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REVIEW: Gotham 2×01 “Rise of the Villains: Damned if You Do”

Last night was the season premiere of Gotham. For this season, the first few episodes are entitled as “Rise of the Villains”, and the show has decided to take a different take on the fictional world and focus more on…you guessed it… the villains.

However, before I discuss the second season any further, I should probably share my thoughts on the show’s freshman season. I was not a huge fan. I found it kind of cheesy. Rather than saving the many Bat-verse roles for more in-depth story arcs, the first season of Gotham just felt chaotic. There were just too many “wink wink, check out this character” moments, and that just induced so much eye-rolling on my part.

That being said…After watching the last night’s episode, “Damned if You Do”, I have a feeling that the second season is going to be a much needed improvement. I mean first of all Fish Mooney is dead!! Praise the executives that saw the light! I know some liked her because she represented the campier aspects of the Bat-verse, but I personally saw her as ANNOYING. Oof, I could go on and on and rant about my hatred about her character, but I digress.

I’m going to try my best not to spoil any major plot points, but WARNING there will be SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!

The majority of the first episode takes place a month after season one finale. And since there are about a million storylines introduced and happening concurrently with each other, let’s just do a quick recap of where everyone is.

Jim hopes that what he's done was worth it.

-Gordon is now a traffic cop, and is still in a relationship with Lee.

This episode did a good job setting up Gordon’s character transformation for the rest of the season and possibly the rest of the show. With Loeb after Gordon and Gordon after Loeb, Gordon is demoted from detective to traffic cop, which he proves to be way too intense for. After being fired altogether from the police force by Loeb, Gordon asks Penguin to help reinstate him as detective in exchange for another favor. I know Gordon wants to do the right thing and be a good cop, but he can’t seem to do anything substantial without Oswald’s help. While the other characters worry about his venture into the dark side and I agree it gives his character a nice complexity, is no one else concerned with how incompetent Gordon is? No? Just me?

Anyways, while Gordon holds up his end of the bargain and helps the Penguin, we see Gordon do some shady things that I’m betting will come back to haunt him.

-Bullock is now a bartender.

I don’t know if I missed something as to why he quit, but is it bad I don’t care? Bullock had his moments when he came through for Gordon in terms of police work, but without Gordon…Bullock was also kind of a lazy incompetent cop. Yeesh, forget corruption, no wonder there are so many villains in Gotham. Now Bullock just tends bar and I guess serves as Gordon’s soundboard. Without Bullock to warn Gordon about particular cases or to tell Gordon why cops are bad, Gordon is pretty much doomed to get into a lot of trouble this season.

-Bruce is still trying to unlock the “Bat Cave”.

That’s literally all that happened with Bruce and Alfred during this episode. Just Bruce making a bunch of frustrated (and weird) faces as he tries to break into his father’s cave. After button-smashing any random combination into the keypad, Bruce gives up and decides to blow up the entrance. He eventually learns the combination, which is so obvious that that I don’t know…I would have tried first before putting a bomb inside my house!… but that’s just me.

And I guess one more thing did happen with Bruce…Puberty. Besides his slightly deeper voice, Bruce is getting much more angsty. Normally, I tend to stay away from preteens because they make me anxious, but I am excited to see how Bruce’s evolution into manhood contributes to his eventual transformation into Batman.

-Oswald is now the “King of Gotham”.

Now as you already know, I hate Fish Mooney, and I wasn’t particularly invested in the whole Falcone-Maroni fest (aka snore-fest). However, I do like Oswald as the “King of Gotham”. He’s psycho enough to actually utilize the full power of the role. I mean all we saw Maroni and Falcone do is drink, eat, and buy chickens, with the occasional kill here and there. But Oswald? He killed that random guy, beheaded another guy, and scared Commissioner Loeb into resigning. Plus with Victor Zsasz under his employment now, Oswald is in the perfect position to decide who lives and dies in his city.

Oh, and I guess I should mention Selina is also now under his employment, but meh. She was kind of useless this episode.

-Nygma has gone insane.

Another character that is beginning to realize his full potential as a villain is Edward Nygma (AKA the Riddler). Still suffering his psychotic break after killing Officer Tom Dougherty, Nygma has gone full Gollum. That is, he has developed a split personality. Although he wasn’t in the episode much, this shift in personality excites me. I can’t wait till Nygma caves into his devilish side and releases it upon Gotham. I mean the guy got his kicks from examining dead bodies for fun…when he was “normal”. I can only imagine what he’ll do for fun as the Riddler.

-Barbara and Jerome are residing in Arkham.

After killing her parents and her attempted murder of Lee, Barbara is Arkham Asylum’s newest resident. I honestly don’t know why she is still around. Gordon doesn’t love her anymore, and she is super annoying. Before her ordeal with the Ogre, what was her problem? NOTHING! and yet she decided to act out. Ugh. She has gots to go. GO!

However, Barbara has attracted the attention of every male in Arkham, including Jerome, and I actually like Jerome.  He’s one of the few characters I can actually stand/ look forward to seeing. So, I’m not sure how I feel about Jerome’s desire to team up with Barbara. A part of me wants Jerome to go all Joker crazy on her and kill her. Is that bad? Maybe I should be in Arkham. At least there would be another woman around. Seriously, why is Barbara the only woman inmate? Shouldn’t she be in the women’s wing?

– There is a new villain in town.

While publicly he is a charming and respected businessman, Theo Galavan is actually Gotham’s newest power-hungry character. Mini-disclaimer: I am a huge fan the actor behind Galavan, James Frain. He not only knows how to play villainous characters, but he also knows how to make them captivating. So, I can only look forward to Theo Galavan’s role in unleashing hell this season.

Anyways, after giving a crazy thug, Zaardon: The Soul Reaper, a mysterious blue liquid called “dragon blood”, Zaardon attempts to wreak havoc on the streets. Unfortunately for Zaardon, he is captured by Gordon and sent to Arkham Asylum. While he is there, Zaardon passes out and emanates a large amount of blue gas from his mouth, knocking out the other inmates, like Barbara and Jerome, in the process. After Tabatha Galavan, Theo’s sister, brings the inmates to Theo, it is revealed that this was all Theo’s plan to get some insane inmates to work for him. I mean, I guess the plan was cool, and it gave room to introduce Theo, but that was kind of an overly complicated plan. And is no one in the GCPD concerned that there is an biological airborne toxin?


Even though, I complain a lot (ugh), I have to say I am looking forward to this season of Gotham.

So let’s calculate the season two premiere’s grade:

Final Grade: B

+ The darker overall tone.

+ The absence of Fish Mooney.

+ Jerome’s performance and role in the episode.


– Not enough Jerome.

– Bruce Wayne’s Zzzzzz story

– Some questionable acting from the rest of the cast.



Extra thoughts:

– I like that there was more intimacy between Lee and Gordon because honestly in the first season he seemed like he wasn’t into her. Seriously, he gave Loeb more intense stares.

– Since when did Gordon get some fighting skills? That scene in the nightclub!  All of the sudden, he became a cable version of John Wick.

-“You can’t have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose”– Thomas Wayne’s letter to Bruce.

What did you think of Gotham’s season premiere? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Elizabeth Banalagay