In this week’s Gotham recap ‘Rogue’s Gallery’, Gordon begins his stint as a guard at Arkham Asylum where somebody is using electroshock therapy on the inmates and a bunch of other characters show up and don’t do much of anything….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Following a month long absence from our television screens, Gotham returned on Monday night to reset the stage for the second half of season one with a few characters in new places and some strange story telling decisions that were seemingly done on a whim.
Jim Gordon is now a security guard at Arkham Asylum, but he’s not just any security guard. After a very short stint he’s apparently THE security guard at Arkham and he’s already clashing with his boss Dr. Lang aka (Shiiiiiiiit guy from 25th Hour) for no real reason because these guys have to not get along in the doctor’s very, very brief appearance in th show this week.
We also catch up with Penguin….excuse me….The Penguin, because out of nowhere Oswald Cobblepot has suddenly embraced his uncouth nickname that he once despised. Why does he love it now? No clue. Where Cobblepot once despised the name, he now loves it and uses it as a street enforcer when working for the Maroni family.
The episode also dabbled into brief stories with Barbara as well as Selina ‘Call Me Cat’ Kyle and her new BFF Ivy Pepper in a strange almost insignificant portion of the show while mini-Batman Bruce Wayne was nowhere to be found. Needless to say after several weeks away, Gotham returned feeling as uneven as it did during the first half of the season.
With that, let’s recap shall we?
The episode ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ kicks off this week with Jim in full security mode at his new job inside Arkham Asylum. The dank walls of this once forgotten house for the criminal insane tick every single box when it comes to the common tropes of a loony bin. It’s dark and dim inside because fluorescent lighting comes at a cost in these types of places. The patients are the most prototypical sociopaths imaginable and the staff is also non-existent outside of a few random guards, an overbearing facilitator, a kindly old nurse and a hot doctor but we’ll get back to her in a second.
The opening of the show sees the inmates at Arkham involved in a tin can production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ and it’s no coincidence that this play is being used as a parallel to the situation our hero is in right now. In ‘The Tempest’, a man named Prospero has been cast out onto an island along with his daughter, who he is raising to one day become the rightful air to his throne. Jim is stuck on an island himself currently as the only truly sane person living inside a nut house while his long term task involves raising Bruce Wayne to take the mantle of Batman at some point down the road.
In the play just as one inmate is giving a rousing singing performance another crazy goes off the reservation and attacks, forcing Jim to lay a beat down and break things up. Following the dust up, Jim takes the injured inmate to the infirmary where he lays eyes for the first time on Dr. Leslie Tompkins (played by the lovely Morena Baccarin). She’s normally a doctor for the women’s ward, but she’ll come over and help on the men’s side from time to time when she’s needed. Something tells me now that Jim Gordon is in town, she’ll be moving on over to the men’s side more and more often. The meeting quickly dissolves into flirtation, which even the half sleepy inmate notices when he tells them to get a room.
In one scene of one episode, Dr. Tompkins has already become a more viable love interest for Jim than Barbara ever was through the first half of the season. It’s unclear if she’ll actually become his new muse with Barbara sidelined, but it’s evident that she’s being brought in as a distraction at the very least. In the comics, Dr. Tompkins was a close friend of the Wayne family and ends up as a maternal presence in Bruce’s life . There were no teasers if this is the case in ‘Gotham’ but through a couple of scenes she’s intriguing enough to want to see more of her and that’s always a good thing.
Back to the crazies….
During the course of his rounds, Jim discovers an inmate named ‘Frogman’ in his cell, staring at the wall and not responding to his calls. When Jim opens the door and checks on the man, he simply falls over and out of his chair. When Dr. Tompkins (back so soon?) checks him out she reveals that he’s had some kind of experimental electroshock therapy done on him and his brain is fried like an egg. Dr. Lang blames Jim for this happening on his watch — why he has such rage towards Gordon is unknown but it’s his lot in life to have a really bitchy boss on his ass at all times. It’s discovered that only a person with a set of keys could get in and out around Arkham to engage in these electrical experiments so that’s where Gordon has to start. Despite his lack of faith in the former cop, Lang puts Jim in charge of finding the culprit and it starts and stops with the inmates because there’s no way anyone on his staff would be capable of doing it.
The art of misdirection is supposed to be subtle, Gotham writers, and this one was like hitting us over the head with a hammer.
