Review: Gotham (S1 16/22), Monday 13th April, Channel 5

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.27.33In Gotham City, a trip to the circus can culminate in bloodshed and terror; a sea voyage can lead to captivity and torture; and a visit to a nightclub can end in violence and murder. Who’d be crazy enough to live there? While Fish Mooney is consolidating her hold on the captive rabble in her mysterious dungeon, Penguin is leading her old club to ruin, by putting on his mad old mum as the big attraction. Stabbing customers who complain isn’t going to improve the situation, which is why Victor Szazz brings in Butch Gilzean as a minder; Butch has been pretty much broken by Szazz’s torture, but still terrifies Penguin. (There are some lovely shots using the club’s lighting; sometimes you have to re-watch Gotham just to enjoy the skilful way it’s made).

Jim Gordon and Lee Thompkins aren’t doing much better for entertainment; their night out at the circus ends in a brawl between rival troupes, the acrobat Graysons and the clown Lloyds. Now, somewhere in this tangle we suspect should be Dick Grayson, Batman’s Robin-to-be; but no, he hasn’t been born yet. There’s a Romeo-and-Juliet thing going on between a young Grayson and a young Lloyd, so they’re evidently going to be the parents. That confirms our thinking that we’re a good 10-15 years away from the appearance of the Bat himself. But do we anticipate the origin of another major mythos character here…?

Snake-dancer Lila has disappeared, the reason for the brawl; Jim cleverly locates her dead body using her scent-sensitive snake. Her son, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), is extremely creepy, but not initially under suspicion; the ring-master admits to having found and moved the body, so Jim hauls in the whole troupe, which makes for some amusing scenes in the precinct.

Questioning the troupe reveals nothing except the ancient origins of the family feud, but then a blind psychic, Cicero (old stager Mark Margolis, Salamanca from Breaking Bad) turns up and claims to have a message from beyond; Jim’s sceptical, but Lee’s persuaded, and follows the clues to a bloodied knife. But obviously Cicero is a fraud, so how did he really know?

Jim and Lee make a good team, despite his reluctance to expose her to danger; in the end he bends to her will, partly we suspect to get his leg over. Well, it works. Of course Barbara Kean wouldn’t even have considered this dangerous detective work.

Barbara is sloshed out of her head, and taking advice from Selina and Ivy about how to win Jim back. The effort’s doomed to failure, we feel.

Bruce Wayne is planning a meeting with the dodgy board of Wayne Enterprises, despite Alfred’s warning that the likely result is that the two of them will be found dead in a ditch. The meeting is predictably tense, as Bruce’s awkward questions concern underworld involvement in the Arkham project and the company’s chemical weapons division. The board is clearly not going to react well. 

Jim, meanwhile, theorises that Cicero must be covering for someone, and somehow figures out that it’s Jerome, and that Cicero is his father; it’s a big leap, but proves correct. At this point Jerome cracks, and takes on an alternate personality with a suspiciously psychotic grin and giggle; his Jack Nicholson impression is uncanny. Can you say, Joker…?

“It was ugly, but it was also thrilling, and scary” says Lee – well, that’s Gotham all over. At the end of the night, Jim and Lee get into a clinch in the locker-room – and of course, that’s when a horrified Barbara walks in on them.

Talk about reversals of fortune; Jim and Lee are doing well, Fish is on the rise again, but Penguin’s suffered a major reverse, and Barbara’s completely hit the skids. The only thing you can be certain of in Gotham is that nothing is certain. 

Chris Jenkins

For all our Gotham reviews, go here

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