Gotham Recap And Review – S02E04 – “Rise Of The Villains: Strike Force”


The fourth episode of Season 2 of Fox’s Gotham, “Strike Force”, sees the introduction of the GCPD’s newest leader — Captain Nathaniel Barnes, played by veteran actor Michael Chiklis.  A former Marine who doesn’t tolerate corruption, Barnes is seen as Jim Gordon’s newest ally in the mission to clean up Gotham.  On the other side of the law, Theo Galavan is moving forward in his plans to takeover Gotham by charming its citizens and using the “forced” services of Penguin.  Though the episode had a cleaner plot than most of the other installments, the overacting and cartoonish reactions got really distracting.

Spoilerific Recap: Penguin has a gathering of all the gangs and thugs of Gotham.  He demands to know who broke out Jerome and the other Arkham inmates because the ensuing chaos has cost him a lot of business.  Tabitha enters and invites Penguin to meet with her brother, Theo.

At GCPD, with no real leadership, cops argue among themselves.  Nathaniel Barnes makes a dramatic entry and introduces himself as their new captain.  The whole department comes to attention.  He admonishes everyone and specifically calls out a group of cops.  Barnes fires them on the spot for their corruption.  When one of the cops protests his termination, Barnes immediately arrests him for his crimes.  He further warns that if any cop goes corrupt, they will not only be fired, but treated like a criminal.

Barnes brings Jim up to his office.  Dissecting Jim’s mentality with a quick conversation, Barnes makes Jim his second-in-command.  Barnes, who’s revealed to be a former marine, vows to fix the department by recruiting more honest talent.

When Jim leaves, Harvey voices his concerns about Barnes’s hard-nosed attitude.  Harvey thinks that the straight-and-narrow way of their new captain is the wrong style to operate in Gotham.

Theo watches television where a newscast reports that Mayor James is still missing.  The newscast goes on to report that the people of Gotham would like Theo to run for mayor.  Penguin arrives for their meeting and is surprised to see Barbara present.  The encounter gives away Theo as the mastermind behind the Arkham breakout.  Theo then reveals his plan to Penguin — build a series of new buildings on what is now a poor residential area.  Theo needs Penguin to use his muscle to clear the area.  Penguin punches holes in Theo’s prospects.  However, Theo tells him that once he himself is mayor, that wouldn’t matter.  A new plan is to have Penguin murder the other candidates so that Theo can run unopposed.  Penguin refuses to be Theo’s lapdog, but has a change of heart when Theo reveals that he’s holding Gertrud hostage.

Barnes has Jim meet him at the academy where they start their recruitment of new candidates.  They go through the roster and select the best rookies for a new paramilitary force called Unit Alpha — which will be led by Jim.

At a press conference where Theo is being awarded Gotham’s Medal of Valor and Bravery, a gang of thugs performs a drive-by shooting.  As they pass, Theo makes a dramatic speech warning the evildoers of Gotham that he and the citizens will not tolerate them.  He then vows to run for mayor.

Penguin and Butch burst into the offices of Janice Caufield and murder her.  Butch warns the staff that he and Penguin will come after them if they say anything to the authorities.

At Bruce’s prep school, Selina spies on Bruce as Alfred is waiting to pick him up.  After a brief exchange of words, Alfred violently strikes Selina for killing Reggie.  He tells her that Bruce will be extremely happy to not have her in his life.  The interaction leaves Selina in tears as she makes a quick exit before Bruce even sees her.

Back at GCPD, Nygma practices asking Ms. Kringle to dinner.  His imaginary double shows up again to taunt him, telling him that he deserves her.  Taking the advice to heart, Nygma marches straight into Kringle’s office and asks her to dinner in a direct fashion.  She happily accepts.

When Barnes, Jim, and Unit Alpha become aware of Caufield’s murder, they visit the candidate’s office.  At first, the staff are reluctant in speaking to anyone due to Butch’s threats.  One of them finally gives a description of Penguin after Jim makes her feel guilty for keeping quiet.

