Gotham Season 1 Recap: The Good. The Evil. The Beginning. (BC Rewind)

With FOX‘s Gotham set to return for its fifth and final season on January 3rd, your friends here at Bleeding Cool thought now would be as good a time as any for a refresher on the previous seasons before all the insanity unfolds! Armed with a team of 14 highly-skilled baboons, I was tasked with watching all of season one – so here, for your leisurely consumption, is our friendly-neighborhood season 1 recap:

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First, let’s look at the players in the first season’s goings-on:

Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie): Jim has returned to Gotham as the “good guy” cop, tasked with investigating the murder of Gotham socialites Thomas and Martha Wayne. Jim has a strong sense of right and wrong, which is quickly (and often) brushed aside.

Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue): Jim’s partner, all around crooked cop with a heart of gold.

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz): He’s the Batman, yo. Well, he will be. He’s only 13 here, and he gets a little weird after witnessing the murder of his parents. He’s also wicked smart and wicked rich.

Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee): Bruce’s butler, guardian, and all around ass-kicker. Alfred knows how to break an arm as well as set one. He worries about Bruce a lot, and loses him a lot more.

Selina “Cat” Kyle (Camren Bicondova): Homeless street waif, cat burglar, and romantic interest to Bruce. Kind of.

Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith): Lieutenant to mob boss Carmine Falcone, schemer, and boss of…

Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor): Umbrella man for Fish Mooney: schemer, whiner, and mama’s boy. Hates Fish’s nickname for him because of the way he walks: “Penguin.”

Gordon’s first case on the GCPD is to investigate the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He meets young Bruce, who is traumatized by seeing his parents killed. Gordon promises to find out who killed Bruce’s parents. Meanwhile, Bruce starts his own investigation – because that’s what you do if you’re going to be Batman.

Fish Mooney sets her sights on her boss, Carmine Falcone (John Dorman). She sets Falcone against his rival, Sal Maroni (David Zayas), with the intent of rising to prominence in the criminal underworld while they are at each other’s throats. Falcone wants Gordon to keep law and order in Gotham, since chaos is bad for business, and wants him to prove himself by murdering Cobblepot. Jim can’t really do this, so pretends to shoot Oswald and pushes him into the river.

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Oswald washes up a few hours later, murdering his way back to Gotham and setting up shop as a kitchen worker in one of Maroni’s restaurants. Fish starts auditioning singers to seduce Falcone – which backfires horribly – and a war breaks out over which mobster will take over development of the old Arkham Asylum site.

Meanwhile, murders in Gotham start to get weird. First, a vigilante called the “Balloon-man” starts ensnaring crooks with weather balloons, then dropping them to their deaths. Then, the Spirit of the Goat begins a series of murders that tax the Gotham Police to their limits. Gordon and Bullock end up becoming trusted partners and eventually friends.

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Bruce is showing more and more alarming behaviors, hurting himself to test his pain threshold and trying to push the boundaries of things he fears. He eventually runs away to live on the streets of Gotham, where he enlists Selina’s help in learning more about the criminal underworld.

Gordon messes up a murder case and ends up reassigned to Arkham Asylum as a security guard, where he meets Doctor Leslie “Lee” Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). The two eventually fall in love, much to the dismay of Gordon’s incredibly bland and whiny fiance, Barbara (Erin Richards). Gordon helps Bullock and lab tech Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) bring an escaped Arkham inmate to justice and is reinstated to the GCPD for his troubles.

Gotham really comes into its own halfway through the first season with the introduction of Dr. Gerald Crane (Julian Sands), who is experimenting with human adrenal glands to make a serum that will help people overcome fear. His experiments on his son Jonathan (Charlie Tahan) pave the way for the junior Crane to become the Scarecrow, the first major villain in Batman’s “rogues gallery” to appear on Gotham. The three-episode Crane arc is chillingly good, and the first glimpse we get of Gotham’s potential future. This storyline also introduces mob assassin Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan), who brings a lot of stabby danger to the streets of Gotham.

gotham season 4 Scarecrow
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Another potential major villain is foreshadowed through both the Red Hood storyline and the introduction of Jerome (Dominic Monaghan), a young circus worker who will eventually (maybe? possibly?) become the Joker. Monaghan does deliriously great work as Jerome, and his character’s evolution is a treat to watch.

Tiring of Bruce’s interference in their schemes, Wayne Enterprises’ board of directors arrange to have him killed, but the plan backfires – though Alfred is gravely injured.

Fish Mooney fares even worse, after being kidnapped by the Dollmaker (Colm Feore) and placed in a prison camp – where he harvests organs for the black market. At one point, Fish decides she would rather gouge out her own eye than have it taken from her – which somehow makes her “upper management material” as the Dollmaker elevates Fish to his second-in-command. Typical Gotham logic. Fish kills the Dollmaker and makes her way back to Gotham – where she intends to get even with everyone she believes betrayed her.

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Gordon’s boring-as-hell ex-fiance Barbara is kidnapped by the Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia), a serial killer who preys on single women. The Ogre decides to brainwash Barbara into killing her family, and she really gets into it – and suddenly she’s not so boring to watch anymore.

Bruce has been doing some junior detective work, and uncovered the Wayne Industries murder plot. Bruce doesn’t have any evidence to bring the scheme to the police, but he and Alfred find a secret entrance to a mysterious cave: turns out Bruce’s father had been something of a “crime fighter” in his own right back in the day.

Edward Nygma has developed a fixation on Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack), and he murders her abusive boyfriend in a fit of rage. Kringle begins to reciprocate Nygma’s interest, but his obsession with riddles and a familiar, taunting voice in his head might doom that relationship before it can start.

Feeling terrible about how he treated his now not-so-boring ex, Gordon enlists Lee Thompkins’ help in treating Barbara’s mental health after she butchered her family. Barbara takes a liking to Lee – and then tries to stab her. Next stop? Arkham Asylum. Way to go, Jim! Best. Ex. Ever!

gotham season 1 bcrewind
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Carmine Falcone knows which way the wind is blowing, and decides to retire – leaving his gang’s turf up for grabs, and leading to a showdown between Maroni, Fish, and Oswald Cobblepot. Fish murders Maroni, then she and Oswald fight – with Oswald pushing her off of the building and into the freezing river below. Oswald is suddenly the most powerful gangster in the city – making Penguin the “King of Gotham.”

Got your interest, Gotham-ites? Good! We’ll be back with a recap of Gotham season 2 – but until then, comment below and let us know what worked for you (and what didn’t ) with Gotham‘s freshman season.

About Leigh Kade

Leigh George Kade is a writer, illustrator, and sculptor who lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two small Skrulls. Leigh has also been a panelist on the wildly popular Geek Show Podcast since 2008. He has been an Entertainment Writer for Bleeding Cool since 2018.

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