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Gotham – S2E1 – Damned If You Do

Penguin is King of Gotham and after a shakeup at the GCPD, Gordon’s moral compass wavers as he seeks help from none other than the King himself.    


Gotham is back and with great trepidation I am going to write this recap for a show I have grown to… Well, my mom says if I can’t say anything nice….

But wait! I have heard all summer that the show has seen the light and wants to make some serious changes in the way it does business. They started with having a great new season title, “Rise of the Villains.” So maybe there is some hope?

In an issue of Entertainment Weekly over the summer, Gotham’s star Ben McKenzie opined, “I think we made a mistake relatively early on in trying to introduce a villain and take care of that villain in one episode: catch them, send them to Arkham, do whatever. […] That was just a mistake. We should’ve never done it.”

He went on to say, “The audience really wants to understand who these people are and live with them, sit with them and enjoy them…Whether they’re evil or good, they are entertaining. So that’s what we’re doing in Season 2. It’s really kick ass. I think it’s exactly what the fans want to see.”

So it sounds like the show is attempting to change its formula from the episodic flow of the first season to more of a character-driven program. I, for one, am happy with them trying anything to help increase my interest level – and from what I have heard over the internet and other media sources, many of you feel the same way.

So in solidarity with the changes in the show, I am also going to change the way I write these reviews. Gone will be the play-by-play method I used last season and now I will go with a more general review of each episode with some commentary sprinkled in, and maybe even a comic book reference from time to time. This is, after all, a show based on a comic book character. So this season will be full of changes. Let us hope the changes will be for the better and not more of the same old Gotham.

Here we go; to the Batcave, Batman!

We begin with Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) following the stairway they found during the season one finale. Bruce was investigating what his father was up to behind Wayne Enterprises’ back. But he can’t get in because it’s locked up tight.

A lot has happened in the time since the finale. Detective Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) are playing house, on and off screen from what I hear. Oh, and Gordon is also a traffic cop. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is a… bartender? Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) is doing his best Godfather-kiss-the-ring-or-get-shot-in-the-head-by-Victor-Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) impression. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is checking into Hotel Arkham with inmates such as Richard “The Mask” Sionis (Todd Stashwick), Robert Greenwood (Dustin Ybarra), Jerome “The Joker” Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), and others looking on.


Images: FOX

Then we get a shot of the great Zaardon (David Fierro), spelled with two A’s, with another mystery man who we will later find out is Theo Galavan (James Frain), a member of the city’s local government. Galavan gives our friend Zaardon a glass of the blue Star Wars milk, attempting to do a body good. He later goes on a shooting spree in which Gordon gets annoyed and puts him down without firing a shot. Gordon does point his gun at some unarmed teenage pilfers in the same scene just in case there was any doubt of how BA he was.


We also find that Edward Nygma is talking to himself in the men’s room. More of the creepy mirror Nygma, please. Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) is yelling at Gordon with Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryan Guevara) trying to defend him before having to take his gun and badge when Gordon is fired for pushing another policeman. But not before Gordon threatens to “break” Loeb. All of this even before the Gotham credits. Oh, and did I mention that Zaardon belches blue smoke while snoring? So far the show is picking up right where it left off – not a good sign.

Barbara is making new friends in Arkham with Jerome attempting to tell her what is what and Barbara not wanting to comply – except for when Jerome says his friend, Sionis, can get her anything she wants… and what she wants is a phone. The Sionis character is actually a play on the Batman villain Roman Sionis (Black Mask), which is cool. Penguin’s new inner circle, Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell), Zsasz, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), and Tommy Bones (James Andrew O’Connor), sit around talking gangster until Gordon comes a-knocking. As always, he comes asking for a favor, which Penguin is happy to grant. But he needs a tiny favor in return, which Gordon refuses. Oh, Jim… just do it so we can move on with the story!

Gordon is making the rounds. He first goes to Harvey’s bar and they both have a buddy moment. Then Gordon goes to see Bruce and Alfred so that he can tell Bruce he can no longer keep his promise to solve his parent’s murder. Bruce then schools Gordon on sacrifice and personal honor: Which is more important? I really liked what the kid was saying here.

Gordon later relents and agrees to help collect a debt owed to Penguin. This has Gordon not only running from thugs, but from his former brothers in blue too. Until finally he kills the man that owes Penguin money. Things just got real!

Bruce wants to make a bomb to get into his dad’s secret room. Just when I thought he was smarter than the boy from last season. Bombs indoors don’t mix, Bruce! And then things got interesting…

Barbara calls Gordon with that phone she acquired from Sionis. She then proceeds to tell Gordon all that happened between Dr. Thompkins and her was a lie. That Thompkins was crazy! Gordon hangs up on her so what’s a girl to do… call the competition! So she calls Thompkins and calls her some bad words. Thompkins then wants to run away, but Gordon tells her he can’t because he did a “bad thing.” And Commissioner Loeb gets his dismissal notice at home, with severed heads and all. Gordon gets his wish with Loeb stepping down to a singing quintet and Galavan giving some words of gratitude for a job well done. And then he announces Essen will be the new commissioner.


Barbara is hanging out with her new friends when Zaardon is brought into the room. No one saw this coming. He announces himself, passes out, and turns into a big blue smoke stack with blue knock-out gas coming from his mouth. The doors are blown open and a lady in a black leather suit, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), comes into the room with guns blazing. She breaks out six inmates, including Barbara. Galavan looks to be assembling a team of “brilliant outlaws.” But first he and his sister has to thin the herd: Bye, bye Sionis.


Bruce and Alfred blow a hole in the door with their makeshift bomb. Inside the room Bruce finds a letter from his father. He tells Bruce that he can’t have both “happiness and the truth…you must chose one.” This sounds like Bruce’s call to battle. The episode ends with Gordon getting his badge back and Essen telling Gordon this is a brand new day. Let’s just hope Gordon’s choice to get a little dirty will be worth it in the end.


Wrapping Up:

Game-score-6I am not sure if I am giving the episode more of a pass because I want it to be better or if it was actually better. Time will tell. I think the acting was a little better than the previous season. Well, everyone except Zaardon. I know it was supposed to be kooky, but yikes! I thought Fish was Oscar-worthy compared to that.

I also thought the pacing was pretty good. The time jump in the beginning right after Bruce found the door and the scenes showing where everyone was now was noticeable, but did not take me out of the show. The show did focus more on the villains, which is what the tag line for the season promised. I am still deciding whether it worked or if it fell short. Good luck to all of us going down this road again, hoping for more of DC’s comic “Gotham Central” and less of the mess we got last season.

About Michael James (88 Articles)
An Air Force brat and former bluesuiter, Michael was raised all over the country, but calls the southwest his home… although you would not know it since he currently resides in the nation’s capital! (For now…?) He is also a reformed government black suit and tie guy who now gives back to the world one child at a time as a child therapist. He was brought up on Star Trek NG, Buck Rogers and old BSG TV shows and he loves most things Geek (TV: GoT, BSG, Fringe, Walking Dead; Comics: Image, DC, Marvel; Movies: Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Serenity, The Avengers, Man of Steel (I know!), Pacific Rim, and Edge of Tomorrow. His perfect time would be traipsing around the world with his family and his two dogs, discovering and experiencing all kinds of ridiculous adventures. Too bad he doesn’t have William Bell money!

1 Comment on Gotham – S2E1 – Damned If You Do

  1. This was a good episode! The Bruce Wayne stuff was more than I cared for, except when he pulled Jim’s card that was great . Barbara, Jim, Lee, Penguin, Bullock all those stories are off to good starts and I’m looking guard to see if they can keep this up!

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