Last week on Gotham, it was a hard day for Jim Gordon and the people of the city. Galavan’s team of super baddies ran around causing havoc with the intention of setting him up as a good guy. Unfortunately, Jerome, the would-be Joker, ended up as a casualty. This is good news for the GCPD in one way, in that they have one less crazy to deal with, but bad in another, as Galavan’s master plan has yet to be revealed and he’s worming his way into the system. This time around, however, it’s Gordon versus The Penguin, as our favorite waddling villain has decided that he needs to make a display of power. Will Gordon be able fight in earnest against his sort-of ally? This week’s episode, ‘Strike Force’, promises to let us know the answer to that question.
We begin with The Penguin mediating over his rather strange group of followers. He’s trying to figure out who let the crazies out of Arkham and messed up his nice city. The answer, however, only comes after Galavan’s sister invites Cobblepot to have a chat with Theo. Naturally, The Penguin is a bit surprised to find out that he is in the presence of the very person he hates so much.
But rather than kill Galavan outright, Cobblepot is forced to make a deal with him. Galavan wants to become Gotham’s mayor and the first step to that is having the other candidates murdered. Penguin isn’t about to say yes to this proposal, but it turns out that Galavan has a very valuable negotiating tool – Penguin’s mother. And so off goes our favorite hobbling gangster to kill himself a couple of politicians.
Meanwhile, back at the GCPD, a man by the name of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) has stepped up to take control of the precinct. He’s a regular hard-ass, giving the hard-ass speeches and kicking corrupt cops to the curb left and right. Obviously this means that he takes a liking to Gordon. So much so that Jim ends up as his second in command. They’re off on a quest to clean up the city and Barnes even gives Gordon his very own strike force (hence the title of this episode) to command.
Gordon gets a chance to test out his new recruits when Victor Zsasz tries to take out one of the prospective mayors. Zsasz fails in his mission and Gordon fully realizes that The Penguin is definitely behind all these assassination attempts. So off he goes to see his old “friend”. Since The Penguin refuses to let Gordon know why he’s knocking off would-be mayors, the two have a falling out. Any alliance that may have been between them is now pretty much trashed. Without his mother, The Penguin is losing his shit and making some bad decisions that could come back to haunt him later.
On the Bruce Wayne side of things, we see little Batman making his return to school. When Selina shows up to say hello, she’s repaid with a knock to the face from Alfred. The butler knows that she was responsible for the death of his old army buddy and is quite clear in letting Selina know that she needs to stay away from Bruce or else. The result of that is that instead of good old Selina as an ally, Bruce cozies up to Galavan. The mayor-to-be pours on the sympathy and even brings along a cute little girl for Bruce to drool over. Yup, the young billionaire is already half-way into Galavan’s pocket.
Finally, Edward Nygma gets up the courage to ask Miss Kringle out on a date. It takes a push from his imaginary friend, of course, but it all works out in the end. Even after making some awkward comments, Nygma still manages to pour on the charm thick enough to earn himself a kiss.
And the Nygma-Kringle shippers of the world everywhere collectively wet their seats…
This week’s episode was by far one of the best to-date. The season started off a little bit clunky, though still strong enough to hold my attention. Now, however, we see it coming into stride. The story is being told without the need to wrap up every little package by the end of 42 minutes. Plots are building, characters are developing and there are interesting things going on all around.
The best part of this episode had to be the full return of The Penguin. He’s stuck dancing on Galavan’s strings for now but, as the The Penguin himself is so very fond of pointing out, it’s best not to underestimate him. Gotham viewers everywhere love him and we shall all eagerly await the moment when Cobblepot gets to exact his revenge against Galavan, teaching him the same lesson he’s taught so many others who thought that they could best him.
Also, it’s nice to see the writers and the director playing a bit more with the dialogue and the way the scenes are shot. This episode had an almost Burton-esque lunacy to it when it came to the Penguin’s side of the story. The craziness came across both in the erratically violent nature of The Penguin and the unusual perspectives of the people he keeps around him. This was extra-fun with Butch. Normally just a silent right-hand man, Butch had some of the best lines in the entire episode this time around. And the relationship between him and Cobblepot resembles nothing so much as a pair of brothers.
The other development in ‘Strike Force’ that caught my attention was the arrival of the character of Barnes. He’s a real mentor for Gordon… finally! Poor Jim has been forced to deal with rivals and enemies ever since his arrival in Gotham. Now we will actually get a chance to see where the character of Gordon got some of his positive traits from. I imagine they’ll have to kill off Barnes eventually, but for now he’s a brilliant addition to the cast.
Gotham quote of the night:
(as The Penguin murders one of the candidates for mayor)
Campaign Worker: Why are you doing this?
Butch: Darling… I got no frickin’ idea. We’ve been doing crazy stuff all day long.
Next week on Gotham, ‘Scarification’ promises The Penguin squirming under the thumb of Theo Galavan, Captain Barnes trying to figure out why Gotham is such a damned crazy city, a deepening of the story behind why Galavan wants to take over the city and fire. Lots and lots of fire. Check out the trailer for that one below.