Although “Strike Force” is a step towards the light, with brighter hope for Gotham, there appears to still be dark territory ahead, for Gordon especially.
Being a travel agent on Earth-2 definitely has to be the Seventh Circle of Hell of careers. Sure the folks on the Nazi Earth or the Crime Syndicate Earth have their jobs cut out for them trying to convince anyone that their universe is a nice place to visit for even a nanosecond. But as Highfather’s sacrificial lamb to keep Darkseid from preying upon the whole of existence, Earth-2 makes a pretty strong case for having it the worst of all. That’s not the breaks, that’s just harsh beyond measure. But now Convergence has ushered in a whole new world — in the most literal way possible. Taking these characters in a completely new direction, Earth-2: Society makes a bold attempt at getting the Earth-2 line to hit its stride in ways that have eluded it since its inception.
As Gotham heads towards the end of its first season it winds up some plot threads with an episode that has everyone reaching a turning point. After his big win against Commissioner Loeb in “Everyone has a Cobblepot” Gordon has let his guard down a bit, this has allowed Loeb the chance to retaliate against him. The mark that Loeb places on Gordon gets him so riled up that he is even more determined to bring down the dirty Commissioner, but first he has to deal with the serial killer known as “the Ogre” which is merely set up in this episode as part of the case of the week.
Even though she’s only been drawing comics for about a year, Babs Tarr’s artistic revamp of the Batgirl title and the character in general has made her one of comics’ rising stars. She discarded the armor or spandex of past costumes for a fashion forward costume featuring yellow Doc Martens and a snap cape that is cosplay friendly as well as reintegrating the classic cape, cowl, and Bat-symbol for a new generation of a fans.
This week’s episode of Gotham follows up “Red Hood” where it seemed as though Bruce’s story and Gordon’s would meet up but instead this episode prolongs the separation another week so that Gordon could make some genuine headway in establishing order in the GCPD. This has been an ongoing process for Gordon in making a change to the corrupt system and the effect he’s had has been gradual as every time Gordon thinks he has effected change he finds that he has only cured a symptom and not the cause. This has been a beat that Gotham has repeated a few times during this second half of the season and it’s almost to the point of being overly repetitive, but it seems as though that this particular promotion to President of the Policeman’s union position may be the level where Gordon can be most effective and the season can finally move on without falling back to where Gordon has no results to show other than new allies.
The season enters its final quarter with an episode that escalates the drama of the ongoing plots alongside a standalone case that interestingly adapts a Batman villain to the small screen. Gordon and the GCPD are not so much downplayed in this episode as they are given equal attention as the four other separate plots that are playing out. The episode does a great job juggling the separate narratives without them needing to cross paths until the very end.
The season returns in stride with this week’s episode that is full of Batman mythology nods with fun character moments that build momentum to the season’s subplots that are showing lots of promise and development. At the center of the episode is the relationship of Gordon and Leslie which is budding in interesting ways and is well integrated with the case of the week. The case of the week addresses two iconic Batman characters in one fell swoop, a bold attempt for the series that could’ve easily been a misstep, but it is done efficiently enough that it will hold interest in the long run, as there are more stories that they could mine with the character introduced here.
The search for Dr. Crane continues this week in a way that is notably off kilter with the beats of “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”. There are moments that inelegantly reset character progress that would’ve made more sense following an earlier episode, while dialogue bluntly attempts to integrate events that happened in the previous two episodes. As far as recent episodes go, this one appears to have suffered the most from the expanded season order.
Following the winding down of “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”, the season continues with an episode that stabilizes the narrative with a case of the week hinting at the iconic Batman villain, The Scarecrow. Unfortunately his characterization is undermined with a poorly-executed exposition dump that feels unearned and unclear; the episode is much more concerned with reinforcing the shifted dynamics that were established in the previous episode. It’s not uncommon for a series to spin its wheels at times during a 22 episode season, but what is disappointing is that it does so here without giving a worthwhile character his due.
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.
In this week’s Gotham, Gordon returns to the Gotham City Police Department to regain his Detective rank but in order to do that he has to prove himself to Commission Loeb by bringing in the Arkham Asylum inmate that escaped in “Rogues’ Gallery” under his watch. This episode shows Gordon revitalized and more focused with the understanding that he needs to be at the GCPD and nowhere else; it’s where he wants to be and where he can do the most good. We have seen Gordon be all gun ho before as in “Penguins Umbrella” but this time he’s taking charge and asserting himself, where before he was acting reckless with unrealistic goals.
Gotham returns from its break with a solid episode that continues the shifting status quo, with many darker turns and just a few flashes of hope. “Rogues’ Gallery” gives us our first real look into how Arkham Asylum is run and it’s just as criminally understaffed and underdeveloped as one would imagine. Gordon gets no sympathy from his managing director Gerry Lang, as he is constantly berated by Lang for having inmates break into fights under his watch. The only promising turn of events during Gordon’s time at Arkham Asylum is his alliance with Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She is a beacon of hope that will be an essential asset in Gordon’s war against the corruption of Gotham City.
The mid season finale of Gotham kicks off running with Bruce and Cat being pursued by deadly assassins which set in motion a tour through the shadowy spots of Gotham for Bruce with Cat as his guide. It’s always fun to see the kids together and this episode offers them in Cat’s turf which is vital for Bruce to see firsthand if he’s to grow into the hero Gotham needs. The reason they are on the run is because Gordon screwed up by putting his faith in Harvey Dent, who wants what Gordon wants and that is to take down the bad element out of Gotham, but he’s willing to risk anything or anyone to reach that goal.
The new story arc of Gotham continues to build steam by breaking up one major couple, creating curious alliances between heroes and villains, and introducing new players to the game. So far the series has focused on the darker side of Gotham City, with its citizens bringing justice through criminal means, but with “Harvey Dent”, we are shown the other side, with an episode that is a little brighter and a little more fun but that doesn’t lose the edge of the gritty reality Gotham has already established.