The events of last week’s Gotham set a new stage for how the show might pan out over future episodes. The tables have turned for Fish and The Penguin, with the former boss on the outs with the big guy, Falcone, and her ex-whipping boy taking over her club. Gordon caught a super villain and was reinstated into the GCPD, so he’s back and ready to bust even more bad guys. All-in-all, it was one of the best installments of the show thus far, in both content and execution. So will ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ continue the trend or will all the energy that Ben Edlund mustered peter out? I’d have to say that things rolled along quite nicely, particularly with regards to character development.
We begin with Fish. She’s all lined up for some quality torture time, courtesy of a very unhappy Falcone. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much torture, as her henchman, Butch, comes crashing in to save the day. But rather than getting the hell out of town and hiding from her enemies, Fish decides a visit to The Penguin is in order. If she can’t take over the underworld, then she wants some revenge on the wobbly-legged bird that screwed her plans up. And while she does manage to make it to the club and confront The Penguin, Falcone’s man, Zsasz, shows up in the nick of time and she’s forced to flee.
Back at Gordon’s camp, the GCPD officer and his partner, Harvey, are looking into another case. They found some dead guy with drugs stashed in his boot and they want to find out which nefarious individual killed him. Lucky for them, they have a witness. Unlucky for the witness, the murderer doesn’t want to be found. He slips into the witness’s holding cell and puts an ice pick in his back. Being as how the murder took place inside the GCPD, Gordon is convinced that it’s a cop.
His journey to truth brings to light many problems within the ranks of the GCPD. Cops are selling drugs with the full permission of their higher ups and writing it off as a narcotics investigation. Harvey knows what’s going on and tries, as usual, to get Gordon to back off, but he’s a stubborn man. Yes, Jim Gordon is back and he’s doing the same thing that got him kicked out of the GCPD in the first place – going after the “legitimate” members of Gotham’s criminal world.
So Gordon does what he has to do. He calls on an old friend – The Penguin. Penguin’s man does a little evidence gathering via some strong-arm tactics and all of a sudden Gordon has all he needs to put the murdering officer behind bars. But at what price? Gordon quickly realizes that his request of The Penguin almost came at the cost of a man’s wife and kid. But that’s business in Gotham, right?
There’s also a small bit of story with lil Batman and lil Catwoman. Bruce runs around trying to find Selina, eventually stumbling upon lil Poison Ivy and sending a message. He tries to get Selina to stay with him again and act as a witness to help him find those that killed his parents, but she denies that she even knows. Bruce takes it to heart and decides that he has to start all over with his investigation into the Wayne murders.
And then there’s Nigma (AKA the future Riddler). He’s still on the hunt for Ms. Kringle, flirting and sending her cute little love notes. But the other officers in the precinct think he’s a joke and are making his courtship more than a little difficult. With Nigma’s love-life being cock-blocked, one has to wonder exactly how long it’s going to be before he snaps and starts killing folks.
As I said before, we really see a lot of character development with this episode. Not giant, life-changing sort of stuff, but little things that really serve to reinforce the characters and give us hints as to where they might be going. As soon as Gordon steps back into GCPD, he’s hunting down a corrupt cop. He’s not “learned his lesson” and it’s likely he never will. Gordon’s idealism runs deep. And when he discovers that his deal with The Penguin almost cost some innocent people their lives, he doesn’t quite know what to think. Poor Gordon, trying to be the good guy in Gotham. I’m sure the show will make his moral conundrums even more complicated as it progresses.
Another small but fun part of this week’s episode was that finally, for the first time ever, Nigma gets one of his riddles answered. And it’s answered by none-other-than Jim Gordon, naturally. It’s a cute little set-up for the inevitable conflict that these two will see further down the line. The same goes for Nigma’s one-sided relationship with Ms. Kringle. He’s the odd-man-out at the GCPD, but he’s also probably the smartest person on the force. Unrequited love is a powder keg waiting to explode and when it does, we’ll see The Riddler make his first official appearance as a Gotham baddie.
I also like the way they continue to reinforce The Penguin’s personality. One moment he’s on top of the world, the next he’s kissing Fish’s feet and begging for forgiveness. And then as soon as he realizes that he’s safe, he tells her to go fuck herself. He’s a genius and an opportunist and a coward all rolled into one. It’s a fun portrayal of a pre-Batman Penguin.
And, despite my hatred of Fish Mooney (and Jada Pinkett Smith’s ridiculous acting), I almost choked up when it was Harvey that helped her escape. He’s got a crush on the crazy ex-boss and this, along with Butch rescuing Fish, brings to light the exact people that she can fully trust. It could be a turning point for Fish’s character, which would be nice considering the two-dimensional way they’ve portrayed her thus far.
All-in-all, not a bad episode. It didn’t have the same level of action that some of the past episodes did, but I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of that during the two-parter that starts next Monday. Another sort-of Batman villain is coming to Gotham with ‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’. Check out the trailer for that one below: