Plot: With trepidation from Alfred (Sean Pertwee), Bruce (David Mazouz) allows his mysterious twin from Indian Hills to stay at Wayne Manor. A twisted new hypnotist (Benedict Samuel) comes to town and hires James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to track down his sister (Naian Gonzalez Norvind), who was a patient of Dr. Strange. Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) sets his sights on Mayor.
First and foremost, I called the Oswald mayoral bid. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive into another fine episode of Gotham. They packed a lot in this week. Aside from Oswald’s political aspirations, we got Bruce entertaining a new houseguest – himself. Selina (Camren Bicondova) is on the hunt for Ivy. We get our first look into Gotham’s take on the Mad Hatter. And lastly, Lee (Morena Baccarin) is back in town. Poor, Jim Gordon. Let’s start there.
Jim Gordon is a big ball of depression, but the show wisely doesn’t go an ounce of emo. In fact, the more Gordon is depressed, the more bad ass he becomes. We get to see him in a vintage Gordon brawl. That’s always a plus. Even though Gordon looks all sad at Valerie (Jamie Chung) not wanting to get breakfast, and completely craps on his little apartment, there’s a sad, but entertaining humor to the character. This was a great performance from Ben McKenzie. He’s not doing anything we haven’t seen before. Gordon becomes more and more isolated, and as soon as he sees Lee, it’s all about work and distraction. There was a subtlety to McKenzie’s performance though that really shined through. We feel the Gordon pain, even though it’s not shoved in your face. Gordon’s depression aligned nicely with the introduction of Jervis Tetch.
Jervis Tetch, AKA the Mad Hatter, has always been one of my favorite underrated Batman villains. He was also responsible for maybe the best episode of Batman: The Animated Series, “Perchance to Dream.” As Gotham usually does with its villains, they nailed it. Benedict Samuel is tailor made for this role. He’s the Mad Hatter. He’s rhyming. Controlling people. He’s obsessed with a woman named Alice. That’s another element I loved about his storyline. Alice is such a key part to Tetch’s villainy, and they actually gave her character some real development in a short amount of time. I’m excited to see their interplay throughout the season.
Jervis Tetch was a great introduction, but let’s get back to our standard Gotham adversaries. Oswald’s direction in season two was hit or miss. Robin Lord Taylor takes the mayoral plot and runs full speed ahead. Perfect. It’s a tried and true Penguin storyline, and it’s already working gang busters. It brings out the best in Oswald, in particular his conniving nature. My only complaint with Taylor’s performance is that he got a bit too giddy at times. This bleeds into his bromance with Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). You can’t argue when they’re in a scene together.
The only storyline that didn’t fully work was the creepy Bruce twin. I was sour on this to begin with. It definitely had some good moments, such as Alfred sparring with Bizarro Bruce. I love how Alfred even trains while wearing his butler tux. If Alfred ever wore anything other than his butler get up, it would be like Barney Stinson not wearing a suit. The Bizarro Bruce wasn’t even the most interesting part to Bruce Wayne this week. I’m always a sucker for the Bruce/Selina interactions, and we get a great one here, including a brutally honest line from Bruce. I’m not bailing on the Bizarro Bruce yet, but next week is going to have to really wow me.
In many ways, this episode exemplified the best of what Gotham has to offer. Great lead character. Superb villains. Efficient storytelling. We even get a nice twist with Lee’s boyfriend, bringing back an old favorite from the early days of the show. That can’t end well for Lee.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)