Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” ushers in a new wave of crime and terror as Detective Gordon, returning to the Gotham PD, comes face-to-face with in-house corruption while attempting to solve a murder that could end his career…or his life.
With mob bosses vying for power and Gotham’s ‘finest’ covering up their part in a drug ring, Jim Gordon is facing the most important decision in his career: Will he remain loyal to the police department, overrun with criminals just like the ones running rampant on the street, or will he remain loyal to his own moral code and risk the consequences?
“Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” is about loyalty. Loyalty to authority, companions, self, or an ideal. There’s a lot changing in Gotham, and these loyalties (or lack of loyalty) are revealing themselves in the changes taking place.
The most apparent loyalties are those of the mob bosses and their lackeys. Fish Mooney wouldn’t be alive (or whole) without the loyalty of her right-hand man, Butch. She also found herself in a bad way due to Penguin’s lack of loyalty. Her own lack of loyalty, however, is what caused the mob ties to unravel into an all-out war. Her undermining of Falcone’s power caused a rift that will continue to submerge Gotham in blood.
The Gotham PD also experiences a shake-up of loyalties. When authority becomes corrupt and the choice is between serving bad guys to put away worse guys or striking out on your own against the entire world most people choose the safety of the lesser of two evils. It’s a little easier to survive that way. Jim Gordon, however, decides that he’s going to sever ties and keep loyalty to the ideal of justice. Every person matters, and when a person is murdered Jim is determined to find the culprit and bring them in to ensure that justice is served.
Seeing Jim’s determination to go against nearly everyone he knows isn’t shocking. We know the stuff Jim’s made of — he’s like a darker version of Captain America, someone Bruce Wayne will most likely look up to and emulate. He does what is right because it’s right, no matter what. It is shocking, however, to see what change one good man can do in a corrupt system.
We see several people switch sides and forget old loyalties in “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon”. Mostly people who have, up until this point, dismissed Jim Gordon as a rookie looking for recognition. Throughout this season, however, they have seen him time and again stick his neck out to ensure that things are done the right way.
This change in the PD comes about because Jim is consistent. He never swerves in his loyalty. His stubborn refusal to sink into corruption despite his surroundings is inspiring. The people who have lived in Gotham for years, who have become stuck in its bleak outlook, are waking up to the possibility that Gotham could become a better place if Gordon has his way.
So which loyalty is stronger? I think, for the Gotham PD, their choice to ally themselves with Gordon shows that their loyalty to the old, corrupt system was never that strong. They were surviving and nothing more. It has taken Jim several months to show them he is serious about his loyalty to the ideal of a fair and just system. They can see it is paying off, and the hope he brings them inspires more loyalty than their fear of repercussions.
While Jim Gordon is overturning a crumbling system at the police department, Penguin is setting himself up for an unpleasant surprise. With Fish out of the way (or so he thinks), Penguin’s loyalty to his vision of the future puts his relationship with his mother, his boss, and Jim in jeopardy. With family ties, mob ties, and law ties comes the need to juggle loyalties and play to all sides. Penguin does truly care about his mother, but the rest of his loyalties are somewhat suspect.
Perhaps one of the most interesting views of loyalty in “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” is when Penguin and Gordon have a sit-down at Penguin’s new establishment (the future Ice Lounge?) and Penguin assures Gordon that he’s a loyal friend. He promises to help Gordon, dismissing Gordon’s term of a favor, saying, ““Friends don’t owe friends, silly, they just do favors for friends because they want to.”
What does this mean for the future of the police force and the mob? Is Penguin really loyal to Jim Gordon when he has been shown to be a double agent? How will Penguin’s connection to Jim help or hurt him if he rises through the ranks of the PD to become someone with clout?
Despite Jim’s loyalty to an ideal system, there’s always a catch. Depending on how strong his loyalty is, Jim might have to choose between the people he cares about and his loyalty to a system that might not be able to grow past the corruption that has plagued it for decades.
There were a lot of great scenes and bits of dialogue in “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” most notably between Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle (a partnership run amuck) and Edward Nygma and Kristin Kringle (“There is hope,” Nygma whispers after a positive encounter with his lady love). Where do their loyalties truly lie? And what hope does Gotham have if these loyalties are at cross purposes?