I was more than a little shocked, after last week, to come to this episode of Gotham and find that it was actually pretty good. Last week’s episode was a bit of a mess that led me not to have much hope for the season as a whole, but there was actually some impressive stuff on display here.
Firstly, Selina—who was probably my favorite character in season one—finally appears to have an actual arc of her own and a reason to really be a part of the season instead of just showing up to remind us that she’s there. Then, of course, you have the developing plotline of Nathaniel Barnes and his by-the-book strike force. All of the unease we’ve seen previously with Gordon and Barnes (mostly the fact that Gordon, who came into this as a completely by-the-book officer, had dealings with the Penguin all throughout the first season) is gone for now, but I’m sure we’ll see more of it soon.
This episode also introduces the first live-action appearance of a female version of the Batman villain, Firefly (the Garfield Lynns version previously appeared on Arrow). This incarnation of Firefly is a girl and it works. She has a cool outfit and a pretty streamlined design. One of the interesting things about this character, so far, is the fact that she does not have a psychological transformation, like most of Batman’s rogues. From what we’ve seen so far, all of her decisions have been made based on practicality. She is forced into arson because of her “brothers” who will throw her out on the street if she doesn’t comply. She wears the suit for no other reason than the fact that the first time out, she got burned. She makes the suit to simply prevent that from happening a second time.
Penguin’s arc is also getting interesting. From the very beginning, he’s typically been the one thing people have liked about the show if they liked anything at all. After spending the first season rising to a position of power, he’s only found himself thrown back down the ladder when a bigger player comes to town. He’s more controlled and manipulated than he ever was with Fish Mooney and it’s driving him insane. Which is fine by me, because an insane Penguin is probably going to make for a more interesting Penguin as things move forward.
But what really impressed me about this episode was Theo Galavan, who felt more like a real-life villain than a comic book villain for the first time here. Having seen all of the horrible things he has done and then having him shake hands with Gordon, that’s an impressively creepy moment. But it’s the backstory that piqued my interest. I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as the flashback we got and the story Penguin was told. Galavan is not simply driven by emotion, that much is clear. There’s something much bigger at work here (*cough* Court of Owls *cough*) and I’m legitimately interested in seeing how that story unfolds.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the old Gotham problems are there. The dialogue is unbelievably hammy at times. The show has also clearly gotten to the point where it’s just accepted that there are too many characters to fit all of the main cast into a single episode because as much as Bruce is talked about, he doesn’t actually make an appearance.
Still, the episode left me as interested in the show as I’ve ever been and I’m actually invested in seeing how this story develops.