At an upscale restaurant, Bruce meets Theo to thank him for saving his life from the maniacal Jerome.  As Theo asks Bruce about the murders of his parents, Bruce becomes distracted by a girl outside playing in the fountain.  Theo notices and offers to introduce Bruce to his niece — Silver St. Cloud.  Theo brings Bruce to meet Silver and they hit it off immediately.

Kringle arrives at Nygma’s loft and it’s revealed that he will be making dinner, as he enjoys cooking.  She seems impressed and tells him to call her by her first name, Kristen.

Penguin and Butch are outside of the home of another candidate — Hobbs.  Butch has been left in the dark and wants to know what’s going on.  Penguin reveals to him that Gertrud has been kidnapped and held hostage.  Butch promises to help Penguin find her.

Inside, Hobbs is against moving to a more secure area, a suggestion voiced by his security detail.  Victor suddenly enters and a shootout ensues.  Security tries to move Hobbs to safety and they end up outside.  Jim, Harvey, and Unit Alpha arrive in a SWAT vehicle just in time.  The shootout continues and one of Unit Alpha is shot, but her bulletproof vest saves her.  As Victor escapes, Harvey questions Penguin’s motives.

Nygma and Kristen continue their date which has Nygma acting uncharacteristically normal and calm.  As the conversation moves to Dougherty (the abusive boyfriend of Kristen last seen in “Under the Knife“), Nygma accidentally gives away a hint of his involvement in Dougherty’s murder.  Growing uncomfortable, Kristen excuses herself to the bathroom.  Nygma’s imaginary double appears again and argues with him.  Kristen overhears this and confronts him.  Nygma admits to hearing voices, which, strangely, makes Kristen empathize with him.  The two then share a kiss.

Jim visits Penguin and confronts him about Caufield’s murder.  A frustrated Penguin, knowing that he himself has the upper hand, reiterates the deal that allowed Jim to be reinstated.

As Jim, Harvey, and Unit Alpha congregate at GCPD, Barnes gives them their highest priority mission — bring down Penguin.

At school, a lone Bruce is greeted by Silver, confirming that their initial friendship was real.  Meanwhile, in a rundown part of Gotham, Selina sits on the side of the street recollecting Alfred’s harsh words of telling her to stay away from Bruce.

Theo tells an impatient Barbara that he’ll be able to steal the mayor’s office when Penguin runs havoc in the streets.

At Penguin’s base of operations, Butch tells Penguin the he hasn’t located Gertrud yet.  As Penguin watches his imprisoned mother on a television screen, he cries and screams in frustration at his helplessness.

Best Moment: The introduction of Captain Nathaniel Barnes as a hard-hitting leader who will not tolerate corruption.  Michael Chiklis is great in any role he plays.

Most Disappointing Moment: Okay, for this week, I’m going to add this section.  I know that Selina killed Reggie.  And I know that Alfred thinks Selina might be a bad influence on Bruce.  However, she killed a guy who was threatening to murder two children and was a hired spy by Wayne Enterprises.  On top of that, Reggie critically stabbed Alfred and left him for dead.  So what in the world was that slap across Selina’s face for?  Seriously, if there ever was a jumping-the-shark moment for any character, this would be it.  I’m truly disappointed Gotham.

Final Thoughts: “Strike Force” was one of the tighter, cleaner episodes of this season.  However, the garish interactions of each character bordered on this being a cartoon.  I’m not even sure if Michael Chiklis can save this show.  Sure, he’s a great actor, but he can only do what’s written on the page.

The worst thing that happened in this episode was the character assassination of Alfred.  I think the pen is truly mightier than the sword because the writers just killed our most beloved butler in the eyes of the audience.  Yes, he’s a hardened former military man, but cocking back and slapping a kid across the face for killing a very deplorable human being?  Come on.  Are we really that desperate for shocking moments?

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a review of The Last Laugh

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