Gotham – Rise of the Villains, Episode 1: “Damned If You Do…”

Fox’s Gotham
Season 1, Episode 1: “Damned If You Do…”
Directed by Danny Cannon
Written by Bruno Heller

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “All Happy Families Are Alike” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Knock, Knock” – click here
IMG_0105Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and trusty Alfred (Sean Pertwee) are headed down into the passageway the young man’s opened. It leads to a door, it needs a passcode to be opened. Alfred remarks it could have “a million combinations.” Could take forever.
Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” plays while we see Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) living life with Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Then there’s Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) playing King of Gotham, doing what needs doing. Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) sits in Arkham Asylum. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) tends bar to all the local alcoholics.
They’ve got Jim on the streets working traffic. A man, drugged up by an unseen villain, claims he’s Zaardon, “Soul Reaper“! Of course our tough cop gets things done, cuffs the guy, as his slob replacement turns up late for duty. But who exactly is this dude’s master? He has lots of prophecy for Jim, who doesn’t care much for the rambling. And what about Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith)? I wonder how his mental state is doing. Not so great, he does a fair bit of talking to himself, obsessing over Miss Kringle.
IMG_0106Later, Jim’s lambasted for roughing up his replacement on traffic duty. Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) wants to fire Gordon. And while Sarah Essen (Zabyrna Guevara) fights for him, there’s nothing to be done. Jim acts honourably, always, so he gives over his badge and gun. However, he makes clear he’s not letting Loeb go.
In the asylum, Jerome catches sight of a beautiful woman: it’s Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). He warns her that it’s tough for women in there, she’ll need a friend. She demonstrates her abilities to manipulate men. Although Jerome talks a good game, offering that he can get anything at all she may need.
Mr. Cobblepot speaks with his associates, including Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). He receives a visit from Jim Gordon, they need a private chat. The now former cop requires a favour, seeing as how he helped Penguin out of a jam recently. The new King says he can easily help. Wonder how hard this will come back and bite him. Pretty quick, because Oswald wants him to help with Ogden Baker (Otto Sanchez). Jim refuses, though. At the bar with Harvey he questions his decisions. The 32-day sober Bullock has good advice for him – keep your honour.
Afterwards, Jim goes to see Bruce and Alfred, to tell them he’s been fired. He wanted to let Bruce know he can no longer keep his promise to the young orphan. He says it’d be “too ugly” if he were to do what Penguin requires, just to get his job back. Bruce then questions him, whether it’s not sometimes required to do ugly things to do the right things, as well. Alfred tries intervening a little, but I’m curious if the words resonate with Gordon.
IMG_0107In Arkham, Barbara is getting cozy with Richard Sionis (Todd Stashwick), trying to get her hands on a phone. Another situation of what is one willing to do to get what one wants? She’s sly, though, very sly.
Meanwhile, Jim goes to see Baker, who calls him a “crooked punk bitch.” Damn. Things get tense. When Jim gets proactive, Baker pulls a gun. Then the former cop gets shit done, gets the money owed, and gets out. Only there are guys coming for him. He makes a getaway, from them and some cops, into a parking garage. Baker pops a shot at him, then Jim fires back, killing him. Oh, man. Not good.
Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce is stressed over that damn door. He’s got fertiliser, a few other things. He’s ready to make a bomb and blow the door open. Alfred advises against that, naturally. Tells him to wait until he’s older. Y’know, if I didn’t know any better (wink wink) it seems Mr. Pennyworth knows more about what’s down there than he lets on to the boy.
Penguin gets the debt he’s owed, he tells Jim everything will get cleaned up. Gordon isn’t happy. He just wants what he’s owed now. Yet there are strings, they’ll always be attached. Pretty sure Jim knows this, and either way his morality, his choices are weighing on him heavy. Doesn’t help he gets a call from Barbara, she got herself a phone. She’s telling Jim that Lee is “insane” and tries warning him about her, “spreading sadness,” as Lee calls it when she finds out, likewise finding out Jim’s done something naughty.
That night, Loeb wakes to find creepy Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) and Penguin lurking in his kitchen, the latter trawling for peanut butter. The Commissioner’s guards are no trouble, either. Not after decapitation. Penguin makes clear he’ll have to kill Loeb, seeing as how he won’t be able to convince him to take Gordon back as detective. Well, the Commissioner agrees to all the Penguin asks. We later meet a distinguished man, Theo Galavan (James Frain). He’s one of the people speaking at a ceremony for none other than Loeb; everyone’s saying goodbye. Looks as if the Commissioner is stepping down, Ms. Eseen will take his place.
IMG_0108Zaardon gets to Arkham and starts ranting to everybody, Sionis, Barbara, Jerome included. But soon enough he passes out on a table. Gas flows out of him, a blue substance. Everyone else passes out. That’s when Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) arrives with a team, wearing gas masks.
Everything’s looking up for Jim, now with Sarah leading the charge. A new day, they say. Perfect timing, as things erupt at Arkham. In the meantime, Theo and his sister Tabitha have the suppose escaped inmates – one of them being Barbara – from the asylum. He has something in mind for them, something crazy. Sionis gives a hard pass. This upsets Theo, so he has Tabitha cut the guy to bits. Yowzah.
Over at Wayne Manor, Alfred is setting up tripwire to detonate Bruce’s homemade fertiliser bomb. It does the job, blasting the door from out of the wall. Inside they first come across a dusty table, a computer, a letter addressed to Bruce. His father Thomas wrote to him, to tell him about that secret place. He also advises his boy of one thing: “You cant have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose.” He says to choose happiness, unless he feels “a true calling.” Oh, yeah, baby! This is the first real inkling of Batman. Just like we see Jim Gordon really becoming himself, too.
IMG_0109Great start to Season 2. Lots of promise.
“Knock, Knock” is next.

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