- by Jeff Beck
Gotham: The Complete Second Season: An Even More Compelling Sophomore Effort (Blu-ray)
When “Gotham” premiered two years ago, it was met with a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not such a show would work. In fact, there were many who wouldn’t even look past the fact that it didn’t focus on Batman like most adaptations of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s universe of characters. However, for those who were able to get past its original approach (i.e. focusing on Detective Gordon and the villains he faces as a detective), they were treated to a fascinating show that consisted of several captivating storylines, a compelling cast of characters, and a fresh angle that gave us a unique take on this oft-explored world. In short, what we got was one of the best new shows of the fall lineup, leaving many to wonder if it would be able to keep up such a high level of quality for a second season. It’s certainly a tall order, but with one outstanding season already under their belt, there never really felt any cause to be anything other than optimistic.
Picking up shortly after the thrilling events of the season finale, we find that Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has been reassigned to traffic duty and Bullock (Donal Logue) has quit the force to become a bartender. However, these changes don’t last long as Gordon is able to get himself reinstated as a detective with a little help from Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), who is now the main crime boss of Gotham. Around this time, several inmates, including Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), are broken out of Arkham Asylum by a man called Theo Galavan (James Frain), who sends them out to cause chaos in the city. Because of this, Bullock rejoins the force and helps Gordon to hunt them down. As we soon learn, Galavan’s plan involves getting revenge on the Wayne family for tarnishing his family’s name, but with Theo’s glorified public persona and strong means, it proves to be quite difficult to bring him to justice.
The second half of the season begins with the rise of the infamous villain known as Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow), who is trying to find a cure for his wife’s illness. Aside from Freeze’s reign of terror, Gordon also has to deal with being framed for the murder of a GCPD cop, a crazed assassin who will stop at nothing to see him dead, and a mysterious professor known as Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong), who is running a series of experiments in a facility below Arkham Asylum. Once more, several storylines intertwine, including those of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who continues to investigate his father’s work and the murder of his parents, Oswald Cobblepot, who struggles to maintain his grip on the city, and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), whose dark personality begins to assert itself much more, as the show continues to weave the tapestry of rich characters that inhabit this dark, menacing city.
The first season of “Gotham” flew high on its incredible group of characters, consisting of both intriguing heroes and villains, and a compelling arc that featured a faceoff between rival crime bosses for control of the city. However, it’s in season two where the story arcs are truly allowed to shine, with the strong cast of characters continuing to expand as we delve deeper into the tangled web that the show has created.
What’s particularly interesting about this latest season is that it’s split into two distinct halves, “Rise of the Villains” and “Wrath of the Villains,” both of which contain their own main story arcs. “Rise” is all about the rise of Theo Galavan from a nobody to a public figure, all the while showing us behind the scenes that he’s not quite the benevolent man he appears to be. As Gordon and Bullock discover more and more about him and what he’s trying to do, they find that he’s not that easy to bring down, a feat which only becomes more complicated when he gets elected as Mayor of Gotham. It’s the kind of arc that has you on the edge of your seat most of the time, but as we soon see, it’s just a prelude for the craziness to come.
When we come to “Wrath,” things heat up considerably, or rather they cool down with the introduction of Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze), but that’s merely the start of things. It’s in this half of the season that we see Edward Nygma break even further from reality as his “Riddler” persona establishes itself as his dominant personality. We had already seen him do something rather shocking accidentally in the first half of the season, but when he actually puts his mind into laying his evil plans, things become even more interesting.
All through this second half, we get bits and pieces of the main arc, which consists of Professor Hugo Strange running his laboratory (“Indian Hill”) from his position at Arkham Asylum. What’s particularly well-done here is how the show manages to fold almost all of the other storylines into this main one by the end of the season, with Gordon, Bullock, and Bruce realizing that something very strange is going on at the asylum, and that Strange is the man behind not only the odd characters that have been appearing around Gotham, but also perhaps the murder of Bruce’s parents.
What results is a second season that is somehow even better and more compelling than the first. This has always been the kind of show where you can just sit back and get wrapped up in the intriguing storylines and characters, but with this second set of episodes, it becomes even easier to do so. Delving deeper into the heroes and villains of this city continues to make for great entertainment, and it doesn’t show any signs up letting up soon. The latest season finale leaves us with a whole new set of problems unleashed upon the city of Gotham, and with the confirmations that we’ve gotten for upcoming villains for the third season, it seems as though things are shaping up to be just as great as before. This show really is something of a miracle. There is no reason that it should have worked, at least not this well, but somehow the people behind it have managed to get at something quite special, leaving us with a show that only continues to prove itself worthy of the infamous setting and unforgettable characters.
“Gotham: The Complete Second Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. As it was in the first season, it’s a very dark and moody show, but the picture doesn’t suffer a bit for it, instead giving you a perfectly clear and sharp image throughout all 22 episodes. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also top-notch, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and sound effects in excellent quality. Overall, the show has once again been given the best possible treatment, leaving the fans with a fantastic experience.
Gotham by Noir Light (25 Minutes): A featurette that focuses on the show’s use of the film noir style.
Alfred: Batman’s Greatest Ally (20 Minutes): A featurette that explores the fascinating relationship between Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth.
Cold-Hearted: The Tale of Victor Fries (10 Minutes): A featurette that explores the history of the villainous Mr. Freeze.
Gotham: 2015 Comic-Con Panel (16 Minutes): An excellent Q&A from last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“Gotham” comes back for its second season even better than before. Featuring an ever-expanding cast of fascinating characters, the story arcs contained in this latest season are even more compelling than what we got from the show’s onset, resulting in a show that only continues to prove how its fresh approach to the oft-adapted material works marvelously even without the beloved Dark Knight. Season three simply can’t get here soon enough.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting today.
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