Gotham (2013) season 2, episode 22
"All Families Are Alike"
WRITER: BRUNO HELLER
DIRECTOR: DANNY CANNON
AIR DATE: May 4 2015
‘All Happy Families Are Alike’ has more than one meaning in the season one finale of Gotham. Referring both to the notion of the Mafia families that have carved up the city and the traditional meaning of family, the episode deals with that theme in a number of ways, bringing out a few surprises along the way while a gang war is raging in the streets.
In the wake of recent events and the machinations of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), a gang war has broken out between the Falcone and Maroni factions. Carmine Falcone (John Doman) finds himself dealing with the aggression of his rival Sal Maroni (David Zayas), neither knowing that the Penguin has pulled strings, taken advantage of their dislike for each other, and set them at each other’s throats. The Penguin isn’t the only player in the mix - Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) has made her return to town and is quickly making her own moves, with scores to settle. That happens to include recruiting Selina (Camren Bicondova) into her circle. The Gotham PD is caught in the middle, with Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) putting themselves at risk as the story unfolds, finding allies in odd places and enemies in odder locations.
Family also applies to Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards), who’s been through a lot as of late, and reaches out to Leslie (Morena Baccarin) for counselling after the murders of her parents and her ordeal with the Ogre. Her family dynamics come up, but there’s more to what happened that night than we’ve seen - it speaks volumes after all that we never saw what actually happened during the killings. When it’s all said and done, the twist is not entirely unexpected, but very effective.
An uncomfortable ride in an elevator
Family also plays into the third major plotline playing out. Bruce (David Mazouz) is still reeling from the idea that his father was aware of underhanded actions within Wayne Enterprises and did nothing about it, while absorbing the reassurance from Alfred (Sean Pertwee) that there’s more to the story than he understands. Through reminiscence, the two follow a trail that leads to a discovery - a small device and a secret about the mansion that neither of them knew about, something that leads to all sorts of speculation for the audience over the summer: just what was Thomas Wayne up to?
The last major storyline features Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) coming unravelled in the wake of the murder he’s committed. As justified as it was, it’s having a strong effect on Edward, who was already socially awkward to begin with. True to Riddler form, he’s left some subliminal clues in his wake, and his actions are catching up to him. The question we’re left with - how long can Edward hold himself together?
After it’s all said and done and the smoke has cleared, Gotham City is changed forever. Deaths of major characters have happened - in one case, certain, in the other, survival is unlikely. The mob scene in Gotham has a new head, that very devious Oswald. Taylor’s a natural scene stealer, something he shows off here throughout, and his carefully plotted schemes have all led to this point. Even when things don’t go his way, he salvages a victory from the ruins. It might, however, be a hollow victory.
The great surprise comes from one character. Carmine Falcone is one of those characters in the history of Batman lore that one should dislike - a mob boss who lives off the weaknesses of weak people, treats himself as above the law, and rules with an iron hand in his control of the underworld. When we first saw him face off with Gordon early in the season, he made it clear that he was in charge of the city, that it was his to rule. This put the two men on opposite sides. And yet this time out he makes a perfectly understandable decision - to walk away and retire, telling Gordon that the rule of the mob has to end, that Gotham City needs the rule of law and order. He also shows respect to the lawman in relating his own respect for Gordon’s father, and the two part on good terms. It’s a compelling turn of events for the character. Is this the last we see of him? Perhaps, perhaps not. But in having the insight to understand that he’s been part of the problem, it shows character growth and even something of a conscience. Doyan’s take on the character this time out is sympathetic and based on strength, a difference from what we’ve seen out of him previously.