There are few shows as audaciously oblivious to their own irreverence as FOX's Gotham. With the series set to return for its fifth and final season on Thursday, January 3rd, the Batman prequel series sits rightly perched at the pinnacle of early 21st Century anti-culture, as if the "I'd buy that for a dollar" guy from Robocop read a couple of Batman comics and said "Yeah, I can do that."
The second season of Gotham feels like something is waking up tonally in the writer's room. The police procedural elements of the show are starting to take a back-seat to the sinister machinations of the Gotham City underworld. Classic villains from the Batman mythos are introduced, and favorites from season one get some room to grow.
The cast of Gotham has expanded since season one, here's a look at the major players:
Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie): His "Good Guy" image in tatters, Gordon is torn between doing what's right (the law) and doing what's easy (busting heads).
Doctor Leslie "Lee" Thompkins (Morena Baccarin): Gotham City Police Department's Medical Examiner, Lee is the love interest of Jim Gordon, and often infuriatingly in harm's way.
Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue): Jim's partner, all around crooked cop with a tarnished heart of gold.
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz): A little older, a little wiser, and a lot closer to discovering who killed his parents. Bruce has discovered a clue in the form of a hidden cave in the family estate.
Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee): Bruce's butler, guardian, and all around ass-kicker. Alfred has grown increasingly protective of Bruce – but no more capable of keeping him out of danger.
Selina "Cat" Kyle (Camren Bicondova): Cat burglar, street kid, and confidant to Bruce.
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor): King of Gotham. Former stooge to Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Oswald has vanquished his enemies and is the "boss of bosses" in Gotham City.
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith): Gotham City Police Department's Forensic Scientist, Edward Nygma is fixated with riddles and puzzles. He also murdered the boyfriend of the woman he loves, Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack).
Theo Galavan(James Frain): Rich investor with plans on regaining his family honor and what he believes is their rightful place at the head of Gotham society.
Gotham's second season was split into two ongoing story arcs: "Rise of the Villains," and "Wrath of the Villains." "Rise" chronicles the ascension of Oswald Cobblepot as the self-proclaimed "King of Gotham," while "Wrath" explores the machinations of Dr. Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) and his sinister experiments on the criminals of Arkham asylum.
Theo and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) Galavan have plans for the city of Gotham; Theo is the scion of one of Gotham's founding families, which has fallen into disgrace. He and his sister break a number of inmates out of Gotham Asylum – with Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) among their number. Theo wants these newly-minted Maniax to raise hell in Gotham, allowing him to take elected officials to task for their inaction during the crime spree.
Detective Gordon has been busted down to traffic enforcement by his boss, the crooked Commissioner Loeb (Colin McFarlane). Gordon ends up working a few muscle angles for the Penguin in exchange for the crime lord's assistance in removing Loeb from power, which results in a new boss cop being named. Commissioner Essen reinstates Gordon (again), who is left to grapple with the guilt of working with a mobster – even if he feels the ends justify the means.
Bruce and Alfred spend the better part of a month figuring out how to access Thomas Wayne's secret study, and find a room filled with lab equipment and an ominous warning- Wayne believed his company Wayne Enterprises was overrun with corruption. Alfred introduces Bruce to Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), a confidant of Thomas Wayne's who may be able to help them track down information in their new mystery.
The Maniax go on a murder spree, throwing journalists off of a roof, then going on a rampage and killing nearly every police officer on duty at GCPD headquartes – including Commissioner Essen. Gordon and Bullock start questioning the people of Gotham in an attempt to track down Jerome and Barbara.
The two surviving Maniax take over a charity gala at the Gotham Children's Hospital, where Jerome kills the mayor and Barbara takes Lee Thompkins hostage. Jerome then tries to kill Bruce, but is double-crossed by Theo Galavan – who kills Jerome and comes out of the whole ordeal looking like a hero.
Theo Galavan has Oswald Cobblepot's mother (Carol Kane) abducted to exert some influence over the crime lord. Penguin is then ordered to murder all of the people running for the vacant mayoral position, which he does to keep his mother safe. Oswald moves heaven and earth to find his mother, but Galavan has her killed to spite him.
Bruce is abducted by the Galavans, who plan to sacrifice him in a dark ritual to bring Theo back to what he believes is his rightful place at the head of Gotham's social elite. Meanwhile, someone is doing experiments on criminals deep below the vacant Wayne Enterprises Indian Hill facility.
Edward Nygma's relationship with Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) continues to blossom, but he ruins things when he decides to come clean about killing her boyfriend. Horrified, Kringle attempts to flee – and Nygma accidentally kills her. His guilt over her death fractures his personality, and the "evil" side of him absconds with Kringle's body – taunting Nygma with riddles over where she can be found.
Alfred, Gordon, Fox, Cobblepot, and Selina Kyle infiltrate Galavan's tower during the ascension ceremony and succeed in rescuing Bruce. Penguin keeps Galavan from escaping, beating him with a bat before Gordon shoots Theo in the head. His body is taken to Indian Hills, where Doctor Hugo Strange has been experimenting on bodies that have been delivered to him – including the corpse of Fish Mooney .
