Gotham is the first of the DC shows to return this autumn. Highly anticipated fourth season made its debut on its new airing night Thursday 21st September 2017. With Gotham teasing us with new promos, an exciting trailer and new cast images gave the fandom of Gotham a lot to look forward to. The cast photograph alone showed two new additions to the principal cast, Ra’s Al Ghul ( Alex Siddig) and Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed ).
The identity of Butch/Solomon Grundy played by one of my personal favourites Drew Powell will be kept a secret until the episode airs. As always the countdown on social media began, especially on twitter. Gothamites got to together to live tweet get the #GothamSeason4 trending. One of favourite tweets was from GothamTvPodcast
— Gotham TV Podcast (@GothamTVPodcast) September 22, 2017
So let’s start from the beginning. The episode opened with a darker scenic view of Gotham city as Bruce Wayne surveys and watches, he spots a mugging and intervenes to prevent a potential tragedy. There is something different about this criminal he has a license to commit a crime which has been issued by The Penguin. A movement in the shadows spooks Bruce, Ra’s Al Ghul is watching in the darkness. Alfred and Bruce discuss his training, why he has chosen to wear a mask in a brilliant scene. Bruce discussing the madness of the licenses being issued, I personally am not surprised it is Gotham after all. Alfred expressing his concern that he should concentrate on one thing, get ready for Ra’s Al Ghul. Bruce bring the determined young man he is believes he can do both and make Gotham safe.
One of the stand out scenes in this episode sees the return of a Gotham favourite Victor Zsasz. A wedding interrupted by a gang to rob the guests of their jewellery, unknown to them Zsasz is there to remind them ‘No License No Crime’ Penguins rules. The fun part of this scene was when the wedded couple thank Zsasz, he soon informs them that the another gang arriving does have a license and therefore rob them.
Before we get to see the grand opening of The Iceberg Lounge, Oswald ‘The Penguin’ Cobblepot discusses with new Mayor of Gotham and the Commissioner of the GCPD the value of the licenses. Within three months Oswald took back control of the underworld and reduced crime at a historic low by reducing crime by 57%. The Mayor doesn’t want to unionise crime, but with the usual persuasion from Penguin and that using “Crime Enhanced professionals where they held upon agreed terms.”
With the gathering of the press at The Iceberg Lounge, which is visibly stunning as I expected it to be, Penguin is asked a few tricky questions one being the whereabouts of Barbara Keen as the club used to The Sirens and she hasn’t been seen for months. With Penguin managing to steer the conversation away from the licences he reveals with Ivy’s help the centre piece of the nightclub frozen Edward Nygma. The press believe Penguin’s very well thought through story that Ed was suffering with a brain disease and will remain frozen until a cure is found. Not good old fashioned revenge. Jim Gordon turning up in front of the press doesn’t go down to well as he accuses Oswald of being a fraud.
At least Jim Gordon’s starts this season as a Detective and not demoted or as bounty hunter tracking down the Gotham monsters. His disapproval of the Licenses of Misconduct becomes very apparent as he goes to get his coffee from the corner pub, Frank the owner is being held at gunpoint by someone who has been issued one of these licenses. For Jim his main concern when he discuss the licenses with Captain Harvey Bullock is that the GCPD are losing respect and they would rather turn to Penguin. Jim is not prepared to turn Gotham city over to Penguin. Bullock is prepared to bust Penguin but not yet as Gotham as is getting back on its feet. So what Jim needs to do if he sees a license ignore it and walk away.
Arkham Asylum was another new visual treat. We don’t enter through the usual familiar gates the camera angle takes us over the river of Gotham to see a remarkable side view. Arkham itself has new impressive creepier, darker and spooky feel to it. The Merton gang, lead by Merton (Michael Buscemi) decide because of their failed attempt of robbing the wedding. Grady ( Michael Maize ) an ex orderly from Arkham arranges a meeting with the new Arkham Warden, Warden Reed (Damien Young) who in his own persona is incredibly creepy and hasn’t really got the best intentions for the Arkham inmates. The person they are here for is Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahn) returning from season one, who is crouched down on the floor in his padded cell scribbling on the floor. Grady recalls how he used to talk about a formula that his father made “some sort of scare juice. Makes you see your greatest fear”.
Merton is keen to get hold of that so they don’t have to worry about Zsasz or Penguin and in fact nobody. So a large sum of money is exchanged and intensively scared Jonathan is taken by the Merton gang. What is left in Jonathan’s cell on the floor a drawing of a Scarecrow which is symbolic as Jonathan Crane’s biggest fear is Scarecrows.
It’s when the Merton Gang take Jonathan to his old family home that’s when I really feel deeply sorry for him. His father, Gerald Crane hid his notebooks and formulas under the floorboards. So Merton himself expects Jonathan to replicate the formula into more scare juice, with this they proceed to rob a bank. With the first question being asked do you have a license and Merton spraying the man full in the face with fear toxin, which he sees fiery demons. With knowledge that the gang that hit the bank had no license Gordon calls it a public message to Penguin. With a lead Gordon notices the way the victims are acting their,terror reminds him of the Cranes formula. As Jim points out to Harvey, Gerald maybe Dead but Jonathan isn’t.
