TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 2 "Knock Knock"
Season 2 Episode 1: "Knock Knock"
Synopsis: Following his reinstatement, Gordon is thrust onto the high-profile case tracking the deadly inmate escape from Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile, Galavan plans his next move, while Bruce enlists the help of his father’s old friend to unlock the secrets in his office, and Nygma attempts to ask out Kristin Kringle (guest star Chelsea Spack) on a date.
Recap: One could chalk up last week's second season premiere of Gotham as false hope that the series was turning things around from the lackluster first season, but with episode two the show continues it's steady improvement. We still have multiple character stories being told simultaneously, but instead of a villian of the week structure, this season has begun in a much more serial format. Last week's breakout of multiple Arkham inmates has turned into Gotham's first villain team, The Maniax. With Theo Galavan pulling the strings for an as yet unrevealed motive, The Maniax are definitely more than a one trick pony.
The bulk of this episode's focus is spent on Galavan unleashing his puppets upon Gotham. Alongside the proto-Joker, Jerome, are Barbara Kean and a crew of disposable baddies. Barbara Kean, one of the worst characters from last year, has turned into a much more intriguing one this year. I definitely sense elements of Harley Quinn in her personality which makes her interaction all the more interesting. The showrunners of Gotham do not seem beholden to the traditional DC Comics canon which means everything is up for grabs. Cameron Monaghan's portrayal of Jerome, something I was ambivalent towards last season, has turned into one of the most entertaining parts of these first two hours.
Jerome may or may not be The Joker that Batman will face, but for the purposes of Gotham he is the next best thing. With a maniacal laugh and a disturbing, prosthesis free grin, Monaghan imbues a menace to his portrayal of the character that makes him the second best creation on Gotham after Robin Lord Taylor's take on The Penguin. Last season, episodes without Penguin were the weakest, but this week's episode may be one of the best on the show's run. There is a black comedy element that pervades this episode that helps sell the differences between last year and this season. So far, James Frain's portrayal of Theo Galavan and Jessica Lucas' turn as his sister have been puppet masters in the background which further builds us towards the eventual reveal of why they are in Gotham.
The other storylines that popped up this week were a brief visit with the retired Harvey Bullock as he refuses to return to the GCPD in favor of running a bar with his fiance. Edward Nygma continues to battle his inner demons for the affection of Ms. Kringle and it seems like we may see him finally give into his darker side sooner rather than later. Nygma was a waste last season but it could make for interesting television by having a bad guy who also happens to work within the police department. The episode's weakerst plot concerns Bruce Wayne. Bruce opened his father's Not-A-Batcave last week but before he could boot up the computer inside, Alfred destroys it. Bruce quickly fires his guardian before quickly reconciling with him under the expectation that the butler begins training Bruce anew. Alfred also has a quick scene with Lucius Fox, further building the future Batman's core alliances.
With a semi-major character death towards the end of the episode, this week's Gotham concludes with Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock reunited and the door open for Michael Chiklis' character to join the cast. Overall, this was a really strong episode thanks to a singular focus. Every aspect of this season, even with the multiple characters, feels to be driving towards a single arc. The Rise of the Villains subtitle this year may seem to fly in the face of what Gotham was originally envisioned to be, but by getting rid of the convoluted storytelling layers, the series is now becoming a worthwhile addition to DC Comics small screen universe.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "The Last Laugh" airs October 5th - Gordon and Bullock track down a nemesis from the past, leading to a standoff between Jerome and Gordon. Meanwhile, a magic show at the Gotham Children's Hospital gala turns into a hostage situation.