Gordon is questioned by new GPCD Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) about his role in Theo Galavan's death. Gordon denies any involvement, implicating Penguin in the murder. Gordon is reinstated (again again) to the police department, while Oswald is apprehended and sentenced to Arkham Asylum for treatment.
Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow) is stalking the streets of Gotham, using a freeze-ray of his own design to steal medicine for his ailing wife Nora (Kristen Hager). Little does Nora know that Victor is performing cryogenic experiments on people in their basement, hoping to find a safe way to freeze Nora until a cure can be found for her disease. Nora finds out what Victor has been doing, and agrees to help Gordon and the GCPD stop her husband. Dubbed "Mr. Freeze" by the media, Victor continues to steal supplies in his quest to save Nora.
Dr. Hugo Strange is now overseeing the treatment and rehabilitaion of the mentally ill population of Arkham Asylum. He takes a particular interest in Oswald Cobblepot's therapy sessions, which are designed to remove Oswald's homicidal tendencies. Oswald slowly succumbs to the treatments, and is ultimately deemed sane and released back into society.
Fries finds that Nora has been confined by the GCPD at Arkham Asylum in an attempt to capture him. He takes Lee Thompkins hostage to treat Nora, who tricks Fries into killing her. Fries is stunned by her suicide, and turns his freeze ray on himself, leading Gordon and the police to assume he is dead. Fries wakes deep below Arkham a changed man; Hugo Strange has placed him in a special cell to keep him alive, since he absorbed too much of his own freezing serum to be able to survive in regular tempuratures.
Nygma continues his descent into the Riddler, taunting Gordon with elaborate riddles during his super-villain debut. Eventually, Nygma successfully implicates Gordon in the murder of Theo Galavan, then kills the officer in charge of the murder investigation, framing Gordon for the deed. Gordon is arrested and convicted for both murders, and then transferred to Blackgate Penitentiary for his alleged crimes.
Lee Thompkins has spent most of the season as set dressing, which is a shame: Baccarin is capable of far more than Gotham is giving her this season, and it seems the script department has a real problem with writing an engaging love interest until the character goes off the rails. Lee flees Gotham after Jim is detained – most likely due to Baccarin's shooting commitment in the Deadpool movie.
Oswald meets his wealthy father Elijah Van Dahl (Paul Ruebens) while visiting his mother's grave, and is invited to come and live with his newly-found father. Dahl's wife and children loathe Oswald immediately, and fear that they may be written out of Dahl's will in favor of his reunited son. The family conspires to kill Oswald, but poison Dahl instead. In retaliation, Oswald butchers both of his step-siblings and feeds them to their mother. The scene is chillingly disturbing, and Taylor portrays Oswald's revenge with relish.
Jim escapes Blackgate with help from Harvey, who sets him up in a safe house to try and clear his name. Discovering Nygma's part in framing him, Jim confronts Edward in the woods where he buried Kringle's body. Nygma confesses to the crime, and is then arrested by Barnes and the GCPD, who arrived at the spot just in time to hear the confession. Gordon is reinstated (again??? really???) because he really is the best cop in the world.
Now confined within Arkham Asylum, Nygma conspires with Hugo Strange to murder Gordon. Strange feels that Gordon is too close to the truth behind his experiments, and Nygma is pumped up on enough revenge sauce to want to help. They release the freshly reanimated Theo Galavan onto the streets of Gotham, who immediatly begins killing people under the belief that he is the angel Azrael and must cleanse the wicked of their sins. Eventually remembering who he is, Galavan attempts to assault Wayne Manor to kill Bruce – only to be blown to smithereens by Penguin's sometime henchman, Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell).
Bruce, Alfred, and Lucius Fox inflitrate the Indian Hills faciltity to confront Hugo Strange for his part in the conspiracy to murder Thomas and Martha Wayne. The trio are captured, and face one of Nygma's death traps. Strange uses a device to help another of his subjects to assume the features of Gordon – with this "Clayface" convincing the GCPD to leave before they discover Strange's plans. Clayface manages to fool most of the GCPD, but Barbara Kean sees through the ruse, smacking "Gordon" in the face. The officers are astonished to see that Gordon was an imposter, and Clayface is arrested.
Selina Kyle tries to rescue her friend Bridgett (Michelle Veintimilla), who has been transformed into the pyro-conductive Firefly. Like all of Strange's subjects, Bridgett doesn't remember who she is and tries to kill Selena. Things are going poorly for the young Catwoman until Mr. Freeze attacks, which somehow triggers Bridgett's memory, and she fights back against Freeze – allowing Selina to escape and rescue Bruce, Fox, and Gordon.
Strange's plans for Fish Mooney's resurrection do not go the way he expected. Fish not only retained her memories of who she was, she gained the ability to influence the choices of people she manages to touch. Fish escapes the facility with a number of enhanced prisoners – one looking an awful lot like Bruce – and they slip quickly into the night-time chaos of Gotham.
Gotham kicks of it's fifth and final season on January 3rd on Fox. You can catch up on our recap of Gotham season one here! Here's the season 2 trailer that was originally shown at New York Comic-Con: