The second season premiere of "Gotham" was awesome. Laugh-out-loud funny, exciting, weird and finally the show we were hoping it would be from the first season premiere. Was it consolidating the mobster plots into the best element, Robin Lord Taylor's Penguin that streamlined everything? Was it getting past the origin of the Batman origin story, finally freeing them up to play with the character's destinies? Or maybe it was the focus on the villains -- often the best part of any Batman story, anyway?
Whatever the change, the pressure was on for the second episode. Plenty of shows can repilot themselves at the beginning of the second season, but maintaining the high standard set by the introduction of Zaardon the Soul Reaper is a lofty goal indeed.
So did they do it? Read on for our recap of the biggest moment on "Knock, Knock," and find out!
Jokes On YouYouTube
After last episode found Theo Galavan (James Frain) assembling his team of Maniax, this week it turns out he hasn't wasted any time bending Gotham over his knee.
"Mr. Mayor, do you want to know who I truly am?" Theo asks, as it's slowly revealed that he's trapped the mayor's head in a box, as one does. "I'm an ardent student of human nature."
His lesson? The mayor (Richard Kind) gets a deadly spider dropped in the box, or he leaves Gotham forever. Except there's no spider, only, "monsters, who will cleanse this city in blood and fire."
We've had a lot of big bads on this show so far... But again, Theo wastes no time: Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) is casually dropping people off the top of the Gotham Gazette, with the letters "MANIAX!" written on them in spray-paint just a few seconds later.
Yeah, that's no joke.
Meet The ManiaxNicole Rivelli/FOX
In case you're wondering who's on the team that's going to burn Gotham to the ground, it's: Arnold Dobkin (Will Brill), a man who is hilariously unable to even say "good evening" without sounding crazy; Aaron Helzinger (Kevin McCormick), a brick house/the muscle; Robert Greenwood (Dustin Ybarra), a cannibal, because you have to have a cannibal; and as Gordon (Ben McKenzie) hesitantly adds, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards).
It seems pretty clear that Jerome is the leader -- or second-in-command in training, at the very least -- but Barbara has also fully gone to the dark side, happily whipping the mayor with Theo's sister Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), and demanding to know when its her turn to bring the human rain.
Only one catch? She has to sell out Gordon... Something she seems more than willing to do.
Alfred UnleashedJessica Miglio/FOX
In case you thought the Maniax were the only crazy ones, Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) are down in the Thomas-cave looking for answers... But when Bruce goes to turn his father's computer on, Alfred smashes it with a hammer.
...Which is, of course, a way of prolonging the mystery of Bruce's parents, but also leads to the shocking development that Alfred gets fired.
At first I hoped we were headed towards a hilarious series of guest stars auditioning to be Bruce's new butler -- though more likely we'd find out that Bruce died of starvation when nobody brought him sandwiches.
Also, listen. Maybe I'm a terrible person. But their next scene together, where Alfred went to say goodbye to Bruce, made me laugh out loud. Alfred says he has a train to catch, and as he reaches the door, Bruce says, "Goodbye, Alfred."
"What did you say?" Alfred says, turning excited. "I said, goodbye Alfred," Bruce answers firmly.
I mean... I know the scene was played for drama, but what the f--k did Alfred think he said? What else sounds like, "Goodbye, Alfred," that would have convinced him that Bruce was asking him to stay?
"Good guy, my friend," maybe? Anyway. LOL. Sorry not sorry.
Who's The Boss?Nicole Rivelli/FOX
In case you were wondering who will, in fact, lead the Maniax, Jerome proves it by taking 4/6 of a game of Russian Roulette all by himself. There's so much that's fun in this scene, including Theo's excited expression as he tries not to get sprayed with blood; Greenwood and Jerome fighting with chainsaws. And of course, Jerome grinning, screeching, "Who's the boss? I'mmmm the boss."
Look, I'm not totally sold on showing the young Joker -- or whoever he turns out to be -- but Monaghan is delightful in the role, channeling Mark Hamill's take from the animated series and filtering it through the current weirdness the show is reveling in.
Meanwhile, speaking of crazy...
The First Rule Of Riddle ClubNicole Rivelli/FOX
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is keeping up the crazy, too, trying to ask Ms. Kringle (Chelsea Spack) out on a date, but failing utterly. That's when his Stefan Urquelle-esque aspect emerges, suggesting that if he could just take control, everything would go much better.
But Nygma is still holding back... He may not have his sanity, but he will have. His. FREEEEDDDDOOOOOM.
Cheer FeverJose Perez/ Splash News
As Theo said, throwing people off a building was just the overture. The opening number finds the Maniax going after a bus full of cheerleaders.
