Gotham Recap And Review – S02E01 – Rise Of The Villains: Damned If You Do … – Season Premiere


After five months of waiting, we get to see what our characters have been up to since the  season finale episode (All Happy Families are Alike) of Fox’s Gotham Season 1.  I can say that the writing hasn’t changed that much and that the dialogue is still a bit on-the-nose and ridiculous.  I did appreciate the fact that they kept this episode focused.  But how many times does Jim have to run to Penguin and be surprised that a deal needs to be made — and having it mostly benefit Penguin.

Overall, the season premiere episode was a bit lackluster.  There were no real twists or surprises.  Most of the episode’s plot points were already shown in the promos.  As dull as this season opener was, there were a couple of high points to the episode, mostly due to the talents of the cast.

Spoilerific Recap: Bruce and Alfred make their way down the dark steps where they come to a door requiring a pass code.  Bruce tries multiple times, but fails.

A “One Month Later” montage shows what our characters have been up to: Jim has been living with Leslie; Harvey has a new job as a bartender; Penguin has solidified his power Gotham’s underworld; and Barbara has voluntarily surrendered herself at Arkham Asylum.

We meet Theo Galavan who gives a delusional man, dressed like a superhero, a blue liquid to drink.   The next day, the man appears at a city block where Jim is seen at his new demoted job of directing traffic.  The man fires multiple shots into the air.  Jim diffuses the situation and is able to arrest the man without anyone getting hurt.  Jim’s shift replacement finally arrives and tells him to relax.  A frustrated Jim shoves his co-worker away.

At GCPD, Jim is greeted by Edward Nygma in the locker room.  As Jim is called away to Captain Essen’s office, Edward’s split personality kicks into high gear where his reflection taunts him with his love interest — Kristen Kringle.

At Essen’s office, Jim is informed by Commissioner Loeb that he’s taking his badge away for “assaulting” the officer in the earlier scene (a ridiculous excuse we all know Loeb is happily using to get rid of Jim).  Essen’s defense of Jim’s actions are shown to be futile with Loeb.  Jim, though, refuses to be fired, so he quits.  Before Jim leaves, he shakes Loeb’s hand and warns Loeb that he will make good on his promise to “break him.”  Downstairs in one of the holding cells, the man dressed as a superhero burps up a bluish cloud of smoke.

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Jim voices his regrets to Leslie about voluntarily resigning.  He contemplates doing something illegal and immoral to get his job back.  Leslie admits she’s happy that he’s no longer part of the GCPD.

At Arkham, Barbara has settled in with the rest of the residents and is quickly greeted by a spry Jerome.  He points out Richard Sionis to Barbara.  Jerome tells her that Sionis has taken a liking to her and it would be to her benefit to have Sionis as a “friend.”  Barbara quickly gets the attention of a dimwitted prisoner and flirts with him to get him to protect her.  She mockingly tells Jerome that now she has a “friend.”  Jerome emphasizes that Sionis can provide her with various resources.  Interested, Barbara tells Jerome that she needs a telephone.

Penguin, with his new associates, Butch, Selina, and another henchman, are having trouble getting an underboss, Ogden Barker, to pay his fee.  Jim enters and asks Penguin for help in getting his job back.  Delighted by this new “favor”, Penguin plays around with Jim and eventually agrees to help him, but for a price.  Because Penguin has a hard time getting Barker to pay, he wants Jim to be his temporary enforcer.  In return, Penguin will get Jim reinstated at GCPD and have Loeb fired.

Jim pays a bartending Harvey a visit where he vents his frustrations.  Jim learns that Harvey has been pretty content since leaving the department.  After toasting Harvey’s new happiness, the two share a friendly goodbye.

Next stop: Wayne Manor, where Jim personally tells Bruce that he’s been fired and can’t keep his promise to the young billionaire.  Jim tells Bruce the line he needs to cross in order to get his job back.  Bruce, in turn, poses the question that maybe “ugly” things need to be done in order for things to persevere.  Jim takes Bruce’s comment to heart and leaves.  As Alfred sees Jim out, Bruce quickly grabs a remote and opens the fireplace passageway to the cave.  At the locked entryway, Bruce gives another try at opening the door.  Defeated and angered, he smashes the keypad lock with a hammer.

At Arkham, Barbara approaches Sionis and requests a telephone.

