Gotham’s Midseason Premiere Throws You Back into the Deep End of Mad City

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX.

Gotham Midseason Premiere “Ghosts” Plot Summary:

After Mario Falcone’s death at the hands of Gordon (Ben McKenzie), Carmine (John Doman) and Lee (Morena Baccarin) want vengeance, while Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) investigate a rather peculiar murder.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) loses his mind when the ghost of his father (Paul Reubens) returns to haunt him.  Bruce (David Mazouz) tries to get Selina (Camren Bicondova) to make amends with her long lost mother (Ivana Milicevic).

Gotham wasted no time following the events of Gordon’s little cabin visit from the mid-season finale.  People are pissed off left and right.  Gordon has a death mark.  Oswald has a death mark.  People are coming back from the dead.  It feels like that line from Dumb & Dumber when Lloyd shouts “Our pets’ heads are falling off!”  Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) had the most poignant line from the episode: “These days I no longer say impossible.” Amen, Lucius.  While clunky at times, this was a great way to dive back into everybody’s favorite mad city.

As nobody stays dead in Gotham, I fully expect Mario to come back at some point in this series.  As least for now, Mario is very dead, and this has obvious ramifications for one James Gordon.  The best part of this episode was Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan).  Not only was this Anthony Carrigan’s best performance, but I love how Zsasz basically walks into Gordon’s apartment and says “Yeah, I’m going to kill you.”  Zsasz was all business, yet also hilarious.  He had some truly great moments with Gordon.  There’s a real respect there.  His last scene in particular was very emblematic of his character.  Despite being a total nut bar killer, he has a code of honor.  That’s a good villain.

We fully expected Carmine to go full revenge mood after what happened to his son.  It’s great to see John Doman at the forefront of an episode.  That’s never a bad thing.  While Doman was great, it’s surprisingly Lee Thompkins who was the real hellcat bent on vengeance.  Her scene at the police station where she scathes Gordon was fantastic.  We never get to see Lee this vindictive, but Baccarin nailed it.  You could say this was a sudden turn for the character, but come on.  Not only is her husband dead, but think of all the terrible things that have happened to her since meeting Jim Gordon.  She was bound to snap.  Even though all of this resolves itself fairly quickly, I’m pretty sure we haven’t heard the last of Mario Falcone’s death.

The other dangling storyline that had us salivating was Nygma’s (Cory Michael Smith) alliance with Barbara (Erin Richards) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) for all out Oswald payback.  This was played beautifully.  From the first time we see Oswald, we are already on edge.  Everything and everyone that Oswald comes into contact with could be screwing with him.  They brilliantly introduce a few questionable characters, such as a blood thirsty TV interviewer (Jan Maxwell), and an odd new chief of staff (Dave Quay), who looks like a creepy looking Neil Patrick Harris.  As soon as Paul Reubens comes back into the fold, we know it’s Nygma messing with him.  How it all gets revealed though was very satisfying, including bringing back a character they briefly introduced from last season.  This is going to be a rough few weeks for Penguin.

Speaking of returning characters, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the big tease from last time – Jerome’s return.  While I thoroughly enjoyed this character, I was somewhat disappointed they decided to bring him back.  I loved the idea of Jerome’s death inspiring crazy, which leads to one of the citizens of Gotham becoming the actual Joker, or so we think.  This episode gave me exactly what I wanted.  You see Jerome’s influence over Gotham City without him actually being alive.  That was brilliant.  They also do a much better job at the mere idea of the Joker than that garbage Suicide Squad movie, which had the actual Joker!  Okay, let’s not go down that road again.  Oy vey.  By the end of the episode, it’s pretty clear Jerome is coming back.  I’m looking forward to seeing the character, but I’d rather have them use Jerome almost like a myth.

The only storyline that didn’t really hit was Selina and her mommy issues.  There’s a few funny moments with Alfred (Sean Pertwee), and Bicondova’s acting significantly elevates the tired, cliché parent abandonment back story, but this was fairly underwhelming.  Let’s get these characters back to investigating the Court of Owls.  That was more interesting.

There’s a few lazy sequences in this one, including Gordon just leaving Zsasz after he had him at his mercy.  Seriously, what was that about?  Despite that, this was a damn good way to get back into the swing of things.  The pacing of Oswald’s paranoia was superb, and there’s one legit jump moment with Bullock and Gordon that was well edited.  Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is only in one scene, but it’s critical.  Much like Oswald’s poll numbers, Gotham’s future remains high.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.