When this season starts off, many of the characters find themselves in some odd spots. While Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, Accepted, Another Earth) has taken out all of his rivals and proclaimed himself King of Gotham, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, The O.C., Southland) has been demoted to a street cop and his former partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, Grounded for Life) has quit the force and owns a bar.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) start to explore the secret passageway behind the study's fireplace. When they find that it leads to a dark staircase and an electronically locked door, Bruce and Alfred start to work out what the possible password could be to gain the pair access to Thomas Wayne's secret office. As their investigation deepens, they gain the help of Wayne Enterprises employee, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk, The Newsroom, Underground) and start to learn some of Wayne Enterprises darker secrets.
What really gets the season off to a start, though, is when a new player enters the stage and plans a breakout for several patients in Arkham Asylum. Theo Galavan (James Frain, The Tudors, True Blood) and his sister, Tabitha (Jessica Lucas, Evil Dead, Cloverfield) seem to have some interesting plans for the likes of Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) and several other inmates. Dubbing the group The Maniax, and setting the crazed killers out on several specific tasks, it becomes clear quite quickly that while Theo presents a clean and professional look to the rest of the world, he has a dark, secret side to help him reach his real goals.
Interestingly, this season has two very different main plots. The first half, dubbed "Rise of the Villains," focuses on Galavan and his machinations. As the season progresses, we see that he is working towards a high political office, all the while secretly using The Maniax to guide public opinion. He is also, secretly of course, pushing back against Penguin's newly won empire. Viewers also start to see that Galavan apparently has some kind of special interest in the Wayne family. While Bruce's investigations lead him to start to question the moral standings of the Wayne Enterprise Board of Directors, he doesn't realize that he might be being manipulated himself.
As for Jim's storyline, with The Maniax causing havok, and his former girlfriend a prominent member, it isn't a wonder that Gordon starts to take the group's reign of terror personally. While he and Lee's (Morena Baccarin, Firefly, Deadpool) relationship starts off okay, Jim's growing secrets and Barbara's presence start to put a strain on the couple.
Meanwhile, a few other side-plots start playing out. For one, Edward Nygma's (Cory Michael Smith) crime at the end of last season seems to have really gotten him on the path to becoming The Riddler. Not only does he have a psychotic break and is constantly fighting his less civilized side, but he finds that one crime leads to another. If he can keep himself out of trouble and keep his darker side at bay, he might actually get what he wants, the love of Ms. Kringle (Chelsea Spack).
Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) also gets some backstory this season. For one, we learn of a friend of hers, Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla). Unfortunately, Bridget's family of arsonists ends up putting Bridget into a tough situation, and another classic Batman supervillain starts to take shape, Firefly. We also get some more tidbits about her life on the street, but those mostly come later in the season when Bruce decides the only way he is going to be tough is to take to the streets himself.
The events surrounding Galavan and The Maniax come to a head mid-season, and a lot of things change from this point forward. For one, the GCPD gets a new captain in Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis, The Shield, The Commish, Fantastic Four), and as tough-as-nails cops go, you can't really top Barnes. His first act is to start cleaning up the GCPD of any crooked cops. Unfortunately, there is more than a little cause for Barnes to keep an eye on Jim.
The half-season introduces yet another new supervillain into the mix, but unlike other appearances of this character, we get a nice long study into how Dr. Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow, House of Cards, Preacher) descends into Dr. Freeze. While Fries, and his love for his sick wife, pushes him down that path a lot on his own, yet another secret threat to Gotham also nudges the cryogenics expert towards his deadly state. It's hard to go into much more detail for this second part of the season, named "Wrath of the Villains," without giving away too many interesting plot twists, but suffice it to say, where the first part of the season gets everything moving, by the time the second half is in full swing, it becomes a rollercoaster ride.
Gotham: The Complete Second Season is chock full of special features, and while most of them are short blurbs or TV spots, there are few lengthy featurettes that fans can really sink their teeth into. The biggest, and most in depth, of these featurettes is "Gotham by Noir Light." Here, the show's cast and crew talks about the mood of the series and the different ways Gotham adheres to the standard Noir styles and themes. Everything from the lighting and mood, to the complex characters and, of course, femme fatales, is covered in this extra.
There is also a featurette that focuses on this show's interpretation of Alfred. Not only the bits of his background that leak out in a few key episodes, but also on his relationship with the young Bruce.
Rounding out the lengthier extras on Gotham: The Complete Second Season are the 2015 Comic-Con Panel and a featurette on Victor Fries, not only how his character evolves in the show, but also the character's history in the comics and being reinvented in Batman: The Animated Series.
The other special features scattered across the discs include short interviews with several cast members about where their characters were at the end of Season 1, what the actors enjoy about the show in general, and another set talking about where their characters are going in this season. There are also TV spots that tipped viewers off to Bruce and Alfred discovering the proto-Batcave and another touching on Jerome. There are slightly longer (though still short) extras on how the show changes after the mid-season plot shift. While a lot of these feel like filler, they are still nice extras to add a bit more padding to what is already a nicely packed release.
Gotham continues to be an interesting story that shows how both the city and its population evolve to the point of needing Batman. That being said, The Complete Second Season is not a place to jump into the show. Gotham is good TV, but viewers really need the first season's events in order to understand what is happening.