Gotham Guest Review

Gotham 2×01 – Damned If You Do

“You can’t have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose. I beg of you, my son, please choose happiness.”


To say that I wasn’t a fan of Gotham’s first season is an understatement. I went above and beyond to prove that the show was contrived, ridiculous, and most importantly boring. It got so terrible by the end of its season that a part of me was not ready for the show to be back. But it is, and boy am I shocked.

Season two (titled Rise of the Villains because not just anthology shows can have different names every season) is off to a terrific start. The show was never this fast-paced and entertaining during its entire first season, so I was delightfully surprised by the flow of this premiere. So many things happened in the span of one hour, none of which felt uneven or disjointed. I don’t remember the last time I said that about an episode of Gotham.

One of the best things about this episode was the absence of Fish Mooney. Even with her horrifyingly embarrassing death in the season finale, I was somewhat scared the show wasn’t willing to get rid of this horrendous character. Not only was Fish a terribly written, useless character for almost the entire first season, but sadly Jada Pinkett Smith added literally nothing to her scenes. Her absence here definitely elevated the show tremendously, but I wish I could say the same about Selina Kyle whose transformation is a bit atrocious. What a shame.

Nevertheless, the writers knew exactly what the audience enjoyed the most about season one and gave us more of that in this hour, like an evil Barbara stuck at Arkham Asylum (instead of the useless storylines she was given last year) and more villainous scenes of Penguin. Oswald was one of the best things about this show in the pilot, but shoving him to the side for more Fish (again, ugh) was a terrible decision; therefore, I’m beyond thrilled by the devious things he got to do here like manipulate Jim and threaten Commissioner Loeb. His rise into such a powerful figure in the city is already fascinating to watch, as are Jim’s actions here. I never thought Gordon would go that far to get his job back and I wish we cared more about this character (or McKenzie’s stiff performance), but the lengths he went to prove that the precinct is important to him were quite interesting. How long until Bullock returns as well?

And in what is the least surprising news of all, David Mazouz (who has definitely grown a lot) gave a truly stellar performance as Bruce yet again. The pathway to the secret tunnel could have easily been dragged out to a few more episodes, but thankfully the writers wrapped it up quite nicely here while also entertaining us with some Bruce/Alfred banter. To top it all off, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending: Bruce reading the letter his dad left him about going after the ‘calling’, a speech that brilliantly parallels Jim’s current state as he gets his gun back in the closing moments of the episode.

It’s hard to tell whether the show will continue to deliver such strong serialized material this year, and it’s harder to be hopeful considering our history with this show. But if Gotham continues to rectify all its previous mistakes with a clean slate and removes some of the procedural elements that brought the quality down last season, there’s no reason not to be optimistic. Even just a little bit.

Bat Bits

– I appreciate the many changes that happened during the one-month time jump that occurred, but did Bullock really have to become a bartender? Kind of a cliché. And his scene with Jim as they bump heads? Very weird.

– If the show still manages to sneak in villains of the week like they did here in a way that actually integrates with the main story, then I won’t complain. Even if they’re as weird and maniacal as the guy we had in this premiere.

– Loved Ed Nygma’s conversation with his reflection in the mirror. This guy is about to become a baddie real soon and I can’t wait!

– Cameron Monaghan delivered another superb performance as Jerome (the potential future Joker). His menacing laugh and thrilling talk with evil Barbara were fantastic.

– Seriously, Barbara can’t be redeemed, right? I can’t see how she’s going to be the future commissioner’s wife, but I have to admit I loved her in this premiere. Almost makes up for all the crap she pulled last year.

– Selina, on the other hand, is on my list of characters that don’t need any more screen-time to be honest. Unless the show plans on reuniting her with Bruce anytime soon, I see no use of her on this show right now.

– Bruce and Alfred building a bomb was such an amazing subplot. These two are still the best thing about this entire show.

– Even with all the seriousness going on, this is still Gotham and therefore there had to be a crazy, hilarious scene. Enter Barbara’s phone-call to Leslie. The look on Leslie and Jim’s faces as Babs left that hysterical message is priceless.

– Did anyone else get a huge Dark Angel vibe when Victor held that “head” in Loeb’s kitchen? Of course, that’s referencing the worst episode of one of my favorite shows ever, but it still managed to give me a chuckle.

– That entire kitchen sequence was magnificent and pulse-pounding, no? I actually thought Loeb was a goner.

– Tabitha murdering that inmate in front of the others was bloody horrifying. But that whip she used was very reminiscent of Catwoman, right?

– The joyous look on Bruce’s face as he and Alfred blew up the door was awesome. I love this guy. And Bruce reading that letter at the end is gut-wrenching and emotional as the Gotham score plays in the background.

– The password was “Bruce”. LOL.

Cracks From Gotham

Loeb: Some men are just not meant to be cops.
Jim: I told you I’d break you. I will.

Alfred: Maybe that door is telling you something. Maybe you’re not ready to find out what’s behind it.
Bruce: I’m building a bomb to blow down that door. You may assist me or not, as you wish. But if not, then some tea would be nice.

Barbara (leaving a message to Leslie): Hey, girlfriend. Guess who? Sorry I missed you. Bummer, ay? I just wanted to say that I hope you die screaming, bitch. Bye!

Bruce (reading his dad’s letter): Dear Bruce, these last weeks I began to feel very mortal, which prompts this note to you. Perhaps I’m being paranoid; I hope so. In any case, if you’re reading this, then I’m dead, and you figured out that the entry code is BRUCE. I’m sorry I had to hide this part of my life from you because this place only exists because of you. Becoming a father made me want to become a better man, and I started asking hard questions about the family business. So here we are. As I write this, you’re twelve, and a fine good-hearted boy. And I’m sure you’ll be a fine good-hearted man. But that’s all I know. I don’t know what happened to me or your mother. Or how life’s turned out for you. I don’t even know how old you are. So I’ll resist giving you much fatherly advice. Only this: you can’t have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose. I beg of you, my son, please choose happiness. Unless…unless you feel a calling. A true calling.

A superb premiere to a show that has a lot to prove in its sophomore season. Let’s hope they can produce more episodes like this in the future.

Chris Rating

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