For the most part, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” hits all of the right notes and devotes just enough screentime to its various plot threads to create a satisfying experience that pushes those threads into an interesting direction. At the same time, the show makes good on some promises made in the pilot episode. If we’re lucky, this will become a regular occurrence and Gotham will stay strong. I won’t hold my breath, but hey, a guy can dream.
Three major stories take center stage this week: Jim’s investigation into a murder involving the GCPD, Fish facing the aftermath of her failed coup, and Bruce’s desire to reconnect with Selina Kyle. The first two are the most successful, and while the latter struggles to hit the emotional beats that it sets out to, it manages to propel Bruce’s story in an interesting direction once more, so I’m willing to forgive its few faults.
I found it odd that the series managed to excuse Bruce’s recent absence from the series by providing a throwaway “Alfred took me to Switzerland” line, but it’s believable and inconsequential enough that it’s not worth devoting much thought to. Those shipping the Bruce/Selina relationship will leave the episode sorely disappointed, as the future Catwoman stepped all over Bruce’s tender, young heart and confessed to lying about not only spotting the man who killed his parents, but about caring about him in the slightest. It’s a bit melodramatic, and while the half concerning his parents is interesting, the other bit falls flat. I’m hoping that the show sticks to its guns this time and moves forward with this new momentum; the Wayne murders feel like little more than an after-thought at this point, and there’s a ton of great story potential there.
Fish Mooney’s story takes some predictable but fun turns; she’s briefly tortured but saved by her always-loyal bodyguard Butch, then turns her attention to getting revenge on Penguin for ratting her out to Falcone. Apart from some awkward scenes with Penguin’s mother and a weird montage/champagne binge sequence, the subplot brings out the best in Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor, proving that they’re still the two strongest players in the show’s ensemble cast.
I’m also quite happy with where they ended up by episode’s end; Fish is on the lam and getting out of town for a while, while Penguin is poised to take over her club (here’s hoping he renames it the Iceberg Lounge!)
Jim’s story this week made up for the fact that his tenure at Arkham was done away with so quickly; the show has toyed around with corruption in the GCPD in the past, but that was fully manifested here, in the form of the murder of a key witness by someone from within the GCPD itself. Jim of course can’t let it go, despite Essen and Bullock’s wishes, and jeopardizes his reinstatement to make a stand against this blatant injustice.
He has remained stoic throughout the show, but this was the first time it felt real and natural to me, and the way in which the story played out quite satisfying. It also opened the door for a cool DC comics Easter egg; the narcotics officer guilty of the crime is Arnold Flass, last seen as Jim’s corrupt partner in Batman Begins (played by Sons of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior).
Jim may have taken the high ground and made a stand against corruption, but he does so by making a major moral compromise. Going to the Penguin for help was a desperate move, and one that he didn’t quite think through. I hope that the repercussions of that will be felt throughout the remainder of the season, because up until this point Jim has been portrayed as a milquetoast, perpetually stoic protagonist.
This is a bold, exciting revelation for Gotham that I didn’t see coming. More of that, please.