Fox’s “Batman-without-Batman” soap opera is the most amazingly weird show on television. For every episode this season, Deadshirt’s own Sarah Register, Kayleigh Hearn and Max Robinson discuss the good, the bad..the beginning? of little Bruce Wayne, skinny Oswald Cobblepot, and Jim Gordon sans ‘stache as they try to find their way in the misery-soaked, work-a-day world of…GOTHAM.
Max: Gotham Season 2 continues to claw its way deeper into our hearts with a second episode that feels like it should’ve been an eighth episode. So much happens! Let’s talk about it.
ALL OF THE BAD GUYS THAT GOT BUSTED OUT OF ARKHAM ARE IN A SUPER-VILLAIN GANG CALLED “THE MANIAX,” WHICH IS DOPE
Kayleigh: Shoutout to that one Maniax who is just the straightjacket weasel from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in human form.
Sarah: I’m bummed that the weasel guy was killed off so soon. Could you imagine what it would have been like for Jim to interrogate him?
Max: Does that make James Frain’s Theo Galavan their Judge Doom?
Kayleigh: Theo and the Maniax in a very strange adaptation of Pygmalion.
The Maniax seem to be tying into one of the best episodes of last season, “Red Hood,” where masked supervillainy is a kind of virus or mass hysteria infecting people in Gotham. At the risk of getting shot for stealing Jerome’s line, laughter is contagious.
Max: The Maniax is a classic Gotham conceit because it’s so stupid that it totally works in the context of the show. I LIVE for Galavan Kim Fowleying The Maniax to their full potential in his huge penthouse, sucking on his teeth when “definitely The Joker maybe” Jerome does super-villain hypeman schtick. They also kill off a third of the team in this episode, dunno what the gameplan is here.
Sarah: One thing you’ve got to love about Gotham is how insane and extremely short-lived some of its plotlines are. The Maniax [Exclamation Point] is already down, what, two or three members? I wonder if the show will even utter that team name ever again.
RICHARD KIND, THE MAYOR OF GOTHAM, HAS HIS HEAD IN A BIG BOX AND HE’S GETTING TORTURED, WHICH IS ALSO DOPE
Kayleigh: I love how Gotham immediately throws us headfirst into the deep end of the pool in its opening scene. Here’s Richard Kind with his head in a box, being threatened with imaginary tarantulas, no you don’t get little pool floaties, you’re a big boy, deal with it. Though the scene with Barbara and Tabitha chasing and whipping the Mayor felt like a very personal glimpse into a writer’s head I was never meant to see.
Sarah: For a second I thought our dear Barbara was yet again going to be sitting on her ass in a luxurious apartment. At least they gave her a toy to play with.
Max: The madcap insanity of Gotham makes you forget that this show regularly features Richard Kind in a rare straight man role. I mean, he’s still a schlubby loser, but this time he’s like a super corrupt, vaguely competent one. I love that they cut out the middleman and just had him get kidnapped offscreen. The Maniax don’t shiv, Don.
ALFRED LOSES HIS HIS SHIT AND BEATS UP A COMPUTER
Kayleigh: Okay, what is up with Thomas Wayne’s proto-Batcave? He had a cache weapons, a ton of flatscreen computers, and, wait, blood bags in a refrigerator? The hell? At this point I don’t blame Alfred for being like “OY FUCK THIS” and just smashing shit with a hammer. The Alfred/Bruce relationship is one of the most touching dynamics on the show, but then you have weird scenes like a twelve-year-old billionaire saying “you’re fired” to his legal guardian.
Sarah: Alfred whipping around at Bruce’s “goodbye” thinking that maybe he had changed his mind was silly and so sweet. Poor sad Alfred.
Max: I love that there are at least two grown-ass men who are answerable to a twelve-year-old boy on Gotham. Bruce’s dad’s secret man cave is fascinating, and I am SO GLAD this show is going with “Bruce’s dad was some kind of weird urban vigilante.” My one gripe is that the clandestine mini-fridge wasn’t filled with Monster Energy Drinks.
