Now that they have Gotham's attention, the Maniax! must prepare for their grand entrance.
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GOTHAM: Clowning Around Town

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Episode 202 “Knock, knock”

Theo (James Frain) kicks off episode two of this season by kidnapping Mayor James (Richard Kind) and presenting him with an offer he can’t refuse. Atop the Gotham Gazette Jerome cleverly orchestrates the distribution of some doomed souls as they are tossed onto the streets below. The gruesome scene gives us the name of the lunatic crew – Maniaxs!

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At the precinct, Gotham City PD, Commissioner Essen (Zabryna Guevara) and Gordon are on the case. Theo treats the Maniax to breakfast in his penthouse and discussed the next phases of his plan to disrupt and disturb the city.  Barbara and Tabitha, now fast friends, parade the mayor through the room, playfully torturing him along the way. Theo piques Barbara’s interest, asking her to dish on Gordon.

Jim briefs the department on each of the escaped convicts.
Jim briefs the department on each of the escaped convicts.

Bruce and Alfred explore the bat cave 1.0. Spare pints of blood, a bullet riddled vest and guns reveal new details about the elder Wayne’s activities. Determined to know the truth, Bruce powers on the computer, but Alfred smashes it. Shocked and upset Bruce demands an explanation. We’re finally treated to a powerful scene between Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) as the young master seeks answers and stotic butler struggles with his new role as mentor and guardian. Bruce is beside himself, awash in emotion; he fires Alfred for thwarting his one chance to know the truth.

Back in the penthouse the cannibal and Jerome come into conflict over a samurai sword. Theo mediates and selects the most dangerous game to determine the leader. Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) gets to finally stretch his legs and channel his clever mix of past Jokers, Nicolson and Romero. Challenged to a game of Russian roulette, Jerome demonstrates his fearless insanity crushing the cannibal’s bid for the lead role.

Theo offers up a solution to a disagreement between his men.
Theo offers up a solution to a disagreement between his men.

At the GCPD Gordon informs Essen, via a tip from Harvey, that the Maniax stole a tanker full of gas and an APB has been issued. Essen and Gordon talk briefly about Harvey’s retirement foreshadowing predicable outcome later in the show. We are treated to another awkwardly amusing scene with Nygma and Kringle. Cory Smith delights us with his quirky performance as Nygma, delving into depths of his fragmented mind.

The Maniax select a busload of cheerleaders to terrorize. As they scream in terror, Jerome soaks them gas and prepares to light it when Gordon and the police arrive. Gordon thwarts their plan, saving the cheerleaders and apprehending one of the lunatics. Tabitha ties up loose ends from a distant rooftop by shooting the captured Maniax in the head.

Bruce quickly realized he needs help in his crusade and catches up with Alfred a the train station. He hammers out a deal with Alfred to train him for the perils ahead and in return he will go back to school. This scene is a good conclusion to the heated exchange earlier and sets up possibly the best scene in the show.

Alfred “accidentally” bumps into Lucius Fox. Alfred spins an amusing yarn about trust right out of a Guy Richie masterpiece. Lucius assures him that he has nothing but the best intentions for Bruce. Alfred promises dire consequences if Fox betrays him. This engaging scene is capped off by his hilarious query asking Fox if he is good at fixing computers.

As the episode reaches its explosive conclusion, Gordon is all too easily lured out of the building into an ambush by Barbara and is beaten senseless by the Maniax brute Aaron. In his absence Jerome, the cannibal and some extra muscle enter the GCPD bullpen dressed as cops. Jerome easily corners Commissioner Essen in her office as the rest begin a bloody massacre. Tying up Essen, Jerome monologues while the cannibal films the events. The fiery commissioner gets in a few licks and Jerome kills the cannibal out of spite.

Commissioner Essen dies in Jim's arms.
Commissioner Essen dies in Jim’s arms.

Gordon struggles back to consciousness in the alley and, bloodied, hobbles back to the precinct. Several officers lay dead, many more are wounded, but Essen is the worst off having suffered a mortal wound at the hands of Jerome, dying moments after Gordon’s return. This can only spell grim consequences for the GCPD. With the pending arrival of Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) and Gordon still to young to take up the mantle of commissioner, could this spell the return of Loeb?

The episode closes with Bullock returning to the GCPD whether his fiancée understands or not. He and Gordon honor the commissioner’s better qualities in her office. As the precinct reels from the devastating impact of Jerome’s assault a video surfaces of the young clown chastising the city, defying their definition of sanity and urging the citizen’s the wake up.

What worked?

Without a doubt Alfred and Bruce. Their characters finally show some depth as conflict strengthens their relationship in the show’s sophomore season. I have enjoyed Alfred’s portrayal by Sean Pertwee through the show’s run, but felt it was stunted. Let’s hope these scenes are signs of good things to come as the season develops.

As always Cory Smith’s Nygma is a delight. Depicting madness on screen can be hard enough as a vetted actor; this young talent, coupled with well-written scenes, is confronting the task head on. Cameron Monaghan as well has some great scenes as the Joker, convincing me he is one to watch in this role.

Nygma attempts a conversation with Ms. Kringle.
Nygma attempts a conversation with Ms. Kringle.

What didn’t?

Nearly everything involving Gordon is a wash. While the Jim and Harvey scenes speak of a show with much more promise, the procedural elements fall very short. Gordon demonstrates a complete lack of insight and, at times, intelligence throughout the episode.  With all of the GCPD’s resources he is unable to find even the tiniest lead without the help of Bullock. He spots Kean, a wanted felon, in the precinct, but never asks for assistance and pursues her into an alley by himself. Looking back over season one up until now it’s difficult to believe Gotham’s police force has not collapsed under the weight of its own stupidity.

Please bring in the procedural super star you have waiting in the wings! Chiklis may be the only thing, aside from some developing villains, that can keep this show off life support.

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Christopher Jensen

Christopher Jensen grew up surrounded by fandom. Sharing a love of comics with his father and movies & TV with his mother there was no shortage entertainment. Now based in Kansas City he has taken the next step, entering the world of independent film production.

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