Season Two, Episode One — “Damned If You Do…”


via Fox.

By Jarrod Jones. “I did a bad thing.” – Jim Gordon.

Years from now, when comic book aficionados and scholars alike look back on Bruno Heller’s Gotham, they’ll see a show that looked utter ruin dead in the eye and said, “let’s be friends.” So a month passes since the events of last season, where Don Falcone and Fish Mooney’s unceremonious ends (where the Don left to grow tomatoes or whatever and Fish went to sleep with her namesake) meant that the Penguin could finally assume control of Gotham City’s underworld; Barbara Kean became a total psychopath thanks to Jim Gordon’s first real nemesis, The Ogre (so long as you don’t count all those other ones); and Bruce Wayne outpaced puberty to become the Batman anyway (well, almost). So where do we go from there?

You had to ask, didn’t you.

All right! One last time into the breach, I guess. Let’s take a walk through the only experience I’ll have (I hope) of the second season of Gotham.

WHAT WORKED: *slaps knee* Haw!

WHAT DIDN’T: I’m not going to dig into the particulars of the inner functions of Gotham and why it’s tonal dischord makes it nearly unwatchable (seeing’s though I’ve already done it), so I’ll focus on the comings and goings of the premiere of what should be the last full season of “That Batman Show (Without Batman)”.

The show’s insistence on cartoonish villainy, coupled with sudden and garish flashes of violence, make this season already feel less like some Lynch/Frost-ian superhero melodrama (which is what I guess the first season was aiming for?) and more like some unholy hybrid of Joel Schumacher and Rocksteady’s worst ideas. That level of schlock means that you shouldn’t rule out the use of a Wilhelm Scream, not just yet; this show’s tonally lopsided buffoonery, guided by Cameron Monaghan’s Joker Jerome, means that everyone’s in for a whole bunch of wincing in the very near future.

And speaking of Jerome, Monaghan’s moment of infamy was a truly rare highlight for last season, but here the kid is being encouraged to go full clown, and it’s… it’s painful to watch. Watching him manically rip at his face as he smirks under a lowered brow shows that the actor is really committing to this role, but have you ever sat and watched someone try a Joker impersonation when they really shouldn’t? (If you haven’t, lemme tell you: it sucks.) I have no clue where this show is going, but seeing as though David Mazouz still has at least seven more years before anyone will be able to confuse him for a grown-up, I think we’re a little early on to be teasing the damn Joker. Maybe I’m wrong! (Spoiler: I’m not wrong.)

For a show that claims that it’s no longer a procedural, it sure is going through the same tired, sad, and predictable motions. “Damned If You Do…” presents us with a checklist of moments that became a grouping of last season’s unintentional running gags (they happened enough that people have begun applying drinking games during screenings), and they are all presented here in clockwork fashion: someone gets fired, only to get their job back by the end of the episode (this time, it’s Jim Gordon… again), Gordon finds himself at the mercy of the Penguin, Barbara Kean does things that a character named Barbara Kean shouldn’t (though it seems that the show’s committing to her bullshit now, so that’s something), Bruce is on the fast track to his dark night, and speaking of Bruce… Gordon stops by during the kid and his butler’s spelunking sesh to tell the boy billionaire that he won’t, in fact, be able to crack the Wayne murder. Again. *sigh*


Isn’t she darling? Like having a cat around the house.” – Penguin, concerning Selina.

I hope you become a good-hearted man. Unless you feel a calling. A true calling.” – Thomas Wayne, posthumously, to his son.

BEST WORST MOMENT: Bad guys wear black. I know that this season’s subtitle is, um… (‘scuze, I have to down a glass of Pepto every time I say this) Rise of the Villains, but I had no idea that the show was going to include Gordon in that Rogues’ Gallery. Not literally; Jim’s not getting carted off to Arkham any time soon (I think), but to watch our man knock over a mob boss just to shoot him dead in a moment of haste means that this show has truly and thoroughly lost me. (And what was with his flashy black suit? Did Barbara buy that for him?) Gordon killing someone in the line of duty is one thing, but killing — even in self-defense — at the whims of the Penguin? What are you trying to tell me, show?

EPISODE’S MVP: Let’s take a moment and give Erin Richards’ Barbara Kean a hand! Because if this show is honestly aiming to embrace its chaotic mess, then who better to hold the sledgehammer than Barbara? Her very presence — and the show’s insistence on giving her so much to do — is an awful, really annoying indicator of what’s to come. I had to see it for myself. Now I can finally walk away from this fiasco with a clear conscience.


via Fox.


– Oh, no you don’t , Gotham. You don’t get to lure me in with Lou Reed and then follow up with this dreck. That’s playing dirty.

– “I told you I’d break you. I will.” Feels like the show wants Gordon to be more Bane than Batman this season.

– Gordon walked. From a bar in the middle of Gotham. To Wayne Manor.

– Looks like Gordo just got rescued by the ol’ life-savin’ door that locks from the outside. (Love those!)

– Where was Michael Chiklis in this episode? His all-new character wasn’t once alluded to, and isn’t that a damn shame. Granted, this episode had a lot — a lot — to unload, but Chiklis was my draw for this season. And this episode was the litmus test. Guess it really failed.

– I really, really missed David Zayas’ Sal Maroni when I watched this episode. He was the only person who knew what to do with this material.

– Looks like James Frain went from one smelly cop show (True Detective) right into another. As for his character, Theo Galavant, it seems he’s a completely new innovation for the show, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there was something a bit more familiar underneath that plush velvet suit. My guess? Not that I give a shit? Court of Owls.

– This would be where I normally embed a preview of next week’s episode, but naw. I’m out.