Sarah: I don’t really love that Bruce’s future as Batman is being handed to him so easily, but I am still curious as hell about where the heck they are taking this dad plotline. Are they going to explore Court of Owls stuff or are they still pretending the source material kind of doesn’t exist?
Max: [Show runner] Bruno Heller said we’re getting Court of Owls, we just don’t know when. Harvey Bullock fighting off creepy masked white people illuminati owl ninjas while holding a gyro in his free hand is when this show gets an Emmy.
YO WHY IS HARVEY BULLOCK’S FIANCEE SO MEAN?
Kayleigh: At first I was happy to see Scottie because it’s nice to see Gotham building up its supporting cast as it moves away from its “criminal of the week” beginnings, but so far her only personality traits are “shrill” and “belligerent to her fiancee’s friends” so…that sure was a choice the writers made.
Max: Yeah that was weird, given that she met Harvey when he was a cop and saved her life but whatever. McKenzie playing Gordon with this “yeah what I’m doing is pretty underhanded but I gotta try” kind of shame was fun though.
Sarah: I was excited for Harvey to get a love interest, but yeah, what a letdown. Remember when he would flirt with Fish? Those scenes actually had spark and intrigue. This already feels like a sour marriage that’s about to end badly. Scottie might as well have “consequences for Harvey rejoining the force” tattooed to her forehead.
A BUS FULL OF CHEERLEADERS!
Kayleigh: This scene was incredible, just a marvelously done sequence of pitch-black comedy. As soon as I saw the bus was full of cheerleaders I cackled like a cartoon witch. I’ve seen some folks criticize scenes like this, asking, “how can the audience take this show seriously?” We’re not supposed to! Gotham is relishing its absurdity. (And, of course, I felt no shame in laughing at the screaming, gasoline-soaked teens because Gotham isn’t the kind of show that would actually light a bus of cheerleaders on fire.)
Max: For a second there, I wasn’t sure if Gotham wouldn’t actually kill a bus full of teens. But then Gordon showed up to drive the bus to safety in a beat that is easily the closest this show has come to just being Batman ‘66. Gotham is a show that is in a constant state of just fucking with the audience for fun and I adore it for that.
Kayleigh: Gordon’s “what the fuck just happened” look after driving the bus was the perfect cherry atop this sick sundae.
Sarah: Jerome telling the cheerleaders to “give me an ‘O’” and making them spell out “ONO” was delightful. I still want Jerome to die and therefore definitely not be the Joker, but I have to admit he’s kind of growing on me. The actor was definitely channeling Heath Ledger at the end of the episode, but in this scene in particular he reminded me a lot of Mark Hamill’s Joker in BTAS. It made the whole “setting cheerleaders on fire” thing even that much less of a threat.
Kayleigh: I have definitely been won over by Jerome. Playing Russian Roulette while discussing the finer points of comedy is a great scene, and I like his “demented theater kid with a chainsaw” antics. I hope the show doesn’t kill him or write him off as a red herring; if nothing else, I’m really intrigued by the idea of a Joker origin story that has nothing to do with “Jack Napier” or The Killing Joke.
Max: The Jerome character didn’t work for me at all in his season one Gotham appearance, but this episode he gets like three actually great Joker moments. I kinda hope he isn’t unambigously The Joker, but I’m also at the point where if they kept him around in that capacity I’d be into it? This episode was like a Greatest Hits of Joker gags between the cheerleader thing, the bodies with letters written on them, and the cop disguise.
DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT THE FUCK ALFRED EVEN SAID IN HIS LITTLE MONOLOGUE TO LUCIUS FOX??? WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING??
Sarah: First of all, Alfred literally says “guvna.” Twice. Secondly, he is kind of definitely flirting with Lucius for a second. And then threatening him? With a fish?
