‘Gotham’ 2.02 Recap: “There Is Nothing More Contagious Than Laughter”

Not that the first season didn’t have its silly excesses (remember the guy who tied people to balloons?), but it appears that the second season of ‘Gotham’ is unafraid to embrace a little of the campiness that, for example, the old 1960s ‘Batman’ TV show was famous for. I don’t consider this a bad thing.

After three gloomy and brooding Christopher Nolan ‘Dark Knight’ movies, a little humor is frankly a welcome change of pace. In particular, Cameron Monaghan’s portrayal of the lunatic Jerome (the kid who may possibly be The Joker – the show’s producers are still being cagey about that) is deliriously unhinged. Obviously channeling huge chunks of Jack Nicholson’s character in the first Tim Burton film, he also seems to work in a bit of Caesar Romero’s goofiness and a smidge of Heath Ledger for grounding.

Episode ‘Knock, Knock’ squeezes in lots of other dark comedy as well. Wealthy villain Theo Galavan (James Frain) has kidnapped Mayor James and locked a box around his head. His face only seen briefly, actor Richard Kind spends most of his screen time blindly bumping into things.

Galavan assigns Jerome and some of the other deranged inmates he sprung from Arkham Asylum their first mission as his personal crime squad. They climb to the roof of the Gotham Gazette building and toss victims (dockworkers, I believe) over the edge down to their deaths onto the street below. Each victim has a letter spray-painted on his body, and they land lined up in order to spell “MANIAX!,” the official team name of Gotham’s newest villains, right where all the reporters in the building can see it. “Now that’s a headline!” Jerome declares.

Reinstated to his old job, Jim Gordon takes the lead in this investigation with the full support of new Commissioner Essen. She’s determined not just to clean up crime in the city, but to root out corruption within the police department as well. “It’s a new day,” she tells Jim.

Bruce Wayne and Alfred search through the secret office they found under Wayne Manor. Bruce manages to get the old computer turned on and is eager to learn what his father had been working on before his death, but Alfred smashes the computer with a hammer before he can read anything. Alfred is determined to keep the boy safe, and that means protecting him from the dark business that had gotten his father killed. A distraught Bruce fires Alfred and tells him to leave.

Jim tries to convince Harvey to come back to work with him on the police force, but Harvey insists that he’s happy now and doesn’t want to go back. His nagging girlfriend may have influenced this decision.

The Maniax next steal a fuel truck, and use it to trap a school bus full of crying cheerleaders. They spray the bus with gasoline (cheerleaders still inside) and Jerome attempts to set it on fire when Jim and the police arrive. This leads to a one-sided shoot-out (Jim doesn’t want to accidentally ignite the gas). All but one of the Maniax get away, but Jim manages to move the bus before the fire can get to it. Before the cops can interrogate the captured baddie, he gets sniped from a building roof by Galavan’s sister Tabitha. These people mean business.

His anger having mostly passed, Bruce catches Alfred at the train station and tells him that he doesn’t want him to leave. However, Alfred must decide whether he’s going to be with Bruce or against Bruce. If he’s with Bruce, that means helping the boy find out what his father was up to. Alfred agrees. He must also find a way to fix the computer.

Fortunately, Alfred has an idea about how to do that. He approaches Lucius Fox in a bar and recruits him (via a very strange story in which he describes having “tucked him up like a kipper” someone he didn’t trust) to come to Wayne Manor and try to repair the computer.

At the police station, Jim receives a call from Barbara. She’s actually standing at the entrance and lures him outside to chase her down an alley, where one of the burly Maniax jumps him and beats the snot out of him.

This is just a distraction. While Jim is preoccupied there, Jerome and the other Maniax charge into the police station with guns blazing and murder dozens of cops inside. Lee is able to hide in the morgue, and Nygma bravely saves his love interest Miss Kringle. Nonetheless, Jerome gets the run of the place and videotapes himself crazily interrogating Commissioner Essen. By the time Jim is able to drag himself to his feet and stumble back to the station, the baddies have all left. Essen dies before his eyes.

In the aftermath, Harvey returns to work after all. A video message from Jerome is broadcast on the news, telling the people of the city to, “Hang onto your hats. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

This is a very fun episode that sets up the major plot line for the season nicely. (Recent interviews with the show’s producers have promised that this season will have much less of the procedural case-of-the-week structure that last season did.) The cast is also really clicking with the material. Alfred’s scene with Lucius is a special highlight.


  1. T.J. Kats

    This was an excellent episode. Something I wondered when they were throwing people off the bridge they put the ! on the “extra” guy. Do you think he was really extra or was it to show how out of it they all can be by not knowing how to spell maniacs which would be one letter per person?

  2. Shannon Nutt

    I kinda/sorta understand what Alfred was trying to do when Bruce told him to get out…but isn’t Alfred Bruce’s legal guardian? Couldn’t he have just said, “You can’t fire me, punk…I’m legally responsible for you.” I’m guessing Alfred wanted Bruce to come to the decision he made on his own, but still…it seemed to be needless melodrama.

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