As io9’s reviewer of Gotham, I’ve been looking forward to the second season much like I look forward to a dentist appoint—painful, but necessary. But this two-minute clip from the show’s first new episode has dropped, and it’s so terrible, so insane, and yet so promising you all have to give it a watch.
The short version is that it’s set in prison, which we know because everyone in the clip is wearing black-and-white-striped prisoner outfits straight out of 1920s Keystone Kops serials. These are the kind of outfits that only exist in Halloween stores, especially the one Barbara is wearing as it’s also a dress. A dress!
Because this clip is all about Barbara, whose turn in season one was probably the worst-written female character I have ever seen on television, meeting Jerome, the proto-Joker. In jail. Together. Because, apparently, Gotham has adopted the world’s first coed prison, where male and female inmates have constant, unsupervised contact with each other. Barbara is literally reading a newspaper at what appears to be the prison’s lounge, when Jerome sidles up to her and gets fresh. Gotham has apparently totally broken with all semblance of reality, and his become a prequel to Schumacher’s vaguely faux-Gothic, campy Batman universe. I fully expect Gordon and Bullock to have to put on ice skates to fight Mr. Freeze when he debuts this season, and frankly, that’s not a joke, that is something that could absolutely legitimately happen on Gotham.
But here’s the craziest part about all of this: In this two-minute clip Barabra is literally the most interesting and most independent her character has ever been. After a warning/indirect threat from Jerome, she gets a dumb, hulking protector on her own. She acted in her own agency—something she failed to achieve during the entirety of season one! Even better, she tells the proto-Joker to make her a sandwich.
Now, the line itself is hilariously bad, but in terms of Gotham this is major character development and major improvement. I can’t help but wonder what’s actually going to happen in season 2—will Barbara become a villain? Will she become the older Harley Quinn to the young Joker? Could somehow she take Jerome’s place as the Joker, which is my own personal theory that is almost certainly untrue, but I desperately wish it was?
My brain tells me Gotham is going to be soul-crushingly awful, but darn it if this ridiculous clip hasn’t got me excited to see how ridiculous it came get. I would love it if Gotham became as entertainingly awful as Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman. Because even if it is one of the worst Batman stories ever told—and Gotham certainly is—that doesn’t mean it has to be so dull.
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