In Review: Gotham, Episode 23 “Damned If You Do”

Terrific opener with the pot being stirred by two new villains.

Gotham, Episode 23 “Damned If You Do” Broadcast September 21, 2015


Written by Bruno Heller

Directed by Danny Cannon

“Last season on Gotham“, Bruce realizes his father’s secret is in the den, Bullock tells Gordon not to go after Loeb but he does anyway, Nygma’s breakdown continues, Gordon confronts Jerome who laughs maniacally, Barbara reveals to Leslie she killed her parents, Cobblepot pushes Mooney off a building and proclaims, “I’m the king of Gotham!” Bruce hits a button on an electronic device and a secret passage is revealed behind the fireplace.

Bruce and Alfred descend some stairs and find a large door with an electronic keypad. The boy tries several codes but is denied entrance. “One month later”, James goes to work with Leslie doing his tie, Bullock is cleaning a counter at the bar he tends, before a crowd of onlookers Penguin kisses a man before signaling to Zsasz to kill him, and Barbara walks into Arkham to serve her sentence, with Jerome looking on. That night a man commands “Drink it all” and passes a vial of luminescent blue liquid to a stout, kneeling man. “Thank you, master.” After imbibing, the man laughs. Daytime, and the man appears on the street in a bizarre costume and produces two pistols saying, “I am Zaardon, the soul reaper!” Gordon is a street cop on the scene and pulls his weapon on the lunatic, who drops his guns and pulls a sword. Holstering his weapon, Gordon easily takes the wannabe criminal down. His plump partner, Officer Frank, appears, late, eating a hoagie. At police headquarters, Zaardon is booked and warns Gordon “Dark days are coming.” Washing up in the locker room, Gordon encounters Nygma, who begins to talk to his image in the mirror after Gordon is summoned to Essen’s office. After a conversation with himself, the scene shifts to Gordon being fired from his job by Commissioner Loeb for laying his hands on Frank. Essen speaks out in his defense, but Loeb tells her to stand down. Gordon gives up his badge and gun. Back in the pen, Zaardon sleeps, snoring out a blue mist. Cue opening title sequence.

At Leslie’s, James admits he’s not happy he’s been fired, but she expresses relief. Now that he’s not a cop he considers breaking the rules. Inside Arkham Asylum, Jerome introduces himself to Barbara and tells her that fellow inmate Richard Sionis, a millionaire, is looking at her “like fried chicken.” He insinuates that she could use a friend since the guards let bad things happen. She calls over the biggest inmate, flirts with him, and gets him to promise to protect her. “Now I have a friend.” Jerome smiles, “Ooooh, you’re bad.” He then tells her something to change her tune. At Penguin’s new house, Butch is reporting that a criminal doesn’t want to pay his debt to Cobblepot, because it was to Falcone, not him, so he feels he doesn’t have to pay. Before the Penguin can decide what to do, Gordon is announced, who enters to meet a gleeful Cobblepot. The room is cleared, save Selina Kyle. Their conversation is the main plot of the episode. Cue first commercial break.

This episode starts the new season off well with Gordon looking to make a deal with the devil, Bruce having one heck of a conversation with Gordon, Barbara being a femme fatale, Penguin being evil incarnate, Loeb having a very uncomfortable scene, Ed continuing his slide to madness, and Jerome stealing every scene he’s in. The characters are taking little steps toward their more familiar comic book roles, and it was terrific! This episode introduces Theo and Tabitha Galavan, who appear to be the pair responsible for the villain themed season. I’m very interested to see how they can manipulate the six escapees to do their bidding. And why do I think Selina will pay close attention to Tabitha? It was nice to see what was behind Wayne’s door and what he left behind for his son. This was a good episode.

The good: David Mazouz, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards (Wow, is she chewing up the scenery!), Peter Scolari, Anthony Carrigan, and Cameron Monaghan, who’s stealing every scene he’s in. Penguin as head of the mob was great, and his deal with James even better. Good conflict from Ben McKenzie as Gordon tries to decide what to do. Great effect in Loeb’s kitchen, and I love the handshake between Loeb and Gordon.

Fun lines: “Bad idea,” “Never better,” “I think we need a little more fun,” “I told you I’d break you. I will,” “Eat my wind, ginger,” “My dear old friend,” “Tryin’,” “Sometimes the right way is also the ugly way,” “I did a bad thing,” “There’s magic here,” and “Dear Bruce…”

The bad: When Gordon is running there are two sequences shot with him wearing a camera on his chest to get the frantic nature of his sprint. It looks horrible; it resembles bad camera shots from those horrible paranormal reality shows. It completely took me out of the story. This was done once before on this show and it looked bad. It hasn’t improved. With the addition of the Galavans, other characters are getting the back seat, which amounted to extended cameos for Donal Logue, Camren Bicondova, and Cory Michael Smith. It’s a shame because they’re so good, and I realize it can’t always be about the A-list villains, but it was a tad disappointing.

The final line: Terrific opener with the pot being stirred by two new villains. Glad this is back and looking forward to the season. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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