When “Gotham” premiered on Fox last fall, I wasn’t completely sold.
The pilot episode of the Batman prequel, which shows a young Bruce Wayne and many of Gotham’s iconic villains years before their prime, was a bit overrated.
The show overdid the introduction of each character to make sure you knew exactly who each character would grow up to become. (Every time a young Poison Ivy popped up on screen she was behind a plant for crying out loud. The future Riddler did nothing but ask eyeroll worthy questions to colleagues at the Gotham Police Department.)
Thankfully, the show proved me wrong.
After a few episodes, the series began to come into its own with twists and turns.
Much of that was due to the sadistic, unpredictable villains — Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Carmine Falcone (John Doman), Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan), and, above all, Robin Lord Taylor’s master manipulator, The Penguin.
Young Bruce Wayne? He quickly became possibly the least interesting facet of the series. And that was just fine. The villains — and learning about their backstories — is by far the best thing about “Gotham.”
Perhaps that’s why season two is being touted as “The Rise of the Villains.”
Last year’s fall favourite returns Monday evening on Fox, and after watching the first two episodes it looks like we’re in for another killer season.
We continue to see the descent of favourite Batman villains into their iconic characters.
After taking out the biggest crime lords at the end of last season, The Penguin is now the self-proclaimed “King of Gotham,” and will try and stay there. Meanwhile, Edward Nygma continues to unravel into the iconic Riddler fans love. His opening scene is fantastic as we watch as his trembling, nerdy frail persona try to fight off an ever-growing voice inside his head wanting to come out.
Barbara Kean, Jim Gordon’s ex-fianceé, is also getting very interesting. She ends up going mental and killing her parents, andwe start to see a completely darker side to her character heading into season two. It’s a strange, but very welcome departure from the canon.
A few new characters are brought onto the scene as well.
We’ll see a brother and sister duo, Theo and Tabitha Galavan. Fans will recognise them as a future set of villains (presumably Tygrus and Tigress). We’ll also see more of Chris Chalk’s Lucius Fox (one of Wayne’s future right hands). Ben McKenzie, who plays Detective Jim Gordon, has also hinted we’ll see the future Mr. Freeze, Dr. Strange, and Firefly soon, too!
However, the standout over the season’s first two episodes is Jerome Valeska, the future Joker, who first made an appearance near the end of season one.
If you have been craving more of Cameron Monaghan’s stellar performance as the troubled teen, get ready to see a lot more of him.
Every moment with the overly confident jokester on screen is electrifying.
The way he carries himself, his facial expressions, and manner in which he menacingly raises and lowers the pitch of his voice at a moment’s notice appear slightly inspired by a combination of Heath Ledger’s take on the character in 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and Mark Hamill’s animated version of the character.
If that isn’t enough, Monaghan’s certifiably deranged cackle will leave you grinning as well.
I won’t say much more, but we get to see just how twisted this character is by episode two.
By focusing heavily on its villains, it looks like “Gotham” is taking a page from ABC’s popular fairytale hit “Once Upon A Time” which explores the backstories of many classic villains.
While “Once” aims to humanize many of its villains, “Gotham” definitely isn’t aiming for that. These are some pretty dark characters. In the first two episodes alone you see a character unabashedly douse a full schoolbus with gasoline before getting ready to set it ablaze, all without blinking an eye. Instead, “Gotham” is just showing us how the Clown Prince of Crime and the rest of Batman’s rogues’ gallery ended up where they are today.
It’s certainly working.
“Gotham” returns to Fox Monday, September 21 at 8 p.m.
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