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When GOTHAM premiered last year I was reluctant to watch the story of Gotham City before the Dark Knight rises.  The early episodes of the first season gave us the origin stories of some of the most popular Batman villains (The Riddler, The Penguin, The Joker, Catwoman) started their journeys as sociopathic criminals. The prequel also introduced us to Detective Jim Gordon who in earnest tries to put the bad guys away.  The only problem with this premise for me was that we all know the reason Batman exists is because Gordon and the other members of the Gotham Police force are incapable of cleaning up the streets of Gotham City. Each week there the show would give us a crime/mystery often taken from the comic book series with some resolution by the end of the episode. These weren’t the most compelling mysteries and I soon found myself easily deleted the recorded episodes from my dvr.  I just didn’t care about crime sprees in Gotham City without Batman. The show’s stories seemed less focused than rival CW series ARROW and THE FLASH.  The two bright spots were performances by Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, an original character created specially for the show and Robin Lord Taylor as The Penguin. Unfortunately, Fish Mooney didn’t make it to season two.

I heard that there would be major creative changes for the second season of GOTHAM and decided I would check out the first few episodes and if I wasn’t immediately gripped, the series would be permanently deleted from my dvr and my mind. I’m happy to report that the season premiere reset the series with focus on a collection of criminals who found themselves locked up at the Arkam Asylum at the end of season one. The episode also set up real stakes and jeopardy for hero Detective Gordon and made movement towards young Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming the Dark Knight. But, what sealed GOTHAM’S “Most Improved Series” status was the second episode which saw the afore mentioned criminals wreaking havoc on the citizens of Gotham City all culminating in a shootout resulting the deaths of a number of characters. Real stakes; real jeopardy.

The show seems to have done away with the “case of the week” stories and will focus solely on the rise of Gotham’s most infamous villians. Viewers no longer have suffer through the origin stories and can just sit back and enjoy their dastardly and often deadly impact on Gotham City.  Of particular note this season is the performance of Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska, soon to be known as The Joker.  His take on the iconic sociopath steals every scene he’s in and could become regarded as one of the most memorable versions of The Joker in the history of the franchise. Jim Gordon now holds a dark secret that makes his vulnerable to The Penguin and allows for his ultimate failure to bring down Gotham’s criminal underworld to make more sense. Season 2 of GOTHAM has a clear purpose now and is now much more interesting.  I’m looking forward to going along on the wild ride the writers have set up.

GOTHAM airs on FOX, Monday at 8pm EST.

Check out a promo for season 2 of GOTHAM below.

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