A murder inside Gotham Central keeps Gordon busy as Fish Mooney flees crime boss Carmine Falcone's wrath.

By Darren Orf
January 27, 2015 at 02:01 AM EST
Jessica Miglio/Fox
S1 E13
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Gotham is a hard show to trust. At one moment, everything can be going perfectly well as plot threads entwine, action intensifies, and relationships strengthen. Last week, Gotham was firing on all cylinders. Long laid traps finally sprung and long-deserved vengeance was dealt. Gotham’s second act seemed to be starting off strong. Then “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” happened.

The whole episode, the third after the show’s holiday break, is dramatic Ambien compared to the fast-paced, well-knitted plot from last week. New characters are introduced that the audience has never even heard of, but are still supposed to care about what’s happening to them. “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” is textbook filler with only small moments in between moments that forward the overarching story in any meaningful way.

Gotham’s 13th episode splinters into two parts. The first is a fresh, new murder/drug conspiracy that Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock are tasked to solve while the second is the fallout from Fish Mooney’s failed takeover of Gotham’s underworld. The first plot thread is merely just narrative static between Mooney’s appearance on screen but at least those moments feel connected to what’s been going on in the series.

Mooney is in a bad situation, on the verge of exacting the ultimate price for her transgressions against Falcone. She’s wheeled down to some warehouse murder dungeon where a sociopathic “interrogator” (read: torturer) slowly begins his bloody work. Kind of. Ultimately he does a lot a posturing and gives a few long-winded speeches before spitting up blood through broken teeth on the warehouse floor. It’s because while he was busy basically doing nothing, Mooney’s right-hand man, Butch, busted up his own murder detail and discovered Fish’s location, saving her just in time before murder man went Hostel: Part II on her.

Butch and Mooney’s relationship is now officially interesting. At the show’s beginning, the two were always jovial with one another, and there was a sense of respect between them, but nothing that showed this depth of loyalty and self-sacrifice. This is the second instance Butch has killed for Mooney, and viewers still don’t really understand why. Did Fish do something for Butch in the past that has made him the Chewbacca to her Han Solo? Or are his interests more sexual? Who knows! It’s not necessarily a question that Gotham should have answered yet, the not knowing is part of the fun after all, but hopefully it is a question the show writers will address with future episodes.

NEXT: The interesting life of an ass-kicking vigilante billionaire playboy

During all this torturing and beating and killing and saving, Gordon meets up with Harvey Bullock at a murder scene at yet another warehouse. The newly dead is a small-time drug dealer, which Bullock shrugs off as a “public service homicide,” the body was found in part by drug officer Arnold Flass’ own connections with Gotham narcotics. Flass is best described as a stereotypical high school jock, a man who floats above everyone else because of inflated self-importance. In short, he’s an asshole.

After Gordon inspects the body and eventually finds drugs hidden in the fake boot heel of the recently deceased, he asks the building’s night janitor (who must be terrible at his job considering the state of things) if he’d be willing to come down to the station in order to identify the perp. The janitor looks around nervously but eventually accepts Gordon’s offer. Unfortunately for this guy, he’s in the loving and caring hands of the GCPD, the most inept police force in the world, and is subsequently murdered in the interrogation room at Gotham Central.

The next scene is even more weird. Gordon finds the body while an investigation is in progress, and gets mad. Kind of? This whole scene actually felt out of character for Gordon. This is a man who constantly fights against the GCPD’s corruption and now a completely innocent person was murdered under his watch in his own police station. Get mad! Throw some shit. Start screaming. Show a little emotion. Instead, Gordon kind of like… furrows his brow and maybe raises his voice a few decibels, but that’s about it. This is a lost opportunity to show just some raw rage and frustration of Jim’s losing fight against an overly corrupt police force. But no, it all just gets tossed on Gotham’s growing murder pile, another meaningless case for Jim to solve.

