Review: Gotham, Episode 22 – “All Happy Families are Alike”

Gotham tells the story of the famous Batman ally Commissioner, Jim Gordon, as he climbs the ranks of the Gotham City Police Department. Alongside the history of Jim Gordon, and oftentimes intersecting with his history, are the stories of other famous Batman characters, such as the villains the Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot), the Riddler (Edward Nygma), and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). Gordon also interacts with a young Bruce Wayne and other allies like Harvey Bullock, Dr Leslie Thompkins, and Alfred Pennyworth.
Recently in the series, Bruce met his father’s friend and future Batman ally, Lucius Fox. Jim Gordon saved Barbara Kean from the Ogre, but only after the Ogre killed her parents. Oswald Cobblepot instigated a gang war between Mafia Dons Salvatore Maroni and Carmine Falcone. Edward Nygma left a clue to his murder of Officer Tom Dougherty. Fish narrowly escaped the evil island of Dr. Dulmacher and now attempts to return to Gotham.


Episode Recap

“All Happy Families are Alike” starts with Selina Kyle and some other homeless youth bundled around a fiery drum to keep warm near the river. An unknown ship approaches, carrying Fish Mooney and her people. Fish recruits Selina Kyle, who later is revealed to work for the returning Capo and dressing like her as well. 


The gang war between Salvatore Maroni and Carmine Falcone has the GCPD precinct at capacity. Detective Harvey Bullock reveals to his partner, Jim Gordon, that don Falcone was just attacked. The assault, likely from Maroni’s men, didn’t kill Carmine Falcone, but did wound him, and he is now held up in the hospital. The two detectives surmise that Maroni will send more men to the hospital to finish off Falcone.
After checking in on Barbara Kean, who is being released from the GCPD after being examined medically, Gordon heads to the hospital to save Falcone. Detective Gordon fears that, should Carmine Falcone die, Gotham will fall into a civil war of multiple crime bosses trying to take over the city. At the hospital Jim interrupts Oswald Cobblepot and Butch Gilzean, who are there to kill Falcone before Maroni and his men arrive. He arrests the Penguin and Gilzean and when Maroni’s men show up, lead by GCPD Commissioner Loeb, Gordon risks his life to keep all three alive. Harvey Bullock arrives midway through a gunfight with Maroni’s men and the two escape the hospital via an ambulance with Don Carmine Falcone, Oswald Cobblepot, and Butch Gilzean in the back.
Gordon and Bullock take the three to one of Carmine Falcone’s safe houses, where Selina Kyle and Fish Mooney ambush them all. Fish has the other four men tied up, while she and Butch Gilzean reunite. Fish realizes that Butch has been brainwashed, but he is able to recognize his old boss and his loyalty to her is still evident. Fish Mooney calls Don Salvatore Maroni who brings his men to the safe house and offers to trade Falcone’s life for the properties Fish owned before being chased out of Gotham. Maroni pushes Fish, calling her “babes” repeatedly, and  finally Fish pulls a pistol and shoots Salvatore Maroni in the head. Maroni’s men and Fish’s crew start a gunfight while Don Carmine Falcone, detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, and The Penguin all break free from their bonds and runaway. 
Gordon and Bullock flea with Carmine Falcone, narrowly escaping, while the Penguin grabs a machine gun and fires into Maroni’s men and Fish’s new crew. Fish fleas the safehouse and Oswald Cobblepot chases her where the two fight atop the safe house roof. Butch intervenes, but his loyalty is challenged when both beg him to shoot the other. Gilzean shoots both in the side to break up the fight; when he hurts Fish Mooney, he realizes what he has done and begs for forgiveness. The Penguin knocks him out and tackles Fish, pushing her over the rooftop and into the river. Afterward, Oswald Cobblepot climbs up on the ledge and declares himself the king of Gotham. Jim Gordon takes Harvey Bullock and Carmine Falcone to Barbara’s penthouse and discovers Dr. Leslie Thompkins knocking out Kean.


