TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 4 "Strike Force"
Season 2 Episode 4: "Strike Force"
Synopsis: Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is called to duty to create a law-abiding task force, with the help of Gordon. Meanwhile, Penguin gets caught up in a favor for Galavan, and Nygma asks Kringle out on a date.
Recap: OThere is definitely something working right this season on Gotham. I will not pretend that I was ultra-critical of the first year of the show, often trashing it as a wasted concept with a lot of potential. The first three episodes this season definitely reset expectations and delivered a more streamlined and cohesive showcase for the Batman origin series but I have been cautiously waiting to see when the series first stumble would happen. While this week's entry is not quite as strong as the previous trio, it more than enough holds it's own and echoes tone and mood from Tim Burton's BATMAN films.
With Jerome Valaska dead and the culprit for the Maniax breakout from Arkham a mystery, the GCPD is being run without a leader. No mayor in Gotham, no commissioner, and no captain, Jim Gordon is holding on by a thread when in enters the brash ex-Marine Captain Barnes. Michael Chiklis brings a stern and authoritative presence to the role of Barnes, whose no nonsense approach to Gotham law enforcement echoes Gordon's own. Harvey Bullock is cautious at shifting the paradigm, but Gordon is on board as he and Barnes recruite a team of fresh academy recruits to form a strike force that reports directly to Gordon.
The strike force is quickly put to the test when attempts are made on the lives of the mayoral candidates in Gotham, including the recent hero, Theo Galavan. Little do the GCPD know but these attempts are all being orchestrated by Galavan for his master plan. Galavan, who in last week's episode explained that his ancestors helped build Gotham but received no acclaim for it, is planning to raze thousands of homes in Gotham to build massive skyscrapers, a plot that sounds similar to the Arkham property plot from last season. Galavan recruits a reluctant Penguin by holding his mother hostage in exchange for the hits. Penguin agrees but does so under duress. The self-proclaimed King of Gotham does not seem to take kindly to Galavan's blackmail.
Penguin sends Victor Zsasz after one of the mayoral candidates but is intercepted by Gordon and the strike force before he can finish his target off. The ensuing shootout is one of the better action scenes on Gotham recently and helps unify the rookie cops with Bullock and Gordon. Gordon soon surmises that Penguin was behind the assassinations and confronts him. Penguin refuses to reveal his deal with Galavan and threatens to admit to Gordon's deal with Penguin back in the season premiere which found Gordon killing a man for the mob kingpin. Barnes soon assigns the strike force to find and arrest Penguin which puts Gordon in an unfortunate place.
In side-plots this week (thankfully still kept to a minimum), Bruce Wayne begins his training with Alfred and meets Galavan for a thank you dinner after saving the future Batman last week. The meal plays right into Galavan's master plan to try and sway Wayne's support for his mayoral run by reminding him of the GCPD's failure to find his parent's killer. Galavan also introduces Bruce to his adoptive niece, Silver St. Cloud, who will attend Bruce's school. The young Silver, a frequent romantic interest of Bruce Wayne's from DC Comics, is a cute blonde who seems innocent, but her true motives remain to be seen. Alfred also bitch slaps Selina Kyle when she tries to meet Bruce at school, leaving the young cat burglar conflicted. This week also marks the first date between Edward Nygma and Ms. Kringle. Nygma finally gives into his split personality and invites his paramour to his home where he accidentally slips that he murdered her abusive boyfriend last season before quickly covering it up. The two kiss, awkwardly, in the creepiest cute scene I have seen in a long time. It is kind of sad how much I like Nygma's developing origin after last season's slow start.
"Strike Force" delivers on the new day in Gotham that Gordon and the late Commissioner Essen were striving for as well as the aim for the showrunners to give viewers this season. Galavan's plot has come accompanied by a musical score reminiscent of Danny Elfman's for BATMAN while Penguin's hat during his assassination scenes reminded me a great deal of Jack Napier's from the same film. There is a Gothic noir feel on the series that is very close to Tim Burton's style for his 1989 movie and that is praise for a network TV series. In fact, the closing scene of this episode featuring Penguin screaming into his fireplace may have been the most chilling representation of the character since BATMAN RETURNS.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "Scarification" airs October 19th - Galavan and Penguin join forces with a dangerous family in Gotham. Then, as the rivalry between the Waynes and the Galavans resurfaces, Gordon struggles to maintain order in the city.