Damned If You Do…
The Last Laugh
Mommy’s Little Monster
Tonight’s The Night
A Bitter Pill To Swallow
The Son Of Gotham
Worse Than A Crime
A Dead Man Feels No Cold
This Ball of Mud and Meanness
Mad Grey Dawn
Into The Woods
A Legion Of Horribles
Picking up where it left off last year and improving in every way over the first season, the second season of Gotham is a great leap forward for the show. With a more focused storyline and a clear distinction between good and evil, Gotham feels like a show more akin to Batman without the caped crusader than before and its 22 episode season never feels like it drags on longer than necessary.
The story this time revolves around the origin of multiple villains, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) desperately juggling between his police work and his family life, and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) uncovering the secrets of the Wayne family. With the season split into two distinct arcs, there’s room for different characters to come to the foreground and flex their acting prowess which makes for a welcome change compared to last year’s crime family feud. Although the second half of the season feels a little more sporadically put together, seeing Hugo Strange and the multiple villains looking more akin to their comicbook counterparts makes up for some of the scriptwriting which doesn’t hit the same excellent heights the first half of this season achieves.
This scriptwriting feels a lot less formulaic too, with no case-of-the-weeks like last year and a more dynamic approach to the storyline. This helps in allowing for a more complicated story woven through the episodes and with the focus on evolving the villains and giving each a good origin, the 22 episodes have enough originality to them to stop the season from becoming stale.
If there’s one character that suffers from this intense focus on the different villains its Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Last year he stole the show and although his presence is still one that’s a scene stealer every time he appears, his actual character arc is poor, especially during the latter period of the season. Its a minor gripe and thankfully his character manages to move in the right direction in the last few episodes but it also feels glaringly obvious that the writers were unsure what to do with Penguin this season.
The rest of the cast are good, with new villains Galavan (James Frain) and Hugo Strange (BD Wong) fronting the pack of colourful characters for their respective season arcs. They both prove to be excellent additions to the show, helping to flesh out their personas in ways that are far more effective this year compared to the crime family feuds in the first season. If there’s one stand out this year its definitely Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) who’s transformation from timid ferensic scientist to the infamous Riddler is well paced and written with care throughout. His portrayal is outstanding, inflicting the right level of camp tonality whilst staying dangerously methodical. The gleeful, sparkling eyes, maniacal smirking and of course the riddles themselves all come together harmoniously and its a pity he dosn’t get more of the limelight as he really is fantastic. The same could also be said for Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) who’s portrayal of The Joker is disappointingly short but he too nails the character.
Its worth highlighting the production design too which manages to bring Gotham to life once again. Everything from the wonderful costume design, teasing their comicbook counterparts but managing to keep it grounded in reality, right through to the incredible lighting is on point throughout the season. The chilly greys and desaturated colour palette really emphasise the feel of Gotham’s coldness and for this, Gotham excels yet again in its portrayal of the crime-ridden city.
Season 2 of Gotham is everything you could ask for in a follow up season. Its bigger, bolder and more story driven than before, even if the latter arc of the season is a little under-developed and whimsical compared to the excellent first half. The production design is outstanding yet again, and with some real stand out performances this year, Gotham solidifes itself as a unique crime drama that feels like Batman without Batman himself. The mood and tone of the season helps to emphasise this and with its cliffhanger ending, its clear there’s more in store in the future. Based on this showing, its exciting to see where the story will go and if this season is any indication, the future looks bright for this show.
Verdict - 8/10