‘Gotham’ 2.15 Recap: “?”

Holy worlds colliding, Batman! A cast member from the old Tim Burton movie franchise reprises his character in this week’s episode of ‘Gotham’. Does this mean that young David Mazouz will grow up to be the Michael Keaton version of the Dark Knight? Yeah, I think I can see that.

Before we get to that, we start at the Gotham Museum of Art. Ed Nygma causes a panic by faking a bomb scare using a goofy sculpture of an oversized hand grenade. (That seems more like a Joker kind of stunt than the Riddler, but I suppose the guy’s still finding his groove.) Once everyone else has evacuated, Ed cuts a painting out of its frame and spray-paints a green question mark in its place.

Jim and Harvey catch the case. Jim protests that Robbery Homicide should have jurisdiction, but Capt. Barnes insists that the use of a bomb (even a fake one) puts it on their plate. On their way out the door, Barnes also informs Jim that Internal Affairs is reopening the investigation into Theo Galavan’s murder. An anonymous tipster claims to have seen Jim Gordon commit the crime, not the Penguin. Jim pretends to shrug this off as a false report by someone with a grudge, but he’s obviously worried about it and Barnes can sense his anxiety.

Having been released from Arkham, Penguin puts his rehabilitation to the test by visiting his old friend and confidante Butch, who has taken over his position as crime lord during his absence. Butch isn’t so happy to see his old boss. He’s still smarting over that business about getting his hand chopped off. Penguin apologizes. He’s come bearing cupcakes! Can’t they let bygones be bygones? Although Tabitha, who’s now Butch’s moll, urges him to kill the little bird, Butch takes pity on the “pathetic loser” and lets him go – with just a little tar-and-feathering as punishment.

When Jim gets to the museum, he’s informed that the stolen painting was a minor work. For some reason, the perpetrator defaced two more valuable paintings and left them behind. The crime doesn’t seem to make any sense. Jim looks at the titles of the paintings and puts together that this is meant to be a puzzle. The clues point him to a railway station on Market Street. Jim rushes over there and evacuates the place. At the station, a locker has been marked with another green question mark. He pries it open with a crowbar and finds a bomb inside. With seconds to spare, Jim tosses it into a brick room where it won’t do much damage.

Unaware of the irony, Jim puts Nygma in charge of forensics on the case. Nygma takes special care to bag up the crowbar that Jim handled.

For his first lesson in life on the mean streets of Gotham, Selina brings Bruce Wayne to see her friend Ivy, who’s now working for the Gilzean Gang by raising magic mushrooms for their drug operation. Ivy has doped the lunches of the gang members in the building, and Selina intends to rob their cash. She expects that Bruce will disapprove, but he’s actually on-board with the plan. Together, they lift a big wad of cash from out of the hands of a tripping dealer. On their way out the door, however, they’re caught by Sonny Gilzean, the hot-headed nephew of Butch Gilzean himself. When Sonny threatens to harm Selina, Bruce insults him and takes a beating for her. He remembers Alfred’s advice about outlasting a bigger opponent, and refuses to give up as Sonny pummels the crap out of him. Eventually, Selina causes a distraction and the two of them fight their way out of the building.

After getting rebuffed by Butch, Penguin next stops in to see his friend Ed Nygma. Ed finds his new positive outlook on life annoying and makes excuses to kick him out.

When Jim tells Harvey about the Galavan investigation being reopened, Harvey assumes that Penguin must have snitched him out. Jim doesn’t want to believe it, but who else knows what really happened?

With no friends who will take him in, Penguin next visits his mother’s grave at the cemetery. While there, he runs into a strange man named Elijah Van Dahl who claims that Penguin’s mother was the great love of his life. By lord, the dates match up! Oswald must be his son! Both are elated to have found each other.

