Gotham season 2 episode 16 review: Prisoners

Jim Gordon is being punished for his sins in this week’s Gotham season 2 episode, which is something of a mixed bag...

This review contains spoilers

2.16 Prisoners

Holy prison break, Batman! As I touched upon last week, Ben McKenzie’s Gotham protagonist very much deserves to be incarcerated for quite a long time. Jim Gordon is a murderer, and although he was framed as a cop killer last week, that doesn’t diminish the fact that he took Theo Galavan’s life for real back in the mid-season finale.

Essentially, then, he’s only half in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. The rap sheet may not be entirely accurate, but you’d struggle to argue that prison isn’t the best place for him at the moment. Because of this, I struggled to engage with his escape attempt this week on any sort of emotional level. As the show montaged through this daily routine, I found myself not caring at all. Jim looks a bit sad, yes, but that’s hardly a large price to pay for killing a man.

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On top of this, the ongoing plotline of Leigh’s pregnancy was thrown out altogether with a quick dialogue scene. Unless Bullock was lying and there’s actually more to come from this story strand, this felt like a very offhand and blasé way of wrapping up an arc that’s been going on for months. Seemingly, this strand has been deemed unimportant by the writers and dispensed with accordingly. Again Jim looked a bit sad, but Leigh’s absence from Prisoners meant that the emotional beats here didn’t quite hit home, for me at least.

(As an aside: If Leigh really has miscarried, this doesn’t just mean turmoil for the characters. It throws a fan theory out of the window too, as Jim is now further away from fathering a daughter who can grow up to be Batgirl, as per the comics. A shame, as I was interested to see what he’d name her instead of Barbara, which seems very unlikely in this universe.)

Despite my current dislike towards Jim, it was interesting to see how Bullock handled the partner-being-locked-up scenario. These two have had their differences over the last year and bit, but the bond between them has enough strength to legitimately sell the idea that Bullock would call in any favour possible to free Jim.

Thanks to this, we got a guest appearance from John Doman’s Carmine Falcone, one of the biggest bads from season one. I don’t recall particularly raving about him during Gotham’s first season (It’s Maroni that I miss more, since Falcone got lumbered in with that weird opera-loving-lady plotline), but Falcone’s extended cameo here was rather intriguing.

Falcone considers Jim an ‘old friend’ after the events of season one, and clearly isn’t against pulling a few strings here and there despite his alleged retirement from criminal life. With Penguin out of the picture temporarily due to his familial dramas, could we see some of Gotham City’s old gangster guard returning to the fore? Another mob war could be fun…

Speaking of Penguin, I rather enjoyed his scenes this week. They were simple fun, which contrasted nicely with the sombre seriousness of Jim’s prison tenure. While Jim was watching a man who stood up for him having the living daylights beaten out of him, Penguin was warding off the sexual advances of his sinister stepsister. As Jim witnessed more corruption, Penguin was playing board-games with his pa.

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Gotham has never settled on one tone, and seeing Jim’s dour experiences intercut with Oswald’s familial fancies was an effective way of livening up an episode that I wouldn’t have liked much at all without Penguin’s input. And now that Elijah has been poisoned, I’ll be interested to see what Oswald does next. Has Hugo Strange really let him off the leash for good? I doubt it, somehow.

Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, Mad Grey Dawn, here.