‘Gotham’ Season 2 Episode 4 Recap and Review: Strike Force

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Gotham Michael Chiklis and Ben McKenzie

Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis), Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie), and Bullock (Donal Logue) in ‘Gotham’ (Photo © 2015 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

“I’m Nathanial Barnes, your new boss,” says Capt. Barnes (Michael Chiklis) as he smashes a chair to get the GCPD’s attention in season two episode four of FOX’s comic book-inspired crime series Gotham.

Capt. Barnes seems to be a ‘take the bull by the horns’ kind of leader, firing a handful of detectives he knows to be lazy or on the take – or both – right off the bat. He then brings Gordon (Ben McKenzie) into his office and after a brief conversation and bonding over both being former military men, Barnes tells Jim that he is his number two.

At Penguin’s headquarters, Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) is meeting with all his lieutenants and other underworld contacts, discussing setting in motion a few new rules on how the city’s business is to be run and that no one is to kill or create havoc without first getting permission from Penguin himself. The antics of Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) and the other escaped convicts have left the city in a current stage of fear which is bad for business. As Gotham’s underworld denizens leave the meet, Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) enters telling Penguin her brother is very interested in meeting him alone.

Back at Theo’s home, it seems his plan to become the next mayor of Gotham is working. The local news is already buzzing about three candidates, including Theo (James Frain) who hasn’t officially put his hat in the ring yet. At his meeting with Oswald Theo reveals that it was he who did indeed free Jerome and the other convicts so he could seem to be the hero Gotham needs. He shows Penguin a model of a new and improved Gotham with new taller and grander skyscrapers in place of the current low-budget housing. Theo wants Penguin to be his “destroyer” and help him move Gotham towards his vision. Not being interested in being Theo’s muscle and reminding both Theo and Tabitha that only a year ago he was holding an umbrella for Fish Mooney and now he’s the king of Gotham, Oswald warns them not to underestimate him. As he turns to leave, Theo and Tabitha show Oswald a video feed of his mother chained to a bed and looking extremely scared. Theo tells Oswald if he murders the other two mayoral candidates and makes a failed attempt on Theo’s life so as to rule him as being behind the hits, he’ll let his mother live.


The next day Barnes and Gordon meet up at the police cadet academy where Barnes reveals to Jim his plan both to fight crime in Gotham City and not deal with corrupt cops. They’re going to create a new Strike Force made up of just-graduated cadets, the cream of the crop. Barnes and Gordon pick four very different but talented cadets and the crime-fighting strike force is born.

Meanwhile, Theo receives the Gotham City Medal of Valor for his bravery against Jerome and during his acceptance speech a fake attempt is made on his life by the worst drive-by shooting in cinema history. Theo then decides that enough is enough and that he will run for mayor of Gotham City with the crowd cheering and applauding his decision.

Not seeing any quick way out of his situation, Penguin gets Butch (Drew Powell) to help him enter the campaign headquarters of Janice Caulfield (Saundra Santiago) late one night wearing masks covering their faces. While Butch keeps two young volunteers quiet and still, Penguin murders Caulfield. Butch, trying to distract the horrified volunteers, says, “Sorry to ruin your evening,” and as he and Penguin depart Butch takes their roster list and says, “We have your names and we know where you live. For your own sake keep quiet.” When Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) arrive on the scene the next day they quickly deduce the killer is the {enguin when one of the witnesses says he was a small man who walked funny.

Gotham Sean Pertwee and Camren Bicondova

Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) in ‘Gotham’ (Photo © 2015 Fox Broadcasting Co)

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is getting used to being back at school and has Alfred waiting for him around the corner to pick him up so as not to attract attention to himself. While waiting, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) senses he’s being watched and turns to see Selina (Camren Bicondova) perched on a wall waiting to pay Bruce a visit. When she jumps down, Alfred slaps her across the face hard. He tells her he knows she is responsible for his old friend’s death and that he doesn’t know what she wants with Bruce but that master Bruce is better off without her. Shocked and holding back tears, Selina tries to play it off like it doesn’t matter to her one way or the other as she climbs the wall and leaves. When Bruce arrives Alfred gives him a change of clothes and expects him to run back to Wayne Manor, which is six miles away…Bruce did promise Alfred he would begin training again.

