Review: Gotham (S2 E1/22), Monday 11th January, Channel 5

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Jerome notices his new fellow inmate.The first season of Gotham gave us practically everything any fan of gothic detective fiction could have wanted; a tortured hero, bizarre villains, a complex plot, and gruesome action. The fact that all this takes place in the fantastical world of DC Comics’ Batman doesn’t alter the fact that Jim Gordon (Ben Mackenzie) is essentially the same as any other hard-boiled cop in a corrupt city; like us, he’s waiting for a miracle, but until it arrives (and as young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is only in his early teens, that will be some time), Gordon has only his wit and his guts to rely on.

 As Season One’s gang wars ended, gangster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is missing believed dead, crimelord Carmine Falcone (John Doman) has fled, thug Sal Maroni (David Zayas) has been killed, and Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), is the new crimelord of Gotham.
 
Jim Gordon’s gilrfriend Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), driven insane by her treatment at the hands of serial killer The Ogre, has been committed to Arkham Asylum, in the company of Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), who has murdered his mother and is showing dangerously Joker-ish tendencies.
 
Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is on the loose after the disappearance of Fish Mooney, and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is slowly going loopy in the forensics lab, with Jim Gordon’s new girlfriend Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) as witness.
 
Most importantly, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) have discovered Thomas Wayne’s secret – the cave lair from which he worked to bring down the corrupt elements of Waynecorp.
 
So the scene is set for Season 2, which we are promised will be about ‘The Rise of the Villains’ – the super-criminals who are to take over from the ordinary criminals. This should be one hell of a ride.
 
We start, though, with Jim Gordon being fired; he’s defied corrupt Commissioner Gillian Loeb (yes, his name’s Gillian) one time too many, and Loeb (Peter Scolari) has had him busted to traffic cop. But after Jim defuses a dangerous situation on the street, the two clash again, and Gordon takes another step towards compromise.
 
Penguin, who is seen executing his rivals to the strains of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, agrees to intimidate Loeb into reinstating Jim, then resigning – all Jim has to do is to collect a debt, which he does, in the process killing a nightclub owner.
 
The new Commissioner is Gordon’s ally Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara).
 
Meanwhile, the mysterious Theo Galavan (James Frain) organizes a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum. Barbara Kean, Jerome Valeska and four others are sprung with the help of Galavan’s cat-like and murderous sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), “The Tigress’.
 
Apparently, Galavan’s only intended aim for his team of crazies is to cause havoc in Gotham, but of course we know that there must be a deeper plot.
 
Could it be to do with Bruce Wayne and the murder of his parents? Bruce and Alfred break into the underground lair, and find a note from Thomas Wayne, begging Bruce to choose happiness rather than the path of justice; but we know which he’s going to opt for, don’t we?
 
Maybe some of the elements in this episode – the cosy chats of the supervillains in Arkham, the cloaked loon Zaardon the Soul Reaper – smack more of the 1966 TV incarnation of Batman than of The Dark Knight, and maybe this is deliberate; perhaps the evolution of style of Gotham is following that of the DC comics. If so, we’re in for a colourful season.
 
Galavan may be the wild card; is he a villain, or a supervillain? When we discover his plans for the ‘Maniax’, perhaps all will be revealed.
 
Chris Jenkins

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