Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Maggie


Gotham S2E4: Strike Force

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Although the circus has left town, Gotham continues to juggle its increasingly heavy load of plot lines, villain backstories, and revolving leadership roles at the GCPD.

The episode bounced from subplot to subplot as we caught up with Jim, Bruce, Selina, Nygma, Penguin, and what feels like every character in between. With so much ground to cover- most of it not really moving the plot along – the episode felt like three tv shows in one. While Gotham attempts to weave an intricate story, it only adds layers that don’t necessarily mesh.

The following review contains spoilers.

The status quo is again changed at GCPD when Captain Nathaniel Barnes practically blows the doors off the precinct. His goal is clear: clean up the dirt that is the GCPD. He specifically hand picks a strike force with the help of Gordon to clean up the streets as well as keep an eye on internal affairs and corruption. Jim seems oddly supportive for a guy who has an active account at club Penguin.

Gotham Season 2 Episode 4: Strike Force

Meanwhile, Theo Galavan reveals his fake deep plot to win over the people of Gotham through deceptive politics. The billionaire intends to run for mayor through popular demand while simultaneously killing his opponents. To avoid suspicion and make himself a target, Theo “hires” Penguin for the job.

Sandwiched between these scenes are scattered moments of Bruce’s return to school, Selina frowning, and an awkward dinner at Nygma’s house.

The episode takes most of its time setting up for a final conversation between Jim Gordon and Penguin, where Gordon is brashly reminded of his complex relationship with the law. In this moment, we see two completely different people in similar situations. Both are being manipulated. Both are rapidly losing power and control over their own circumstances. Both are cornered into following someone else’s will with little means of escape. Both are screwed. At the end of the day, it’s Jim that’s most screwed of all.

Once again, I find myself more interested in Penguin’s story than anyone else’s. Jim’s situation seems even less urgent than Penguin’s at this point. I could care even less about what goes on with Bruce, Nygma, or anyone else for that matter. I felt the same way in season one, so it feels like writers are falling back into the same habits. As much as I want to see Penguin and Gordon team up again for the greater good, hasn’t that already been done? Wasn’t that a lot of what happened in season one? Gotham will have to pull something out of its sleeve to make me even remotely interested in Gordon. It’s disappointing how little he lends to the story and how little personality his character has. Even Bullock’s modest screen time is more characterized than Jim’s. Hell, even Miss Kringle comes off more interesting.

Gotham Season 2 Episode 4: Strike Force

But I’m avoiding the elephant in the room: Alfred.

I felt absolutely betrayed by what Alfred did to Selina. He hit her so hard, I felt it right in my childhood. That was absolutely ridiculous. The Alfred I’ve always known is so reserved, so polite. He is wise and saint-like. The Alfred that dropkicks computers and hits children leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. I was unable to get over that scene, even though both Selina and Alfred recover from it a little too well. Wouldn’t a simple, “stay out of Bruce’s life” be sufficient in that scene? I understand he feels strongly for what happened for his friend, but have some restraint. I couldn’t help but feel like Bruce was in danger at the hands of his own butler after that.

The scene was disorienting, rendering the rest of the episode hard to swallow. I was more fazed by Alfred’s behavior than an actual murder that takes place in the same episode. The moment wasn’t big enough to warrant something like that and it ended up communicating the wrong message entirely. It was already strange enough to see him interact with Lee, now this. Your Alfred is problematic.

Gotham continues to sink more energy into developing villains than protagonists. I know it’s called “Rise of the Villains,” but balance needs to be achieved here. We’re inching closer and closer to a show that has nothing to offer in terms of protagonists. Jim has so much potential as a character and so little is known about this point in his life, yet the show focuses more on the villains. The show needs to start valuing Jim as much as it does the villains or we’ll feel inconvenienced by the actual main characters of the show.

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