The Gotham show creators weren’t just joking around when they said that Season 2 was going to hit the ground running! It’s only the second episode of the season and we already have the death of a major character. Plus, lots of villains, insanity, chaos, and cheerleaders getting blown up on a bus! It was pure “maniax!”
Theo Gavalan — if that is even his real name (James Frain), is so over-the-top dramatic that it is hard to take him seriously, especially since we don’t know his motive for causing all this trouble in Gotham. We don’t know who he really is or what he wants, so right now he just seems like a delirious madman intent on creating “monsters to cleanse the city.” Oh, okay then, sir. Well, he creates his team of “Maniax” – the deliciously insane inmates he just broke out of Arkham. A group that includes the madman Jerome aka the future Joker (Cameron Monaghan) and one Miss Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), the scorned ex-lover of our hero, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). They are causing all sorts of trouble: throwing people from buildings, stealing cars, trying to blow up a school bus full of cheerleaders. Ya know, fun stuff!
Who will stop them? Why, only Jim Gordon can do it, especially since the Gotham City Police Department has already proven time and time again that they are incapable of handing out any form of justice or sense. Jim tries to get his former partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to help out, but he is content with bartending alongside his new fiancee (Maria Thayer). Sure, Harv, sure.
After the cheerleading bus incident, Leslie (Morena Baccarin) finally gets a part in the story. Oh, wait — nevermind, she does nothing of importance or significance. Why is she there again? Well, to make a longish story a bit more short-ish, Barbara lures Jim out of GCPD so that Jerome and his buds can shoot all of the cops and send a message to the city. One of the victims of this shooting, newly appointed Commissioner Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara). Essen, we hardly knew ye! She was touted as a main character, yet she was often given nothing to do on screen and I felt sorry that she was wasted so often. Anyways, she gives Jim (and Harvey) hope to move on and bring justice to the world.
Essen’s finally moments confronting Jerome and standing up to him were probably her best scenes on the show. EVER. So, it’s sad to see her go after that, but if this proves anything about the show, it’s that no one is safe anymore (Well, maybe. Not Jim or Bruce though). During the attack, Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Scott) saves his beloved Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) from gunfire. It’s a bright moment for the otherwise demented young man. He is becoming a caricature of Gollum-Smeagol faster than you can say, “My precious!”
In the totally other unrelated storyline of the episode (that’s right, I’m talking about young Brucey), Alfred (Sean Pertwee) destroys Bruce’s father’s computer. Bruce (David Mazouz) gets mad and fires Alfred. Later, Bruce finds Alfred and rehires him, making him promise to never go against him. So, then Alfred goes to Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) for help. And thus begins that whole relationship. Blah. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about young Bruce and his struggles.
The show moves at bullet pace, yet still feels a bit muddled, especially when we see the inner workings of the delusional “Maniax.” While it could be fun to see their insanity behind the scenes, I think it would be more intriguing to leave that stuff a mystery. It would feel all the more disconcerting and freaky. Also, the juxtaposition between this main storyline and the boorish Young Bruce storyline does not work well. The show should just let Bruce go off on a sabbatical for a few seasons, so he can come back when he is more mature and interesting. Seeing young Bruce fumble around with the “Bat Cave” and Alfred felt like a waste of time. This isn’t the first time a Bruce storyline felt like a waste of time, too.
Another fun thing about this episode that I just realized made it seem more fun and fluid: No mob story line and no Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) or Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). I didn’t even realize they were missing until a few hours after watching the episode. Wow. It felt great to have a Gotham episode that didn’t involve the stupid mob family wars. Ahhh, so refreshing!
Altogether, the second episode didn’t disappoint, but the show is still far from perfect. It doesn’t help that they killed off a female lead, leaving Lee (ha!) and Barbara (groan!) as the only two females on the show who speak (sorry Tabitha!). And while the “Maniax” and Jerome are fun, I don’t know if I can take pointless, random insanity episode after episode. We need to find out more about the plot and character motivations. Jerome is ALREADY the Joker and we never get to know why. Isn’t that the point of an origin story? He just always was? It’s disappointing, if there is no reason to it. This could all get tired really fast. People want smart, interesting, logical character and plot developments. Let’s hope Gotham can give us that!