The first season of Gotham suggested that the show would have a straightforward format — every week, Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock would be hunting down various criminals and young versions of future Batman villains, while Bruce Wayne was developing the angst that will eventually lead him to don a costume and beat up the bad guys. However, if you recap Gotham Season 2, you'll realize that the show completely blew up that format after just one season, and while it retains some of the procedural framework, it now has a (complicated) overarching story. In order to jump back into the series for the Season 3 premiere on Sept. 19, you'll need to remember where almost all of the characters — new and old — left off after the explosive finale.
But before we jump into the Season 2 recap, let's refresh on where things left off after Season 1's finale: Gotham's underworld had fallen into the hands of the Penguin, and both Fish Mooney and Sal Maroni appeared to be dead. Jim and Harvey were tangled in this conflict, but managed to escape and save Jim's girlfriend, Leslie Tompkins, from his ex-girlfriend, Barbara Kean, who had suffered a psychotic break after being forced to kill her parents. Meanwhile, young Bruce Wayne made the discovery that his father had a secret office/bunker underneath their mansion. Got that? Now, on to the intense second season of Gotham, subtitled "Rise of the Villains."
Episodes 1-2: The Calm Before The Storm
New Commissioner Loeb fires Gordon immediately, pushing him back into working with Penguin as an enforcer. Bruce and Alfred clash over whether or not Bruce should be able to read his father's secrets.
The first new characters of the season, Theo and Tabitha Galavan, millionaire heirs from out of town, also move to Gotham City and stage an Arkham Asylum escape in these early episodes, enlisting Barbara, Jerome, and a collection of other inmates to be the "Maniax," a terrorist gang.
Episodes 3-5: Attack Of The Maniax
The Maniax attack the GCPD and kill Captain Essen, then stage an attack at Galavan's charity function, setting up the villain to look like a hero. Galavan kills Jerome as part of this ruse, and uses that as a jumping off point for a campaign for mayor, which he's planning as revenge for his family, who were kicked out of Gotham City centuries ago.
Jim returns to the GCPD and works with new Captain Barnes to build a task force of young cops... who quickly become cannon fodder for Galavan, who's successfully infiltrating Wayne Enterprises with the help of the Pike family, including youngest sister Bridgit. It's revealed that the Galavans, aka the Dumas family, have hated the Waynes for centuries.
Episodes 6-8: Galavan Succeeds
Galavan, who has been successfully elected mayor, kidnaps and kills Penguin's mother, and Cobblepot is unable to rescue her, even with the help of an increasingly mentally addled Butch. Penguin attempts to exact his revenge, but he is seriously injured and must be nursed back to health by Ed Nygma.
Bridgit Pike is seriously injured and presumed dead after a standoff with the cops, but she's revealed to be in the possession of Indian Hill, a secret medical center inside Arkham.
Episodes 9-11: Midseason Finale
Galavan gets into Bruce's good graces by introducing him to his "niece," Silver St. Cloud, but, as Selina warns him, they can't be trusted, and Galavan's cult, the Order of St. Dumas, kidnaps Bruce. To save him, Gordon, Alfred, Penguin, and Nygma work together to ambush Galavan's mansion and stop the Order from sacrificing Bruce, but Silver and Tabitha escape.
Penguin and Gordon extralegally work together to kill Galavan, but his body is delivered to Indian Hill, which means Dr. Hugo Strange can experiment on it.
Episodes 12-14: Meet Mr. Freeze
Penguin confesses to killing Galavan and is sent to Arkham, where he becomes Hugo Strange's patient and is tortured in the name of erasing his cruel nature. Strange also imprisons Victor Fries, a scientist attempting to find a serum that will temporarily freeze his wife Nora so he can find the cure to her terminal illness. Nora perishes, and Victor is transformed so he can only live at sub-zero temps.
Bruce and Selina hunt down Matches Malone, the man who Silver claims killed the Waynes. After convincing him to confess, Bruce walks away without killing the man in revenge, only to hear Malone commit suicide. The experience leads Bruce to move out of Wayne Manor and stay on the streets with Selina.
Episodes 15-17: Once A Villain, Always A Villain
Nygma frames Gordon for Galavan's murder (which he did do) and Gordon is sent to prison, where he would be killed if not for a plot Harvey concocts to help him escape and work to clear his name. Gordon goes undercover, and has nothing to lose because Lee Thompkins, who was pregnant, leaves the city after suffering a miscarriage. Jim successfully tricks Nygma into admitting that he framed him, earning his freedom.
Now "cured" of being a villain, Penguin is released, and while visiting his mother's grave, he meets his father, who turns out to be a wealthy man. They bond quickly, but his father's new wife plots to — and does — kill her husband, prompting Penguin to regress back to his villainous ways and murder his step-family.
Episodes 18-20: Revolving Doors At Arkham
Nygma is now sent to Arkham, and Barbara is once again released after Strange's "cure" works on her. Wanting to make up with Jim, she helps him uncover the truth behind who killed Bruce Wayne's parents: Hugo Strange, who was once a close friend and ally. He worked with the Waynes at Pinewood, where he did human mutation experiments like the ones in Indian Hill.
In Arkham, Strange resurrects Theo Galavan, but gives him the identity "Azrael" because his mind can't handle being brought back from the dead. Strange escapes blame for setting his creation on Gordon, but Azrael is ultimately defeated when Gordon, Butch, Tabitha, and Penguin take him down using an RPG.
Episodes 21-22: Hugo Strange Goes Down
The last few episodes are a drawn-out siege on Arkham Asylum. Gordon, Bruce, and Lucius Fox are kidnapped and tortured by Nygma, who has started working at Arkham after being caught attempting to escape (honestly, this makes no sense, so you have to just go with it).
Selina is able to rescue her friend Bridgit, who, like Galavan, is convinced she is someone else. However, Strange's final experiment, Fish Mooney, remembers exactly who she is — and she now has superpowers.
At the very end of the season, Strange is taking orders from a white-haired woman who appears to be a member of The Court of Owls. In his panic that the GCPD is on his heels, he sends the Indian Hill inmates — who are all mentally fractured and have some kind of power — to another facility. On the way, the bus is crashed, and all of the "monsters" escape. Strange is stopped, Mooney tracks down the Penguin to exact her revenge, and Gordon leaves the city in order to look for his missing girlfriend.
That wraps up Season 2, and I'm sure that when Gotham returns for its third season, subtitled "Mad City," it will deliver even more surprises.
Images: Jeff Neumann/FOX; Giphy (8)