Gotham, Season 2 Episode 4 "Strike Force"
By Jarrett Kruse
We are already four episodes into the second season of GOTHAM and so far, it has been a stellar sophomore season. The tagline that the producers have attached to the name of the series, "Rise of the Villans" is absolutely appropriate in what is becoming (if possible) an even darker narrative than the first season. The episode opens with the arrival of Captain Nathaniel Barnes (The Commish himself, Michael Chiklis) to the GCPD ready to clean up the force with his iron fist. Chiklis has always carried a lot of gravitas as an actor and his casting as Captain Barnes is a genius stroke. The first thing that popped into my head was, "thank God he's on our side." A former Marine, Barnes wants Gordon to be his number two even though Jim is haunted by the favor he just did for Penguin that ended in killing lowlife nightclub owner Ogden Barker. Still, Barnes and Gordon are a good match with similar styles. Immediately, Barnes ejects half a dozen corrupt cops on the spot showing that he means business. Barnes takes Gordon to the police academy where he attempts to assemble a young "Strike Force" of cops; a special young unit tasked to do what the older generation of Gotham officers cannot accomplish.
It kind of reminded me of that scene in Brian DePalma's The Untouchables where they go to recruit the best crack shot in the academy class. Barnes and Gordon grab Officers Garrett, Pinkney, Josie & Martinez to be the special Strike Force Unit Alpha of the GCPD. The seat for Mayor of Gotham is still wide open with Mayor James still missing and there are several nominees including Janice Caulfield ad Randall Hobbs. After the heroics at the charity ball, Gothamites are yearning for the dashing billionaire Theo Galavan to throw his hat into the ring and run for office. Little do they know that he has come back to Gotham to bring its reckoning. The city is falling right into his well planned out trap. Galavan calls The Penguin for a meeting politely making some demands that bring out the ire of Cobblebot. It isn't until Theo's sister shows Oswald their ace in the hole that will keep him in line to do anything they ask. Somehow, the Galavan's have taken Mother Cobblebot hostage which will keep Penguin under foot. A year ago he was holding Fish Mooney's umbrella and now he is the King of Gotham only for it to be taken away in a heartbeat by the newly arrived Galavan's.
Forced to do what they say, Cobblebot makes a faux attempt on Theo's life as he announces his mayoral candidacy. Then he personally guts Caulfield taking her out of the picture and then assigns the maniacal Victor Zsasz to shoot Hobbs and his bodyguards. It was unclear to me whether or not Hobbs actually gets killed in the crossfire but it was the young Strike Force's first foray into the urban battlefield and they seem to do okay under pressure. I have to think that Hobbs is probably scared off from his run for Mayor opening the gates for Theo Galavan to run unopposed. Still thinking he is a civic hero, Bruce and Alfred have lunch with Theo where he puts it out there that the Thomas and Martha Wayne murders need to be solved. While at the restaurant, out of the corner of his eye, Bruce sees Theo's ward, the lovely Silver St. Cloud. She is a prom queen looking type and clearly Bruce is smitten when Theo introduces the pair. I have to think that she is not in on the fix because of her tender age but who knows. Galavan's reach seems to be all encompassing so far in season two. Alfred has a quick encounter with Selina where he strikes her for murdering Reggie last season. When Bruce arrives at the limo, Alfred explains that he won't be riding with him back to Wayne Manor and hands him gym clothes to start running and begin his training.
Cobblepot confides in Butch that the Galavan's have his mother and he seems to genuinely care about getting her back safely for his boss. Clearly Oswald is shaken by not being in control and these new people somehow getting control of his mother. Cobble pot reminds Gordon again of the favor he did for him that ended in him committing a homicide over a debt owed to the Penguin, but Jim is just going to let the cards fall where they may. Gutsy move on Gordon's part especially now that Captain Barnes and his iron fist are running the GCPD. In the main sub-story, Nygma finally gets a date with Ms. Kringle but his split personality is getting more severe and he almost blows it at dinner but manages to save the date and even scores a kiss when his more authoritative side is in control.
Happy with the Strike Force's first field op, Barnes readies his new squad that it is time to take down The Penguin who is public enemy number one. Gordon knows that this could get hairy considering the exchange of favors to get rid of Commissioner Loeb. I thought that the episode was good but not great with a whole lot of exposition going on for later in the season. Chiklis is a welcome addition and the type of alpha dog that can actually make a difference in a city like Gotham. Sometimes it feels like as an audience, we are just waiting for these villains to suit up into their comic book costumes and for Bruce to be ready to don the Bat cowl. However that is not the show's goal and you have to accept that if you are going to be a fan of Gotham. Still the whole "Rise of the Villans" thing has been working well and besides the flashes of heroism by Jim and now Barnes, their doesn't seem to be an uncorrupt soul in all of Gotham. I am not crazy about Theo Galavan and how he just kind of shows up with the entire city as his birthright but to be honest, I don't see him or his sister lasting the entire season.