'Gotham' Season 1 Finale Recap: Is the Penguin Victorious?
'Gotham' Season 1 Finale Recap: Is the Penguin Victorious?
Alan Danzis
Alan Danzis
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
If you want resolution to the numerous hanging story threads from season 1 of Gotham, you actually get a lot of answers and closed loops by the end of the season finale, "All Happy Families are Alike." But if you're angling for hope and hints that the show knew what didn't work and would aim to do better, at least narratively speaking, in the second season, well, then you will probably feel as unhappy as I do.

The mob war is resolved, Barbara seems to be unredeemable and Bruce takes his first step to becoming Batman. A lot happens, but almost none of it is likely to make you excited for the fall and the start of new episodes.


The Penguin is Victorious

Fish, not surprisingly, returns to Gotham in the season 1 finale. She first runs into Selina and promises that her a "brand new day" is coming.

Two weeks later, the mob war is still raging on television because, sure, after two weeks, of course the National Guard wouldn't have been sent in. But no, it rages on and Falcone just misses getting hit by an RPG in the opening minutes of the finale.

Bullock catches up to Gordon and tells him that Falcone is in the hospital and people seem to be rallying around Maroni. Falcone might be in a hospital, but it's easy for Penguin and Butch to get to him.

Penguin says he's there to say goodbye to Falcone in person. He even brings him flowers. "It was me, old friend," he tells him. "I started the war." When Penguin says he's going to take his place, Falcone tells him he's going to burn in hell. Penguin is about to slice his throat when Gordon enters and puts a gun to Butch's head.

"You're both under arrest for attempted murder," Gordon says, handcuffing Penguin and Butch to a nearby radiator. Gordon has decided to make a last stand and calls Bullock for help, saying that Falcone is the "best bad man" they've got.

Gordon plans to try and walk Falcone out, while leaving Penguin and Butch handcuffed in the room. But Penguin brings up the fact that Gordon owes him a favor.

Commissioner Loeb shows up with some henchmen and claims to have no knowledge of the men coming to kill Falcone. "Hope is for losers," Loeb tells him, when Gordon says he hopes to see him behind bars or dead soon. Loeb walks off and leaves Maroni's henchmen to start a shoot-out.

Despite being alone, Gordon manages to hold his own during the shoot-out. Bullock shows up and isn't happy that Gordon has now decided to bring Penguin and Butch along too since he arrested them.

Everyone drives out in an ambulance, as Maroni and his men shoot at it. They arrive at a safehouse in a warehouse where Selina is waiting for them. Fish then enters with a ton of henchmen. (She also has a new look involving a half-shaved head.)

Butch and Fish get to reunite, except Butch has no idea who she is. Fish then takes a call from Maroni. She tells him she has something he wants.

Falcone, Gordon, Bullock and Penguin are tied to some hanging hooks, while Selina looks them over. In two weeks, it seems like she's gone full-on evil by hanging out with Fish, huh?

Fish tells the hostages about the deal she struck with Maroni: she'll get all her territory back if she gives him Falcone's head. Fish also promises Penguin that he'll die a slow, painful death as well. 

Maroni shows up a little bit later and gives Fish a hug. Penguin, meanwhile, begs for Falcone's life, saying that Maroni will kill Fish after Falcone is dead. The tension starts to rise between Fish and Maroni as they begin to bicker with what they call one another. Maroni keeps insisting that he's always above Fish, while she tries to negotiate with him that they're equal partners.

After Maroni calls Fish "babes" about 20 times, she has had enough and shoots Maroni straight in the head. A shooting war breaks out, and Bullock and Gordon are able to free themselves and then Penguin.

Outside the warehouse, Falcone tells Gordon he's done with "this business." Gordon still believes Falcone is the only person who can keep the city from falling apart. (You know, until a costumed crusader emerges in about 15 years or so.)

So when they're brought back to face Fish, Falcone tells Fish that same message. She doesn't believe him, but it doesn't matter because Penguin comes in shooting up the warehouse. He wants to kill Fish.

Penguin and Fish get into a fight on the roof, and even knowing Jada Pinkett Smith's declaration earlier in the season, you know this fight is only going to end one way. Butch arrives, with a gun pointed at both of them. He's unsure of who to shoot. Butch winds up shooting both of them in the chest. As he comes to his senses, he goes to comfort Fish.

