There aren’t many things as disappointing in television as a promise unfulfilled. Gotham’s season one finale was built up as a game-changer and after the Jason Lennon/Ogre storyline, my hopes were high. Unfortunately those hopes took an unrelenting tumble into the depths of the Gotham river just like, well, how about we just get to it…Bruce searches for his father’s big secret
The first cog is nestled in place when Fish Mooney returns to Gotham’s shores at the head of the surviving members of the Doll Maker ordeal but it all picks up two weeks later. Bruce is still looking for his father’s big secret, Lee Thompkins is tending to Barbara Kean’s PTSD symptoms after the Ogre ordeal but the biggest focus lies in the Maroni/Falcone street war. As the city’s ‘Golden Boy’, Jim Gordon throws himself into the middle of the fracas, starting when he saves a hospitalized Falcone from Oswald Cobblepot and Butch Gilzean. His actions are for the good of the city as he sees Falcone as a lesser evil and his plan necessitates the elder crime boss wrestling control back from Maroni. It’s a bold move which gets complicated when Maroni and his hit squad, led into the hospital by none other than Commissioner Loeb. After a thoroughly unimpressive B-movie-like shootout, Gordon, with a late game assist from his partner Bullock, is able to get Falcone, Cobblepot and Gilzean out of dodge before Maroni’s wrath tears the building down. They get Falcone to his safe house but it’s here that the game changes.
Waiting for the unlikely allies is none other than Fish Mooney. Sporting a hideous new ‘do, she’s ready to make her comeback and part of that is turning her former boss over to the fiery Maroni. She calls in the Don and things seem to be going well until Maroni shows off a healthy streak of misogyny, referencing Fish as “babes” and reminding her that she’s still number two in his order. It doesn’t go well for Maroni as he ends up with a bullet decorating his forehead. It triggers an all-out shoot-a-thon which gives Gordon and Bullock time to escape with Falcone but get tracked down by Mooney’s new girl, Selina Kyle. She brings the group before Fish, who’s ready to punch their tickets when Oswald Cobblepot channels his inner Commando. He takes down several members of Fish’s new posse, putting her on the run with Cobblepot quick to follow.Watch up, Lee, because ‘Here’s Barbara!’
Taking a break from the gangster mayhem, Lee’s getting a bit more than she asked for when Barbara Kean shows her true colors of insanity, admitting she killed her parents, not Jason Lennon. More than that, Barbara then goes after Lee with a knife, her mask of “I’m okay” melts away into the Jack Torrance “Here’s Johnny” flavor when she gets Lee on the run and slashes through the bathroom door. The ensuing cat fight is messy and uncoordinated, in effect, a legitimate fight between two people who aren’t used to going to fisticuffs. It ends with Lee gaining the advantage and blasting Barbara’s head into the floor just as a worn and weathered Gordon arrives…
Heading back to the fight, Oswald catches up to Fish on the warehouse roof and the two are at a stalemate with the confused Butch arrives. His head’s still singing from the ‘re-programming’ courtesy of Victor Zsasz and, unable to decide between Fish and Cobblepot, he shoots both in the leg. The ensuing lull gives Cobblepot the advantage and he pushes Fish off the building and into the Gotham river below. Oswald triumphant, he stands on the building’s ledge and screams “I’m the King of Gotham!”
In the aftermath of the warehouse fight, Gordon and Falcone have a heart-to-heart about the state of the city. The longtime crime boss calls it quits. “Gotham needs a lawman now, not a criminal like me.” Before leaving the city for greener pastures, Falcone passes Gordon a switchblade, one given to him by Gordon’s father. “You were that close?” Gordon asks the aged gangster. “At one time.”
With his father’s study torn apart, Bruce Wayne is this close to giving up on discovering Thomas Wayne’s secret when a single clue spurs one final charge towards the truth. It pays off and Bruce finds the switch that opens the secret stairway leading down, down into the Manor.
Not the Ending We Deserved
- From the beginning, Gotham has been an up-and-down affair, not unlike most freshmen campaigns of new shows. It’s about finding one’s legs and, though the series seemed to gather a lot of momentum this last month—especially with the Ogre storyline—said momentum was halted by a finale that had all the potential but ended up as choppy, campy, and, for the most part, wholly uninteresting. So, let’s get to the specifics.
- The Gordon hospital shootout was comical in its execution, almost as much as Gordon deciding he’s better off calling his partner in when he’s in the you-know-what instead of beforehand. I understand the need for excitement but the entire scene went beyond even B-movie bad and was a disservice to some of the previously decent action sets shown during the season.
- To continue on, the Oswald v Fish confrontation was a hard, brutal fight whose ending mirrored that of the season finale; very sloppy, as if it was rushed at the last minute. Cobblepot’s ensuing shout to his victory, while in character, lacked a bit of the umph necessary to make up for the poorly executed demise of Fish Mooney.
- And then there’s Nygma. We knew that, sooner or later, he was going to make the full transformation to the Riddler and his murder of Officer Dougherty was a driving force behind the change but the big reveal, as it seemed to be, fell short. Similar to a few other instances (Jerome/Joker being at the top of the list), Nygma’s turn felt over the top and forced. This is one of the bigger disappointment because, despite some of Nygma’s sometimes annoying inclusions, his quirky behavior was a welcome change.
- All told, “All Happy Families are Alike” was a giant misfire that doesn’t live up to the hype or the natural order of what a season finale would be. With that said, there’s plenty of material and unfinished storylines to make for an excellent second season, one where many of the mistakes plaguing a show’s first year are cleaned up and tightened. Personally, I look forward to what Gotham’s year two will offer.