The newly costumed Maniax -- they've got straight-jacket inspired coordinated costumes -- take the bus hostage, and Jerome proceeds to cover them all in gasoline. Only a faulty lighter prevents them from burning everyone alive; and when Gordon shows up to stop them, they can't even fire without killing the high school students.
So Gordon does what any sane man would do, particularly after Dobkin manages to set the fire. He hops in the bus and drives it to safety, as the gas blows up in the background. Which is not a thing gasoline does. But still.
Gordon takes Dobkin into custody, who asks for a guarantee he'll be protected -- but can't even finish his sentence before Tabitha snipes him in the head.
Anyway, one member of the gang down already, but the most dangerous ones left to go...
Let's All Ship FoxyWorthMark Seliger/FOX
Great news, everyone: we have a new ship to follow! Alfred gets back in Bruce's employ with one condition: fix the computer. So off to the bar he goes (pretty sure it's one of the ones Chuck Bass used to drink at on "Gossip Girl," but I digress), and "just happens" to sit next to Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).
They proceed to talk around whether they can trust each other -- or not... But let's be honest, they're basically flirting, right? "I have no one else to turn to," Alfred growls breathily. "I have only the best intentions for Bruce Wayne," Fox growls breathily back at him.
This is, without a doubt, the sexiest scene that's ever been done on the show... And that's the story of how I
met your motherstarted shipping #FoxyWorth.
The Call Is Coming From Inside The HouseJessica Miglio/FOX
Looks like Barbara's M.O. this season is going to be all "torturing Jim via phone," as she calls him up at the police station -- what, no one bothered to tap his phone? -- and taunts him. He says she's a good woman, she disagrees, and asks, "How do I look?"
Because, you see, the CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE POLICE STATION!!! She's dressed in red and white -- something that's clearly teasing the popular fan theory she's becoming a proto-Harley Quinn -- and manages to disappear around the corner, Gordon in pursuit.
Of course, this is just a ruse to get Gotham's only capable cop out of the station. The Maniax invade, gunning everyone except Kringle and Nygma down, and taking Essen (Zabryna Guevara) hostage. Oh, and Leslie (Morena Baccarin) is hiding under a table, in case you were wondering.
Helzinger Comes To GothamNicole Rivelli/FOX
While the station gets blown to smithereens, Gordon is getting the s--t kicked out of him by Helzinger... Who is stopped by Barbara, not because she feels bad, but because enough time has passed.
"I'm not sick, I'm free," Barbara tells Gordon, straddling him and smooching him on the mouth. "You don't get that."
She disappears, telling Gordon that he might want to see what's going on back at the office. Oh, and what's going on there? Jerome is taunting Essen, until Greenwood steals his punchline.
So Jerome shoots Greenwood in the gut (two down, btw), and then repeats his punchline, screaming with laughter. I mean, if he's not the Joker, he's the most Joker guy who's ever been born, right?
It's A New DayNicole Rivelli/FOX
Okay, if last week's episode didn't prove that everything you knew about the Bat-mythos from watching "Gotham" was wrong -- or at least the creators of the show now feel free to mess around as much as possible -- this episode underlined it as... Essen dies.
For those of you not totally familiar with the comics, there's a pretty critical plot-line in "Batman: Year One" where Gordon and Essen have an affair. It was a way for creator Frank Miller to show how broken Gordon had become, and how he crawled out of that hole to become the man we all know and love.
Pretty much since Zabryna Guevara was cast, we've been asking her when that storyline would pop its head up, and now, thanks to Jerome... It's never going to happen.
"It's a new day, Jim," Essen says, crying as she dies in his arms.
Yeah, I'll say. Look, I still don't think they're going to kill Bruce, or give Gordon a peg-leg or anything; but these first two episodes have been a clear shot across the bow. No one on the show is safe, and anything you think you know from reading decades-worth of comics won't prepare you for what's coming next.
And, by the way: that's a great thing. It makes the show feel less formulaic, and less like a done deal. Yes, we're still ending with Bruce putting on the cowl... But who knows how he'll get there, or what he'll have to do along the way.
The Dark Bullock ReturnsMichael Lavine/FOX
Okay, so we kind of skipped over the part where Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) was running a bar while his fiancée nagged him about not returning to police-work, because... That wasn't gonna last, right?
And it doesn't. After the death of Essen, Bullock puts on his hat and suit, and gets back to work with Gordon to take down the Maniax and return order to Gotham City. "We are who we are, right?" Bullock says. "No use fighting it."
That's when a video from Jerome pops up on the Gotham news -- as well as literally the tallest hairstyle on a reporter I've ever seen in my life.
"You're all prisoners," Jerome screams into the camera. "What you call sanity, is a prison in your mind. Just remember... Smile!"
With that promise in mind, we cut to black -- and Gordon and Bullock have their own work cut out for them. How deep into the darkness and the edge of their own sanity will they have to go to stop the Maniax?