'Gotham' Season 2 premiere recap: Jim Gordon's 180 from clean to crooked cop

This was one heck of an ugly way to start the season. But was it the right way?

In "Damned If You Do," Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon learn that you have to get dirty — literally and figuratively — to make any sort of progress for the greater good.


The premiere picks up where the Season 1 finale cliffhanger left off. Bruce and Alfred are walking down to the Batcave when they find a steel door secured with a passcode Bruce can't figure out.

Bruce, frustrated yet determined, insists on making a bomb to break down the door. Alfred, initially hesitant, eventually caves (pun unintentional, I swear!) and helps Bruce.


Once they blow up the door, they find a letter waiting for Bruce. It's from his dad, weeks before his murder, saying that he's paranoid something might happen to him and Bruce's mother.

(Side note: If you're worried someone's plotting to kill you, why would you walk down a dark alley at night? Or any alley? Or leave the house at all?)

He then explains his reason for keeping the cave a secret (it was to protect Bruce, aw), and imparts some fatherly advice: "You can't have both happiness and the truth. You have to choose. I beg of you, my son, please choose happiness. Unless you feel a calling — a true calling."

This is the same kid who blows up doors that stand in his way and reads philosophy books for fun. I'd say his calling as Gotham's fearless and relentless hero is pretty clear.


Joining him on this journey of self-discovery is Jim Gordon. I like that his and Bruce's character arcs run somewhat parallel. As the city's forces of good, they both have a lot of learning to do as they're molded into the heroic characters we love.

In the beginning of the episode, we see good-guy Jim dressed in his starched blue uniform with his crisp, white gloves patrolling the streets. More like directing the streets — he's been demoted to traffic cop. Ouch.

But then we see the gladiator-esque villain Zardaan shooting at pedestrians, and Jim swoops in to save the day. This would be the perfect valiant act for Jim to win his desk job back. Instead he pushes his new doughnut-eating partner for being lazy. Yes, you can have a partner more lackadaisical than Harvey.

Commissioner Loeb says that's enough to kick him off the force, but we know that won't last for long. Jim's too determined to clean up house, even if it means getting his hands dirty.

"I told you I'd break you. I will," Jim brusquely promises Loeb after he's been booted off the force.

Desperate, he goes to Penguin to call in a favor. But first, Penguin insists he must do something to prove his "true friendship." He declines without even sleeping on it.

So he goes to Wayne Manor to apologize to Bruce for not doing Penguin's bidding to get his job back and help find Bruce's parents' killer.

"Are you not sacrificing the greater good for your dignity and self-esteem?" Bruce asks Jim.

Wow. That gem of ethical advice comes from the future Batman. Bruce is supposed to be the voice of reason here! Instead, he's building homemade bombs (with a side of tea, thankyouverymuch), and telling Jim to put aside his morals to get back his old job, which is locking up people who have no morals.

But hey, he's just a child. Who would take his advice seriously?

That'd be Jim. He marches straight to Penguin's place (headquarters? lair?) and tells him he has a deal. He'll collect his debt to prove their "true friendship."

Jim goes from being a squeaky-clean cop to the dirty cop he wants to sweep out of GCPD. To collect Penguin's debt, he resorts to robbery and murder. Dear Lord, that's a lot to process in one episode, and in the season premiere, no less!

"Gotham's" biggest flaw is rushing the storyline. Last season, Barbara suddenly became a psychotic killer in a matter of a few episodes. Her maniacal ways are still taking some getting used to.

Now, Jim has become the crooked cop he hates in a matter of days of being kicked off the force. That's quite the 180. A personality change that drastic would have made more sense for the third or fourth season.

With the morality bar set this low, what depraved acts will Jim resort to in the future to keep his job (because, let's face it: this isn't the first time he's asked Penguin for a favor), and to keep the audience entertained? And how long until these acts come back to haunt him?

Highlights from "Damned If You Do": 

Best Harvey one-liner: "Whoa, slow down, Slurpy." -- Harvey to Jim as he pours him another shot.

Cutest moment: The entry code to the Batcave is "Bruce." Aw, shucks, Dad!

Creepiest-yet-funniest moment:

Ed: Stop doing that!

Ed's reflection: What?

Ed: That! Copying me.

Ed's reflection: Dude, it's a mirror. That's how they work.

Best taste in sandwiches: Penguin. What he lacks in mental stability he makes up for in peanut butter preference. Smooth for the win.

Grossest moment: Zsasz puppeteering the guard's severed head. And right after talking about the best type of sandwich!

Good guy award: Jim for walking — rather than driving drunk — to Wayne Manor. But then he went rogue and killed someone, so it's a wash.

Most eyeroll-inducing line: "Isn't she darling? It's like having a cat around the house." -- Penguin about Selina. Sigh, she's a cat. We get it.

Stripes are the new black: Love the women's uniform at Arkham. I was shocked to see the male and female inmates intermingle like that, but I guess it's okay if all they do is gossip and give each other pedicures. Every prison's that tight-knit and friendly, right?

Arkham's Bonnie and Clyde: Is anyone else getting a Harley Quinn-and-Joker vibe from Barbara and Jerome? Yes, she's still hung up on Jim, but did you see how many men were hanging around her at Arkham? She won't stay single for long.

Squad goals: Scientist/philanthropist/billionaire/secret super-villain Theo Galavan is forming a Suicide Squad, but I doubt that will be their official name. I'm just hoping they use Barbara's apartment with that clock window as their headquarters. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: Why else is she on the show if not for that badass apartment?

Though I will admit her character is more entertaining — if not terrifying — now that she has "issues." It still feels weird to see her have this much "ferocity," as Theo put it, when she was so basic before. Again, this would have been better if they had given us more of a heads up to her her insanity. Oh well. Might as well fly her freak flag high now that it's out.

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