Last time around, Gotham touted the “Rise of the Villains” in a season title that was both apt and not. The bad went worse, to be sure, but this city has never been home to sunshine and rainbows. In the end, that title was revealed to be somewhat ironic. The most powerful villains in Gotham took hold long ago and conduct their business in secret. Or at least they did, until their cover was blown by a major jailbreak.
When we last left that dingy metropolis, the monstrous denizens of the Wayne-Industries-funded mad-scientist playground Indian Hill escaped the “just kidding!” bomb their creator Dr. Hugo Strange kept as insurance and took off into the night. Fish Mooney 2.0 was their de facto leader and still is when we see her again. Master Bruce was made aware that the shadowy Court of Owls is the invisible hand that guides his parents’ company, though he doesn’t know much more about the organization than its name. And Jim Gordon tried to leave his depressive, swimming-against-the-current existence behind in order to find Lee and try to have to a happy life.
That happy life is out there, but Lee is living it with someone else. Even through a windowpane, Lee looks like she belongs in a tastefully decorated living room more than she belongs at the mercy of every gangster and weirdo in Gotham — and the father of the child she lost could not look more out of place on her suburban doorstep. Honestly, it’s like an extra from Donnie Brasco wandered onto the Pleasantville set during lunch. Still, Gordon doesn’t even give Lee the chance to see he tried. He leaves, and over a period of time Gotham skips over, reinvents himself as a methodical bounty hunter living off the GCPD’s per-goon fees.
Now Gordon hangs around the precinct with Harvey, like the dropout who still swings by to smoke a homemade cigarette on the bleachers after school. With the help of Lucius Fox — now employed by the department as a scientific analyst of sorts — Harvey and Jim begin to note the pattern in the robberies carried out by Indian Hill escapees. They’re on the hunt for medication and are quite obviously desperate for it. Jim thinks this sounds an awful lot like police work and excuses himself.
Oswald Cobblepot continues to be Gotham’s strongest character, and I like him best when he and Gordon are working towards some version of the same goal. This particular goal is a throwback to their shared mission in season 1; at least, Oswald would like it to be. The Penguin waddles into the GCPD in the middle of a press conference to demand the capture of Fish, his former boss and forever rival. Gordon is a more effective ally than the cops in that regard, or at least that’s what Barnes and the mayor are trying to downplay in front of the press. Oswald knows it. But Gordon isn’t about “saving Gotham” anymore; Fish has to be priced right for him to get involved.
NEXT: A very literal Bat-Man