Gotham season 2 episode 15 review: Mad Grey Dawn

The Riddler’s origins are explored well in Gotham season 2's Mad Grey Dawn. But is Jim Gordon in danger of becoming a baddie as well?

This review contains spoilers.

2.15: Mad Grey Dawn

Holy getting-your-just-deserts, Batman! After weeks of trying to pretend that he didn’t murder Theo Galavan, Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon has ended up in prison. I don’t really see how the writers can bring Jim back to likable protagonist territory after this. He’s a killer, and now everyone knows he is, which can’t just be swept away. Whatever loophole Bullock finds to get his partner out, I’m sceptical about how effective it’ll be.

All the Daredevil V Punisher morality arguments I’ve been watching of late must be having an affect on me, because the whole ‘Jim is a murderer’ thing bothered me much more in this week’s Gotham than it ever has before. When he actually committed the crime I thought it was a cool scene, but now I’m wondering why the showrunners sent Jim down this path.

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Isn’t Gordon meant to be the only good guy in town until Batman shows up? Instead, he’s starting to seem like the type of crooked cop that the caped crusader wouldn’t want to ally with. I’m hoping that Gotham starts to steer him back down a more righteous path at some point, because at the moment he isn’t the most admirable of lead characters.

On top of prompting me to question Jim’s main storyline of the season, Mad Grey Dawn was a really fun episode. After watching Corey Michael Smith’s Ed slowly go mad for the best part of a year, we finally got to see him embracing his hitherto-dormant Riddler persona this week. There were question marks, cryptic clues and a clever plot to get Jim locked up and out of Nygma’s hair.

I enjoyed every aspect of this plot strand, starting with the Adam West-recalling bomb scene and culminating in Ed slyly swapping over a GCPD file and consigning Jim to the fate that he deserves. The painting-themed clues that Nygma employed along the way were just smart enough to be entertaining, without being so high concept that it felt unrealistic when Jim solved them. Batman Forever, by contrast, didn’t manage to come up with anything that trod this line so well.

And it all built up to that memorable image – Jim, holding a gun, with a corpse at his feet. The Riddler has been victorious in his first scheme, successfully making Jim the prime suspect in multiple murder cases and stopping him from investigating the ‘disappearance’ of Miss Kringle any further.

This was one of Gotham’s smartest plot lines yet, and I must say that it took me by surprise. I had no idea why Ed was getting papers signed earlier on. As a result, the ending of the episode felt like a pleasing twist, even if the montaging away of Jim’s trial seemed a bit wasteful. Wasn’t there some story potential there? 

Also, we got to meet Paul Reubens’ Elijah Van Dahl, the biological father of Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot. This one of the best bits of father/son casting that I can remember. It seems utterly plausible that these two men are cut from the same smarmy-yet-charismatic biological cloth, and I’m intrigued to see where the show will push the Penguin now that he’s seemingly won a whole new set of powerful allies.

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The world of Gotham has changed rather a lot since Oswald was committed to Arkham, with his buddies Butch, Ed and Jim all otherwise engaged and not interested in forming another alliance with the former King of Gotham. It looks like Oswald will have to start afresh, once he snaps out of his Hugo Strange-induced turn against criminality. I look forward to this turn, because I’ve not found Penguin as entertaining as I used to since he stepped foot in Arkham.

And, finally, did anyone else think that Tabitha was going to take ‘an eye for an eye’ literally? I was convinced she was going to maim one of Oswald’s eyes, giving him a new look in line with the Arkham videogames. Maybe that was just me looking for a reference that wasn’t there…

Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, This Ball Of Mud And Meanness, here.