While a young Bruce (David Mazouz, Touch) is a main character in the series, the focus is actually on newly transferred Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, The O.C., Southland) and his first case in the highly corrupt Gotham City is the Wayne murders. It is here that he makes his first connections with young Bruce, and it is here that we start to see what this white knight of a cop hopes to do in a city filled with dirty cops, politicians and organized crime families.
Gordon's partner is the hardened and cynical Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, Vikings, Sons of Anarchy) who tries to teach Jim that the best way to survive Gotham is with the motto "Go Along to Get Along." When Gordon and Bullock are pressured to find the Wayne killer, they go to one of Bullock's less reputable sources, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Mooney is not only a nightclub owner, but she is also a high ranking member of the city's top-crime syndicate under Don Carmine Falcone.
This also happens to be when we get our first look at one of Gotham's future villains, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor Accepted, Another Earth), AKA The Penguin. While Cobblepot is just a lowly umbrella boy for Mooney, it is clear from the get-go that he has plans and schemes, and a major part of this season's story is about Oswald's game to gain power over everyone around him. It is clear by the end of this season exactly why he is one of Batman's top enemies.
Season One actually has a lot packed into it. While the show starts off with the Wayne investigation, many plots tendril out from this event. Everything from real estate deals to the growing war between Falcone's family and an opposing syndicate lead by Sal Maroni (David Zayas, Dexter) all stems from the imbalance of power in the wake of Thomas and Martha Wayne's deaths. It seems even Wayne Enterprises itself isn't without culpability. As Bruce, with the reluctant help of Alfred (Sean Pertwee), digs into his parent's deaths, he starts to learn that not everything at his family's company is as it appears.
Meanwhile, Gordon finds himself wading through some pretty murky political waters. The longer he is in the GCPD, the more he realizes just how corrupt it is. Throughout his arc this season, he will not only uncover the fact that deals with the crime bosses go up through his department, but to the Police Commissioner (Peter Scolari) and the Mayor (Richard Kind) as well, and his attempts to put the police department back on the straight and narrow could end up costing him more than just his job.
As the name of the show suggests, while Jim and Bruce are the central characters in the show, there is a lot about the series that is there to show how the dark, urban location will become just the stew that is necessary to not only produce Batman, but many of his enemies as well. While Penguin's arc is in the forefront of the show, we also get regular glimpses into the growing instability of the GCPD's CSI, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), AKA The Riddler. We also get glimpses at the start of young Ivy Pepper's (Poison Ivy) descent into crime and what appears to be the budding insanity of The Joker. Gotham really doesn't hold back when it comes to giving insight into these future super villain's origins. It even spends a couple of episodes developing the issues that will result in Scarecrow.
There are several secondary characters that aren't relegated to the one-shot peaks like some of the aforementioned characters. Jim is engaged to Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), but when he is unable to share the secrets that haunt him, their apparently perfect relationship starts to crumble. Meanwhile a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), the future Catwoman, is already a proficient pickpocket, and in a case of wrong-place, wrong-time, she ends up being a witness to the Wayne murders. As a result, Jim spends a good bit of time either trying to track her down or question her, but we also get to see Selina and Bruce spend some time together. While there isn't anything really between these two kids yet, the showrunners are definitely working on laying down the groundwork for future interactions. Another character introduced late in the season is Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin, Firefly, V, Homeland), but to say what role she plays in the series will be more than a little spoiler.
Gotham: The Complete First Season's Blu-ray release comes with quite a lot of special features. There are three featurettes about the show. One is about making the city come to life, while another goes through Cobblepot's plan as he manipulates everyone around him. The third, "The Legend Reborn," appears to be a special released before the show started since it doesn't talk about or show anything beyond the series' pilot episode. Even so, it was a good extra feature to watch.
There are also a slew of character profiles, but I actually found these to be quite disappointing. With the exception of two of these short special features, all of the discussion and clips were re-edits and clips taken from "The Legend Reborn." Again, I got the feeling that these were released before the show actually aired and were made primarily for promotional reasons. The two that don't follow this include one focusing on Baccarin's character and one about the many villains introduced in the show. If you've already watched the longer featurette, then you can skip all but these last two options if you are looking for any new insights into the series.
The Complete First Season also contains a good selection of deleted scenes, a gag reel and a special Comic-Con 2014 panel that not only includes cast and crew from Gotham, but The Flash, Constantine and Arrow as well.
From beginning to end, Gotham: The Complete First Season is a great experience that will have you trying to untangle plots and attempting to identify future named characters, but even if you aren't a very big Batman or DC fan, Gotham's story of a white knight cop in a corrupt city is still good to watch. Every character is played impeccably and there are even some great performances by the show's youngest cast members. I highly recommend this show to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.