“Dark Days are coming,” says Zaardon (David Fierro). “Thanks for the heads up,” replies Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he locks up the gun and sword-wielding weirdo dressed up in an outfit that would fit in nicely at Comic-Con for shooting off a few rounds in public and threatening a young woman in the second season premiere of FOX’s crime drama series Gotham.
The episode opens up right where season one left off with young master Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) discovering Thomas Wayne’s secret staircase behind the fireplace which leads to a state of the art steel door with a combination lock. Jump ahead one month later and it seems poor Gordon has been demoted to a patrol officer directing traffic by Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) in the hopes he would quit like his partner Bullock (Donal Logue) did. Unfortunately for Gordon, he gives the corrupt Commissioner an excuse to finally fire him when he shoves his overweight obnoxious replacement for being late replacing him on traffic duty and the moron goes running to tell the Commissioner about it.
Meanwhile at Arkham Asylum, Barbara (Erin Richards) is settling in to her new home when she’s approached by red-headed Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) who informs her that she has an admirer named Richard Sionis (Todd Stashwick), a millionaire serving time for killing 25 people who wants Barbara to be his friend. Unimpressed and uninterested, Barbara shows Jerome she doesn’t need his friend’s help when she flirts with a big, bald inmate asking him to protect her and to be her new friend, something the big oaf happily agrees to. Impressed, Jerome says to Barbara, “You’re bad,” but tells her that his friend Richard can get her things she might need. Barbara, with her interest now piqued, asks what that might be and Jerome tells her it’s anything she needs.
Unable to see any other way of getting his old job back, Gordon decides to pay a visit to the new King of Gotham City: Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor). Jim is a little surprised to see Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) by Oswald’s side. It seems he’s taken a liking to her, telling Jim, “It’s like having a cat around, minus all the dead mice.” Jim tells Oswald he needs a favor and that he still owes him for saving his life from Maroni’s thugs. Oswald, not really believing he owes Jim anything but wanting to keep him as his friend, tells Jim he can find a way to get rid of Commissioner Loeb and get Jim his old job back but he needs a favor in return. He wants Jim to go and collect a debt that’s owed to him. Gordon turns down the offer but Oswald tells him not to be too hasty and sleep on it.
Gordon goes to visit his old partner Bullock who’s now a bartender and brings him up to speed on what’s been going on. Bullock tells Jim not to take Oswald’s offer, that it will eat him up inside because he’s a man of integrity. While they’re talking, Bullock reveals to Jim that he is 32 days sober and is enjoying life as just an ordinary citizen of Gotham. “It was easy to quit drinking once I left the job, Jim,” says Bullock, and he encourages his young friend to do the same.
Gordon visits Bruce and Alfred to let them know he’s no longer on the force, apologizing to Bruce that he won’t be able to keep his promise. Alfred asks if there is a chance for Gordon to get reinstated and Jim tells them about Oswald’s deal. Bruce suggests to Gordon that perhaps performing this one minor ugly errand for Oswald, even though it might upset his moral compass, could be for the greater good. This seems to ring true to Jim who quickly decides to go and collect the debt for the new King of Gotham.
It turns out that collecting for Oswald is a very dangerous business because the gangster who owes Carmine Falcone refuses to pay the Penguin a dime. This leads to a fight, a chase, and Jim shooting dead the gangster. When he delivers the money to Oswald, Gordon apologizes for the job getting complicated and messy to which Oswald assures Jim there will be no follow-up from any of the mobster’s comrades.
Meanwhile, back at Arkham Barbara has made the rich killer millionaire her new friend and has gotten access to a phone. She calls Jim and tells him she never confessed to killing her parents and that Lee attacked her. Jim tells Barbara to never call again and hangs up. Lee (Morena Baccarin) asks Jim who called and he lies, telling her it was a sales call. But when Lee’s home phone rings he tells her not to answer it and confesses it was Barb on the phone. That’s when Barbara leaves a message saying she hopes Lee dies screaming. Gordon tries to reassure Lee that Barbara is safely locked away and they have nothing to worry about.
Commissioner Loeb wakes up at home to discover Oswald and one of his henchmen in his kitchen. Discovering that his security has already been eliminated and wanting to survive, Loeb tells Penguin he will reinstate Gordon but it turns out that’s not enough for Oswald seeing that Loeb will forever be trying to get rid of Gordon someday. Realizing he has no choice if he wants to live, Loeb also agrees to resign as Commissioner of Gotham City.
Break out at Arkham! It seems Zaardon was a plant. Before he went on his madcap insanity in the city he drank some weird concoction. Now at Arkham he’s talking to some of the inmates when he begins to choke and gag and passes out, releasing a blue gas from his mouth that causes everyone to pass out. A lady in black leather crashes into the asylum, shoots some guards, and sets out to release a handful of unconscious inmates.
Back at Wayne Manor Bruce is fed up with trying to figure out the combination to the locked steel door and sets out to blow it open with explosives. At first Alfred is dead set against the plan, but being concerned for Bruce’s safety and realizing he won’t be able to stop the determined young boy Alfred helps him build an effective and efficient bomb. Once the door has been blasted open both Bruce and Alfred head down and enter Thomas’ man cave. Bruce finds a letter written to him by his father. In the letter Thomas tells his son that it’s not possible to have both happiness and truth and a person has to choose which one he wants. Thomas begs his son to choose happiness unless Bruce feels a calling…a true calling.
Dark, brooding, and at times camp-ish, Gotham season two episode one titled “Damned If You Do” brings back the crime drama/thriller focusing once again on crusading cop Gordon and underworld boss Oswald but leaves little time or room for some of the other major characters. The episode spends too much time setting up changes including Bullock no longer being a cop and Jim getting fired just to have Gordon end up where he was at the end of the first season. It’s obvious these two are going to end up back on the police force otherwise there wouldn’t be a show.
The introduction of the new villains was brief and fairly unimpressive and the return of young red-headed Jerome, played way over the top by Cameron Monaghan, wasn’t that compelling. The look and feel of the show is still strong but a little less dark than the first season, and season two’s premiere episode introduced a bit of camp and humor that felt forced and made the episode uneven.
With favorite characters like Selina and Bullock only having one scene and Bruce and Alfred being in only three scenes (the best three in the episode), Gotham’s second season premiere was really nothing more than a long, dragged out set-up for the upcoming chaos from the released villains and the growing iron-fisted control of Gotham’s new crime boss, The Penguin.
Recap of season 2 episode 2: Knock, Knock
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