“Walk away,” yells Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). “Shut up! You’re both under arrest for attempted murder,” replies detective Gordon (Ben McKenzie) after stopping Penguin from killing a strapped-down Don Falcone (John Doman) in the season finale of FOX’s crime thriller series, Gotham.
Guns, thugs, and blood are all over the streets of Gotham as the crime war has finally begun in season one’s final episode titled “All Happy Families Are Alike.” Thanks to Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin tricking Don Maroni (David Zayas) into believing Carmine Falcone tried to have him killed, Maroni has all his men on the hunt for Falcone and his crew. He’s even entered into a deal with Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) to have the police stand down. Gordon, choosing the lesser of two evils, decides to go to Falcone’s hospital room – he’s recovering from one of the failed attempts on his life – to protect him and get him to a secure hiding place. It’s only moments after stopping Penguin and Butch (Drew Powell) from slitting Carmine’s throat that Maroni’s thugs show up for one of the few clumsy and overly choreographed shoot-outs of the series.
Meanwhile, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) has returned to the city with her loyal sewer dwellers and recruits Selina (Camren Bicondova) into her small army. Fish is anxious to join the war to take down Falcone and to kill Penguin. Selina is uncharacteristically too quick to be so enamored with Fish, someone she’s just met.
At the hospital, Gordon receives back-up from his partner Harvey (Donal Logue) and the two take Falcone to an old warehouse that, unfortunately, Carmine is unaware Fish is now using for her new base of operations. Once there, Gordon, Bullock, Penguin, Butch – in Gordon’s custody – and Falcone are captured by Fish and her crew. Fish welcomes back Butch back into the fold while the other four are strung up and helplessly await the arrival of Don Maroni.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce (David Mazouz) is still struggling with trying to uncover his father’s secrets while Alfred (Sean Pertwee) tries to reassure him that his father was a good and respectable man. Determined, and knowing deep down his father was hiding something, Bruce is out to find his father’s secret which must be hidden somewhere in Wayne Manor.
Maroni arrives and it appears he’s willing to give Fish back all her old territory once Falcone is dead as long as she agrees to the pecking order. Maroni is the number one boss of Gotham and she’ll be number two. Maroni calls her an underboss and she reminds him she doesn’t take orders. He tells her to relax and calls her “babes,” which she highly resents. He says it’s a term of endearment, but she won’t back down. Maroni gives in and asks her what she wants to be called. Fish replies that she expects to be partners, and Maroni says that he’s Partner Number One and she’s Partner Number Two, tacking on a “Babes” just for good measure. One “babes” too many and the deal between Maroni and Fish is broken as her crew takes on his. During all the chaos, Harvey, who Fish freed earlier saying to him “we’re good,” frees Gordon and Falcone and the three run to escape what’s becoming a mob killing ground. Penguin escapes out another exit.
While the fight is raging in hospitals and warehouses, there’s a meeting of Jim Gordon’s current and ex going on. Barbara (Erin Richards) has convinced Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) to play therapist, saying she’ll only speak to her about the horrific events that transpired while she was kidnapped and forced to watch her parents murdered by the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia). Barbara knows Leslie and Jim are a thing, and she uses her own history with Jim to try and learn the intimate details of his new relationship.
Back on the streets, Falcone, Gordon, and Bullock are on the run and attempting to escape from Fish and/or Maroni’s reach. Falcone reveals he’s ready to give up the world of crime and retire down South. Bullock asks, “You have a place down South? Nice…on the water? Any work for beat up old cops?” Falcone nods yes and Bullock turns to Jim and says, “How’s that sound, Jim? Beaches, sunshine, fishing.” The exchange is one of the few laughs of this otherwise very dark and heavy episode. Almost immediately Selina tracks them down, greeting Gordon, Bullock and Falcone with, “Hello again. Cat got your tongue?” and returns them to the warehouse where Fish is now the last boss standing.
Selina earns Fish’s praise for the capture, and Fish explains to Bullock that she knows it was a crazy move taking down Maroni but he “vexed” her. “The battlefield is in flux and you could be looking at the new Queen of Gotham,” says Fish. Falcone tells her he’s quitting but she’s not impressed. Just then Penguin bursts in and shoots up the place, killing all of Fish’s gang while Bullock, Gordon, and Falcone escape in a car. Fish flees, but Penguin is hot on her tail.