Selina Kyle came out of the darkness and walked into a gang in the alley way, she did warn them to leave her alone. With a crack of her whip Selina takes out all five of them, what I realised at the end of this impressive action sequences it was a training exercise and Camren Bicondova now is doing some of her own stunts. Selina is now with her mentor Tabitha who is impressed with her latest efforts. When they arrive back at their apartment with their pizza, Zsasz is waiting for them. With an invitation to kiss the ring so Selina and Tabitha can obtain their license at the opening of The Iceberg Lounge. Tabitha refuses to work for Penguin, but Selina is quickly points out that she came to Tabitha to do better in life, which ain’t happening at the moment. The roof scene between Selina and Bruce I discussed with my friend Sara who live in Florence Italy, felt it was a very good metaphor. Bruce and Selina were trying to say the right words while trying to keep balance and how their actions related in their movements.
Bruce Wayne definitely starts to show some impressive proto-Batman skills he appears behind Jim at the GCPD after a discussion about the licenses and how to get the master list so they can trace the criminal to the crime. Bruce invites Jim to dinner at the house, Jim turns his back still talking to Bruce, but Bruce disappears in silence.
Bruce and Alfred’s meeting with Oswald at the opening of The Iceberg Lounge was another favourite scene in this episode. Bruce’s confidence and Alfred commenting in the only way Alfred does on Oswald frozen mate and enquiring if Nygma is still alive in there. Bruce congratulating Penguin on what he has done for the city, but Bruce wants to know how the licenses work. Alfred reminding Bruce that a little discretion might be needed. But Bruce pushes forward for information. Of Penguin doesn’t want to implicate himself, but Bruce reassures him that anything is said stays between them. Penguin asks Bruce “would you be agreeable to the idea of licensed crime?”
“If crime had been licensed and controlled three years ago my parents would still be alive.” Bruce quite bluntly tells Penguin. Penguin deals with the guidelines while Mr Penn ( who is stood over in the corner looking awkward) handles all of the details. Alfred congratulates Bruce on his findings, but is soon distracted when he see Selina.
The other Bruce and Penguin scene that stood out for me was when Oswald discovers the Merton gang in the kitchens at the nightclub and decides to make an example of them and why the licenses are needed as they are men that want to put fear into the people of Gotham. Bruce watches on as Penguin wants the people in the club that it’s Oswald Cobblepot that keeps Gotham safe not the GCPD. Bruce intervenes and demanding to know what Penguin is going to do with the men. Bruce understands that Oswald does the dirty work that nobody else will do it, but he feels the Merton gang should be turned over to the police. The key moment for me personally in this scene is when Oswald tells Bruce he is young with a good heart, there is moment in Oswald’s reaction his emotions slip back in as he looks at Bruce almost remembering how he was at Bruce’s age and his desire to be loved and never really having a chance at a good life.
In good old Gotham chaotic style, Ivy decides to get a little bit of revenge on Penguin and shuts down the electrics in the club which enables the Merton Gang to attack Oswald and spray him with scare juice. Gordon and Bullock turn up as Zsasz and Tabitha pull out their guns. Alfred knocks a few of the gang out and ends up in a pretty impressive face off with Zsasz. Oswald opens his eyes after being sprayed and sees his fear, a demonic Edward Nygma asking “are you scared?” Penguin is left screaming as Bullock and Gordon arrest Merton, still begging and screaming for help Oswald clings to Jim as the press very happily get there opening night pictures at The Iceberg Lounge.
The episode is rounded up nicely with a hooded and masked Bruce retrieving the master list from Mr Penn and following an alarm bell Bruce looks through a glass roof top window watching licensed criminals during a burglary. The glass breaks beneath his weight and sends him cashing to the floor which startles the intruders as they make a run for it as the GCPD turn up and Bruce’s is under arrest.
Grady returns to the Crane house to get Jonathan to make more scare juice to get Merton out of prison. He is greeted by a figure dressed in sacks and a low growling sinister voice “Jonathan Crane isn’t here anymore, just the Scarecrow!”
The Scarecrow has this deep distorted roaring as he gases Grady he falls to the ground screaming. Whilst being left alone Jonathan learnt to embrace his fear.
This was an excellent start to the new season of Gotham A Dark Knight. Some really interesting new characters such as Warden Reed. The return of Charlie Tahn playing Jonathan Crane was a huge relief to lots of Gotham fans as he was a favourite from season 1. You can see why the team at CoSA VFX recently won an Emmy for their special effects work on Gotham already what they have done with the Scarecrow is superb. Victor Zsasz being a huge part of this episode lets hope we see a lot more of this homicidal maniac throughout the season. As always the writing and direction has already surpassed season 3.
The next episode is called “Fear the Reaper” which was previewed to an audience at the New York TriBeCa Television Festival last night, Saturday 23 September 2017. Danny Cannon, Robin Lord Taylor, Ben McKenzie, Erin Richards and Jessica Lucas attended the festival.