Now, this is some Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) man-angst I can actually get behind. Gotham's Jim Gordon sucks. Let us now explore why he sucks. Deep-seated psychological issues? Probably. Daddy issues? Of course. An irritating hero complex paired with an inflated sense of self-importance? You know it.
Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) exploited the best/worst parts of Jim Gordon in his demented quest for revenge. In doing so, Jervis forced him to choose between saving and condemning pairs of victims in a move that invoked some of Batman's greatest hits a la Robin: Year One, the Rachel-or-Harvey disaster in The Dark Knight or a dozen more times over the character's 70-plus-year history. It's a classic move, and Gotham 's sadistic version of the Mad Hatter served us well in this latest round of existential trauma.
Gotham's version of Jim Gordon has been one of the series' biggest questions. He started out as a standard son-of-a-cop returned to dad's old squad to carry on the family name. But the man wasn't very likable and when his story was forced up against Gotham's mob woes, Penguin's rise to power, the birth of the Riddler and even the occasionally questionable Baby Batman stuff... it just wasn't that interesting. Gotham is a dark place full of damaged people. Even the city's mythical protector is a total head case. Gotham's best move this season has been to let Jim Gordon be damaged and "Follow the White Rabbit" is the first episode where the series really lets us have that Gordon, flaws and all.
I know, I know, Jim Gordon has been damaged goods in the past. The minefield that counts as his love life is ample testimony to that. Maybe he came on strong with the heroics way back when he first joined the force, but what's the rookie son of a GCPD legend supposed to do, right? Gordon has never been perfect. FACT. Jim Gordon has never been perfect, but through all the messed-up relationship woes and the buddying around with Penguin and the painful crash course in Gotham City politics, Gotham has never stumbled on its assertion that Jim Gordon is great and we are not worthy. Gotham might be "Batman minus Batman" but gosh-darnit, Gotham was determined to make Jim Gordon Batman in all but name. After all, Batman himself is a screwed-up jerk of a savior and his properties were outperforming the big blue boy scout's for years at a time.
That's cool, but Jim Gordon isn't Batman, and Batman has repeatedly had his comeuppance for being a caped d---head in the comics, the cartoons, and the films. There has been enough exploration about what makes Batman tick that whole books have been penned on the subject, independent from the source material, and that's why we're able to look at Bruce Wayne objectively despite his many missteps.
Gotham's Jim Gordon hasn't been given that stripped-down treatment until now and if Tetch's antics are just the beginning of a season-long focus on the minutiae of Gordon, then I am so excited for the rest of this season.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.