Gotham is back and it has brought in cast members from The Wire, Firefly, and Hell on Wheels to give it an extra push. We last saw the series at a bit of a crossroads, as it had some elements that were really working, a lot of the same aspects that have continued to hold it back, and a bit of a mid-season finale twist in regards to where we last left Jim Gordon. In this week’s return episode, “Rogues’ Gallery,” we see what the current life is like for Gordon, while also catching up with Fish & the gang as well. The good thing is the show seems to be a lot more confident in what it is attempting to do in this episode from the onset, which I can only hope reflects where this second half of the season is going (minor hiccups aside).
Keeping the focus on Jim, now that he is working security at Arkham Asylum, it would seem that he has been stripped of his purpose, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be who he is. With a strange murder of a guard that involved electro-therapy-gone-wrong in some capacity, Gordon does what he can to figure out who is responsible. It also leads to the introduction of three particular characters, chief among them Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Batfans know who this character is and she is handled in just the right way for this show. It helps that her comic book counterpart does not have the most distinguished of arcs compared to someone like Harvey Dent, but Baccarin is a nice addition to the show and far more compatible with Ben McKenzie than Erin Richards’ Barbara Kean has been.
The other two additions are Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Arkham Asylum’s chief, Gerry Lang, and Christopher Heyerdahl as inmate Jack Gruber. It is necessary to point these two out as they represent both sides of what can make Gotham a compelling show. Whitlock is no stranger to crime procedurals, but everything his character does is basically designed to slow everyone else down. That said, we learn enough from him to know that there are some larger machinations at work, which will have to come into play later in the series. Heyerdahl is an eccentric, 6’4” inmate, begging to be caught for his actions. We should know this and Gordon should as well, but we have to go through the whole episode, before seeing him in the act of nefarious deeds, only to then see him escape and leave a cheeky note behind.
With all of this, Gotham continues to show how obvious a lot of its storytelling is. It is balanced by some wacked-out and over-the-top performances, but nonetheless, I am still awaiting more nuances in this series that could do better in balancing the comic-y theatrics with some real, gritty drama. That in mind, having Gordon in a place like Arkham Asylum leads to some looniness, which this episode is happy to go into, even if it involves another silly montage scene, scored to so-90s-it’s-funny rock music, as Gordon interrogates inmates in an effort to find the true culprit; as inmates at a psych ward are obviously game to honestly respond to a security guard.
Moving into other aspects of this episode, we do get some movement in the various crime arcs, as Fish continues to cement her plans as far as succeeding Carmine Falcone. Actually, while Fish gets to talk to two of the other heads in Falcone’s organization, it is really her right-hand man, Butch, who gets the most to do this week. We get some ambiguous looks from him as we watch how his loyalties to Fish are tested. It all leads to us knowing for sure that Butch is both very loyal to Fish, as well as very cold-blooded, but the best part is how we at least get some development on a minor character and it is handled fairly effectively. I can’t say the same about certain other lead characters on this show (*cough* Barbara *cough*), but given how expendable Butch seems, it’s nice to have just enough to put things in perspective, whenever a big blowout does take place.
We also get more of Penguin, who has taken a liking to his nickname at this point and gets a black eye because of it. After exerting more authority than he should, Penguin winds up in jail and learns that he has been purposefully left there for a good while, as punishment from Maroni. Given how Penguin is central to so many aspects of this season, it is neat to see him lose control now and again. Robin Lord Taylor does not have to do much to compete for MVP each week on this show, so seeing him in worry mode is about as much fun as seeing him try to seem important in the eyes of those he feels he can push around.
The crime plotting with Fish is really the only movement we have in the overall narrative this week, but I am still curious how long Gordon will be forced into standby mode. Some seeds have been planted to make his stay in Arkham (as security) have an eventual purpose, but I am holding out hope that he does not simply leave in the next couple weeks, but instead really has a chance to grow more, because of his current sentencing. Regardless, Gotham has returned and while there are still issues with how it tries to handle its plotting and tone (as always), I am at least much more comfortable following a majority of these characters around, even if it means suffering through the uninteresting plots with some of the others. With all that said, next week’s episode apparently has some developments brewing that may change a lot of things up, so we will see.
From Det. Jim Gordon’s Police Files:
- Barbara Barbara Barbara: This week Barbara mostly stays in bed, but gets angry on the phone based on this next thing…
- Kitty Cat: Cat comes out of her cage, finds a sick lil’ Ivy and decides to hang out in Jim’s apartment. When Brabra calls, Ivy answers and things do not go well.
- No sign of Bruce or Alfred this week. The boys needed a break anyway.
- I liked the use of Bullock this week. Seeing the camaraderie between him and Gordon in the wake of Jim’s reassignment is a neat touch.
- “Do you know what hubris is?”
- This week’s Classic Gordon Clip