Gotham 1.13: “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Gotham are present in this review


Even the title of this episode seems to be winking at the fact that Gordon’s tenure at Arkham Asylum was laughably short-lived. Now re-instated at the GCPD following his apprehending of The Electrocutioner during last week’s episode, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” deals with how the precinct is reacting to having their boy scout back.

It’s just too bad that the show still seems to be struggling with sloppy writing in a few places. “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” still had some really good, solid character moments, which are still barely enough to make the episode appealing enough for series fans and fans of Batman lore, but the show just seems to have lost its footing lately.

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Regardless, the episode opens with Fish Mooney being bound and about to be tortured by, “Bob.” Yes, Bob. I guess Bob’s reputation speaks for him, because that name isn’t very scary, which even Fish remarks upon. More frustrating than Bob’s inability to pick a scary nom de guerre however is the fact that Fish’s torture doesn’t really go anywhere. We see some semblance of how tough she is, but we already knew she was tough. Butch ends up bailing her out before any truly powerful moments take place, which felt very disappointing.

Speaking of Butch, his escape is also frustratingly easy. How inept were Falcone’s goons if they could be taken out by a seatbelt?!

Over at the GCPD, Gordon and Bullock investigate what Bullock refers to as a, “Public service homicide”, that being a bad guy killing another bad guy, in this case, a drug pusher. It’s here that we meet Detective Arnold Flass, a character that should be recognizable both from the famous Batman: Year One graphic novel, and Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman origin movie, Batman Begins. Flass is a shady detective that, surprise, is very corrupt, which even Bullock seems to directly point out as he introduces Flass to Gordon.

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Turns out, Flass is running a super-secret drug ring, along with various other narcotics officers on the GCPD payroll. Unfortunately, Gordon’s attempts to expose Flass end up for naught, even when a witness is murdered within an interrogation room by someone that Gordon suspects is a cop. Given how friendly the police and Gotham City’s mobsters are, it’s sadly not unfeasible to think that a mobster just walked into the holding room and stabbed the witness to death, but as usual, Gordon turns out to be right in the end.

Oh, and on that note, the episode had one of its stupider moments with the witness death, which Internal Affairs rules as a suicide. Are you kidding me?! Even factoring in that the cameras were disabled (which is how Gordon determines that the murderer had to have been a cop), any layman could look at the body and tell that the man obviously couldn’t have stabbed himself multiple times in the back. Hell, Gordon even points this out! Yes, Gotham City’s police force is mostly corrupt, but there’s a difference between being corrupt, and just somehow believing that everyone around you is an idiot.

This obvious bit of lunacy is a contrived excuse to have Gordon go to Penguin, who has usurped Fish Mooney’s club, leading to an entertaining scene where he shows the place off to his mother and then drunkenly frolics around it (one of the handful of goofy moments that Gotham actually executed well), and try to ask Penguin to fix the situation. Penguin dispatches his henchman to torture a corrupt cop’s family for evidence that will unmistakably identify Flass as the murderer of the witness. Captain Essen finally grows a spine when Gordon drops this evidence in the middle of the GCPD office, after another spirited speech by Gordon to the GCPD chastising them for being either crooks or wimps, and arrests Flass.

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This led to a bit of a re-tread of Gordon inspiring both fear and insecurity in the other cops, as with earlier in the season, though there was one strong moment to come out of this. The cop whose family was tortured pleads with Gordon in terror to leave his family alone, and Gordon suddenly realizes that he is becoming another corrupt enforcer. It was an excellent moment that, again, deserved to be in a better episode. Despite this, it will be interesting to see where Gordon’s latest outburst and controversial success takes him next week.

It was also nice to finally see Bruce Wayne and Alfred again, for the first time in 2015’s episodes, as Bruce comes back from laying low in Europe, and tries to look for Selina. The lovestruck Bruce tries to give Selina a present after convincing an increasingly ghoulish-looking Ivy Pepper to summon her to Wayne Manor, for $20, but Selina refutes it, and tells Bruce not to talk to her anymore. This leads to Bruce smashing the snow globe he attempted to give her and crying, leading to Alfred delivering a cold line about whether Bruce is going to keep crying over someone that isn’t worth his time, or get back to his life. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if Gotham should have been about Alfred instead of Gordon. Sean Pertwee’s Alfred is awesome, and I sure missed him!

Going back to Penguin however, his success is short-lived, as Fish and Butch waltz back, and are about to exact their revenge. Victor Zsasz interrupts with several of Falcone’s eccentric lady goons however, forcing Fish to flee and escape, while Butch ends up captured. Zsasz refuses to kill Butch however, suggesting that he’ll be put to work for a higher purpose. Regardless of what that is though, I enjoyed seeing Zsasz in action again very much. He’s another of the show’s better-done villains, and is always lots of fun.

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A lot happened in the somewhat over-stuffed and contrived “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”, but the episode at least ended on a very intriguing note, with Fish revealing that she is leaving town… to Bullock! Apparently, Fish and Bullock have engaged in a top secret love affair that even the show has hid from viewers, and suddenly, Bullock’s passing affinity for Fish starts to make sense. It’s another great plot development that will be very interesting to see pan out, assuming that the show addresses it before Fish inevitably returns to Gotham City to stir up more trouble.

It’s a lot of “if’s” though. Gotham is incubating plenty of promise that it’s so far mostly failing to tap in 2015 at this point. With a big two-part event episode starting next week however, set to lay the groundwork for Batman nemesis, Scarecrow, here’s hoping that the show starts finding its potential again soon.

Gotham continues to frustrate with story issues and contrivances, but through its struggles, it still lays the groundwork for exciting future plot developments this week.
Gordon realizing his descent into corruption
Drunk Penguin was amusing
The surprise Bullock/Fish relationship
Still too many plot contrivances to ignore
Fish's torture went nowhere
Gordon's GCPD indignation felt rehashed