Gotham, Ep. 1.13, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” spotlights Fish’s spectacular downfall

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Gotham Season 1, Episode 13: “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”
Written by Megan Mostyn-Brown
Directed by Wendey Stanzler
Airs Mondays at 8pm ET on FOX

This week’s episode of Gotham is a transitional point for the season, as the events of the last episode changed the status quo for many of the characters. It is typically difficult for an episode following a climactic event to continue the momentum and also set up the stage for what is to come, but this episode manages to find enough interesting beats to play, with only a few instances of padding.

More than anything, this episode is a spotlight on Fish Mooney, showing her as she handles her fall from power with a relentless sense of superiority, which causes her to lose her last bit of muscle, Butch, in order to humble her. It’s a well made parallel to Jim Gordon’s rise to prominence, as he too is blinded by his own sense of justice, which sets him off to utilize an ally that he wouldn’t have thought to go to if he had any real power within the GCPD. The parts of this episode that are not as strong as the rest involve the Penguin celebrating his win with his crew. Although there are some moments that show a bristled Penguin against his mother, it does very little to add more depth to him.

Coming off an episode that had a villain with electric powers, this episode is much more grounded in the noir, with many unflinching moments of straight out gore and gritty realism that Gotham has established throughout its run. This episode especially is not one that you want to show your kids.

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Character Study

Bruce Wayne has been absent in the past couple of episodes, and we learn that he had been away from Gotham City at the prompting of Alfred. Despite being away, Bruce hasn’t forgotten Selina ‘Cat’ Kyle and their time together, which has him wanting to protect her. In their meeting, Bruce offers her the chance to stay with him, and she declines strongly. This is an interesting turn of events, as it shows Cat pushing Bruce away for reasons that are not entirely clear. It is perhaps her fear of being domesticated that has her turning on Bruce. She has been on her own for a long time and doesn’t need to be protected, and furthermore, she is comfortable with who she is. Bruce is still young and soft, and probably wouldn’t accept her for the creature of night that she has been established to be, at least not in his current state of mind. It’s a heartbreaking moment when Cat tells Bruce off, too. It is a great performance by Camren Bicondova, who is stern with her tone, but with a touch of sadness. David Mazouz shows Bruce’s devastation and recovery very well against Sean Pertwee’s Alfred, who props Bruce up in an unsympathetic manner that will push Bruce’s militaristic hardening and upbringing.

This episode gives Fish Mooney an arc to work with, as her downfall has made her vengeful. We get to see how much of tough cookie Mooney is, as she goes fearlessly and almost ecstatically into torture. Mooney is a manic character with a crazed eye at this point, not only desiring to reclaim her position, but to punish the Penguin for his part in her takedown. This recklessness has made her blind to how ineffective she is at this time. The turning point for her is when she confronts the Penguin and shouts him down as being a nothing, and he responds with the truth that he has been working with Falcone the whole time, which in turn proved her the fool. It’s a cathartic moment for Mooney, who has now found herself in the same position that she left Penguin in earlier in the season. This episode really highlights Jada Pinkett-Smith, as she is able to show the ferocity of Mooney even when she is a captive, as well as her humbling moments, such as when she is telling Bullock to help Butch if he finds him alive. Pinkett-Smith plays it beautifully and compellingly in each scene.

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The Case File: The Ice Pick Murders

Gotham gives viewers a bit of a fake out from the closing moments of last week’s episode that implied Gordon may be investigating the shootout at Fish Mooney’s place. Instead, they deliver a narcotics related murder case that is more integrated into Gordon’s battle against the corruption within the GCPD, rather than the mob family.

The ice pick murders leads to some good exposition that sheds a light on the corruption, going up to as high as the Commissioner and the Gotham judicial system, as they are involved with the drug trafficking protecting their corrupted officers. This gives Gordon a goal for the season in removing Commissioner Loeb, one of the heads of the corruption, from office. The arrest of Detective Arnold Flass will definitely make a statement to the Commissioner, and by having Captain Sarah Essen be the one to put the cuffs on him, it gives the sign that the tide may be shifting on the side of justice.

Gordon was coming on empty at the GCPD and was disposed to work with the newly empowered Penguin in order to gain leverage on Detective Flass. The episode does well in establishing the stakes for Gordon needing this win in order to prove to the GCPD that justice can be won, and having him work with the Penguin in order to get it sets up some interesting dynamics between the two and their places in Gotham City. It seems like the Penguin has a similar tact to Don Falcone’s way of ruling in Gotham, by establishing a relationship with the law enforcement that is both combative but mutually serving. Could the Penguin be establishing his own pillar of power, with Gordon as the second pillar?

This episode is credited to another first time writer, Megan Mostyn-Brown, who does a well enough job writing to the characters and integrating all the plots together. Director Wendey Stanzler does a great job at presenting the episode in the Gotham aesthetic, particularly at recreating a similar feel to the pilot episode. Montage scenes have been a reoccurring element of Gotham, and Stanzler does what she can with them without making them drag out for too long.

Detective’s Notes

  • So, Harvey Bullock heard about Gordon’s make out session with Dr. Leslie Thompkins already, huh? Word travels fast in the GCPD.
  • Got to love the image of Fish Mooney with a bat, ready to threaten Penguin.
  • It’s revealed that Fish’s real full name is Maria Mercedes “Fish” Mooney. Oh, alliteration. You are truly a great comic book character’s best friend.
  • ‘Seems like Mooney’s is the place to be today.’ – Victor Zsasz
  • Butch is a real bad ass in this episode.
  • Surgically removing onions from his takeout is the least creepy thing that Nygma has done alone.
  • Alfred thinks that Ivy Pepper may have contracted The Mange.

– JP

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