It’s already happened. Gotham has already claimed its first major victim of season 2 in the second episode alone. Now, I understand the purpose of killing off Commissioner Essen: Gordon has to become the Commissioner himself at some point — but of course before that we also need to see the arrival of Captain Nathaniel Barnes, played by Michael Chiklis. But there are already so few female characters on Gotham, especially strong ones in powerful roles like Essen. Plus she just got her new title. Seems a bit rushed, no? Nevertheless, the action of Gotham season 2 is moving along at a lightning pace, and there has never been a better time for this to happen.
We pick up in Gotham City with Theo and Tabitha at Mayor James’ home, having fastened a box to his head reminiscent of a Saw film — clearly that franchise’s penchant for death and insanity is running rampant on Gotham this season in the first few episodes alone. Theo tells Mayor James that he is “an ardent student of human nature” then gives the guy two options on how this whole horrifying scenario will play out: Theo can either put a big, hairy spider (which Theo doesn’t actually have in his possession at the moment) in the box or the Mayor can tell his secretary that he has run off with a mistress and will leave specific instructions. Given what we have seen from Mayor James, the choice to run away rather than let the possible bluff play out is obvious. Mayor James asks why Theo is doing all of this and we finally get our first taste of villainous monologuing this season, all of which deserves to be quoted thanks to James Frain chewing the scenery with pure, brazenly evil joy:
“You’re part of a great endeavor, a great cleansing. Monsters are coming Mr. Mayor. Monsters who will cleanse this city in blood and fire.”
Clearly Theo is making way for his own mayoral run by getting James out of the way, but there is still much to do before the Galavan’s come out into the Gotham City spotlight. The fake story of Mayor James and his fake mistress hits the Gotham Gazette, and the editor is none too keen on the front page featuring gossip and celebrity hogwash. He wants real, hard-hitting news, and unfortunately he’s about to get exactly that right outside his window (morbid pun intended). As the editor is lecturing his staffers, Theo’s new band of merry crazymen are eagerly pushing hostages off the roof of the Gazette so they hit the pavement in the exact spelling of their new villain group name: Maniax! (The exclamation point is an afterthought but one that is quite in keeping with Jerome’s disposition).
Because the GCPD is behind on everything, the newly instated Commissioner Essen and Gordon are finally filling in their officers with information about the escaped Arkham inmates, a.k.a. the Maniax. There’s of course Jerome and Barbara, but we’re also joined by Robert Greenwood the cannibal, Arnold Dobkins the schizophrenic rapist, and Aaron Helzinger, the man who murdered his entire family with his bare hands. The GCPD seem to already know that Richard Sionis is dead as he’s not featured in the bunch (and now I’m wondering if Theo and Tabitha disposed of his body in a no doubt public way). Detective Alvarez gets his first shout-out of the season as he’s appointed as Gordon’s coordinating officer, and we’re on our way with the investigation. But of course Gordon doesn’t realize just how out of his depth he is with this one.
As Gordon begins looking into the shipyard victims who were kidnapped and killed, Theo congratulates his Maniax on their “Overture.” Now it’s on to a bigger and bolder opening number, a grand entrance as he explains. Jerome is clearly becoming the leader and showman of the group and it’s not sitting well with Robert Greenwood, a.k.a. the cannibal. The two get in a tussle over who should take control of the Maniax, with Robert taunting Jerome for only having killed his mother while Robert has killed and eaten a dozen women. Clearly the “We’re all in this together” mentality isn’t working with Theo’s team, so he suggests they settle this the deadliest way possible: Through a little game of Russian Roulette (because duh, right?). Jerome takes the opportunity to overpower Robert and officially be crowned the Captain of the Maniax.
Meanwhile, Bruce is still in his dad’s
bat secret cave trying to make his bat secret computer work. When it finally does, Alfred smashes it out of fear for Bruce’s safety. Despite eventually becoming Batman, Bruce is still a child and throws a dignified temper tantrum ending in Alfred’s termination. Of course firing Alfred only lasts about a day as Bruce later seeks out Alfred at the train station and asks him to return under Alfred’s condition that Bruce resumes training and does everything he says, and Bruce’s condition that Alfred find someone to fix his computer. Enter once again Chris Chalk’s Lucius Fox. Now is it just me or is he doing his best Morgan Freeman impression in this episode? Perhaps I just can’t get that interpretation out of my head. He is Morgan Freeman after all. Alfred metaphors the crap out of Lucius — basically telling him he has to be able to trust him if they’re going to help Bruce together.
NEXT: More Maniax