‘GOTHAM’ Season 5 Episode 1 – “Year Zero” Recap/Review

Gotham is a show that has absolutely no business being as good as it is. It’s ludicrous, over the top and the concept is insane: a show about Bruce Wayne becoming Batman without Batman in it. We’ve been told in advance that season five is the final season, and they’ve gone completely balls out for this one. We’re even getting a TV version of Bane later in the season.

We start around 3 months after the previous episode, where Jeremiah (the proto-Joker) has cut off Gotham from the rest of the world and set off the same sort of “no one enters, no one leaves” thing that Bane does in Dark Knight Rises. It was also famously the same thing that happened in the comic crossover No Man’s Land, one of my favorite Batman stories from my teens.

Gordon, Bullock, Lucius and the remaining members of the GCPD that stayed in the city when it fell are now protecting a 10 square block section of the city, taking in any and all refugees that come their way. They’re low on food and even lower on rations to feed their people.

Penguin set up an operation to make bullets, so is living large out of City Hall. Riddler is doing his own thing, waking up in random places with no memory of how he got there. He thinks that this is his previous personality, Edward Nigma, controlling their shared body while he sleeps.

Barbara and Tabitha run a ladies-only section of town with plenty of food and booze. Men are allowed in for short periods if they pay. Nobody has seen Jeremiah. The rest of the city is held by Victor Fries (Mister Freeze), Scarecrow and Firefly. We’re reintroduced to Scarecrow as he and his followers legit crucify a guy. So you know he’s not playing around.

Scarecrow and his crew

The show opens on a suitably crazy wordless set of scenes, with all the principal men in the cast (bar Alfred and Bruce) tooling up to protect their territory, shooting over a huge sheet metal wall at god knows who. We then cut to Alfred, Bruce, and Selina who is currently paralyzed after being shot by Jeremiah. She’s kind of broken by not being able to walk, though Bruce says he will stay with her. In the years I’ve been watching Gotham this trio of Bruce, Selina and Alfred have become some of my favorite characters. I’ll be sad to see them go at the end of the season.

Scarecrow’s men attack the GCPD and where Bruce and Selina are. Gordon fights Scarecrow in the GCPD’s basement and beats him handily with a metal pipe. Jon Crane, ever a poor combatant, gets a face full of red-hot steam and runs off. Back with Bruce, he puts on night vision goggles and takes all of his set of Scarecrow henchmen in the dark in a scene that is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the docks fight from Batman Begins. They even use some of the same camera angles and movements. It’s honestly great though, Gotham has never been afraid to reference other Batman media and I don’t want them to stop now.

Gordon, Lucius, and Bullock are all talking about how they’re screwed now because Scarecrow’s flunkies stole their supplies when Bruce turns up and says he’s called in a chopper full of rations and medical supplies. Bullock is the audience stand-in and says “Sure is nice to have a billionaire around” which made me chuckle.

Of course, this is Gotham and things don’t go well for our heroes. The chopper is predictably shot down by an RPG. I’ll bet money that this was Jeremiah, but it’s not revealed in this episode. It crashes in Low Boy territory and everyone scrambles to go get it.

Penguin arrives first with a load of heavily armed extras. Several of which have ponytails which are an odd aesthetic but whatever Oswald wants I guess. They kill the Low Boys and make to steal the supplies when Gordon and the GCPD rock up, armed to the teeth but with about 10 bullets between all of them. Penguin tries to tell Gordon to just leave him alone but that doesn’t work and a very short gunfight ensues. The GCPD run out of ammo, but luckily their friend Bruce is here to save the day again. Bruce goes outside and takes out Penguin’s henchmen and brings some ammo into the GCPD.

Tabitha then arrives for no reason, kills several of Penguin’s extras and puts her gun to his head. She then doesn’t kill him for a little while until she decides to actually do it and then her gun jams. She’s loaded it with Penguin’s poorly made bullets, so his lack of care has saved his life!

Penguin kills Tabitha, then Barbara turns up and starts screaming and shooting but Penguin and his goons get the better of her and he goes to kill her too. Gordon intervenes and offers Penguin a deal, but seconds later shoots him in the leg.

The rest of the episode is fallout from this big action scene. Gordon gets back to GCPD to find his map of Gotham defaced with Joker graffiti, and he gets a call from somebody on the outside saying they are working to help him. We also see a new character with blonde hair wearing red and black and a white mask, Gotham’s take on Harley Quinn.

Selina tries to kill herself, as she doesn’t want to live paralyzed. It’s pretty rough, and I’m not sure I am on board with this storyline. Luckily threads are danged that makes me think that it won’t last. Also, Riddler wakes up in a dumpster, Ed is definitely doing stuff while he’s sleeping.

All in all a great episode. I really enjoyed my first trip back to Gotham in almost a year, and am really intrigued to see where this storyline goes. I also liked that they’ve kept back Jeremiah from us, as previously Jerome had been a little overused.

I give it 8.5/10 Alfreds

PS: I once met Sean Pertwee, the actor who plays Alfred, in a game shop in London and he was super nice.

Gotham airs on FOX – Years before the first appearance of the Batman, GCPD lieutenant Jim Gordon takes up an impossible task: cleaning up the most morally bankrupt city on earth. As Gordon fights against corruption, criminals and lunatics, Bruce Wayne prepares for his journey to become the most feared vigilante this city has ever seen.

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