Considering that Season 2 of Gotham was given subtitles such as Rise of the Villains and Wrath of the Villains, the second year of FOX’s supposed Jim Gordon-driven series unsurprisingly sees the series bringing in a whole host of new rogues to make life hell for the very few well-meaning citizens of Gotham City. With Ben McKenzie’s Gordon again doing his best to keep on top of any and all new threats whilst also juggling his personal life, all bets are off when it comes to raising the bar of Gotham’s ever-ominous criminal presence. Can Gordon stay ahead of the game or will the city and its expanding evil become too much for Gotham City’s most famous cop?
In its first season, it has to be said that Gotham took a little getting used to; the over-the-top slapping in the face that it gave to its audience in letting it know just who certain characters were to become down the line proving a turn-off for many a viewer. But in fairness, if you stuck with Gotham and could get past certain issues, the series actually became hugely enjoyable if taken with a pinch of salt and viewed less through Bat-tinted glasses. With its second season, Gotham upped the ante and turned the craziness up to 11, picking things up with Jim Gordon as he struggles with his new relationship with Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) whilst still troubled by how things ended with the insane Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and still, as ever, having to deal with all of the problems that come with being a part of the Gotham City Police Department. If all of this wasn’t bad enough for Jimbo, he’d even have to find himself once more turning to Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) for help at times, entrenching himself into debt with the man known as The Penguin. At least Gordon has the trusty Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) at this side to lend a helping hand when times get hard.
While Season 2 may throw up plenty of familiar faces and threats – most interesting being the full descent into madness of Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as he edges ever closer to becoming The Riddler – there’s also a new threat in town in the form of the ominously-charming Thea Galavan (James Frain), somebody who arrives in Gotham City championing the cause to make the city great once more but who clearly has a far darker side than what he allows the public to see. One such person taken in by Galavan’s charms is young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is caught yearning for the father figure that he feels he doesn’t have. And where there’s Master Bruce, there’s of course always his faithful butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee). As Gotham’s multitude of plot arcs and character developments intertwine with one another, it soon becomes clear that Gotham City may just have reached its breaking point as Season 2 progresses with each passing episode.
That’s about all we can really say in terms of plot points here for fear of veering into spoiler territory, but it’s safe to say that everything you loved about Gotham’s debut season is here in abundance. Then again, if you stuck with the entire first season but still couldn’t get any enjoyment from it, chances are you still won’t be sold on the show based on Season 2. Luckily for us, we managed to put down our Bat-blinkers early on in the show’s run and so found the second season to be hugely enjoyable, particularly in just pitch-perfect so many of the cast are in their roles. Both Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith as The Penguin and The Riddler, respectively, are the two real standouts of this season, delivering multiple layers of pain, torment and downright viciousness to their characters as they begin to morph into what longtime comic book fans know all too well. And then there’s Sean Pertwee, whose hardened, badass take on Alfred threatens to steal every scene he’s in… well, that is unless Cameron Monaghan gets there first, for his Joker-lite Jerome devours every moment of screen time he’s given.
From The Penguin, to The Riddler, to possibly The Joker, to Poison Ivy, to Catwoman, to Mr. Szasz, to Dr. Freeze, to Hugo Strange, to Firefly, to… well, you get the idea – Gotham is giving viewers its own unique take on many a character who we’ve all become accustomed to over the years. And that’s before we get to that certain future Caped Crusader, with young David Mazouz putting in some truly spellbinding work as he takes his Bruce Wayne further down the rabbit hole that will see him one day emerge as the World’s Greatest Detective.
If there’s one slight downer on Gotham, well apart from it maybe being a little too knowing and too cheesy for some more stoney-faced Bat-fans, is that its central character still doesn’t feel quite right. Ben McKenzie has proven that he’s a good actor when given the right material, but it feels that Gotham is still struggling to nail its depiction of Jim Gordon; the character at times coming off as being just as culpable as some of Gotham City’s criminal element. Sure, it’s clear that nobody in Gotham is truly clean or truly the quintessential good guy… but that’s where Jim Gordon is supposed to be the exception to the rule.
All in all, if you can maybe cut it a little slack and enjoy it for the fun that it is and for the great character development it regularly displays, Gotham’s second season is a great year of television to sink your genre-centric teeth into.
Special Features: Comic-Con panel / Three featurettes / Character profiles
GOTHAM – SEASON 2 / CERT: 15 / CREATOR: BRUNO HELLER / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / STARRING: BEN MCKENZIE, DONALD LOGUE, DAVID MAZOUZ, SEAN PERTWEE, ROBIN LORD TAYLOR, CAMREN BICONDOVA, ERIN RICHARDS, CORY MICHAEL SMITH, JAMES FRAIN, MORENA BACCARIN, CAMERON MONAGHAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW