Gotham: Welcome Back, Jim Gordon

Oswald: “Friends don’t owe friends, silly. They just do favors because they want to.”

Having earned his position as a Detective back at the GCPD, Gordon alongside Bullock investigates a homicide that Gordon suspects can be traced back to a member of the police force working right under his nose. And what an exquisite story this case turned out to be – I don’t mean who this plot revealed as the culprit, but rather, the way the plot was executed and what it could mean for Gordon down the road.

Last week, we were introduced to Commissioner Gillian Loeb (Peter Scolari), and this week, we are introduced to Arnold Flass (Dash Mihok), an arrogant GCPD officer who plays foil to Gordon in this episode. The reason I bring these two characters up first is because they both made their debut into Batman comics in Issue #404, better known as the first chapter of Batman: Year One; this comic chronicled both the rise of Batman and James Gordon in their early days working in Gotham City, and also inspired Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Even though ‘Welcome Back Jim Gordon’ obviously features no traces of Bats yet, I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s episode of Gotham because I can say this truly does feel like the closest live-action adaptation yet of Batman: Year One. Gordon gets the indication that certain traces of corruption inside the GCPD could go as high up as Commissioner Loeb, and that his agenda to flush out the corrupt cops of his precinct carries weight and risk to his own well-being.

As the episode plays out, Gordon believes Flass is the primary suspect of two homicides, but because no one else seems to be supporting him in the investigation, he turns to none other than his old friend Oswald for assistance. After Don Falcone exiled Fish Mooney in last week’s episode, Oswald has taken the time to renovate (in quite an amusing and drunken fashion too if I may add) her old nightclub into one of his own liking. Oswald promises Gordon that non-lethal means will be taken to prove Flass is the killer but Gordon is later horrified to discover that Oswald’s goons tortured the wife of another GCPD officer to get the information. This here is the highlight for me of this week’s episode.

This investigation into his own brethren of the GCPD has brought Gordon to a point where he finally begins to understand that his relationship with Oswald, and the murky and off-the-books techniques utilized by Oswald to hold up his end of bargains, may not be that different after all from the underhanded deeds that Flass, Loeb and the other corrupted members of Gotham’s municipality apply. I definitely foresee a turning point in Gordon’s development as we begin to enter the second half of Gotham’s first season, and that could mean an end too to his alliance with Oswald.

Meanwhile, Bruce has begun seeking out Selina and offers her a gift as well as shelter in the form of his manor to live under. In response, Selina asks Bruce to stop hassling her and adds that she lied about having seen his parents’ killer’s face. While on the surface, this seems like a trait of an adolescent romancing that’s hit a speed bump, it is of my understanding that there’s something else underlying here. On this site, I strongly recommend giving Thomas Ijon Tichy’s review "A helping hand”, or the story of Bruce and Selina on Gotham" a read. It's a wonderful read, and in it too, you’ll find that there is a mention of the stark class contrast that is between Bruce and Selina. Through my many viewings of this show, I've come to believe that this contrast between classes is what sparks numerous conflicts between Bruce and Selina. At the start of Gotham, they are simply polar opposites, as far as socioeconomic statuses go. This gesture by Bruce for Selina to accept his gift and find a home in Wayne Manor is seen in his eyes as only an ample upgrade for Selina from her days on the street; Selina conversely values her independence and has distaste for this offer that entails being protected and also being a house-mate to a rich kid like Bruce.

While we’re on the subject too of supposed ‘trophy girls’, let’s talk about Eddie Nygma again. While Nygma’s arc in this season probably contributes the least to the overall mob wars going on, I feel it’s still worth commenting on. Nygma continues his romantic (or in his eyes, they’re seen as romantic I guess) advances towards Ms. Kringle but is dismayed to see that a love letter he previously left her is being read for laughs by other GCPD officers, Flass included. Let me first state that I completely understand criticisms from other fans of this show that Nygma’s behavior towards Kringle is inappropriate in terms of workplace conduct. It’s also worth noting as to whether or not Nygma has any real romantic feelings for Kringle, or rather, he just enjoys the notion of having her as a girl on his arm. That being said, because of the show’s intention to paint Nygma as a sympathetic victim of the GCPD’s bullying antics, there’s just something inside me that very much pities, and dare I even say identifies, with Nygma’s anguish. Me personally though, I wouldn’t channel my pain into donning green spandex one day and leaving question marks all over town, but I do hope Nygma catches a break at least once before he inevitably makes his metamorphosis into The Riddler.

Everything else in this episode feels like a run through the motions: Fish is able to escape Gotham on her own with assistance from Bullock, but loses Butch to Victor Zsasz (who, if not for his charm, would have begun to grow dull for me) after a lengthy gunfight. The subplot doesn’t take up much of the episode’s run though and certainly doesn’t deter me from labeling ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ as one of my personal favorite episodes so far of Season 1.

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

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