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GOTHAM Review: “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. That’s the adage at the heart of this week’s Gotham, which finds Jim Gordon seeking, for perhaps the first time, assistance outside the law (from the Penguin, no less) in order to stop a crooked cop. Last week’s episode saw Gordon reinstated as a detective after his brief stint in Arkham Asylum. Now working cases once more with Bullock, he tracks a killer planting drugs on his victims in order to throw the law off his trail. It’s pretty routine procedural stuff — with Gordon yet again pursuing a criminal his superiors warn him not to — and, per genre tradition, the prominent new guest character ends up being the culprit. In this case, it’s Arnold Flass (played by Dash Mihok, who also played a detective in Punisher: War Zone). Flass first appeared in Batman #404 (February 1987), the first issue in Frank Miller’s Batman : Year One storyline. As in this episode of Gotham, he was introduced as a corrupt cop, Gordon’s original partner.

“Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” also appears to resolve, at least for the time being, Fish Mooney’s story arc. Picking up with Mooney about to be tortured by one of Falcone’s goons, the episode finds Jada Pinkett Smith given a little more to do than her usual rants. After getting freed by her last loyal cohort Butch, Mooney returns to her club to find the Penguin reveling drunk in his newfound power. She gets at least one swing of a baseball bat at him before Falcone’s hitman Zsasz shows up with his Sin City refugee sidekicks, chasing her out of town and leaving Butch’s fate undetermined. With no one else to turn to, Fish calls on Bullock to escort her out of Gotham. The brief scene with the two makes me wish their relationship was developed more this season, as Donal Logue and Smith at least exhibit more chemistry than Ben McKenzie and Erin Richards. Yet it’s unclear why Logue is so quick to forgive and forget the fact that Fish ordered him executed in Gotham‘s pilot episode.

After their absence in the last two episodes, Bruce Wayne and Alfred return from a trip to Switzerland. Bruce is still crushing on Selina; and, after he searches the city for her (in a scene reminiscent of the final moments of Batman Returns), she pays him a visit at his home. But after he gives her a snow globe he bought overseas, and invites her to live with him in his mansion, she flees and denies ever seeing the face of the man who murdered his parents. (Again a throwback to Batman Returns‘ Selina’s “Bruce, I would love to live with you in your castle. Forever just like in a fairy tale. I just couldn’t live with myself.”)

Since the most interesting moments of “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” fall outside the case of the week — including Edward Nygma’s continued awkward courtship of Ms. Kringle — I’m hoping the show will rely less on this trope as it continues to evolve, or at least integrate it more smoothly into the character drama. Because every member of Gotham‘s cast is given a brief moment to prove their merit here — including those like Bruce and Fish — which I was about ready to write off.

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Rogue Ruminations

— Edward Nygma wears a green necktie in this episode, marking the first appearance of what will become his trademark color.

— Of course a green umbrella is carried by the other Batman villain identified with this color — Ivy.

— Gordon’s questioning of cops is a little too reminiscent of a similar scene at Arkham Asylum two episodes ago. Gotham, you’ve officially used up your interrogation montage allotment.

— This episode’s final scene, in which Flass’ stooge Delaware — after watching the Penguin’s man torture his wife while seeking answers for Gordon — begs the detective for mercy, raises a question worth examining more thoroughly: Just how far is Gotham’s last honest cop willing to go before he becomes the very thing he’s trying to root out of his city? The answer is what ultimately allows for the existence of Batman.

Next week: Oswald pulls a gun on Maroni, and Jonathan “The Scarecow” Crane comes to Gotham!

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

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