That’s it, friends! An episode you’ll never forget, moments that will make you stand up, twists that will make you shout. The season one finale of FOX’s new drama, “Gotham”, is over and now all we have is a great first season to look back on as we contemplate what will be in store for fans with its promised sophomore year this fall. “All Happy Families Are Alike” was a fun and stylishly directed episode by Danny Cannon and written by Bruno Heller. If there was a fitting and appropriate end for the first season of “Gotham”, this was certainly it and the series will most certainly have this fan tuning in once it returns.
The season one finale begins with the return of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith). She arrives with her “goons” on a boat and lands in an area of Gotham that’s currently occupied by the vagrants such as Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). After the two exchange a few words, Fish tells Selina that it’s going to be “A brand new day” in the city. Two weeks pass by and the city is still reeling from the continuing turf war between the Falcone (John Doman) and Maroni (David Zayas) mob families. Gotham is crumbling from the power struggle that Penguin (Robin Lord-Taylor) helped instigate in the last episode, “The Anvil or The Hammer” (4/27). One of the better aspects of this first season has been the compelling action and drama between the mob families and I believe this has been an aspect that most fans have gravitated towards even more than the setups for Batman/DC Comics villains. The actors cast as Falcone and Maroni, John Doman and David Zayas respectively, have been fantastic in their roles and have given viewers intriguing versions of two important figures in the early days of the infamously lawless city. While I’ve enjoyed Doman’s work, Zayas has been in the position of playing one of my personal favorites – Boss Maroni. Growing up, the story of Maroni and Harvey “Two-Face” Dent has always been an enjoyable story arc and other than a brief appearance in 1995’s “Batman Forver”, we didn’t see them again until 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” While Christopher and John Nolan wrote a masterful screenplay that brought a sense of reality to the world of “Gotham”, and created what is considered to be a sequel better than the first, I felt somewhat slighted with Eric Roberts version of Maroni. Roberts was great, but Maroni wasn’t directly responsible for the scarring of Harvey Dent, nor was there any scene of him throwing sulfuric acid on the attorney’s face while in court. Well, after the season finale of “Gotham”, it would appear as if there will be no such scene of courtroom violence and sulfuric acid throwing in an eventual episode that sees Harvey Dent become Two-Face.
After his car explodes, Falcone is sent to the hospital. The Penguin and Butch visit him and informs the mob boss of how he’s been playing both sides from the start. Before he could kill him, Gordon shows up and says he’s there to arrest them both for attempted murder. Before the good detective can get any farther with this, Loeb arrives with Maroni’s men – they’re there to kill Falcone! A massive shootout takes place as Gordon and Falcone make it out of the hospital with help from Bullock (Donal Logue). This is a terrific action packed scene with a heavy-handed nod to the gun play made famous in the movies of John Woo. Very exciting and entertaining and Ben McKenzie really becomes a new kind of Gordon that we haven’t really seen before. All I could help thinking was that for true fans of the eventual GCPD commissioner, such as Royal Collectibles very own Diane Lazauskas, it must be so rewarding to see your favorite character done in such a respectful and rewarding way! Ben McKenzie has come along way from his days on FOX’s “The O.C.” – a show I grew up with through high school. It’s so great to see his maturity as an actor and his Russell Crowe-ish intensity brought to the role of Jim Gordon.
Gordon reveals to Falcone that he needs the mob boss to take back his city since its falling apart without him. The relationship he has with Carmine Falcone is interesting as it illustrates the love Gordon has for his city. He will go to any lengths to save his city and while he’s made questionable choices and alliances, he reminds the audience that he’s “doing this for the city.” It’s such an important mark “Gotham” needs to make by showing what one man will do for his city without a cape or cowl. We also need to see the tragic story of how this very man’s unending fight for the city will ultimately fail and give rise to the necessity of a younger man taking up a similar mission, but with cape and cowl.
Unfortunately for Gordon, Falcone decides that he is no longer cut out for the business of mobs and violence. His change of heart is a surprising twist, especially to see him move along and open himself to a better life. But before he leaves, he tells Gordon (and reassures audiences of the real hero) that Gotham needs Gordon more than him. Falcone gives Gordon a knife that his Gordon’s father had given to him years ago and says “Your father was the most honest man I’ve ever met, but he carried a knife.” It will be exciting to see the further development of Jim Gordon and McKenzie’s performance is just one reason why you should tune in. Oh, and let’s start speculating when he’ll grow the mustache. Season two?
One aspect of “Gotham” that will be different heading into season two is no more Fish Mooney and Salvatore Maroni! Yes, after months of speculation and a semi-confirmation by Pinkett-Smith on a morning talk show, Fish Mooney dies. She has a fight with The Penguin on a roof of a facility that she traps him along with Falcone, Gordon, and Bullock in. Of course they manage to escape and after Fish shoots Maroni in the head and Penguin shoots up the facility, they chase each other to the roof. While they’re fighting, the tormented Butch caught between his history with Fish and his new relationship with Penguin, shoots them both. It’s just the distraction that The Penguin needs to get the upper hand to push her over the literal edge. It also provides for the over the top and wonderfully comic bookish “I’m the king of Gotham” James Cagney kind of moment only Robin Lord-Taylor could pull off.
The future of “Gotham” is as dark as ever. The first season, while it had a few weak moments and certain viewers felt season one traveled a rocky road, the season ultimately turned itself around to fantastic heights in its second half of the season. While “Red Hood” was one of the best episodes of the season, the past three episodes were extraordinary in showing off how “Gotham” is one city you’d never want to visit, but definitely want to watch. I’d like to thank @GothamAddicts on Twitter for their continual support of What’cha Readings recaps and the cast and crew of “Gotham” in delivering a series worth watching and one that does justice to the world of DC Comics. Here’s to a great summer of anticipation and certainly an even better season two.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please take a look at What’cha Reading’s interview with Bruce Wayne himself, David Mazouz and our coverage of his first solo signing at Forest Hills, NY comic shop, Royal Collectibles.
“All Happy Families Are Alike” gets five stars. More “Gotham” news to come.