But until he can solve it, Bruce Wayne finally returns. Yeah, Bruce Wayne! Gotham’s pint-size Batman is finally back with his first appearance since the show’s midseason break. But his sudden re-emergence in the show is short-lived, and he only shares a few scenes during the show’s 45-minute run. After becoming the target of deadly assassins a few episodes prior, Wayne is desperately and apparently unsuccessfully trying to find Selina by driving around Cat’s familiar haunts in Gotham City. He eventually bumps into the perpetually disheveled Ivy and relays a message for Cat.

Fast-forwarding a bit, Cat eventually shows up at Wayne Manor and Bruce gives her a present—a snow globe, possibly the worst present you could possibly give a homeless street urchin. How about, like, a really nice tarp or something? Anyway, after he delivers his present he asks if she’d like to take up residence in Wayne manor. The kid’s young, so he’s going to make some mistakes, but asking your girl crush of two weeks if she wants to move in with you has a success rate of about 0 percent, but… you’ll learn that. Selina predictably freaks out, hands back the snow globe (which Bruce later breaks—and he couldn’t have smashed a tarp, I’m just saying), and storms out. Bruce, heartbroken and dejected, gets a quick “suck it up” speech from Alfred. He wipes away the tears and refocuses his energy on his parent’s case. This concludes Bruce’s first lesson with women, which if the comics are any indication, is filled with death, villains, and more death. Thus is the life of an ass-kicking vigilante billionaire playboy.

NEXT: Laws of nature

Now, after only two episodes in somewhat differing circumstances, Gordon finds himself right back where he was: solving murders and fighting police corruption. It makes you wonder what the real point of Gordon’s aside to Arkham Asylum was. Viewers didn’t really get to see much of the institution and Gordon’s newly minted love interest, Dr. Thompkins, is completely MIA. It just feels like same ‘ole Gotham—and that’s not a compliment.

Gotham doesn’t really attempt suspense in “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon.” As soon as the night janitor is killed in the police station, it’s pretty damn apparent who the perpetrator is—yep, it’s officer Flass! What a twist! Bullock pretty much tells Gordon that the cops are the ones to blame. Then the audience suffers through police politics with characters they didn’t even know existed before this very moment. If these were cops that Jim and Harvey worked right next to in a couple episodes, maybe they seemed like good guys, jovial even, and then it turns out that they’re evil assholes, that would be shocking and illustrative of how hard it is to really trust anyone at the GCPD. But nope, it’s a buncha randos who don’t matter and will never see again.

The only salvageable moment in this entire thread is at its conclusion. In order to get the evidence needed to arrest Flass, Gordon does some dirty work of his own and asks the Penguin to send some muscle, non-violently, after one of Flass’ cop buddies. Gordon eventually gets the murder weapon, locks up Flass, and even gets support from the rest of the GCPD, something that was severely lacking a few episodes ago. But as Gordon leaves the station, he’s stopped by Flass’ cop buddy, who just experienced the… rough… negotiation tactics of Penguin’s henchman. He grovels before Gordon asking for forgiveness for not just himself but also his family (because they were threatened by Penguin, too). Gordon essentially learns what Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne learns at the end of Dark Knight. You know, the whole “you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain” thing. Gordon basically has become what he hates in Flass and corrupt cops like him. The line between good and evil is never black and white.

Although Gordon is basically swimming in homicides this entire episode, Fish Mooney and Butch are trying to avoid a double homicide of their own at the hands of Carmine Falcone. Now that they’re temporarily freed from the crime boss’s torturous grasp, Mooney is determined to kill Cobblepot for stealing her club and essentially destroying her in the process. But as soon as she has Penguin at her mercy, her revenge is interrupted by Victor Zsasz, Falcone’s violent right hand, and she’s forced to flee resulting in Butch’s heroic (or stupid, maybe) self-sacrifice so Mooney can escape.

But with all the murders and torture and heartbreak in “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon,” the episode ends on an unexpected moment of tenderness. Harvey Bullock meets Fish Mooney at the docks to see her out of Gotham, her current situation mimicking the Penguin’s own at the end of the first episode. After exchanging promises—Harvey seeking out Butch and her promise to one day return—she walks down the abandoned wharf alone. Whether Mooney’s return to Gotham City will be as triumphant as the Penguin’s is hard to say—but probably not. After all, penguins eat fish, don’t they?

Episode Recaps

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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