By Samantha Highfill
Updated September 18, 2015 at 08:30 AM EDT
Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Fox
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Heading into season 2, Gotham, both as a city and as a show, is getting a new look. While the city has a new king in Oswald Cobblepot, the show has a new format. By dividing the season into two, 11-episode halves, the show hopes to gives viewers a more serialized drama this time around.

“It is a very, very different show,” star Ben McKenzie tells EW. “It is almost completely serialized. We’re aiming for a grander, saga-type construction in which we can actually sit with the characters and understand their motivations and how the turbulence of their lives affects the greater landscape.”

And with the line-up of villains that’s already been announced, there are going to be plenty of evil minds for the audience to sit with. “What we’ve done is up the ante a level,” adds executive producer Danny Cannon. “Now that we have the confidence of the world, we can start to add characters. So when we call this season the rise of the villains, it’s very much that. More villains move in to take their piece of the pie and Gordon has to go to very extreme measures to quell the chaos that ensues.”

And as much as Gordon might try, not all of those extreme measures can be described as “moral.” Instead, season 2 is going to see Gordon embrace a bit of darkness to get his job done. “We’re going to be playing with the notion of the rise and fall and possibly rise and fall again of both his standing in Gotham as a public figure and also his ability to keep it all together morally and otherwise — his relationship with Thompkins [Morena Baccarin] and everything,” McKenzie says. “So it’ll be pretty turbulent.”

Speaking of turbulence, it’s easy for things to get out of hand when your city houses a number of villains in one, not-so-secure facility. “At the beginning of the season, we visit Arkham, where so many people that Gordon has locked up and so many potential villains share the same air,” Cannon adds. “And if they were to get out, well who knows what kind of chaos is going to hit the streets.”

Specifically, there’s one villain who will be causing chaos when the season kicks off — Jerome, the show’s maybe-Joker. “You’re going to want to watch the first episodes,” McKenzie said. “Jerome is very much in those, and Cameron Monaghan does an absolutely fantastic job in the role. I think it will give the show the shot of adrenaline that it needs coming back into season 2.”

Get an exclusive sneak peek at the chaos — and Jim Gordon’s dark side — below:

Gotham returns Monday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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Ben McKenzie and David Mazouz star in a dramatic look at what Gotham City looked like before Bruce Wayne became Batman.
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