Doctor Leslie Thompkins releases Barbara Kean from medical custody after convincing her that Kean needs to see a psychiatrist for post traumatic stress after watching the Ogre kill her parents. Barbara initially argues, but finally agrees to see someone as long as Thompkins is the doctor. Leslie meets Barbara at her apartment and the two rehash the events from “Under the Knife” and “The Anvil or the Hammer.”
While disclosing what happened with her parents and the Ogre, Barbara reveals that she killed her parents, not Jason Skolimsky (the Ogre’s real name). Leslie tries to evade Barbara, but Kean pulls a knife and chases her down, forcing Dr. Thompkins to take refuge in the bathroom temporarily. When Barbara breaks down the door, Leslie flees and the two skirmish in the apartment. Dr. Thompkins gets the upper hand over Kean, knocking her out right before the penthouse door is opened by Jim Gordon. 


At the GCPD, Kris Kringle approaches Edward Nygma regarding the goodbye letter that her former boyfriend, Tom Dougherty, wrote. The letter spells out Nygma’s name, which the forensics specialist writes off as mere coincidence. Kringle seems unsure, but leaves Edward Nygma, who goes crazy trying to figure out what to do now that his clue is discovered. In a mental dialogue between his better and worse parts, Nygma descends deeper into the Riddler persona.


Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth tear apart the library in Wayne Manor, looking for whatever secret Thomas Wayne kept. Lucius Fox, Thomas Wayne’s confidant, who encouraged Bruce to investigate, assured him that his father was a good person. While searching the library, Bruce remembers something Lucius said–that Thomas was a true stoic. Looking into one Marcus Aurelius’ books, Bruce finds a remote that opens up the fireplace, revealing a hidden tunnel that descends beneath Wayne Manor. 
“All Happy Families are Alike” ends with the sound of bats fluttering in the secret tunnel!


Cory Michael Smith’s portrayal of Edward Nygma in the last few episodes makes me sorry that we’ve seen so little of the enigma in the beginning of the show. Sure, he’s been around, poking in with a riddle to annoy Harvey Bullock from time to time, but never in a way that he’s been portrayed since the March Madness break. Smith is just one of many impeccably cast characters that can only get better.
I truly enjoyed Jada Pinket Smith as Fish Mooney, and am hopeful that, regardless of the rumors, we will see more of her in season two. What’s interesting is that the final scenes with Fish Mooney seem more like the Wicked Wisdom lead vocalist than the actress, in the best possible way. If Fish Mooney doesn’t return to Gotham in the future, at least Jada Pinkett Smith held nothing back!
No one could replace Donal Logue as the sidekick, Harvey Bullock. Logue has shown his capabilities as an actor, playing a variety of rolls, and Harvey Bullock is an exquisite blend of King Horik from Vikings, Lee Toric from Sons of Anarchy, and Sean Finnerty from Grounded for Life. While Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon is the true lead of Gotham, Harvey Bullock is surely the most enjoyable “good” character.
Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot is also splendid. Taylor captures an essence of the criminal mastermind, one that isn’t afraid to snivel when in reality he is still manipulating those that wish to do him harm. If, in season two of Gotham, the Penguin runs the criminal underworld from the Iceberg Lounge it’d be amazing, and the end of “All Happy Families are Alike” certainly allows for that possibility.
Sean Pertwee’s portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth is immaculate. Gotham‘s version of Alfred has been the most heroic thus far, and hopefully the future shows even more of how the war veteran shapes a young Bruce Wayne into the Batman. David Mazouz isn’t a horrible young Bruce Wayne, and with so much talent surrounding him, and Sean Pertwee being his butler, hopefully he’ll grow into a talented actor as well.
“All Happy Families are Alike” is a beautiful finish to the first season of Gotham. Enough major characters perished to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats, while still plenty of stories are left hanging for season two. This final episode is great; the inaugural season wasn’t perfect, but had a very strong start to what–hopefully–stays an entertaining series.


Content Guide

Violence: “All Happy Families are Alike” has a couple violent scenes, the most notable being when Fish Mooney shoots Sal Maroni point-blank in the head. Barbara chases Dr. Thompkins around with a knife and the two fight for a moment. Oswald Cobblepot manages to push Fish Mooney off of a roof, where she falls into water.
Language/crude humor: After two viewings of “All Happy Families are Alike” there were very few expletives; I counted three.
Sexual content: None!
Drug/alcohol use: I don’t remember any drugs or alcohol in “All Happy Families are Alike.”
Other negative themes: “All Happy Families are Alike” contains murder, and a gang war throughout the city.
Positive Content: Not a lot positive content. Kean isn’t able to kill Leslie, and Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock escape the gang war, but Gotham is left in pretty dire straights at the end of season one.


The Bottom Line



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Cody Hahn

Lover of Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Geek.

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