Penguin takes that opportunity to knock Butch out and then run and push Fish over the building's edge, falling to her death. (Or so we'll assume.) Despite being shot, Penguin climbs to the top of the edge and screams that he is the king of Gotham.


Barbara Goes Insane

Somehow, over the course of this episode, Leslie becomes a therapist for Barbara, who is dealing with some serious issues.

When Gordon sees her in the GCPD at the beginning of the episode, Barbara seems happier than she's been all season, but Leslie is insistent that she get counseling sessions. Barbara agrees, but only if Leslie will be her counselor. Leslie agrees, but only because the plot demands it -- not because she even remotely has the experience nor the desire to do this for Gordon's ex-girlfriend.

And again, even though we've never heard that Leslie has therapy training, we get scenes as if we're in a therapist's office, where Barbara admits that it was sometimes thrilling when she was with the Ogre. And then to make it even more awkward, she asks if Gordon has ever hit Leslie. Barbara is dealing with some serious PTSD, but that doesn't excuse the awful, awkward, stilted dialogue.

Later that night, they are still talking. Barbara wants to know if Gordon told Leslie he loved her. Barbara starts telling Leslie the story of how she wound up at her parents' house with the Ogre. She whines about all the mean stuff her parents did to her, that the Ogre made her tell them. "They had no clue who I am," Barbara said. She even claims she killed her parents, not the Ogre.

"I stabbed them," she says. If this is actually true, this is a huge, huge departure from the comics.

Barbara then pulls a knife on Leslie and things actually start to get interesting. Barbara chases Leslie into a bathroom and then stabs through the door with her knife. Leslie breaks a mirror and then takes a shard to use as her own weapon. The two wind up fighting back out in the living room area. Leslie gets the upper hand and continues banging Barbara's head against the ground. Just as she's knocked out, Falcone, Gordon and Bullock enter the apartment.

Falcone and Gordon talk out on the balcony a bit later. Falcone encourages Gordon to be a strong lawman for the city and presents him with a switchblade knife that supposedly belonged to his father. Gordon is surprised that his father and Falcone were that close.

"Your father was the most honest man I'd ever met ... but he carried a knife," Falcone tells him. This is actually an interesting metaphor for how Gordon needs to try and get Gotham under control. For once, in a rare occurrence on this show, it's even subtle.

Nygma Also Starts to Go Crazy

Kringle comes to Nygma at the end of the episode, having noticed that hidden NYGMA code in the note her ex-boyfriend supposedly left for her (the one that we know Nygma wrote).

He claims to know nothing about it, and when she leaves, he starts laughing. But then he starts talking to himself about what this all means. It's his psychotic break moment, clearly, and where the Riddler persona starts to come out more.

His story arc has seemed so, so rushed this season. While I've never loved the performance of Nygma the man, the Nygma-before-Riddler performance is at least vaguely interesting.


Bruce Finds the Entrance to the Batcave

Finally, Bruce spends the entire episode insisting there's something secretly hidden in his father's study. This literally comes out of nowhere. Bruce doesn't know what he's looking for but tells Alfred he'll know it when he sees it. Whatever that means. Couldn't the writers have had Lucious or someone else sort of give Bruce the direction to tear up the study?

At the end of the episode, Bruce suddenly has a bit of insight and realizes there's a hidden remote control inside a book. Alfred doesn't want him to push the button, but Bruce does. And as you wait for "it" to happen, you also have to wish FOX didn't put part of this scene in the promo.

The fireplace retreats, revealing a hidden entrance to what we all know is going to be the Batcave. Alfred and Bruce stare down a long staircase as the season officially comes to a close.


Questions for Season 2

-- Is Fish truly dead or was Jada Pinkett Smith fooling us?

-- Have we seen the last of Falcone?

-- Doesn't Gordon have grounds to arrest Penguin literally the next time he sees him?

-- Is Barbara off the show now? Did the writers realize she was not redeemable and decided to toss out her true comic book origins? Or are they going to somehow magically try and redeem her next season?

-- Will Nygma put on the costume in season 2? Will he murder again this quickly in the show's run?

-- Bruce is really, really young at this point in the show. So what exactly will he do with the location of the Batcave or whatever you want to call it?

This has been a very, very bumpy ride for Gotham in season 1. I'll probably stick with it next season. Will you?


(Image courtesy of FOX)