Regardless, Jim’s investigation doesn’t come up with much outside of a chat with one inmate named Jack Gruber, who was the lynchpin in the Arkham production of ‘The Tempest’ and it’s clear there’s more going on behind his eyes than just insanity. Another inmate who never lies but does look a bit brutish is given a few more seconds of screen time than all the rest and person of interest No. 2 has arrived. Nobody knows where the keys have gone but Jim does manage to find out that one guard has his keys go missing in the melee during the play and he replaced them with spares out of fear that he’d get in trouble for losing them (no shit). So there’s a set of keys out there and the lunatics really do have the run of the asylum.
Home Sweet Home
Selina ‘Call Me Cat’ Kyle’s appearance this week serves no actual purpose other than setting up a phone call that’s so dumb it’s almost laughable.
Back on the street after her kiss and run on Bruce Wayne a few weeks back, Selina is hunkered down in a storm drain when she decides to go out for a walk. She hears a faint coughing from behind some boxes and when she moves them aside she finds Ivy Pepper laying down and barely able to move from being so cold and sick. Despite her cautions about Ivy a few weeks ago that she was somehow dangerous, Selina quickly scoops her up and takes her to Jim Gordon’s old apartment that he shared with his girlfriend until she moved out.
Now just to make this clear — the apartment was said to belong to Barbara and Jim just moved in with her. When she left him, she essentially left her own home and apparently Jim just stayed. Except this week when Selina arrives, it seems nobody has been living there much considering the layer of dust they find when breaking inside. Make sense? No? Just go with it.
Selina takes Ivy inside to allow her to warm up and eat some (vegan) soup.
Meanwhile, Barbara is in a drug induced haze waking up next to her ex-girlfriend Renee Montoya, who wastes no time kicking her to the curb. All season long, Montoya has been itching to get back into bed with Barbara but now that she’s there it’s the last place she wants to be. It’s a story that was done for shock factor — look at the lesbians! — but in reality, Barbara has been a mess of a character since she first landed on the canvas three months ago. This convoluted storyline is no different.
So after leaving Jim in favor of a bottle of pills and her ex, Barbara is ready to go crawling back to him because she misses the mopey do-gooder. Barbara calls her own apartment and Ivy picks up. She tells Barbara that Jim is there but he’s busy. Barbara freaks out, screams, hangs up and falls back into the pillow to cry some more before likely drowning her sorrows in a few more pills.
This entire scene is the perfect picture of what’s wrong with Barbara in the first place. She’s completely useless and has been painted as an appendage to Jim all season long instead of being given any kind of actual story to flesh out her character. The only thing we know about Barbara is occasionally she likes to sleep with women because being pretty and seducing people is the trait she possesses. And to mount the idiocy with which this character is being written — Barbara can’t tell when she’s talking to a 12-year old girl?!? And how creepy was it that Ivy — 12 years old mind you — knows to try and make a deeper voice while telling a woman calling the apartment that Jim is around but busy. Double ewwww!!
Maybe Barbara will show up and kidnap Selina ‘Call Me Cat’ Kyle and Ivy Pepper and they’ll all disappear for about three seasons until they can return with some kind of plot that actually makes sense for them because right now this is just taking up airtime.
Embracing Your Inner Penguin
The highlight of season one of ‘Gotham’ so far has been Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of The Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot. From his first appearance on screen as an all too happy bat man and side kick to Fish Mooney to the revelation that he’s actually an inside man working for Carmine Falcone, Oswald has been engrossing and just watchable TV.
Until this week sort of.
There have been a few episodes there Oswald didn’t appear this season and ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ probably would have been better off without his random pop in.
Oswald has all of a sudden learned to love his nickname and he’s not just Penguin, he’s now The Penguin (get the name right!) and he’s turning the heat up on a local fishing crew to soak them for an extra percentage. When the cops show up, Penguin believes he’s got them in his pocket or better yet Salvatore Maroni’s pocket, but they hand him a beat down instead and send him to jail.
Finally when Maroni arrives he gives Penguin a speech about getting a little too comfortable in his position of power. He’s a smart monkey, but he’s still a monkey. In other words, dance and do tricks, Oswald, but don’t go thinking you’re in charge just yet. Maroni set him up as a lesson about usurping the boss’s control but Penguin learned really well and soon gets let out of his cage. Before leaving, Penguin gives his (sort of) boss quite the evil stare from behind.
The ultimate story has to be Penguin running the crime syndicate in Gotham as he plays both ends against the middle with Maroni and Falcone but the way he’s getting there is taking longer watching ‘The English Patient’ in slow motion.