Jim visits Barker at his nightclub and demands Penguin’s payment.  Barker refuses and pulls a gun out.  Feigning a count to three, Jim quickly subdues Ogden and his men and takes off with the money.  Outside, uniformed officers are alerted to the commotion and give chase.  Jim alludes the officers by running into a parking garage, but is ambushed by Barker.  In self-defense, Jim shoots Barker and kills him.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce’s plan is to break into the cave by using an improvised explosive made from fertilizer.  Alfred, at first admonishing Bruce for such a dangerous plan, finally agrees to help him.

Seeing that Jim has fulfilled his end of the bargain, Penguin agrees that he’ll get him reinstated.

At home, Jim gets a call on his mobile phone from Barbara.  She pretends to be distraught and claims that Leslie framed her and that it was Leslie who attacked first.  Jim tells Barbara to never call him again.  Suspicious, Leslie requests to know who called.  Jim tries to lie, but Barbara calls their landline.  This time, leaving a disturbing voicemail.  Leslie suggests that the two of them leave Gotham, leaving everything behind.  Jim tells her that he can’t due to some regretful actions on his part.

Awoken by suspicious noises, Loeb discovers Penguin and Zsasz in his kitchen.  Loeb calls for his bodyguard, but Zsasz shows him the bodyguard’s disembodied head.  Penguin presents to Loeb his dilemma: Loeb has nothing to exploit, so the only option would be to kill Loeb and blackmail his replacement.  Scared of his impending execution, Loeb agrees to whatever Penguin has in mind.

At a ceremony in City Hall, Theo Galavan is introduced.  As Galavan speaks, we discover that the ceremony is for the retirement of Loeb.

Back at Arkham, Barbara lounges around with her new gang.  The deranged man who was dressed as a superhero enters as the newest inmate.  He makes a loud announcement, but is ignored by everyone.

At the ceremony, Galavan thanks Loeb for his service.  As Loeb makes his speech, it’s revealed that Essen will be the new commissioner.

At Arkham, the deranged man continues to speak, but suddenly collapses.  Blue smoke starts to shoot out from his mouth, rendering everyone in the room unconscious.  Outside, an explosion breaks open the main doors.  A woman in a gas mask enters, firing her gun.

Essen welcomes Jim back to the GCPD and hands him his badge.  At that moment, they’re alerted to the inmate escape at Arkham.

In a high-rise loft, Barbara and the inmates are restrained to individual dollies.  They’re quickly greeted by Galavan who also introduces his sister, Tabitha.   Galavan proposes his idea of forming a team with criminal geniuses, but Sionis wants nothing to do with it.  Pretending to allow Sionis to leave, Galavan has Tabitha brutally stab Sionis to death in front of the inmates.

At Wayne Manor, Alfred finishes wiring the explosives.  Bruce does the honors and blows open the door to the secret room.  Entering, Bruce finds a letter addressed to him from Thomas.  It’s revealed that the code to the room was BRUCE.  Continuing to read the heartfelt message, Thomas’s last words to Bruce are to choose happiness over the truth … unless he feels a true calling.

Best Moments: The friendship between Jim and Harvey.  I know, I know.  This is one of the shortest and least conflicted moments in the episode.  But for some reason, this scene was pretty satisfying.  I liked seeing how far the two former partners have come.  Contrast this with the very first episode from Season 1 where Harvey hated Jim’s guts, and you’ll know what I mean.  This scene was subtle, but I really enjoyed it and commend both Benjamin McKenzie and Donal Logue for pulling it off.

When Bruce reads Thomas’s letter to him, I couldn’t help but feel that this was an homage to Batman: Arkham Knight and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.

Final Thoughts: The Season 2 premiere of Gotham could’ve used a bit more twists and turns with the characters.  The introduction of Theo Galavan as a man with a one-side agenda seemed a bit rushed.  The character could’ve been made a bit more compelling had they made his true intentions a mystery.  The creation of a villainous team was also a bit cheesy.  I have feeling that they’re trying to ride on the coattails of the whole Suicide Squad craze.

My biggest complaint, I think ,would be the fact that Jim Gordon, who’s set up to be this hard-nosed, clean-cut, sharp cop, keeps going back to Penguin and expecting different results.  How may times has our future top cop been burned?  I hope there’s more to what Jim’s doing than just small favors here and there.  At this point, Penguin seems to be the new deus ex machina of the show.  Have a problem?  Go to Penguin?  Need someone dead or gone?  Go to Penguin.

The premiere episode was focused on Jim’s goal of getting reinstated, but the writing could’ve been spiced up a bit, especially in terms of character development.  Here’s to hoping that the season known as Rise of the Villains will give us some compelling stories.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a review of All Happy Families are Alike

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