Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t seen “Knock Knock.”
Here’s the easiest way to tell the difference between Gotham’s old school villains and its new school villains. When Penguin gets murderous intentions, it usually involves only one or two people sleeping with the fishes – yes, that was a Fish Mooney joke – but when Theo Galavan’s new brood of Maniax wants to make their mark, they take out as many people as possible. That’s what happened in tonight’s “Knock Knock,” and even though only one of those deaths is particularly notable, the combined body count will likely change things up in a major way for Gotham, and not just in a “this is so violent, it’s bonkers” kind of way.
The first act of Galavan’s Maniax is getting their name out there, quite literally, by taking a group of people, spraypainting letters on them, and then dropping them off of a roof so that they land face-up, spelling out “M-A-N-I-A-X.” There are so many ways in which that could have gone wrong – specifically them landing on their heads and exploding or, only slightly and comedically worse, landing face-first – but it all went off without a hitch.
Second, the group took part in the most disturbing scene of the episode, if not the series, thus far. Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome “Don’t Necessarily Call Him Joker” Valeska, who is clearly the sub-leader of this pack of goons, takes a school bus of high school kids hostage and douses everyone with fuel, and his intentions to burn everyone alive are very clear. Nobody ends up burning, thanks to some faulty lighters, but that didn’t take away from the abject horror it all inspired. People did die, though, as a couple of cops were shot and timid rapist Arnold Dobkins was sniped by Tabitha Galavan after he was caught by Jim Gordon.
The episode’s third act is where everything went totally haywire, though, as the Maniax enter Gotham City Police Department in cop uniforms and totally blow the roof off of the place, taking out what appears to be the majority of the people on duty that day (minus main characters like Ed Nygma and Leslie Thompkins). It all happens while Gordon is getting subdued outside by Barbara Kean and then beaten to a pulp, so he wasn’t at risk of getting killed just then, but the same can’t be said for Captain Sarah Essen, who is shot and killed, but not after she delights Jerome by spitting in his face.
We knew that the beginning of Season 2 was going to feature a major death, and Essen seemed like a good candidate for it, given the impending arrival of Michael Chiklis as a GCPD leader. But still, we weren’t quite expecting such a high percentage of Gotham City officials to meet their makers all at once like that. Even with Bullock returning from his bartending sidejob, how are Gordon and the rest of the police department possibly going to bounce back from such a major loss?
Find out next week, when Gotham returns to Fox Monday night for “The Last Laugh.” Can’t imagine everyone lives through the end of that one, especially since Jerome doesn’t care if he’s killing good guys are his fellow Maniax.