TV Review: Gotham Series 1 Episode 13: ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’

This week on Gotham: things happen, many of which are similar to previous things, says

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This review contains spoilers

★★★☆☆

Well, it looks like we’re back to the status quo.

Gordon’s first case? Solving the murder of drug dealer Pinky Littlefield, who’s also a member of the crime syndicate known as the Uptown Assassins (last seen opening for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars). He has one witness – an elderly black janitor who mentions his loving wife by name – so when that guy inevitably gets stabbed in the middle of the police station, the stakes are raised. Gordon immediately suspects that the killer’s a fellow officer, but digging too deeply might jeopardize his oh-so-recent return to the GCPD…

And if you were watching this series back in autumn, you probably know how it goes from there, because I’m pretty sure we did this episode already. All the cops are against Gordon! Sarah Essen and Harvey Bullock tell him he that he can’t fight the system, and he has to learn to work with others! Gordon ignores this, keeps actively working to make everyone despise him further, and then that turns out to be a good decision! The crime is solved! But this time, Sarah Essen and the other cops finally take a stand and help Gordon out – just like they did back in ‘Black Mask’, come to think of it.

Perhaps the biggest variation to the formula came from Gordon running into Penguin again, in order to glean evidence about the killings. Penguin gets that evidence by forcing a confession from a crooked cop with the threat of kidnapping his family, before kidnapping the family anyway. The end result of all this – the crooked cop begging Gordon not to hurt his family, as if pleading to a Mafia don – genuinely horrifies our hero, and provides the most shocking scene in the episode (not that that’s particularly hard).

Meanwhile, other characters do more interesting things. Fish Mooney’s probably the highlight of the episode this time around: she’s been kidnapped and gets tortured – not very effectively, because it’s Fish – while Penguin takes over her club and begins turning it into the prototype of the Iceberg Lounge. But then Fish breaks out, storms Oswald’s new club – in the other standout scene of the episode – and almost slits his throat before Victor Zsasz drives her off. We also get a bit of a ship tease between her and Harvey Bullock, which is an interesting new subplot in a crowd of about ninety-one more.

And this week also marks the return of Bruce Wayne, who apparently sat the last couple of episodes out from his chalet in the Alps (and Alfred’s back, which is always a plus)! He’s been trying to track down Selina Kyle – in the hopes that she can help him track down his parents’ killer, since she witnessed it, and totally not because he likes her or anything. Sadly, Selina’s afraid of commitment due to a fear of abandonment – and also because she’s twelve years old – so she lies about being unable to help, leaving him alone. Alfred basically tells him love is meaningless, so he has only himself to blame when his surrogate son’s building spandex bat-suits every night.

Overall, this episode felt a lot like wheel-spinning – now that the show’s safely back in its comfort zone, it can apparently give us the same episodes we were watching throughout the autumn. Jim Gordon really is back, so it seems, and not necessarily for the better.

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