Picture this: you're Gotham and you're stuck in this pickle of a storyline because it's very Jim Gordon ( Ben McKenzie)-centric and Jim Gordon, as he has evolved the past three seasons, freaking sucks. There's no easy way to un-suck him without dedicating lots of screen time to exploring his psyche and building on a past that should have been explored like two seasons ago. It's a tough job, and someone has to do it, but luckily, there are some tried and true (and tired, so tired) tropes to help the sticky storyline out. There's a classic near death experience, or, my personal favorite, the get-drunk-and-overshare approach. In "Red Queen," Gotham decided to throw a bunch of monster LSD in Gordon's face and let the trippy adventure down his mental rabbit hole speak for itself.
The good: Jim Gordon apparently hated himself as much as everyone else did and turned to his whole vigilante bounty hunter career in a misguided attempt to avoid the expectations of heroism that come with wearing a GCPD badge. In the end, after talking some stuff out with hallucinations of everyone from his kooky ex, to his favorite ex, to his (maybe?) dead dad; Jimbo decided to rejoin the force. Finally. That took entirely too long considering we all knew it was going to happen eventually.
The not-so-good: everything else and do not get me started on Penguin's ( Robin Lord Taylor) new role as the evil gay man creepily pining for his straight bestie while attempting to sabotage bestie's shiny new hetero hook-up. Let's also not talk about Riddler ( Cory Michael Smith) and his Kringle-clone. It's not going to end well, so there's really no point in getting attached. My only hope is that the epic bro/potential romance of Riddler and Penguin can survive whatever wonderful-and-definitely-not-vaguely-offensive-storyline this is supposed to be. I'm just getting too many gay-people-are-predators-who-will-ruin-your-life vibes to get behind this.
Back to Jim's self-help acid test: it also makes the not-so-good list despite the solid outcome that hopefully puts Gotham back on track story-wise. There's just something that feels so anticlimactic after weeks of destroying Gordon as a person and as a character, just to remedy all the ills with a goofy elevator ride with everyone's favorite psychotic ex-girlfriend (with excellent fashion sense and hair, I mean, damn Barbara.) To force Jim Gordon to work out his problems with everyone in his life by having brutally honest discussions with their hallucination counterparts cheapens the progress that we're supposed to feel like Gordon made. Back in the real world, Gordon's love life is still a mess. His professional life isn't much better. Taking back his position in the police force is a real and tangible step forward, but the first of many small steps that Jim Gordon must take to put his life back together. Small steps may be slow and run the risk of growing tedious, but something real-- especially something real held up against the technicolor insanity that passes for Gotham City's daily existence-- is far more interesting than a head trip full of fantasies...even completely demented Gotham fantasies.
Gotham airs on Fox on Mondays at 8/7c.