Martin Carr reviews the second episode of Gotham season 2…
Up in your face like Eli Roth on acid, episode two carves its intention across the screen using big fat marker pens. Coming across like a youthful Nicholson with all the imbalance of Ledger’s darkly edged Joker, Jerome sets a fire under your arse straight out the gate. Helped in no small measure by Theo and Tabitha Galavan, Gotham possesses an unhinged prepossession which marks it out for greatness.
Exhibiting a playfulness and supreme confidence Cameron Monaghan’s Joker outshines his counterparts with ease. Whether engaging in Russian roulette with one, or riffing on Ledger’s incarnation through the mode of television. It is this performance that marks Monaghan out as one to watch. Jerome and the Galavans have provided Gotham with the momentum which was sorely lacking in Season One. If throwing people from the top of the Gotham Gazette is not drawing a line in the sand I don’t know what is.
By tearing at the fabric of what we consider to be infallible, Galavan and his Maniaxs create headlines while blood spattered bodies hold up traffic. As Gordon’s world begins to disintegrate and he lays powerless, Barbara Gordon worms her way into the affections of Gotham’s newest threat. Playing the city like a cheap fiddle the Galavans pack a punch and then some. From this evidence alone it’s clear that Gotham showrunners have definitely brought some balls to the barn dance this season. A blatant attack on the GCPD combined with non to subtle diversions broadcast nationwide, depict a show faultlessly hitting its stride.
Elsewhere domestic spats between Alfred and Bruce which end in brief exile appear to be small change, yet foreshadow events to come. As usual Sean Pertwee continues doing a lot with very little, giving Alfred a gravitas which grounds the scenes between himself and his young charge. If anyone seems to be lacking it would be Lord Taylor’s Penguin, Donal Logue’s Bullock and Cory Michael Smith’s Nygma.
Whether Nygma is being saved for a proposed third season and Penguin had his day in the sun throughout season one, it remains an issue. Bullock does nothing but tend bar and hand out sage advice, while Nygma talks to himself in the mirror. Penguin meanwhile plays from the side lines ostensibly pontificating in an armchair. Now I get that he is now Kingpin and controller of the muscle in Gotham, but his persona seems diminished, that influence diluted. Omnipotence hinges on others believing you have a finger in every pie. What I am getting from Lord Taylor right now is one digit to few.
But these are minor niggles in a show which has definitely found its mojo. Gotham continues going from strength to strength, showing edge and clarity of vision amongst the claret and maniacal laughter.