Review: Gotham (S1 E11-12/22), Monday 16th March, Channel 5



Previously on Gotham – that is, before the mid-season hiatus – the action had reached heart-stopping levels as an attempt to kill Selina Kyle resulted in Bruce Wayne going on the run and gangster Lovecraft getting killed. Would you believe it’s about to get even more tense? Gotham’s dark undertone is about the murder of the Waynes. If plucky cop Jim Gordon can prove it was part of a conspiracy involving the Arkham development, he might be able to break the stranglehold the gangsters, bought cops and corrupt politicians have on the city. But with the death of his best lead, Lovecraft, Jim has been disgraced, and busted to the status of a guard at the newly reopened Arkham Asylum. His girfriend Barbara has gone AWOL, and Selina Kyle has gone on the run, depriving Jim and DA Harvey Dent of their best witness. Could things get worse? Well, this is Gotham City.

We open, fittingly, with a madhouse performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the story of a sorcerer controlling an island of magical beings; then we meet a character crucial to Batman lore, Dr Leslie Tomkins (Morena Baccarin). Introducing the lovely Morena (V, The Mentalist, Homeland) to Gotham was a wise move; not only is she smoking hot, but the feisty Dr Tomkins also gives Jim Gordon both a love interest and a worthy colleague much more stimulating than the insipid Barbara.

Jim finds himself investigating a series of attacks on inmates where electrodes are used to fry their brains; he cross-questions the suspects with hilarious results, and finally realises that staff nurse Dorothy, an ex-inmate, is apparently the murdering loon. But in the violent riot that ensues, Dorothy’s puppet-master Gruber escapes, killing director Lang in the process.

Meanwhile Fish Mooney rallies support against Falcone. Her sidekick Butch looks like he’s making deals on the side, but when he pops one of Mooney’s rivals, we realise where his loyalties lie. We love Butch – he’s one of the most honest, straightforward and loyal characters in the story – he just happens to be a brutal killer, but hey…

Penguin isn’t doing so well, slapped in jail after overstepping the mark with Maroni, who explains to him the meaning of ‘hubris’; and Selina Kyle finds the sick Ivy on the street and takes her to Barbara’s vacant apartment. We’re not sure where Jim’s been crashing, but when he finds the two, he won’t be best pleased. Barbara meanwhile has landed on her ghastly parents, who are so stiff they could have been stuffed.

But of course, Jim has bigger worries, with Gruber on the loose along with a hulking, mind-controlled slave. Gruber’s first act is to fry his former associates and recover his old electrical gear, but this crime gives Jim the chance to confront Commissioner Loeb and get his job back.

The trail of chaos ‘The Electrocutioner’ leaves in his wake makes it fairly easy to track him, but when he attacks the precinct in search of Maroni, only Jim’s rubber galoshes and a handy mug of water save him. He gets kudos for the capture, but makes an enemy of Loeb, whose job he is of course destined to take.

Fish Mooney makes her move on Falcone, snatching Liza off the street and trying to force Falcone to leave the city in return for her safety. Falcone is tempted, but when Penguin reveals the depth of Mooney’s plot, Falcone calls her bluff, and in one of the most shocking scenes yet in Gotham, strangles Liza with his own hands. Fish and Butch are taken alive, and Penguin’s revenge is complete.

As a coda, Gordon, who is apparently living in the precinct locker-room, gets in a clinch with Dr Tomkins.

It’s an amazing amount to squeeze into two episodes, but this double-bill effectively brings Jim back from his lowest point, and re-invigorates him with determination to break the corruption at the heart of Gotham; sets him off on a new relationship with Dr Tompkins, and sets up a new enemy in the form of Commissioner Loeb; brings Fish Mooney’s plans crashing around her ears, kills off Liza, and sees Penguin and Falcone triumphant.

Is it odd that in all of this, our main concern remains the fate of Fish Mooney? It doesn’t seem possible that she could escape the revengeful clutches of Falcone, but with Butch by her side, anything’s possible, and we’d be heartbroken to see the wily vixen rubbed out.

As for Jim Gordon, we don’t envy his position when Barbara returns – Hell, indeed, hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Chris Jenkins

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