Gotham: Back on Track!

GOTHAM: Bruce (David Mazouz) in the ÒDamned if you Do,É Ó Season Two premiere of GOTHAM airing Monday, Sept. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
GOTHAM: Bruce (David Mazouz) in the ÒDamned if you Do,É Ó Season Two premiere of GOTHAM airing Monday, Sept. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

The last half of Gotham’s (FOX, Mondays, 9/8C) first season devolved into something remarkably pedestrian. Now it’s back and, for at least two episodes (all that were made available for review), very, very good. The chips have fallen poorly for most of the characters, though not all – and things are beginning to look even bleaker than before.

Rise of the Villains: Damned If You Do… finds James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in uniform once more – directing traffic! Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is tending bar; Oswald (Robin Taylor Lord) has embraced the Penguin name and has become Gotham’s crime boss, and Barbara (Erin Richards) is making friends in Arkham Asylum.

Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) is back at work – trying to work up the courage to ask Kristen out (and to put an end to the one other voice in his head – his own!). Meanwhile, the filthy rich Theo (James Frain) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) are beginning to make their presence felt.

Jim and Lee (Morena Baccarin) are now living together, but Barbara can still get under his skin – knowing the right people can pay dividends, even in Arkham – as a simple phone call attests.

GOTHAM: Theo Galavan (James Frain) in the ÒDamned if you Do,É Ó Season Two premiere of GOTHAM airing Monday, Sept. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
GOTHAM: Theo Galavan (James Frain) in the Damned if you Do, Season Two premiere of GOTHAM airing Monday, Sept. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

Theo and Tabitha have big plans – and freeing half a dozen Arkham patients, including laughing ginger, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) – is only the beginning.

Written by series creator Bruno Heller and directed by Danny Cannon, Damned If You Do… is a good first step towards moving away from the bad soap opera that the last half of season one devolved into.

It’s dark, sharp and incisive – there’s no bloat, even as Heller and Cannon move a prodigious amount of pieces into place for some massive undertakings to come. The second season premiere is fast-paced and filled with moments that feel like details that are going to pay off in a big way in later eps.

The Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)/Alfred (Sean Pertwee) relationship takes a big hit that leads to an unexpected resolution – that will pull another character into their orbit.

There’s literally no filler here – no big, overdone operatic moments to slow the pacing and character development to a crawl (as was so often the case in the latter half of season one). Instead, Damned If You Do… is lean and quick (as is part two of Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock, for that matter).

Gotham is back on track and no one is happier about that than I.

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