Caped Crusades Roundtable: Gotham Season 2 So Far


Gotham returned for it’s second season with a renewed sense of purpose and villains up the wazoo (hence the name “Rise Of The Villains”). I think it’s fair to say Gotham in it’s first season was one of the weaker comic book shows on TV in a deluge of comic book shows that is only growing as time has gone on. Did Gotham make the necessary changes in it’s second season to stand out in a crowded field? Our staff of Batfans weighs in…

Next: :....Amanda Chrisman's Thoughts

Amanda Chrisman(Twitter)

Rise of the Villains is a bit of a departure from season one of Gotham, though I don’t think it to be a bad change. First of all, things are a bit darker this season, not that last season was some light-hearted romp. It all starts with the changes in Jim Gordon, who starts down a dark path this season that he can’t seem to, or doesn’t want to get off of. Season one showed us a Jim Gordon with a strict moral code and a serious reluctance to break it, something that made him stand out quite a bit in corrupt Gotham. But this season Gordon strays further and further over the line he drew for himself, making people who care about him like Lee Thompkins worry endlessly, and wonder if they know him at all any more.

Of course, characters embracing the darkness within them seems to be a theme for this season. Penguin for example, was always a criminal, but now he has power and influence and it has changed him. He comes to his darkest chapter however after Theo and Tabitha Galavan kill his mother and she dies in his arms. Penguin is consumed by revenge and it is not a pretty thing to witness. It also throws our self-proclaimed king of Gotham into a power struggle.

Probably my favorite character to “go dark” this season is Edward Nygma, whose character development has been amazing thus far. We saw hints of the man he would become over the course of season one, like when he got the medical examiner fired by stuffing the man’s locker full of severed limbs. And again when he killed Officer Dougherty. His actions, while wrong, came from a good place in this second case however. He was trying to protect Ms. Kringle, who he loves, from her abusive boyfriend, who admittedly was threatening to escalate his level of violence. After killing Dougherty Nygma goes through some psychological changes, to wit: he basically has an evil version of himself in his head that only he can see and hear. I nicknamed this alter ego Big Bad Ed as he reminds me of Harvey Dent’s bad side known as Big Bad Harv. Things turn from bad to worse for our riddle loving CSI though when he kills his beloved Kristen Kringle accidentally while trying to explain his actions to her when she learns of his slaying of Officer Dougherty. The unfortunate Ms. Kringle had been dating Nygma for awhile and when things looked to be turning serious she voiced concern that her abusive ex might hurt them. When Nygma tries to assuage her fears by confessing to the murder, she understandably freaks out and tries to escape him, whereupon he strangles her while as he attempts to prevent her from leaving. Probably my favorite thing the writers did this season was make the first victim of the Riddler (and by that I mean the first to ever receive a riddle in an envelope bearing the iconic green question mark) is Edward Nygma himself, as his darker half has hidden Kringle’s body and leads himself on a merry chase culminating in the two discordant halves of Nygma finally becoming one.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of screen time Cory Michael Smith has had this season, especially his character’s budding friendship with the Penguin. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne’s life has taken an interesting turn this season, starting with his discovery of the cave where his father hid all the work he did investigating the corruption within his company. After several failed attempts at cracking the code sealing the vault door on the cave, Bruce and Alfred make a homemade bomb and blast their way in. This season things take a decidedly romantic turn for our young dark knight to be, as he finds himself in a bit of a pubescent love triangle, with the introduction of Silver St. Cloud, and Selina Kyle is still vying for his heart. It’s quite amusing to see that Bruce was a lady killer even at such a tender age, though a little sad that Silver is only interested in manipulating him for her Uncle Theo. Alfred doesn’t really approve of either of Bruce’s little girlfriends, warning him against Silver, and out right slapping Selina and telling her to stay the hell away from Bruce. Thankfully Selina ignores Alfred’s demands and is there for Bruce when he comes to find that he can’t trust Silver.

I know plenty of Batman fans don’t like this show, but I really think that they aren’t giving it a fair shot, while there is definitely room for improvement in some areas, the interpersonal relationships and the character development on this show are brilliant and for that alone I will keep tuning in for as long as the show is on the air. Admittedly Gordon is one of my least favorite characters on the show, which is sad considering that he is the star. But there are just so many other wonderful characters that the writers have done a better job with, the only thing I really truly love about Gordon is his friendship with Harvey Bullock who is honestly one of the funniest characters on the show. I’m pretty sure that the writers have done this on purpose, taking a character most Batman fans didn’t care or know a whole lot about and giving him all the funniest lines.

Every Batman fan needs to give Gotham a shot, just for the character development, to see these iconic characters’ early days before they became the heroes and villains we know and love, and to see them interact with each other and slowly grow into the men and women they will become. I love most everything that Rise Of The Villains has done this first half of the season and I can’t wait to see more!

Next: :....Jordan Valdez's Thoughts

Jordan Valdez(Twitter)

I was a big fan of the debut season of Gotham, but the first half of this second season has blown my mind! I think the biggest improvement has been the cohesiveness of the plotlines involving Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne. In the first season, they were connected at the beginning as Gordon was investigating the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but once Gordon learned that Mario Pepper was innocent and he didn’t have any more leads, that connection disintegrated. The only way the writers were able to keep the two storylines together was to have Gordon come to Wayne Manor once in a blue moon to ask Bruce for more time.

At the beginning of this second season, I was honestly never very intrigued by the Maniax. The writers weren’t going to make Jerome into The Joker, but I am of the belief that they realized Jerome had gained a large fan base, and so they wanted to give him some screen time as not to lose any of those viewers. They did weave it into the story they wanted to tell about Theo Galavan and the Order of St. Dumas nicely, because Theo “saving” Bruce from Jerome was an integral step towards gaining his trust.

The introduction of Galavan and his plans for Bruce Wayne is how we got to see a more solidified connection between Bruce and Gordon begin that obviously continues all the way throughout Bruce’s career as Batman. And when Galavan blackmailed Penguin, he was also given a place in the Galavan story as well. I found James Frain’s portrayal of Galavan to be superb. He was by far the most intimidating villain (with possibly the exception of Victor Zsasz, but he’s just a hired gun) to ever appear on this show, and he didn’t even fight anyone until the tenth episode of the season. Even with Galavan being killed off in the mid-season finale, The Order of St. Dumas lives on in Tabitha Galavan and Silver St. Cloud, and we’ve been promised Azrael this season, so it is exciting to me to see the creative team take a dive into such a storied group in Batman lore.

The mid-season finale was my favorite episode of Gotham to date. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole ride. The first half of the episode was very suspenseful, because different characters had different pieces of information, and they were all trying to piece it together. Captain Barnes is starting to get on my nerves quite a bit; while I can respect his commitment to enforcing the law by the book, it just doesn’t always work in a city with as many problems as Gotham has, and that’s why the city needs Batman (and a commissioner like Gordon who is willing to work with that vigilante).

My favorite part about this episode (and last week’s episode) was that we saw Bruce finally exhibit his stellar cunning, which is one of his strongest traits as the Batman. During much of the first season (and even the beginning of this second season) of Gotham, the only real Batman-like quality that Bruce showed was his stubbornness. But once he hired The Knife to deceive Silver to try to get information about his parents’ killer, I knew that Bruce was finally coming into his own. Then, in this mid-season finale, I was ecstatic that Bruce was so quick to realize that all that Silver had been telling him and her escape plan were just a ruse. And then, at the end of the episode, we saw another classic Bruce characteristic when he told Alfred and Selina that while he appreciated their help, he had his own plan to evade the Order of St. Dumas’ plan to kill him. I’d usually think myself a fool to ever doubt Bruce Wayne, but as this is still such a young Bruce, I’ll go ahead and say that it really did look like he would’ve been done for had Gordon and Penguin’s team not busted in the room at the very moment that they did.

I loved the team that Gordon and Penguin compiled to take down Galavan. It just seemed right that Selina joined the party and was able to show them how to get into Galavan’s lair. And it was pretty awesome when the gun/knife fight ensued between the Order and their team. Also, I hated Galavan so much, and I was happy to see Penguin get some revenge on him at the end. I was honestly a bit shocked that Gordon pulled the trigger on Galavan. Not only did I think Penguin would demand to be the one to do it, but although we’ve seen Gordon kill before on this show and throughout the season a darkness has been building inside him, I just didn’t think the writers would let him do the honors.

