If you’ve followed my Gotham posts, you may recall that in the season three finale review I said that it felt like things were being wrapped up and season four could feel like a reboot. Fox seemed to wait until very late in the game to renew the series, so the whole Tetch virus storyline, not to mention the “deaths” of some of the rogues’ gallery of villains and the beginnings of Bruce taking on his Dark Knight persona felt like an ending. Luckily, someone somewhere saw the value in keeping the series running so here we are at the season four premiere and … it feels like an almost complete reboot.
Almost because Bruce is still feeling guilty for having his finger on the button of the bomb that released the Tetch virus and Edward Nygma is still encased in a block of ice, the centerpiece of Penguin’s new digs The Iceberg Lounge. And he seems to have taken Fish Mooney’s final words to heart — he has made the town his own with a rather novel approach: issue licenses to criminal to do pretty much anything but kill. we don’t know how much time has passed since the season three finale and now, but it’s enough time that the crime statistics in Gotham are way down. So now as long as you have a license, you are free to roam about and steal anything that isn’t nailed down.
It’s still a fairly new way of doing things but it seems Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne are the only two not quite up to speed on things just yet as they both try to intervene in robberies perpetrated by licensed criminals. As the new mayor put it, Penguin is trying to unionize crime but as long as he and the commissioner get a cut, they’re okay with it as long as they disavow any public knowledge of Penguin’s scheme. Of course neither Jim nor Bruce are too keen on playing along.
There’s also a gang of thieves in town who don’t plan on playing along with Penguin, and their leader Merton (Michael Buscemi, Steve’s brother) makes it his mission to take Penguin down at the grand opening of The Iceberg Lounge, believing he can thwart both Victor Zsasz and the GCPD with the help of a kid by the name of Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan). Now if that name sounds vaguely familiar, you’d have to go all the way back to season one to have any clue as to who this is. Jonathan is the son of Gerald Crane (played by Julian Sands for two episodes), a mad scientist who was cooking up some concoction known as “fear juice.” One dose of the stuff would bring your worst fears to life, at least in your mind, and poor Jonathan not only helped his father but was an unwilling test subject as well. And he’s still suffering the effects, terrified of an old scarecrow on his father’s property (you see where this is going).
Merton and his gang take Jonathan and the scarecrow (to keep the boy company) back to their lair to produce more fear juice so they can run roughshod over the city. First they rob a bank, and then they turn up at the Lounge. But not before Penguin catches them and puts them on display in front of the opening night guests which include Bruce, Alfred, Selina and Tabitha. Penguin still has Ivy working for him (but no Victor Fries … and just where is Bridget?), but after an entire episode of being told to go away or shut up, she’s had quite enough and kills the power in the Lounge, allowing Merton to gain the upper hand, spraying Penguin with the fear juice. And what is Penguin’s greatest fear? Why a thawed out Nygma, of course, a horrific vision that sends him into the arms of Gordon for safety (a headline the next day asking “Penguin or Chicken” is not going to sit well with Oswald). Back at Merton’s place, one of his henchmen goes to get Jonathan out of the locked closet he’d been placed in — with the old scarecrow — to make more juice but what he found was no longer Jonathan, just … The Scarecrow. It looks like Gothamites will have something to fear this season.
Odds & Ends
- With a virtual reboot this season, have we seen the last of Hugo Strange, Jervis Tetch and Mr. Freeze?
- The folks at Fox’s publicity department haven’t done a masterful job of hiding the fact that both Lee (Morean Baccarin, who received an on screen credit but did not appear) and Barbara (Erin Richards, who did not get a credit but appears in a cast publicty photo along with Baccarin) will return.
- Also getting an on screen credit, and seen briefly in the shadows early in the episode, was Alexander Siddig who will be playing Ra’s al Ghul, the man for who Bruce is waiting to return.
- It was nice to see Bruce attempt to apologize to Selina for his abominable behavior when she tried to show some concern for Alfred after Bruce nearly killed him. And she seemed pleased.
- Bruce has an interesting way of entering and leaving a scene undetected, baffling even Gordon when he appeared and disappeared at the GCPD.
- Is every cop but Gordon — and maybe Bullock — really that crooked or lazy that they’re willing to go along with Penguin’s licensing scheme just because it gives them less to do?
- Now that Bruce has the list of licensees, will he turn them over to Gordon or make this his mission to cleanse Gotham?
What did you think of the season premiere? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.