Mar 1, 2017

[TV] Gotham: Season 2

Getting through the first season of Gotham was quite the struggle despite my general openness to comic book related entertainment. We do have to try to support various geeky initiatives out there, right? The vast majority of genre shows deserve a fighting chance to prove themselves with at least a season or two.

However, Gotham isn't quite an ideal example of this and I don't know why I decided to take a stab at watching the second season of the show over on Netflix. The main premise of the show was already weird to me. However this season takes things further down this sad rabbit hole and thus creating a version of the Batman universe that we're better of staying away from.

To be fair, maybe the story works decently enough on its own if you've never read any of the prior Batman comics or watched any of the movies. It has some potential as an Elseworlds sort of story that lives in its own continuity and has nothing to do with the rest of the Batman-related franchise creations.

Synopsis: Gotham is an American crime drama series developed by Bruno Heller for Fox. The series focuses mainly on the stories of the officers of the GCPD in the years well before Batman starts his crime fighting career.

The second season begins with James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) no longer in the GCPD after the events of the first season and now working for Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), who has elevated to the level of a crime boss after the death of Fish Mooney in the first season. But Gordon leverages his relationship with Cobblepot to get himself reinstated as a detective.

At the same time, a man known as Theo Galavan (James Frain) and his sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) help several inmates at Arkham Asylum. He has his own designs on Gotham City and he enlists the aid of these criminals for his big plans. And thus he plays a double game where he's an upstanding citizen and part of one of Gotham's oldest families by day and something else entirely by night.

What I Liked: The show certainly goes into overdrive in this season to make up for the loss of the Fish Mooney side of the equation. And thus we get a lot less focus on Gotham's mafia element and move on to different villains with different abilities and unique stories to tell.

One particular arc that does really well in this season is that of Jerome Valeska, one of the Arkham inmates that Galavan sets loose on the city. He's positioned as a possible Joker-type figure given his focus on madness and mayhem and the way the story arc ends really pushes the Joker side of things.

What Could Have Been Better: One of the distinguishing characteristics of James Gordon is how in the comics he was positioned as a cop always doing his best to do the right thing against all odds. Gordon became such a key ally for Batman because he was pure of heart, in a manner of speaking. This season of Gotham really pushed Gordon into increasingly gray areas, making him just as corrupt as a lot of villains that he tried to put away.

And against him we had some rather convoluted plots involving Galavan and later on Dr Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong). Both have unnecessarily complicated stories and ridiculous motivations and connected stories that seem like an odd mishmash of various comic book stories. The big difference here is that those were plots for Batman to face and not just the GCPD and the escalation to include more and more supervillains in the show without the aid of a superhero like Batman just doesn't make sense. If the GCPD can handle all  these villains anyway, then why would they ever need someone like Batman?

TL;DR: Gotham is a show that's trying to hard to be awesome but is always limited by its lack of Batman despite having so many of his villains in play. The stories get really messy over time and I'm not sure how this show managed to get itself a third season. Thus this second season only gets 1.5 crazy villains from Dr. Hugo Strange's secret lab out of a possible 5.

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