“Monsters are coming, Mr. Mayor. Monsters who will cleanse this city in blood and fire,” says Theo (James Frain) to the Gotham City mayor. Theo’s holding the mayor captive, torturing him with a small prison box covering his head as FOX’s Gotham season two’s second episode begins.
Theo gives the mayor a choice: he can either tell his secretary that he’s running off with his mistress or he can die. Obviously, the mayor chooses the mistress story and it makes front page news on the Gotham Gazette. Theo is also grooming his little band of escaped convicts to become the worst gang of criminals Gotham has ever seen.
Back at the Gotham City Police Department, newly instated Commissioner Essen (Zabryna Guevara) and Gordon (Ben McKenzie) are putting teams of four officers to work together to collect information and find the escaped Arkham inmates who now call themselves the Maniax. They murdered a handful of men from the shipyard and left the word printed on their bodies. Along with Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) and Barbara (Erin Richards), there’s Robert Greenwood (Dustin Ybarra) the cannibal, Arnold Dobkins (Will Brill) the schizophrenic rapist, and Aaron Helzinger (Stink Fisher), a man who murdered his family with his bare hands.
Almost sensing he’s about to be in way over his head, Jim goes to see his ex-partner Bullock (Donal Logue), who’s still tending bar and claiming he’s enjoying the civilian life, to see if he can convince him to team up again and rejoin the force. Harvey’s fiancée Scottie makes no secret that she wants Bullock to have nothing to do with being a cop again and Jim realizes it’s no use. Before he leaves Harvey tells Jim to focus on the shipyard victims during the investigation. “They could have picked victims from anywhere, but why the shipyard?”
Meanwhile back at Theo’s place, Jerome and Greenwood argue about who’s in charge of the Maniax gang when Theo intercedes and lets the two decide by playing a game of Russian roulette. Jerome shows no fear by taking not one, not two, but three turns pulling the trigger after Greenwood’s first attempt, getting him to back down and to agree Jerome is the captain of the group.
At Wayne Manor young Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) have a horrible fight when Alfred, desperate to stop Bruce from activating the computer in his father’s secret cave, smashes it, destroying all of its contents. Angry and feeling betrayed, Bruce tells Alfred to leave and never come back. He’s is fired. This cuts Alfred to the quick and, obviously hurt, he agrees to leave.
Gordon discovers that while the Maniax were kidnapping their victims at the shipyard they stole a service vehicle filled with gasoline. He finds out all too soon what they plan to use it for. Led by Jerome, the Maniax cuts off and pins a school bus and begins to douse the inside and out with gasoline covering the terrified cheerleaders and the bus driver in it. Thankfully, Gordon arrives with the police just as Jerome’s lighter won’t work and a shootout ensues. Jerome, Aaron, and Robert are able to escape but Arnold is left behind to set the bus a blaze. Gordon jumps aboard and drives the bus to safety. Gordon is about to question Arnold about who helped them break out of Arkham when Arnold is suddenly shot in the head by a sniper. Jim goes for cover never seeing that up on a rooftop Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) is the deadly shooter.
While waiting at the train station Alfred is joined by Bruce who admits he knows that Alfred was only trying to protect him and he doesn’t want him to leave. Bruce and Alfred make a deal that Bruce will go back to school, train every day, and do what Alfred says, but Alfred must fix the computer he broke and work with Bruce in discovering the truth about his father and the family business. Alfred then approaches Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and tells him in a very around-about way that he helped fuel Bruce’s will to find out about the dark secrets of his parents and their company. The two men come to an understanding and agree to work together to help Bruce.
Back at GCPD Gordon gets a phone call from Barbara who lets him know she’s at the precinct. He spots her and gives chase. Barbara leads Gordon away from the police station and down a dark alley. Really? Jim seems to have zero survival instincts and unfortunately his old partner Harvey isn’t around to save him this time. While Gordon runs into Barbara’s trap, Jerome and Robert enter the police station dressed as cops along with some other thugs and begin to shoot up the place. Edward (Cory Michael Smith) puts himself at great risk and dives to save his office crush Kristen (Chelsea Spack) from the gunfire and ends up getting shot in the arm. Jerome corners Commissioner Essen, making her watch her men and women in blue fall and tells her that his team will “leave a mark on this city.” When Robert begins to step on his line Jerome shoots him dead.
Back in the alley, Gordon gets jumped by Aaron while chasing Barbara and gets beaten within an inch of his life. Barbara tells Aaron he’s had enough and climbs on top of Jim to tell him he never understood her and that she’s not crazy…she’s finally free. When Gordon finally gets back to the precinct he’s horrified to see the bloody massacre of Gotham’s finest. He discovers to his relief that his girlfriend Leslie (Morena Baccarin) hid under her medical examiner table when she heard all the shots and was not found by the killers. Bruce and Alfred show up after hearing the news of the massacre to check and make sure Jim is okay. Bruce apologizes to Gordon for his comments days earlier and, feeling emotional, hugs Jim who is both surprised and touched by the young man’s show of affection.
Harvey shows up dressed in his old detective clothes ready to go back to work. When Gordon tries to tell him he doesn’t have to do this Harvey answers back, “We are who we are, right? No use fighting it.” The two men then watch the videotape Jerome made of the attack with his monologue saying that the residents of Gotham are prisoners, cogs in a machine, and they should be free like him. The video ends with Jerome saying, “I promise you haven’t seen nothing yet,” and his diabolical, eerie laughter.
Violent, action-packed, and even at times heartfelt, Gotham season two episode two titled “Knock, Knock” kicks the crime serial into high gear and raises the bar. This is what last week’s season premiere should have been. The episode barely gives the viewer a chance to grab his/her breath before the next insane deadly act from the escaped psychopaths.
There are many stand-out performances in this episode including Erin Richards as Barbara whose wide-eyed portrayal of the psycho gives all new meaning to the phrase “crazy ex-girlfriend”. When Jim’s phone rings and she says, “Hello Jim,” on the other end of the phone it’s so disturbing. Two other great performances are delivered by David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee as Bruce and Alfred. The scene down in the secret cave when Alfred breaks the computer and Bruce fires Alfred for his actions is filled with emotion. The way Mazouz sinks down almost into a ball – as boys do when feeling lost and helpless – rings so true to anyone who can remember being young and seemingly betrayed by the person they love most in the world. The look of fear and hurt on Pertwee’s face when Bruce fires him and tells him to leave captures wonderfully the realization of his mistake and regret. Truly these two actors work beautifully together and have the best chemistry on the show.
Cameron Monaghan is both outlandish and a little cartoonish as Jerome, the crazed wildcard among the escaped inmates. It’s undeniable at this point that his character has to be the one who will eventually become Gotham’s Clown prince of crime…The Joker. Playing Jerome closer to Mark Hamill’s Joker from the animated series as well as a bit of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, the journey of the Captain of the Maniax is sure to be an interesting and insane one.
With the GCPD shot to oblivion, the commissioner dead, and the Maniax group running wild in the city, Gordon and Bullock look to be fighting an uphill battle. This episode of Gotham is hands down one of the best of the crime series to date and has begun what was promised during all the commercials and ads for the show: The Rise of the Villains. Bring on episode three…can’t wait!
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