Theo invites Bruce for dinner, and Bruce only accepts so he can thank Theo for saving his life. While talking a little about Bruce’s parents and Wayne Industries Bruce can’t help but notice a young blonde outside the window playing in the fountain. Theo reveals that the young lady is his ward and asks if Bruce would like to meet her to which Bruce says yes.

Back at the GCPD, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) gets the courage from his other self, the one he argues with from time to time (and encourages him to kill those in his way), to ask out Miss Kringle (Chelsea Spack). She’s intrigued with Mr. Nygma’s newfound confidence and accepts. Nygma cooks up a meal at his place and the date goes fairly well. The two seem to be hitting it off except when Edward slips up and says he’s glad officer Dougherty is dead. Kringle corrects him, saying, “No, he left town,” and Nygma recovers by responding, “I meant he’s dead to you.” The two end up kissing and seem to be beginning a romance that unfortunately is doomed to end badly. Nygma doesn’t realize that the voice in his head is actually a stronger alternate personality.

Going after the second candidate for mayor becomes much more problematic for Penguin who sends expert hit man Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) after the well-protected target. Eliminating almost all of the armed body guards, Zsasz finds himself dealing with Gordon, Bullock, and the newly formed strike force. After wounding one of the new officers and getting shot himself Zsasz is forced to escape the scene before completing the hit. On seeing Zsasz during the shoot-out Gordon now knows for sure that it’s the Penguin who’s behind the killings.

On the streets of Gotham, Selina is sitting on a corner still moping over the slap and what Alfred said to her. She just can’t get it out of her head or keep back the tears that come from realizing she might have lost Bruce as her friend forever.

Back at Penguin’s abode, Gordon pays him a visit letting him know that he knows Penguin is behind the killings and he doesn’t understand why. “You’re the king of the underworld. Why do you care about the mayor’s race?!” yells Gordon. Jim also tells Penguin there is a new boss at the GCPD and if he decides to go after Oswald, they will no longer have a friendship. Penguin reminds Gordon about the favor he did that went bad in collecting the debt for Oswald and asks how Capt. Barnes would react if he discovered it. Gordon tells Penguin he’ll face whatever comes his way and Oswald responds, “As will I…”

Loud, brash, and violent, season two episode four titled “Strike Force” brings into focus a little clearer the mind of Gotham’s new mastermind villain and introduces a tough new boss and mentor to Jim Gordon. The over-the-top almost laughable introduction of Capt. Barnes to the Gotham City Police Department is reminiscent of the drill sergeant in the film Full Metal Jacket. The episode demonstrated that it’s a new day for the GCPD with Michael Chiklis perfectly cast as a tough, seemingly incorruptible boss leading the charge against the criminals of Gotham. His scenes with McKenzie crackle with energy. The two actors have almost instant chemistry.

There are two stand-out performances in this episode that need to be pointed out, with the first being delivered by Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin. The audience can’t help but feel for the king of the underworld when he sees his mother looking scared and helpless on the video monitor, and the scene when he finally trusts Butch and tells him why they are killing the candidates for mayor is extremely effective. The second impressive performance is given by Carmen Bicondova as Selina. Even though she only has two very short scenes, the’re very powerful and full of emotion. The shock and hurt she shows being slapped by Alfred and then holding back the tears while being told so brutally that Bruce is better off with her out of his life rings so true. Later in the episode when she’s just sitting on a street corner brooding and unable to get Alfred’s words out of her ears, and still trying to hold back tears realizing she may have just lost her friend and first crush forever, is touching.

With Penguin looking to be Theo’s new puppet, Gordon having his own strike force, and a new no-nonsense boss running the GCPD, Gotham season two is shaping up to be a much bigger show than the first season.

GRADE: B-

More on Gotham Season 2: Ben McKenzie Interview / Robin Lord Taylor Interview / David Mazouz Interview / Camren Bicondova Interview / Morena Baccarin Interview / Bruno Heller Interview

Kevin Finnerty

Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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