Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 9/8C) continues to steam along at a breakneck pace, building momentum tearing through plot and taking characters into unexpected places.
Rise of the Villains: Strike Force introduces GCPD’s gung ho new commander, Captain Nathaniel Barnes, puts Penguin squarely behind the eight ball, and gets Nygma a date!
Theo Galavan’s (James Frain) plan is becoming more and more detailed and – being a hero is beginning to pay dividends. In light of the mayor’s disappearance and the murder of the deputy mayor, there’s an election coming and, though he hasn’t declared himself a candidate, Galavan is the people’s choice.
A meeting with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) reveals just exactly how Galavan wants to destroy Gotham – or at least, why (it goes deeper than his family’s forgotten legacy…).
Meanwhile, Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) puts in his first appearance with a dramatic, rousing speech and the removal of several dirty cops from the force. When one complains and says he’s got rights, Barnes reads them to him! It’s an auspicious beginning made even better by his plans for a strike force of young, untainted cops under the command of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie).
Then there’s our old friend and ducker down the rabbit hole, Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith), heeds his inner voice/more confident self and ask Miss Kringle (Chelsea Spack) to dinner – at his place! Could things be getting better for our favorite schizophrenic?
There’s also the matter of some, for Galavan, troublesome mayoral candidates who, as he puts, could even win. And Alfred (Sean Pertwee) warns Selina (Camren Bicondova) away from Bruce – who meets another key comics character, Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) through an unexpected source – before beginning his training.
Strike Force is another strong episode for Gotham courtesy of writer Danny Cannon and director TJ Scott. It strives for – and achieves – that balance of comic book operatic and grounded that has been the show’s target since day one. Although it never quite matches the insanity of last week’s The Last Laugh, it comes close – partly because of Galavan’s plans, Penguin’s vulnerability and the appearance of Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) in a major (shooting) role.
So, then, lots of stuff is happening in Strike Force – including an actual strike force and some serious ups and downs for a number of important characters. And what’s most intriguing is that the more we learn, the more there is to learn.
In season two, Gotham seems to have found its sweet spot. It’s proceeding – at full speed – on to the next level.
Final Grade: A-