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Ten Moments That Mattered: Jim Gordon Gets a Promotion

Ten Moments That Mattered: Jim Gordon Gets a Promotion

By Tim Beedle Monday, January 1st, 2018

Has it been a year already? 2017 has reached its end, but before we dive into 2018, we’d like to take a moment and look back. For DC fans, 2017 was a remarkable year in comics, film and TV. Our characters reached new milestones and audiences, our writers and artists achieved remarkable new heights and our universe continued to grow in surprising new ways. And yet, within it all, several moments stood out for their importance and relevance. Some of them were groundbreaking, others were a welcome return. All of them are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration. In a year in which fans had much to talk about, these are the moments we’ll continue to talk about well beyond the new year. These are’s “Ten Moments that Mattered in 2017.”

Gotham’s titular city is a hard place to live. Between the criminals who rule the streets and the rampant corruption that makes it impossible to bring any of them down, Gotham is a city that’s designed to take and steal from the innocent. Success doesn’t come cheap, and when it arrives, it’s often at the end of a gun.

Gotham’s Jim Gordon should know this better than anybody. He’s experienced the depth of city corruption first-hand. He’s seen good cops, like prior Captain Nathaniel Barnes, get twisted into something unrecognizable. He's done things by the book and he's tossed the book out and gotten his hands dirty, and either way seems to blow up in his face. You’d think he’d know by now that things aren’t going to get any better, packed his bags and made haste for sunnier skies.

The fact that he hasn’t tells you all you need to know about our newly minted Captain Jim Gordon. He’s determined. Stubborn, even. He’s never really comfortable bending the rules. Gordon’s the ultimate straight arrow, and Gotham has been devastating to him. It’s destroyed two relationships of his, at least one of which ended with his ex turning into a psychotic super-villain (we’ll have to see what happens to Dr. Thompkins). It’s cost him his badge several times, landed him in Blackgate, ruined his friendship with Bullock, taken the lives of dozens of cops who have followed him… Gotham has done everything it can to break Jim Gordon, and nothing has worked.

Until, quite possibly, now.

Admittedly, Jim was hesitant about accepting his recent promotion to captain. He knew it came at the hands of Sofia Falcone and would put him in her debt. But it would also allow him to start shaping the GCPD from the ground up. He’d at last be able to root out the corrupt cops and kick them off the force. He’d be able to restore respect and hope to the department, reminding them that they need to operate at a higher standard than the lowlifes they’re attempting to put in jail.

As was demonstrated earlier this season, the officers of the GCPD respect Gordon in a way that they don’t Bullock, or prior captains who failed to put them first. One of Gordon’s first accomplishments after accepting the promotion was capturing Professor Pyg (who promptly escaped, but hey…it’s Arkham). His second was arresting the Penguin—who had been running or nearly running the Gotham underworld since the end of season one. The police were suddenly far more optimistic about what they could accomplish than they were before. They were holding their heads up a little higher, and Jim Gordon was receiving commendations all around.

Then, in November’s excellent midseason finale, Gordon learned the real reason Sofia Falcone had suggested him for Captain. She turned Victor Zsasz, getting him to testify against Penguin. She unleashed Professor Pyg on the city, resulting in the deaths of so many cops. And most shocking of all, she murdered her own father, Carmine Falcone, knowing that Penguin would be blamed for it. And while doing it all, she’d befriended and seduced Gordon, convincing him—and us—that she was far more innocent than she truly was. In the end, Gordon’s promotion to captain was nothing more than a twisted form of revenge by a ruthless, determined new gangster who was angry that Gordon killed her brother.

It seems to have worked. Gordon’s now bound by an impossible choice. He could arrest Sofia Falcone, in which case it will be revealed that he was partially responsible for Pyg’s GCPD killing spree, something that will destroy whatever progress he’s made as captain and likely land him back in jail. Or he can say nothing, and know every day that Sofia owns him and that this hard-earned promotion of his is as tainted as everything else in the city.

The fact that he chooses the latter is bound to resonate with fans of Gotham and the caped hero it sets up. Following the rules doesn’t work in this city. The more you try, the more that Gotham pushes back. As future GCPD commissioner, Jim Gordon needs to progress through the ranks on Gotham. After three and a half seasons as a detective, it was time for him to make captain. But this—or some other way equally as tainted—was how it had to happen. For Gotham to work as a Batman prequel, Gordon can’t find success following the rules because eventually he’ll need to embrace the fact that vigilantes working outside of the law are necessary for the good of the city. A cop like Jim Gordon won’t do that if he finds success operating by the book.

For Gordon, success—or whatever passes for it in a city like Gotham—won’t come by following the rules. It’ll come by learning the right way to break them, one difficult lesson at a time.

Be sure to check again tomorrow for another Moment that Mattered in 2017.