“Dark days are coming”
Gotham is back on Channel 5! If it was up to me, I wouldn’t watch Gotham. The first season, while containing some good episodes, failed to conjure up much of anything apart from boredom and frustration. However, my fiancée adores it, so in the name of compromise, I continue to watch it! With the subtitle ‘Rise Of The Villains,’ we were promised a great deal…but the first episode of Season 2, ‘Damned If You Do…’ did what Gotham does best: disappoint! One pleasant observation was that it no longer takes itself too seriously, but nothing made a great impression. The writers have not learned any lessons from Season 1.
In the first ten minutes of the episode, Gordon is dismissed by Commissioner Loeb. How many times did something similar happen in Season 1? And how long was he dismissed for? About half an hour! Not only that, but Gordon made yet another a deal with the Penguin to get his job back, and get rid of Commissioner Loeb. How many times does Gordon have to makes deals with the Penguin until he realises that it’s a bad thing to do? In exchange, Penguin asked Gordon to collect a debt. Gordon (after being implicitly persuaded by Bruce!) does collect the debt, and ends up murdering someone. Yes, murder! He wasn’t a cop when he shot the indebted gangster! But of course, he won’t face any repercussions for that one, will he? It felt like a few episodes worth of plotline was condensed into one episode.
“Surely sometimes the right way is the ugly way?”
Within forty minutes, we saw the writers recycle events from the first season. Come on, this is the first episode of a brand new season! You are supposed to start things off with a bang, not with a whimper! As always, the story was stuffed full of characters, old and new, causing things to feel cluttered. Remember Barbara? Well now she’s a full psychopath, cementing my belief that she isn’t the future Mrs. Gordon. How could she be, after her outbursts during this episode? At one point, she leaves a message for Lee on Gordon’s answer machine: “I hope you die screaming, b***h.” What a lovely sentiment! She quickly becomes friends with The Possible Joker and Richard Sionis in prison, but little do they know that they are pawns in the plans of Theo Galavan, yet another villain on the show! He’s rounding up a super-group of villains to wreak havoc on Gotham…
His plan to capture the convicts was so convoluted it made The Joker’s ‘get himself arrested’ plan in ‘The Dark Knight’ seem plausible. He gave a guy calling himself ‘Zaardon’ a drink, which made him exhale gas…Zaardon gets himself arrested, and eventually ends up in the same room as Babs, Joker and Sionis. He conveniently dies and releases the gas to knock them out…Theo sends in his sister, Tabitha with a squad to take out the prison guards and takes the unconscious villians. Why not just send in Tabitha and the squad themselves, without relying on the gas? It was unbelievable!
“I’ll put the kettle on!”
If this Season is truly ‘The Rise Of The Villains,’ then I believe the writers are taking the show in the wrong direction. Seeing the rise of The Penguin and The Riddler was enough; we don’t need to see the origin of every Batman villain! The beauty of The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ was that we didn’t know his origin story. A little mystery is sometimes beautiful! I give the writers credit for at least attempting a cohesive story arc, instead of the contrived ones we were given in Season 1. But the focus should be on Gordon and his rise to power. He doesn’t need super-villains to fight against, just Commissioners and ordinary gangsters. I want to see how he fought against injustice after injustice (without running to the Penguin after every problem he encounters!) to become Commissioner Gordon. But I’m sure we’ll see ‘The Rise Of The Villains’ more than we’ll see ‘The Rise of Gordon.’
It wasn’t all bad, however. Zaardon (with two As!!!) was a hint that the writers are not taking themselves too seriously anymore. Although I disagree with Barbara’s direction, she was the most intricate and interesting character of the episode. She out-Jokered Jerome in many ways (minus the laughter!). Nygma also stood out, even in the short scene he was given talking to himself in the mirror. In a contrast to the first episode of Season 1, although the show was still cluttered, we were given a bare minimum of possible story arcs. In the first episode of Season 1, we were drowned in them!
What we were given in ‘Damned If You Do…’ was that the writers have learned little from their mistakes in the first season of Gotham. They repeated themselves (how many times will Gordon make the same mistake, or be dismissed?!?!), and the entire ‘Rise of the Villains’ story arc is doomed to failure. But maybe I’ll be wrong about the arc. Maybe they’ll show how Gotham degenerated into a place that made it a breeding ground for villains. But I doubt it will be that subtle! As of now, I am not holding out high hopes for Gotham: Season 2!
VERDICT: 4/10. A disappointing start to Season 2 of Gotham. There were a few positives, but they were drowned by the writers making the same mistakes of Season 1. Things can only get better, right?
(Click here for my review of Gotham, Season 1, Episode 22: All Happy Families Are Alike)