The fact that Gordon did kill Galavan adds just another question to my growing list about the second half of the season. Will Gordon continue to cross the line on killing? I actually think it’s likely to be Bruce that convinces him that he shouldn’t. Who is Gordon and Leslie Thompkins’ baby? In the comics, Gordon’s first child is James Jr. While that was Sarah Essen’s son, that might not be important to the Gotham writers, since it’s not like he had any kid with Thompkins in the comics. I have a really hard time seeing how he will ever have a daughter named Barbara given what Barbara Kean has done in the show, but there could be some plot twist to explain that. And finally, what roles will Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange play? February seems like so far away, but I am beyond excited for the second half of Gotham’s second season!

Next: :....Eric Chrisman's Thoughts

Eric Chrisman(Twitter)

So last time we did one of these, I said Gotham was a good show with some obvious flaws that most shows have going through their first seasons. Gotham also has it rough because while it is sort of it’s own thing, being an original prequel of sorts, it still is a comic book show in a TV landscape littered with excellent comic book shows. We don’t have to suffer through a show that is at best “ok” because there are a myriad of other options out there where once it was basically whatever Saturday morning cartoons we weren’t horribly embarrassed to watch.

I do feel like Gotham really stepped up a lot for Rise Of The Villains and there were a lot of great positives. The Maniax themselves were pretty much a bust from the get go, but both Barbara Kean and Jerome delivered plenty of great moments when it was their time to shine. Theo & Tabitha Galavan were great additions to the Gotham roster and really drove the season to this point.

But villains who managed to survive season one didn’t get the short end of the stick either, Edward Nygma in particular got to fully explore his dark side, and not surprisingly, he liked it quite a bit and it’s been a very dark and fun journey to go on with him.

Speaking of journeys, it seems like season two of Gotham is where Bruce Wayne really started to begin his journey to be Batman. Whereas in season one he just seemed to flirt with things like training with Alfred and being good at subterfuge, this season he actually showed a lot of growth in the art of deception, culminating wonderfully in a greatful master ruse where he orchestrates his own kidnapping and pulls out quite a convincing performance to get the information he needs out of Silver St. Cloud.

Gotham was also a show really not afraid to show that no one is safe, as characters you thought would be sticking around for awhile started dropping like flies, even if they are well-established DC comic book characters with important ties to the DC comic world. Probably the most surprising thing is that Barbara Kean survived the season so far with everyone from Theo Galavan to Sarah Essen being offed.

So Gotham’s Rise of The Villains has been a much stronger effort so far, but it’s still not without some major flaws. One being the introduction of no-nonsense by the book Captain Barnes. Its a shame, because I absolutely love Michael Chiklis, but the character has fallen completely flat. I know he’s supposed to be the one trying to keep Gordon from his dark spiral into basically being well, Vic Mackey, but his relentless attachment to he letter of the law hurts more than it helps and it’s to a ridiculous degree.

And much like the mid-season finale of season one (and frankly the season finale as well), after a string of strong episodes, the big cliffhanger falls pretty flat. I mean what were the stakes? Of all people on the show, Bruce Wayne was not going to die, and once again,we seem to be in a position where Gordon broke the rules, so presumably he’ll be in the political doghouse AGAIN. We’ve been down this road before, do SOMETHING ELSE, ANYTHING ELSE.

Also once again while “Rise Of The Villains” is an improvement, it still faces the same problem it did before the Fall season started, it is a decent show with occasionally great moments in a crowded field loaded with great shows that is only getting bigger by the minute. Supergirl & Jessica Jones are going incredibly strong, Legends of Tomorrow and a possible Agents of Shield spin-off are right around the corner. Superhero fatigue is probably not happening anytime soon, but there are only so many hours in the day, TV will reach a saturation point, and Gotham the way it is now might be the first casualty of that. There just really isn’t room for a comic book show that is just ok, and that’s what Gotham is right now and it can’t stay at that level and hope to last long enough to tell the story it wants.

And there are the Caped Crusades staff’s thoughts on Gotham season 2: Rise Of The Villains at the mid-season point. What do you think of Gotham’s current season so far? Let us know in the comments! Gotham returns from it’s Winter hiatus February 29th on Fox!