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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Villains Rise In Gotham: Season 2


With Season 3 of Gotham set to arrive tomorrow, we felt it was the perfect time to look back on Season 2 and what made it one of the most improved entries of the small screen DC Universe.

While Gotham had a rather enjoyable first season, it was clear that there was room for improvement moving forward, and this is something the show addressed in Season 2. What once felt tonally uneven, crammed, and oftentimes rushed, now flowed much more smoothly thanks to a new serialized approach to storytelling. Additionally, the episodes did an excellent job setting up exciting new plots moving forward and the chemistry between cast members was as pleasant as it had been during the show's freshman year.

While the heroes remained interesting, particularly Ben McKenzie's Jim Gordon, where Gotham really shined in year two was with its villains. Aptly entitled Rise Of The Villains and Wrath Of The Villains respectively, Season 2 capitalized on the show's love of bad guys and gave us a heaping helping of vile villains.


First off, Cameron Monaghan returns as pseudo Joker Jerome Valeska, a character only touched upon briefly in Season 1 whom many believed would end up being the small screen's Clown Prince Of Crime. Now, while has yet to be proven, for all intense and purposes, he is. Monaghan does an excellent job making this character his own and really tapping into the dark corners of Jerome's psyche. From the moment he is released from Arkham Asylum at the hands of Theo and Tabitha Galavan, Jerome shows that he's more than willing to push the envelope that much further - all in an effort to terrorize the populace of Gotham. Eventually promoted to the leader of a gang known as The Maniax, Jerome's story shines brightest during the attack on the GCPD. Monaghan excellently takes inspiration from the late Heath Ledger and proves once and for all that, should Gotham introduce The Joker, he's the one who'll best pull it off. Despite an apparent demise half way through the season, Jerome is a psychotic delight to behold and a character that easily brings viewers the most enjoyable story arc of Gotham in Season 2.

However, he's just the tip of the iceberg.

Nathan Darrow brings a cold, calculating presence to the role of Dr. Victor Fries - the future Batman rogue known as Mr. Freeze. However, one cannot help but feel sorry for this poor man, who is really only a villain by circumstance, as all he really wants is to cure his wife's incurable illness and return to the normal life they once had. Sure, he goes about it the wrong way, but it's really hard not to sympathize with what he's going through.


Fries eventually becomes the tool of one Professor Hugo Strange, played brilliantly by Jurassic World actor BD Wong. Masquerading as nothing more than the head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Strange is one bad dude. In his spare time, away from prying eyes, Strange also serves as the head of Indian Hill. A top secret research facility owned by Wayne Enterprises, Indian Hill specializes in experimentation on humans and monsters alike. It is here where Strange unleashes some of the most volatile creations to grace the streets of Gotham to date. Not only is Strange responsible for the creation of Mr. Freeze, but a host of other monsters including the pyromaniac known as Firefly and the unstoppable assassin Azrael. It is later revealed that these experiments come at the request of The Court, a top secret organization that has been running the city from the shadows for generations. Looking to unlock the path to immortality, the organization put Strange in their employ to accomplish this goal once and for all.

However, in the end, the Indian Hill operation is uncovered by the likes of Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox and Strange sets a plan in motion to destroy all proof of his work at the location. This results in an old foe returning from the dead and escaping into the city - along with a busload of Strange's mutants and monsters.

And it's not just the newcomers that shine in Season 2. Old favorites such as Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma return, continuing down a path that will transform them into two of the Batman's greatest foes. Ed, once the nervous little forensics expert at the GCPD, jumps feet first into the abyss to emerge a psychotic serial killer hell-bent on bringing down Jim Gordon for wrongs committed during the events of the season. Meanwhile, the Penguin, now the most powerful man in Gotham, looks to avenge the death of his beloved mother while looking to find a sense of family in the wake of her passing. Still always the opportunist, Penguin sends Gordon down a dark path in exchange for helping him return to the ranks of the GCPD. The line between good and bad soon becomes blurred as viewers are reminded that not even the most noble people on the planet are perfect, and his final interaction with the mysterious Theo Galavan still has us in complete and total shock.


The bottom line here is that Gotham shines because of its villains.

Yes, the heroes are enjoyable to watch as well, especially Bruce Wayne as he continues to uncover the truth behind the murder of his parents, but the sophomore year goes to the bad guys.

Now, we know this show isn't for everyone, but we urge fans to give it a second chance. Granted, it's not a Batman show, which is something many were hoping for, but one that focuses on the world that transforms him from an innocent child into the world's greatest detective. Sure, it takes a few liberties and isn't the best at sticking to the source material, but it's different from every other comic book show on the air - and that alone makes it a winner in our book.

With the monsters of Indian Hill now on the loose throughout Gotham, we're betting Season 3 will continue to be as engaging and entertaining as the events of last year - something fans will not want to miss out on!

Season 3 of Gotham kicks off tomorrow night at 8pm.

Season 2 is now available to own on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Special thanks to Gary Miereanu for making this review possible.

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