Max: That scene was like…the strangest college improv scene of all time, but with Bruce Wayne’s incomprehensible British dad and his Cool Black dad.
Kayleigh: “What’s a kipper?” is the only question Lucius had about that speech? Alfred’s Britishness has hit critical mass.
Max: “I’LL TUCK YOU UP, SUNSHINE.” This was like transparently the show’s attempt at doing their own version of Michael Caine’s speech about the bandit in Burma and the “ruby tha soize of er tangerine.” But whereas that was an anecdote about Alfred’s youthful memories of enforcing British imperialism as metaphor for The Joker’s madness, this is Sean Pertwee’s cockney slang word vomit obscuring a pretty straightforward “hey I need your help, please don’t betray me and my sullen preteen employer, k?”
Related: I dunno why Gotham Lucius Fox talks like a cool robot but I’m okay with it. I like how you can totally see the seeds of the kind of camaraderie Lucius and Alfred have in the Nolan flicks in this episode. I don’t think this invalidates the premise that they will bone, though.
Kayleigh: Fingers fucking crossed for Gotham giving us more queer Batverse characters. (And Lucius did say he loved Thomas Wayne…)
Sarah: Kayleigh and I are really banking on some Gotham dudes mouth kissing this season.
Max: Here’s hoping these two can make this house a home and raise baby Bruce into the future World’s Greatest Detective we all know and love. Did you guys notice that there was like zero Penguin in this episode?
Kayleigh: I noticed, because Robin Lord Taylor is my sallow-skinned, throat-slitting ray of sunshine. But it’s a sign of a very strong Gotham episode when you’re like, okay, this one didn’t need Penguin.
SOME SERIOUS ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 SHIT GOES DOWN IN THIS EPISODE!
Sarah: Barbara straight channeling Michelle Pfeiffer’s look from Batman Returns.
Kayleigh: This is at least the second time a supervillain has walked into the GCPD Headquarters and just fucking annihilated every cop inside.
Max: I like that this scene rests on the Gotham internal logic of “Gordon is basically the only person on the force who’s competent with a gun, so the bad guys lure him into an alley before massacring the precinct.” Barbara (in vaguely Harley Quinn colors, no less) ordering a big dumb dude to beat up her ex-fiancee was some stone cold shit; it’s amazing how she’s this show’s MVP now.
Kayleigh: Poor Sarah Essen. I’ve argued before that Sarah Essen is the best female comic character Frank Miller created, if only because she was neither a young girl with an electra complex nor his fetishized idea of a sex worker. But in the comics Essen is best known for being Gordon’s second wife, and when the show decided not to go in that direction, perhaps it had no idea what to do with her? Killing another prominent woman of color in the cast so soon after Fish Mooney’s death is unfortunate, too.
Max: Pretty bold move killing off a major character like that so early in the season. Essen being too old to be a love interest for Gordon painted a pretty big target on her head from jump street, yeah. Essen was a good character the show never really seemed to really have an angle on. I legitimately liked her last scene with Jerome and how she doesn’t have time for his dumb supervillain crap, though. The comics version of Essen dies at the hands of The Joker too, kinda funny how that worked out here.
Sarah: I was extremely bummed to lose Sarah Essen so early and just days after she was made Commissioner. You almost had to see it coming though, after she talks to Jim about it being a new day. It’s a shame, especially because I’m starting to fear we won’t see Renee Montoya again for a while (if ever), meaning the GCPD is pretty much a boy’s club now.
Max: I think we get Michael Chiklis as her replacement as commissioner starting next episode, at least until he inevitably falls into a vat of chemicals and becomes Gotham Clayface or whatever. Personally, I think it’s bullshit Bullock isn’t the new commish.
Sarah: (Great, now I NEED Chiklis Clayface to be real.) I vote Uncle Harvey for Commissioner.
Gotham airs Monday at 8pm eastern on FOX.