‘Mad Grey Dawn’ packed a whole lot of events and even a time skip in what was a very fast-paced episode that set a new scenario for the final episodes. After the news of the show’s renewal for a third season, and right during the premiere of Batman v Superman, Gotham seems to be aiming at becoming and more Batman-esque than ever.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers
‘Mad Grey Dawn’ was clearly a set-up episode to establish new scenarios for what’s coming next. In under 42 minutes, Jim Gordon was framed, arrested and sentenced to 40 years in Blackgate Penitentiary. During his absence, things couldn’t be weirder in Gotham: Penguin is now a sane man who has reunited with his family, Bruce is living in the streets with Selina and actually comitting questionable acts, Nygma might be the most dangerous criminal at the moment, and Hugo Strange keeps running mysterious experiments in Indian Hill.
Aside from having great chemistry, Nygma and Penguin’s relationship might be one of the best things this season has given us. And how the tables have turned since their first encounter! Penguin is now sane while Nygma is only thinking of murder. Nygma is disappointed to learn that the man he looked up to so much has been changed during his stay in Arkham. In fact, this new Penguin freaks Nygma out so much that he doesn’t even trust him to tell him the plan to finish Gordon. If there was still any wonder that Cory Michael Smith is the perfect man to play The Riddler for his ability to quickly go from awkward innocent scientist to the creepiest maddest man in the room, ‘Mad Grey Dawn’ established him as one of the most dangerous, intimidating villains at the moment.
As per Jim, despite being framed, his situation is still complicated: he’s telling the truth about not having killed Pinkney, but he’s still lying about not having killed Galavan. Ever since Gordon pulled the trigger in the mid-season finale, it was clear that the truth would come out at this point. Gotham was introduced as a show that focuses on Jim Gordon’s life while Bruce Wayne is still a kid, but right now the show is at a place where Bruce is maturing at a very fast speed while Gordon keeps spiralling down due to his wrong choices. And by “wrong choices” I don’t necessarily mean shooting Galavan: what is it about him bursting into crime scene without waiting for back, especially when he’s the prime suspect of a murder? Losing his job is nothing new to Jim, but this seems like a much bigger deal. He has broken up with Leslie and told her to move on and he even refuses the help of Harvey, who seems to be the only one who’s willing to help him from the outside (will we see a Harvey vs Nygma soon?) And then there’s also Bruce, who wants to get rid of everything that his name signifies. The fact that he’s so close to Selina Kyle at his age, or him saying that he doesn’t mind stealing from criminals, or even the fact that he was all for enduring that beating seemed to imply that this Bruce version might be much closer to Batman than what we expect. Even the beautiful music that was used during Bruce and Selina’s conversation sounded very similar to the soundtrack of the Batman trilogy. I don’t believe Gotham will use the timeskip card, so it’s pretty likely that they will skip over Batman’s awkward teenage years and have him become Batman much sooner, although that will probably be in 3-4 seasons or so, and will depend on David Mazouz growth, among other things.
Meanwhile, Penguin makes up with Butch (Tabitha doesn’t buy it) and later meets his father (Paul Reubens), who invites him home to meet the rest of the family. I don’t think anyone has any doubt that this family reunion will be short-lived. Not only was the atmosphere of the house super creepy and felt like a complete lie, but his Arkham treatment is probably reversible, or he will snap at some point (although it is quite hard to imagine what would given that Tabitha making fun of his mother didn’t work). Penguin is right now the only example we have of Hugo Strange’s experiments, so we will have to keep an eye on him. Barbara has just woken up too and the nurse did call professor Strange, so will he try to do the same with her?
Overall, ‘Mad Grey Dawn’ was a very fast-paced episode that slightly sacrificed the quality of the writing and the credibility of some of its events for the sake of advancing plot threads. It could have been handled better, but it was still necessary. If there is one thing this season hasn’t been, that would be “boring”, so I’m willing to look past it.