Last we saw, Barbara Keane had been saved from serial killer The Ogre, but probably lost her marbles in the process; Penguin had kicked off a gang war between Maroni and Falcone, with his own elevation in mind; Ed Nygma had gone seriously tonto, and Fish Mooney, escaped from Dr Dulmacher’s island, was nowhere to be seen. If that doesn’t add up to an explosive season finale, we don’t know what will.
The episode starts in a poetically mythical way, with a boat gliding out of the fog and landing in Gotham docks. Aboard, like Charon on the Styx, is a regal Fish Mooney; odd-coloured eyes ablaze, she scoops up Selina Kyle and her street gang and disappears into the night.
Two weeks later, the gang war rages on, and Bruce Wayne is no nearer solving the enigma of his stoical father’s secret. Alfred seems peculiarly determined that there’s no secret to discover, but Bruce insists that the solution must lie in his father’s study, and starts tearing the room apart.
Falcone narrowly escapes an assassination attempt which leaves him injured; Gordon tracks him down in hospital, just in time to stop Penguin finishing him off. But Commissioner Loeb and Maroni’s men are on their way, and after a spectacular shoot-out, Jim and Bullock escape with Falcone, Penguin and Butch in tow. Gordon realises that Falcone is a stabilising factor in Gotham, the best worst man they have, and thinks that he can regain power.
But when the escapees get to a safe house, Fish Mooney is waiting. Fish has a spectacular new image, with shaven head, piercings and loads of cleavage; accompanying her is a polished-up Selina, with a glam hairdo, a new outfit and a shotgun.
With the escapees hung up to dry, it looks like there’s not much chance for any of them; Fish intends to trade Falcone to Maroni in return for half the city. But Maroni, the oaf, turns up and tries to put Fish in her place; instead, Fish puts a bullet in Maroni’s head, and all hell breaks loose.
The sight of Penguin letting loose with a machine-gun is enough to scare anyone, and Don Falcone finally admits defeat and tells Jim he’s going to leave town. Penguin and Fish tangle on the roof, and the brainwashed Butch, to his own horror, shoots Fish. She falls into the ocean, but is she dead? Remember she survived being shot during her escape for the island, not to mention the horrors inflicted on her by Dr Dulmacher. Perhaps we haven’t heard the last of her.
But with Maroni dead and Falcone fled, Penguin declares himself king of the city.
As if the day hadn’t gone badly enough for Gordon, he comes back to Barbara’s apartment to find that she’s gone berserk and tried to kill love-rival Lee; Barbara also claims to have killed her own parents, but we’re not sure if that’s true, as we only saw The Ogre attacking them. Barbara’s now presumably headed for Arkham Asylum.
Ed Nygma has snapped too, when Miss Kringle realises that he forged Dougherty’s note, and she now suspects him in his disappearance.
In the final scene, Bruce Wayne discovers his father’s secret; a hidden chamber beneath Wayne Manor. As he descends the stairs, the bats begin to flutter…
A pretty satisfying end to what has been a gripping season. With plenty of action, some shock developments (though we saw Barbara’s derangement coming) and lots of plot threads left dangling, this only bodes well for Season 2; wherein we can expect to see the origin of The Joker, and Ed Nygma’s flip into The Riddler.
So what do we make of the first season? Certainly the production values have been stupendous, the performances satisfying and the scripts sharp. If there have been criticisms leveled against the series, they have been that it doesn’t offer enough to a general audience as opposed to Batfans, and that the villains have been presented in too developed a form. Both these suggestions may be true to some extent, but we know both fanboys and civilians who have found the series gripping.
Oddly, though, if there’s a standout performance in Gotham for us, it’s not been from the workmanlike Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon, or even bluff Donal Logue as Bullock; the star of the show for us has been Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin. Veering from oily charm to gibbering lunacy, he’s invested the character with a depth no previous incarnation has touched. We’re dying to see what he does with Penguin next season, but we’re certain that big-screen stardom beckons anyhow.
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