, and there were some great moments strung throughout the episode. It’s finally starting to feel like it’s heading in a proper direction for a season referred to as “Rise of the Villains” along with the proper amount of push back from the police side even if there’s little question that it will ultimately be a failure.
This episode introduces Michael Chiklis’s new Police Captain Barnes and he starts out with a strong performance. He is military, takes to Gordon immediately, and institutes his own Gotham PD Strike Force made up of recent graduates at the Gotham Police Academy so that they wouldn’t have had time to become corrupted yet. It’s a little too early to tell how much I’ll like his character and what they intend to do with him. I see it going one of two ways. Scenario one is that he gets killed off pretty quickly since this is the rise of the villains and he’s almost a prototypical Commissioner Gordon. In fact, I could see how his character could be an inspiration for what Gordon will eventually become, though that only makes sense if he sticks around for more than half a dozen episodes or so. Scenario two is that he turns on Gordon after finding out that Gordon himself has been dipping his toes into dirty waters, though I find this the less likely possibility. There is also a third possibility that Barnes himself is actually corrupt and working in secret with Theo as part of this season’s master plan to get a foothold into the entire infrastructure of Gotham, both the political world as well as the criminal underworld. If that one is the case, there needs to be some subtle hints or else an out-of-nowhere turn-on-a-dime would be extremely unwelcome.
This episode also brings Penguin back into the fold after having him on the sidelines during the Maniax mini-arc. For someone who seems to have a master plan and can manipulate everything, he very quickly fell off the rails after something as simple as having his mother kidnapped. He’s brought into Theo’s secret, but it doesn’t make too much sense that he would be so easily broken. The show did set up his weakness for his mother in the last season, but it just seemed like Penguin completely gave up and lost his way in a snap. So much so that he implicated himself in the murder of one of the mayoral candidates. I will also say that Theo’s rise to prominence really came out of nowhere. I understand that there has to be some TV logic as his role wasn’t written last season so his popularity couldn’t have been set up beforehand, but it would have worked so much better if that had happened. As of right now, he’s this random billionaire that everyone in Gotham suddenly loves because he killed a criminally insane mass murderer. So much so that when there’s a drive by shooting, everyone doesn’t just scatter, they all calmly stick around to hear his announcement to throw his hat into the ring, even though he has some of the least charismatic speech mannerisms for a potential politician.
Speaking of Theo, that brings up the question of Bruce and his new “love interest” Silver St. Cloud. She is actually one minor comic book character that I am familiar with as she appeared in the Widening Gyre. Here, I almost thought she was Barbara when she was playing in the fountain outside of the restaurant. It immediately gives her a bit of the crazy vibe, but her brief scenes in this episode don’t really give any indication as to what role she’s really going to play in this season. I did love Alfred’s interaction with Cat earlier in the episode. It takes a certain kind of character to just straight up backhand a young girl in the face. It was a shocking moment, but as soon as he brought up Reggie you have to admit that if you’re going to commit child abuse, the murder of your friend is a pretty good excuse.
The last thing I want to bring up in this episode is the Nygma romance angle. I’m a little bit torn on how I feel about it. I’m starting to get used to how they’re portraying Nygma’s alter ego, though I’m not entirely fond of the slight digital manipulation they do to his voice. I liked his presumptuousness to invite her over to his own apartment for their first date, and the pretense of a restaurant with his overly-clever clue of “Chez Moi”. There was one element of the date where I couldn’t decide if it was clever or annoying and that was the decision to go with Christmas colors. Kristin Kringle, or Kris Kringle as it were is wearing a green sweater while Nygma is wearing red, and the window behind the table is backlit with a bright green glow while there’s a window fan off to the side with a bright red glow to it. At first I liked all the green as it is one of those more subtle references to the future Riddler and his green outfits until I noticed the red. It wasn’t anything too annoying, but it was borderline. It was recovered by the great moment where Nygma slips up and says “I’m glad he’s dead” as well as the surprising admission of him talking to his inner voice and Kringle’s acceptance of it. So often that ends up being an easy misunderstanding moment in romantic comedies and the like, but this show went around it and I appreciate that. Still, there was much more in this episode that I enjoyed than there was that I didn’t, I just hope it stays on track and doesn’t throw me another curveball.