As sad as I was to see Jim return to work at the GCPD so quickly, I’m glad that it meant that we could get an episode like “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon,” a bold and confident step forward as Gotham heads into the last third of its debut season. Last week was a mixed bag that did away with several intriguing plot points introduced during the mid-season premiere, but tonight’s hour was much more satisfying, and helped set the stage for what will hopefully be a string of great episodes.
Gotham’s proverbial sandbox has shifted considerably over the course of the season thus far, and one of the show’s biggest faults is its lack of a consistent tone. I’ve talked in the past about how it will go swiftly from villain-of-the-week procedural to gripping mob drama, then play around with campy fan service and low-brow melodrama. In fact, you could almost say that Gotham epitomizes the various and substantial changes that the Batman franchise has gone through over the last few decades.
First there was the campy but beloved ‘66 series starring Adam West, followed by Burton’s two gothic Batman films and Joel Schumacher’s ridiculous and derided Batman Forever and the far worse Batman & Robin. Then came acclaimed and noir-inspired fare like Batman: The Animated Series, and the more grounded Dark Knight trilogy.
All versions, for better or worse, brought something new to the table. Gotham, refusing to carve out its own place in the Batman mythos, can’t decide which of those iterations to draw from. If “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” is any indication, though, that’s about to change.