In the season 2 premiere of Gotham, “Rise of the Villains: Damned If You Do…,” with nowhere else to turn, Gordon goes to Penguin for a favor, Bruce learns more about Thomas’ extracurricular activities, Barbara poses a threat to Lee and a couple of new threats emerge.

Season 2 picks up right where the season 1 finale left off, with Bruce and Alfred descending the staircase to Thomas’ apparent secret lair. At the bottom of the dank staircase, there is an ominous-looking metal door that requires a password or code to enter. Bruce makes a few attempts, but Alfred points out the millions of possible combinations, and Bruce is left frustrated and stumped.

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The Hits Keep Coming for Gordon

Gordon has been demoted to traffic duty, but if he thought he’d be bored, he quickly realizes he was wrong. A rotund gentleman sporting an outfit that looks like he just left a comic-con shouts, “I am Zaardon.” Who the hell is Zaardon? Good question. Apparently, according to the kooky guy, he’s the “Reaper of Souls.”

Gordon could dismiss the guy as your run-of-the-mill lunatic, except he’s waiving around a couple of pistols and shooting them in the general direction of innocent bystanders.

Zaardon drops his guns when instructed to do so, but pulls out a sword next and comes at Gordon swinging. Gordon takes the guy down handily but is aggravated by the bother of it all, especially when his chubby replacement comes sauntering up the street, late, snacking on something artery-clogging. Gordon gives his fellow officer a shove. If the guy hadn’t stopped for some food truck fare, Zaardon would have been his problem.

Back at the station, Zaardon is even less impressive than he was on the street. He’s also confused. Zaardon drank the dragon’s blood from the master’s chalice — his words, not mine.

Like most minions, Zaardon warns Gordon about his mysterious master and warns that dark days are coming. This guy obviously just moved to town.

As usual, no good deed goes unpunished. A not-so-little birdie reports back to Commissioner Loeb that he was manhandled by Gordon. Loeb says he had hoped demoting Gordon to uniform duty would make him quit, like it did to Bullock. The former partners haven’t been in contact as of late, since Gordon is visibly surprised to hear that Bullock is off the force.

But Loeb, who has just been laying in wait, finally has the grounds for immediately dismissal. Captain Essen argues about how unfair Loeb is being, especially since nobody got hurt and Gordon did just disarm the crazy guy. Loeb doesn’t budge and orders her to take Gordon’s badge and gun.

Loeb says that some men just aren’t meant to be cops, and in response, Jim offers the commissioner his hand. Gordon swears that the pledge he made to break the crooked politician is still intact and leaves.

Barbara Expands Her Social Circle

Barbara is enjoying a luxurious stay at Arkham, and the lovely lady has caught a certain someone’s eye, Jerome. He tries to bond over their shared love of matricide, but she tells the ginger to keep moving.

But Jerome goes another route. He lets Barb know that she’s got an admirer, Richard Sionis, a millionaire with his own jet. This eligible bachelor is serving time for killing 25 people. Richie likey Barbie and wants to be her “friend.” Barbara isn’t keen on the idea until Jerome points out that it might be wise for Barbara to make a few friends. Apparently, the guards tend to abuse their power. Bad things happen to bad people and stuff like that.

Richard is also a man who can get things. I know. I stole that one right from Shawshank. This particular piece of information does interest Barbara.

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One Day I’ll Come to You for a Favor

Gordon isn’t a man without connections, and he decides that this particular set of circumstances justifies him bending the law. Gordon pays a visit to Oswald “Penguin,” who is settling into his new role as the “King of Gotham.”

Oswald has taken a shine to Selina, telling Jim that having her around is like having a cat, minus all the dead mice.

Gordon wants a favor, and he tells Oswald he owes him one. Gordon did save him from Maroni’s men. Oswald argues that he was only in harm’s way because Gordon arrested him. But Oswald would rather strike a bargain than quibble, so he immediately agrees to help Gordon. Gordon points out that Oswald doesn’t even know what he wants, but Oswald already knows that Gordon wants Loeb out and his old job back.

Oswald, being Oswald, does want a little something in return. He’d like Gordon to collect a debt that is owed to him. This task would cement Penguin’s relationship with Gordon, in his twisted mind anyway. Gordon refuses, but as he leaves, Oswald tells “Jim” not to be so hasty; take the night and sleep on it.

A Sacrifice for the Greater Good

Instead, Gordon goes to see Bullock, who is now tending bar. Bullock has been sober for 32 days. He tells Gordon that quitting drinking was easy after quitting his job as a cop. Bullock claims to be very content with civilian life.

Gordon’s next stop is to see Bruce and Alfred. Gordon breaks the news that he’s no longer a cop and apologizes to Bruce for not being able to keep his promise to him. Alfred asks if there’s any hope for reinstatement, and that’s when Gordon tells them both about Penguin’s deal.

Bruce reminds Gordon about how he had planned to fight for justice, find out who killed Bruce’s parents, clean up the GCPD and change Gotham. Maybe performing this task for the Penguin is demeaning and sets Gordon’s moral compass spinning wildly, but maybe it’s for the greater good. “Surely, sometimes the right way is the ugly way.”

This was all the push Gordon needed because when we see him again, he’s at the nightclub of the man, who owes Penguin money, Ogden Barker.

On a side note, you have got to love a show that throws some Siouxsie and the Banshees on in the background.

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Unforeseen Complications

Ogden Barker acknowledges that he owes Don Falcone, but he’s not paying Penguin a dime. This is after he calls Gordon Penguin’s bitch.

When asking nicely doesn’t get him anywhere, Gordon cracks some skulls and gets the money the Gotham way: he steals it at gunpoint.

Gordon hides out in a parking garage, but Barker finds him readily, and Gordon is forced to shoot the guy to save his own ass. Now Ogden is dead.

Gordon makes good on his promise and delivers the funds to Penguin, who apologizes for the task getting so messy. Oswald assures Gordon there will be no follow-up from any of Barker’s colleagues. Too bad Gordon is stuck with that guilty conscience.

There’s nothing like a crazy ex-girlfriend to distract a guy from his problems. Barbara has made nice with her new prison boy toy, and he manages to get her access to a phone. Looking fetching in a very fashionable striped ensemble, Barb calls Gordon. She tells him she never confessed to killing her parents and that Lee attacked her. Gordon tells Barbara not to call again and hangs up on her.

Lee questions who Gordon was talking to, and he says it was just a sales call, but his expression isn’t very convincing. Then Lee’s home phone rings, and Gordon tells her not to answer. Now Lee’s getting concerned and Gordon has no choice but to let her know that it’s Barb on the other end. Sure enough, Barbara leaves a lovely message about how she hopes Lee dies screaming.

Gordon assures his current girlfriend that his ex is safely locked away and can’t hurt them. Lee isn’t nearly as worried as she should be, but she does suggest that perhaps she and Gordon should leave Gotham. What do they really have holding them there? That’s when Gordon says he did a “bad thing.”

The Penguin and the Commissioner

Speaking of bad things, Loeb awakens to find Penguin and one of his scarier lackeys in his kitchen. Loeb calls for a guard, but his security detail has been decapitated. Oswald explains to Loeb that his usual methods of getting someone to do what he wants won’t work this time around, so the only rational thing for Oswald to do is to kill Loeb.

Like any man who prefers living to the alternative, the commissioner says he’ll reinstate Gordon, but Oswald is confident that down the line Loeb will turn on Gordon again. Staring down the barrel of a gun, Loeb also agrees to resign, which solves the problem of him ever firing Gordon again.

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So Many Villains, So Little Time

The city gives Loeb a proper send-off, where we meet the city’s newest bad guy, Theo Galavan (Thomas Frain). Frain does nasty very well. I strongly suggest checking out his work on The Tudors. Some truly disturbing stuff there.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Galavan is “the master” that Zaardon was speaking of. Galavan did give the guy some kind of funky potion; it just didn’t keep him from getting arrested.

Galavan is a successful businessman and well-respected citizen of Gotham. He hasn’t been in Gotham long, but he thinks the city is a “magical” place. Uh huh.

Gordon may have committed murder, but things are looking up, since Essen is the new commissioner, and her first order of business is to reinstate Gordon.

As far as Zaardon goes, he’s the newest patient at Arkham, and he’s making quite a first impression on the rest of the gang. Zaardon promises to bring the pain, right up until the moment he starts to gag and collapse. Out of his mouth streams this noxious blue gas that causes everyone to pass out. 

A very foxy lady clad in black leather blows her way into the asylum, shoots some guards and appears ready to bust out a few (if not all) of the now-unconscious crazies.

The woman in question is Tabitha, aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), and she delivers six of the inmates, including Barbara and Jerome, to her brother, Theo Galavan.

Batman Begins

Bruce decides he’s going to just build a bomb and blow the door to smithereens. Alfred isn’t supportive of this plan. Not only is he concerned that his young master might blow up himself and Wayne Manor, but Alfred thinks Bruce might not be ready to see what’s behind door number one. Bruce won’t be swayed, so Alfred agrees to help. And, of course, Alfred knows how to construct a proper bomb.

They are successful in their endeavor. Inside Thomas’ pretty mundane lair, Bruce finds a letter written to him by his late father. The letter contains some sage wisdom, and Thomas advises Bruce that it’s not possible to have happiness or the truth; you have to choose. Thomas begs his son to choose happiness unless … Bruce feels a calling,  a true calling.

Gotham airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.