(As alluded to in the intro paragraph to this post, guest star Paul Reubens had a small role in Tim Burton’s 1992 ‘Batman Returns’, where he also played The Penguin’s father. Not only is this a fun bit of fan-service, but Reubens shares a pretty good physical resemblance with Robin Lord Taylor. I could believe that the two men were related – certainly much more so than Reubens and Danny DeVito.)

Feigning an urgent work-related matter, Nygma shows up on the doorstep of a cop named Pinkney who’d worked the train station crime scene. Ed then beats him to death with the crowbar that still has Jim’s fingerprints all over it.

Penguin’s new daddy brings him home to his very Burtonian mansion, lets him take a bath in a gaudily ornate tub, and tells him the story of how he and Gertrud fell in love and why they split. He also says he can’t wait to introduce his new son to their big, happy family. Everything about this guy is creepy, but Penguin is too happy to notice.

Jim follows a lead in the bombing case to a payphone in an apartment building. The apartment door next to the phone is suspiciously propped open. Jim enters and finds Pinkney’s dead body inside. Just as he bends down over the body to look for evidence, Capt. Barnes walks into the apartment with gun drawn. He orders Jim to drop his own weapon, then explains that he received a message from Pinkney asking to meet there, because Pinkney was the anonymous tipster planning to testify against Jim. This sure doesn’t look good for Jim. As Barnes arrests him, he protests that he’s been framed.

Following his beating, Bruce Wayne is a swollen mess. Selina stitches up a wound on his forehead. She accuses Bruce of enjoying the pain and being a masochist. The boy says that he had a moment of clarity in the middle of the fight and understands his purpose now.

Barnes lectures Jim about the difference between good cops and dirty cops, which is kind of hilarious coming out of the mouth of the guy who played Vic Mackey. He then sends Jim to county jail. In short order, Jim is put on trial, found guilty, and sentenced to 40 years at Blackgate Prison. He tells his pregnant girlfriend Lee that she needs to move on and forget about him. She and the baby will be better off without hm.

In Arkham Asylum, Barbara Kean wakes up from her coma upon hearing a news broadcast about Jim’s sentence.

The episode ends with Harvey transporting Jim to prison and promising his friend that he’ll find out who framed him.

Episode Verdict

I won’t pretend to be an expert in ‘Batman’ canon, but Jim Gordon’s storyline in this show seems to be a considerable departure from his usual depiction as an incorruptible crusader. What’s quite interesting about this new turn of events is that, even though it’s true that Jim was framed by Nygma and railroaded to a prison sentence, he’s also actually guilty of the crime.

In order to get back on the path toward a future where Jim Gordon can become the eventual Police Commissioner of Gotham, he’ll of course have to be released from prison and exonerated of the crime, even though he knows what he did and that he fully deserves to rot in prison for it.

In other developments, I like the addition of Paul Reubens to the cast as Penguin’s father, but I’m skeptical about where that storyline might be going. Judging by the preview for the next episode, it looks like an unnecessary diversion and time-waster that will probably not ultimately amount to anything – much like Fish Mooney’s island prison escapades last season. I hope I’m wrong about that.


  1. T.J. Kats

    I know it’s not real life(and without being political) but it what reality does any person let alone a cop go to jail for murder in less than 40 weeks. It took the OJ case longer than that just to get to trial. There is no way Lee would still be pregnant when she goes to visit Jim.

    • Josh Zyber

      Yeah, I agree, that did seem absurdly expedited. It felt like he was convicted and sentenced to prison the next day after Barnes arrested him.

      Then again, this show takes place in a world where the administrator of Arkham Asylum can unilaterally decide to release a convicted murderer he deems “cured.”

      • T.J. Kats

        I’m fine for the most part with the absurd as long as it fits with the other absurd this one just bothered me for some reason.

  2. Haven’t seen a single episode of ‘Gotham’, but wanted to chime in by saying: nice Paul Reubens casting! He also aged quite gracefully since 1992, so I can see it working. (I also think he was unfairly blacklisted, but that’s a story for another time)

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