One of the planned scripts for the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me apparently featured a band of “new wave” terrorists (remember this was the 1970s) who were going to start the film by massacring the old guard in charge of SPECTRE and completely upping the stakes for 007 with a revitalised agenda. Something similar appears to have happened to Gotham between the first and second years: although the script and direction are by creators Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon respectively, this feels like a completely re-energised show.
So much happens in this opening hour that you’ll need to watch it twice to take everything in. Jim Gordon, in particular, goes to places that you never thought the show would take him – or at least, not so quickly (compare his actions at the start of the first season with those here). Barbara becomes a powerful figure whose place in the series now seems justified. The inmates of Arkham are interacting rather than each villain having their own little story and then moving off the board. David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee’s relationship as Bruce and Alfred moves up a notch. And James Frain joins the cast as a very credible new threat.
There were times last season when it did feel as if the expansion to 22 episodes had threatened the tension at the core of the show; if the standard of this opener can be maintained, then Gotham’s second year is going to be excellent.
Verdict: A stunning, and often surprising, season opener. 9/10