The second season of FOX’s Gotham premiered this week. The series presents a path towards the creation of DC’s “Batman” by introducing the characters of Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and Dr. Leslie Tompkins; and the future Batman villains Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and others. The first season proved to be worthy of the fanbase- to some. Personally, I told myself I’d give it to the winter hiatus to catch me and then move on. I mean, I like Batman and Gordon has always been an intriguing character. So… yeah.
The thing is, the episode right before hiatus… it was really good. So I came back after the holidays hoping for more. But it took 10 episodes to get there! Why is that?
Let’s take a look at some of the failures of the first season. Assume spoilers for season 1 ahead.
- Fish Mooney. I know that Jada Pinkett-Smith is supposed to be amazing but… no, this role… this character was awful from her first moment on screen. And she got worse throughout the season. Do you remember back in the 80’s, how much everyone hated “Wesley Crusher”? How we chanted about getting rid of him? Well, that was me. Fish was horrendous. Every scene she was in dragged the show down. And she was ridiculous. What was with her finale hair? Seriously.Thank goodness it seems Fish is gone for good.
- Barbara Kean. Another character that was useless and dragged the series down. However, when she went batshit crazy she finally became interesting. The arc with The Ogre was brilliant. For the first half of the season, she was the little woman at home, someone with no backbone, who seemed to only exist to vex the audience. When she left Gordon in order to “think”, she became mildly interesting as she returned to her lover Montoya, but from then on… she returns to her useless role until The Ogre breaks her. Almost looking forward to where she goes in season 2. Almost.
- Who is in power? Every episode the power changed- Falcone has it, then Maroni, then Fish, then Falcone, then Penguin… and on and on… This was finally resolved at the end of the season and hopefully in season 2 we’ll see the development of actual power.
- What is the time period? This was sort of answered at the WonderCon panel- they stated that they understood it was confusing for people, but they were basically doing their own thing. See… there are 1980’s cars, typewriters instead of computers, but everyone has a cellphone. Some costumes have the noir feel you expect in a Batman world, based on what the cartoons created (and of course, the films and comics), while others could’ve been bought at a mall.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some things that worked from the get go-
- Donal Logue as Bullock. Brilliant. Every scene he was in belonged to him, whether he was providing comic relief or a sounding board to move the narrative forward.
- Never watched The O.C. Or Southland (though I did run into filming for that show all the time in LA). So it was a surprise that I like Ben McKenzie since I’d never actually seen him act before. But I do. He’s stoic as Jim Gordon, but a man on a mission. And that mission is to clean up Gotham. Go team Jim! I believe you can do it!
- Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Tompkins. At first, unless you know your characters well, it is unclear if she a good person or a bad one, but she then proves to be a positive in the series. She balances Gordon’s dark and improves him (and the show). And the two characters have the chemistry that lacked from Gordon and Barbara’s.
- Fine acting by Cory Michael Smith and Robin Lord Taylor. They are delights on the screen. And with Nygma starting to crack… oh my goodness, how I cannot wait to see how he develops.
- Not really a fan of a lot of kid actors but Camren Bicondova and David Mazouz are delightful. Especially when together. David is the younger of the two and has very obviously grown over the first season, it’s interesting to watch. Not to mention you can see him thinking, learning, planning ahead… all starting him down the path to eventually become the “Dark Knight”. Camren, as Selina Kyle (“Catwoman”), is a physically agile performer and it is interesting to see how she will appear in her next scene.
- ETA: it was pointed out to me that I forgot to mention that I adore Sean Pertwee as Alfred. There’s an undercurrent to the performance- where you can almost feel the history/past that Alfred has and how it is just underneath his current role as butler/caregiver/pseudo-father and guide. Alfred will do whatever it takes to protect Bruce and raise him to be the best he can be. Whatever it takes.
Season 1 ended in a good place allowing for season 2 to start with the continued momentum and hopefully build into a solid season.
I’m interested to hear what others thought of the series and of the premiere.