When Gotham debuted in 2014 it was one of the most anticipated new TV shows of the season. Hopes were high for the DC adaptation but unfortunately the first season turned out to be a muddled mess. With far too many characters and storylines, Gotham’s first season was hampered by trying to do too much and putting the focus on the wrong aspects. Meant to be an origin story of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), the show descended into a battle of supporting characters and quite honestly I struggled to get to the season finale.
The showrunners promised significant changes for the second season so I went in with an open mind and I’m pleased to say, that for the most part, they fixed many of the issues that plagued the first season. Recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, Gotham: The Complete Second Season divided itself into two parts: Rise of the Villains and Wrath of the Villains. Unlike the first season there was an actual story arc running through both parts that made it a much more coherent season.
With Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) dead, Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) takes over as the city’s crime boss and creates a fragile relationship with Jim after he helps him get his job back. The big bad for the season is Theo Galavan (James Frain), who is running for Mayor and also assembling an army of villains that includes Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). Aided by his sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), Galavan plots against Gotham and Jim while seeming like the perfect gentleman and ideal mayoral candidate. He also has his eye on Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is still searching for the truth about who murdered his parents.
Despite there still being a lot of characters, Gotham really establishes what I believe it attempted to do in season one. It pays service to long time fans of the DC comics but this time round it puts the focus in the right places allowing the storylines of Jim and Bruce to really breathe. The introduction of Galavan was a great decision as he truly brings a menace and sense of danger that Fish Mooney didn’t have in the first season, and he feels like a formidable enemy.
Outside of the main storyline Cobblepot goes on quite the journey in season 2, with an exploration of his family proving to be a highlight, and Cory Michael Smith gets the opportunity to shine as he embraces his Riddler persona as Nygma. Barbara’s character is sidelined a little, which I don’t have a problem with as she was too prominent in season one, and for the most part the dull mob war of season one is left behind. Dr Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) and his shenanigans at Arkham Asylum and Indian Hill are also a very strong part of the season.
It feels like Ben McKenzie has relaxed into the role a little. He was a bit wooden and unconvincing during the show’s first season but he’s much better this time round. The real stars of the show though are the younger cast with David Mazouz turning in a fine performance as the troubled young Bruce and Cory Michael Smith and Robin Lord Taylor stealing the show as Nygma and Cobblepot respectively. Of the adult cast Sean Pertwee gets much more to do this season and he’s made Alfred into one of the show’s best characters.
Special features on the release include a 2015 Comic Con panel featurettes, character profiles, featurettes on characters including Alfred and Victor Fries and much more.
Gotham: The Complete Second Season feels like a very different show than the first season. The tone is more even, the storylines are much more focused and it doesn’t have the dip in quality that the first season experienced. Instead season two is an addictive, fun and hugely enjoyable season that sets things up very nicely for the show to soar during its third season later in the year. If the showrunners stick to the approach they took for season two, season three could be the show’s finest season to date.
Cast: Ben McKenzie, David Mazouz, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Camren Bicondova, Sean Pertwee, Erin Richards, Michael Chiklis, Donal Logue, Jessica Lucas, James Frain, Morena Baccarin Certificate: 15 Duration: 961 mins Released By: Warner Home Video Release Date: 1st August 2016