'Gotham' Recap Revisits The Show's Biggest Plots

by Kayla Hawkins

Season 1 of Gotham relied heavily on knowledge of Batman villains, heroes, and side characters, but by its ending had built its own take on the material, a mob-focused origin for the city that will eventually be home to the rogues gallery of villains. And Season 2 is going to add more characters, so even if you love superheroes, it can be tough to keep track of everything going on in the show. Recapping Gotham Season 1 is paramount, especially if you missed a few episodes here and there.

The show does have a lot of procedural elements, so most of the villains are dispatched within a single episode or two, but there are also plenty of ongoing plot elements that develop over time. Before jumping in to the true plot summary, let's just go over the basics, because it's been a while since the first few episodes aired last fall. Gotham begins with protagonist Detective James Gordon returning to his former hometown of Gotham, a great American city that's beginning to slide into a world of crime. At the same time, young Bruce Wayne, the child of billionaire businesspeople/philanthropists Thomas & Martha Wayne, is traumatized when his parents are murdered by a still-unknown figure, leaving him in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Those are the basics of the show's Batman similarities. Now, on to the Season 1 recap.

Episodes 1 - 2: Meet Jim Gordon

For the first few weeks, Jim Gordon is clearly the POV character. He's a by-the-book stick in the mud, while his partner, Harvey Bullock, is charming, but corrupt. The pair are assigned to solve the Wayne murder, and Jim begins to build a relationship with sole witness Selina Kyle, a street kid who's targeted by several villains hoping to kidnap and sell street kids to the "Dollmaker."

Episodes 3 - 4: Rise Of The Penguin

Together, Harvey and Jim got tangled into a mob dispute between mob boss Carmine Falcone, his right hand, Fish Mooney, and Oswald Cobblepot, who Jim was contracted to kill. Of course, good guy Jim couldn't do it — and he let Cobblepot go. In Episode 3, the Penguin returns to Gotham with the intent of carrying out his revenge, and infiltrates the operations of rival mob boss Sal Maroni over the following episodes.

Episodes 5 - 9: The Conspiracy Develops, Villains Come & Go

Wayne may be young, but he begins to earn his nickname as "World's Greatest Detective" by investigating a sinister drug company, WellZyn, that has ties to his family's corporation. Meanwhile, Fish plants club singer Liza as Falcone's girlfriend with the intention of killing the old man, but a few episodes later she is threatened by Oswald, who knows she's a plant, and is ultimately killed by an emotional Falcone.

Throughout all of these episodes, vigilantes and eccentric villains pop up, but all are dispatched within a single episode, from the Spirit of the Goat to Ian Hargrove to Harvey Dent (just a crooked lawyer, not a villain yet). The point? Gotham City is starting to get weird, and Jim & Harvey are starting to become friends.

Episodes 10 - 12: Arkham Asylum/The Electrocutioner

After an incident with Wayne murder suspect Dick Lovecraft gone wrong, Jim is reassigned as an Arkham security guard, where he meets and falls in love with Doctor Leslie Thompkins. Bruce and Selina, living together, are put in constant danger by assassins who want to kill the tiny Catwoman, and have their own slight romance (and a lot of cuteness). After a series of attacks on prisoners, criminal and electrical mastermind Jack Gruber escapes, wrecking havoc on the city. With the help of Edward Nygma, Jim and Harvey successfully stop Gruber, but not before some convoluted plotting reveals to Maroni that Cobblepot was really working for Falcone the entire time.

Episodes 13 - 15: The Scarecrow

Jim is reinstated as a detective, and immediately rewarded by having mob assassin Victor Zsasz target him. Dr. Gerald Crane and his son, Jonathan Crane, are doing heinous experiments on human adrenal glands, ruining Harvey's one chance at real love, and permanently scarring the young Crane so badly that he will eventually become villain Scarecrow. Things don't go any better for Fish Mooney, who tries hiding from Falcone and his best buddy Oswald, but only ends up kidnapped.

Episodes 16 - 17: Joker Fakeouts

Yes, for a couple of episodes Gotham indulged a few Joker origin stories, adding Jerome, a circus performer who killed his mother, and playing around with the mythology of the "Red Hood," one of Joker's earliest aliases. In short, the Red Hood was a total misdirect, while Jerome still remains the show's best bet for a future Joker. More interesting? Fish Mooney discovering she's been kidnapped by the Dollmaker (from Episode 2, above), and literally carving out her own eye rather than let him surgically remove it for money.

Episodes 18 - 19: Bad Men In Power

Gotham introduces two new bad guys, and both are stand-ins for The Man: Commissioner Loeb, a wildly corrupt cop who takes bribes and can threaten anyone into submission, and the Board of Directors at Wayne Enterprises, who are trying to kill Bruce Wayne in order to gain control more of the company, and Alfred is caught in the crossfire. Neither one is defeated just yet, while Fish successfully becomes the Dollmaker's trusted assistant.

Episodes 20 - 21: The Ogre

So Jim's ex-girlfriend, Barbara Kean, has been in the rest of the season, but nothing much happens to her before this point, when she's kidnapped by notorious serial killer "The Ogre." Unlike the Ogre's other victims, she never "bores" him enough for him to torture and kill her, and instead, she winds up doing his bidding and killing her own parents. In her defense, they were truly awful, but it seems like after a season of moping around, Barbara was a little too eager to go after them.

While the Ogre plays his twisted games with Barbara, there's another romance — Ed Nygma is trying desperately to woo fellow nerd Kristen Kringle away from her thuggish, abusive boyfriend, to no avail... and when he confronts the guy on an abandoned street, winds up stabbing him to death. And Bruce continues to unravel the conspiracy behind Wayne Enterprises' murder attempt — and the chief suspect is Sid Bunderslaw, though nothing Bruce has can prove it. Instead, Bruce finds out from Lucius Fox that his father had some kind of secret identity, and was hiding a room behind a bookshelf in his office. Sound familiar?

Episode 22: Mob War, And The Finale

So while the Ogre saga was taking place, there were slight moves forward towards a huge confrontation between Falcone, Maroni, Fish, and Oswald. Fish destroys the Dollmaker and flies a helicopter back to Gotham (in a truly badass moment). Of course, Jim and Harvey wind up involved in the showdown, alternately dragging both Falcone and Oswald along with them.

Much shooting, deal-making, and double-crossing occurs, but it boils down to this: Carmine Falcone retires, leaving a hole in his criminal empire. Maroni tries to make an alliance with Fish's new gang (which includes Selina Kyle), but is so rude to her that she shoots him in the head instead. And rather than teaming up, Oswald and Fish get into a battle to the death, and Fish ultimately falls off of a high-rise into the river and... dies? There's no body, but Oswald — I mean, Penguin — triumphantly declares himself the "King of Gotham!"

Ed isn't doing so well — he's having a bit of a psychotic break, his natural love for riddles (ahem) developing into its own personality in his mind. Jim is happily in love with Leslie Thompkins, who attempts to help Barbara through the trauma of killing her 'rents, but after she attempts to stab the doctor, Barbara is sent to Arkham.

As you can see, Gotham Season 1 was action-packed. There were at least four storylines going on at one time in any given episode, and a dozen important characters. This recap should leave you prepared for the Season 2 premiere, but you can always re-watch Season 1 when it debuts on Netflix if you're still feeling rusty, or just want to watch your favorite villains try to takeover the city over and over again.

Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX (12)