Gotham City's future commissioner takes on corruption in his own department in "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon."
"Welcome Back, Jim Gordon" is a definite drop in quality for Gotham since its return from the midseason break, but the episode's stories are exciting enough that you may be able to forgive it. At the very least, like the last two episodes, you can enjoy this one without having seen the ten disappointing episodes that started the series.
Gordon's been fully reinstated as detective after his hilarious apprehension of The Electrocutioner. It seems like Gordon and Bullock are back to handling boring old homicides, starting with an apparent drug deal gone wrong.
Things start to spin out of control quickly though as Gordon turns his investigation on the police department itself. One major highlight is watching Gordon continue to grow after his exile to Arkham Asylum. He's increasingly more assertive and angry, with Bullock and Captain Essen both struggling to keep him from causing too much damage.
Outside the department's squabbles, Fish Mooney and her enforcer, Butch, are on their way to their respective executions (and torture, in Mooney's case). When things don't go as expected, Mr Zsasz is sent in to resolve the matter - with Penguin caught in the middle.
Both of the stories are exciting, but a disappointing trend from the early episodes returns: the characters make a lot of terrible choices and the show occasionally sacrifices logic for momentum and mood. As with most shows, this is forgivable to an extent, but with Gotham it happens too much to ignore. Another strike against the fairly entertaining episode is a failed attempted at emotional impact in the conclusion.
Gotham continues to improve balancing its pacing and stories told in each episode. Bruce and Selina make their first appearance since the winter break (don't worry, it's brief) and Mooney has more screen time than most episodes. As such, Barbara Kean, Leslie Thompkins, and Falcone are absent. Hopefully the rest of the season will maintain this conservation of characters and stories.
"Welcome Back, Jim Gordon" is one of Gotham's weaker episodes, but the most important elements of the show's improvement are still there: less convoluted plotting, more character depth, and a focus on the characters we enjoy.
Gotham airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on Fox, but you can also catch episodes on Fox's website. Check out our review of the last episode, "What the Little Bird Told Me", or all of our Gotham reviews.