Back to Barbara and Leslie… Barbara has moved on from talking about Jim to talk about her time spent as the Ogre’s hostage. Leslie is listening intently, but Barbara’s confession to being complicit in her parents murder takes her completely by surprise. Barbara admits it wasn’t just the Ogre who was responsible for their deaths; she stabbed them numerous times and slit their throats. “They have no clue who I am. Even when I was killing them, they just gaped at me like fools,” reveals Barbara. Barbara grabs a knife off the table and Leslie locks herself in the bathroom. Barbara breaks through and we cut to a scene of Bullock, Gordon, and Falcone arriving in the building and taking the elevator up to where Barbara and Leslie are now locked in a fight to the death. Leslie gets the upper hand and smashes Barbara’s head multiple times into the floor. Jim runs to her and they hug while staring down at Barbara’s inert body. “I told him that woman was trouble,” says Bullock to Falcone.
The fight between Fish and Penguin that fans have been looking forward to all season is now underway on the roof of the warehouse. They are pretty evenly matched and near the edge of the building when Butch shows up pointing a gun at the pair. They both attempt to convince him to shoot the other person, and Butch does shoot Fish first but quickly follows with a shot at Penguin. Both shots land but neither are immediately lethal, and Butch rushes to Fish to apologize. Penguin uses the opportunity to knock out Butch with a metal pipe and says, “Goodbye, Fish,” before pushing her off the edge of the building. He then climbs up on the wall and declares himself the King of Gotham.
As the season finale nears its end, we finally catch up with Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) whose mental condition is obviously deteriorating. After being confronted by Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) about the note the now dead Officer Dougherty left behind, Ed has an intense battle with his conscious.
Then Gordon and Falcone have one final scene together, with Falcone telling him that Gotham needs a strong lawman and not a criminal mob moss. “That’s you, Jim. I know it in my bones.” Falcone hands Jim a knife and explains he was given it years ago by Jim’s dad as a birthday gift, a gift that Falcone didn’t want or didn’t think was necessary. “He said, ‘Take it. A knife is a good friend when you have no other.'” Jim realizes the two were closer than he thought. “Your father was the most honest man I ever met…but he carried a knife,” says Falcone before leaving Jim to ponder his future.
And now we’re back with Bruce and Alfred, and Bruce is frustrated he can’t figure out what his dad was hiding. Alfred tries to reassure him that his father was a good man and that there probably isn’t anything to be uncovered. Suddenly, it comes to Bruce. He remembers Lucius Fox called his father a stoic, and Bruce knows that is actually a philosophy. “Marcus Aurelius!,” shouts Bruce, grabbing a book, finding a hidden remote, and opening the door to…wait for it…the Bat Cave!
Dark, gritty, and action-packed, Gotham season one ends with a few key characters (Fish Mooney, Don Maroni) being killed off and the discovery of the famous Bat Cave. While overall season one’s been enjoyable to watch, and it’s been a fun ride learning the backstories of classic Batman villains, this finale was overly ambitious and tried to cram in way too many storylines. The result was cluttered finale that felt a little awkwardly paced. It was also littered with scenes that didn’t quite have the impact intended, including the shoot-out at the hospital which was a forced homage to the film The Godfather that showed Maroni’s hit men couldn’t hit the broadside of barn with a bazooka.
It was also difficult to swallow Selina Kyle so quickly teaming up and becoming a follower of Fish Mooney’s. The entire season one characteristic Selina has always displayed is that of a loner with no loyalty or ties to anyone with the one exception of her on again/off again friendship with Bruce Wayne. Selina becoming Fish’s instant protégé came off as both forced and phony.
On the bright side, the episode did have some outstanding performances. One of the best was delivered by McKenzie as the tough but learning to survive hero cop Gordon who once again is in way over his head. Logue was also terrific as seasoned detective Bullock who’s forced constantly to save his crusading cop partner from certain death while trying to figure a way to survive. It took forever to get to, but the next-to-last scene where we go inside the mind of Ed Nygma was one of Smith’s best performances this season. The scene showcases the inner battle between Nygma and The Riddler, and reveals he’s riddled with self-loathing, hatred, and just a touch of schizophrenia. The birth of The Riddler as a villain has been quite disturbing.
With a deep secret about to be revealed to Bruce about his father, Nygma becoming his notorious alter ego, and the question of who controls the underworld of Gotham up in the air – it can’t be Penguin, can it?– here’s looking forward to returning to Gotham in the fall.
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