“Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” sounds like the title of an episode all about Jim Gordon’s return to the GCPD. And it is… sort of. Gordon is back as the do-good detective who wants to straighten Gotham up. But instead of the support of his fellow peers, he once again experiences the city’s internal corruption. So much for the “welcome.”
This week starts off with the murder of Pinky Littlefield, a member of the drug-peddling Uptown Assassins gang. Littlefield’s murder had a witness, but this being Gotham, he’s killed almost immediately in the police department’s interrogation room. After this second murder, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” catapults into a disjointed episode.
Once again, Gotham combines a sloppy and unclear narrative with clichéd procedural edits. The entire episode is a bunch of quick cuts and moody looks that are meant to trick us into believing the plot is going somewhere. It isn’t. This is the same formula we see in every episode. Predictability is what keeps Gotham from gaining momentum.
Gordon believes that one of his fellow policemen is responsible for Littlefield’s murder. He challenges authority by fighting with the police captain about whether he can take down one of their own. Their exposition is rudimentary at best. It is ridiculous that Gotham is more than halfway through the season and they are relying on the same trying dialogue week after week.
Gordon’s desire to clean up Gotham is noble but feels old at this point. We hear about it constantly. We see him struggle against the corrupt system but barely anything come of it. He makes a righteous speech every episode how it is his duty to make Gotham good again. Words are great, but without real action, his quest is devoid of intrigue.
The real meat of the story comes from Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). Cobblepot finally has everything he wants. He now owns Mooney’s old club, he’s able to provide for his mother and he has the respect he has always coveted. Cobblepot’s relationship with his mother is creepy and makes my skin crawl, but luckily these moments pass quickly as Cobblepot gets drunk on success and champagne.
But just as he starts to revel in the beauty of his master plan, in walks Mooney with a baseball bat and a heart full of revenge. Her entrance perfectly telegraphs everything about Mooney that allowed her to rise to a position of power. She oozes confidence as she brandishes her rage against Cobblepot. Mooney has nothing left to lose.
My favorite scenes in the episode are ones that are more tender and sincere. Mooney and Bullock (Donal Logue) have one of these moments when she asks him to locate her Number Two and help him out. There is a deep and complex history between the two that would make for a great episode. Nothing is implicitly stated about their past but from the pilot we know that Bullock was always more lenient towards Mooney and her criminal activity. It seems, however, there is more to the pair’s story; their exchange at the end of the episode is unusually tender considering their cop/criminal relationship.
The strongest part of “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” is what we don’t see: Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). In the midseason premiere, we saw her in bed with Montoya (Victoria Cartagena). Last week, Heller felt it necessary to include a pointless scene where she moves back home. Her story is back far the weakest and the show can barely handle more than three storylines at a time, so until Heller figures out what he wants to do with Barbara, the show is stronger without her.
I’m tired of commenting on Gotham‘s weak structure every week, so instead, I’ve decided to think positively about the future.
Parks and Rec (which is in its seventh and final season on NBC) is a fantastic show. It boasts a talented cast, interesting storylines, witty jokes and thoughtful moments. Its first season, however, is not impressive. People talk about how they tried to watch the show but were dissuaded after only a couple of episodes. This is because Parks and Rec did not find its stride until its Season 2.
All of this leads me to hope that if Parks and Rec took its time to win its fans over, then it is not unreasonable to think that Gotham‘s inconsistency might one day be rectified. Hopefully we’ll see a better second season. Until then, I’ll be here beating the same old drum.