Loyalty, Trust and Respect
In the other mob story this week, Fish Mooney is getting closer and closer to making her move on Don Falcone, but at least one of the other captains isn’t ready to put a woman in charge and by all rights he’s the next in line. Haven’t there been like three people already declare they are the next in line at this point?
Anyways, Fish charges her No. 2 man Butch to feel out his own childhood buddy to see if he’s willing to bend on a change in leadership or if he’s going to have to be broken. In a moment of weakness, Fish even questions Butch’s loyalty to her ascension to the throne, which once again pulls at the threads of this entire mob because nobody can be trusted when it’s all said and done.
Ultimately, Butch flirts with the idea of taking a deal from his old pal, but ends up right back where he belongs in Fish’s warm embrace. He tells his childhood buddy and mob capo that he’s willing to join up, but first things first, he has to apologize for a heist they pulled when they were just barely teenagers.
It seems Butch and Jimmy once stole 50-pounds of meat from a local vendor and split up the swag amongst themselves. The only problem is Butch kept 15-pounds of prime Angus beef for himself and Jimmy never knew about it. Butch apologizes and Jimmy accepts. Then Butch pulls out a gun and puts a bullet through Jimmy’s brain. You have to wonder if Jimmy had noticed all those years ago that his friend was trying to dupe him if he would have ended up with his brains splattered across a car window? See, Butch knew that if Jimmy was capable of being a real leader he either would have already known about the stolen meat or would have been enraged at the notion that somebody got over on him, even if it was 25-years ago. Instead, Jimmy is all smiles and full of forgiveness.
There’s no room for forgiveness in this game. Butch taught him a harsh lesson in it before going back to Fish, who is cold-hearted, ruthless and the exact kind of leader this mob needs right now.
Strange Things Afoot
Following another inmate getting zapped in the middle of the night, Lang turns up the heat on Gordon to get results. But despite his boss telling him no cops, Gordon enlists the help of his old partner Bullock to help him with the investigation. From the odd couple to best pals, Bullock is so happy to see his old partner when he arrives at Arkham that he gives Jim a great, big hug. Donal Logue remains the other truly watchable part of this show each and every week.
Bullock gets the hint that Lang isn’t helping the investigation as much as serving as a hurdle so he removes the obstacle by taking him downtown to discuss his possible role in the illegal electroshock therapy. Lang is a doctor after all so he would have the technical know-how to pull off such a maneuver.
With Lang gone, Jim continues to dig into the files to find something that will give him a clue into who is behind this nefarious crime. Nurse Dorothy comes along and he asks her about additional files that have been hidden down in the basement. She quickly tries to dissuade him from making the trip downstairs because the basement has long been corrupted by a chemical spill and no one has been down there for a decade. Yes, beat us over the head with the fact that she’s in on the crime.
And back at the precinct, Lang’s light bulb finally goes on when Bullock is grilling him when he admits that the entire staff of Arkham came along with him to the hospital with the exception of Nurse Dorothy.
It seems Dorothy was actually a patient, who hid out in the basement of Arkham during the time when the asylum was closed and reappeared as a nurse when the hospital re-opened recently. Jim figures it out at the same time as saving Dr. Tompkins from the wrath of Nurse Crazy as she runs off and opens up all the cell doors while trying to make her escape. In the midst of the madness, Nurse Dorothy is trampled and eventually Jim whisks Dr. Tompkins away to safety until order can be restored.
Back at the police station, Jim, Bullock and the captain are enjoying a drink in celebration of a job well done. Bullock wants his partner back, but the captain’s hands are tied and she can’t return Jim to the force (until the season finale I’d bet). Just then the coroner arrives with some unsettling news — Dorothy was another patient of the electroshock therapy. The person who was doing the illegal treatments was trying to engage in a mind control of sorts and she was apparently one that worked really well.
So while Jim and Bullock are miles away, inside the asylum Gruber and his powerful playmate kill Lang and escape while leaving a note behind for former Detective Gordon. It seems Gruber was the mastermind all along and he has big plans ahead, but to put things in motion he had to get out of Arkham and this was the way to do it. Bad guy gets away and lives to fight another day (or next week as the preview shows).
Gruber’s character and his love of all things electrical — along with the look and dress — make him appear to be Hugo Strange, an iconic character from the Batman universe. Strange first popped onto the Batman radar as a scientist who uses a concentrated lightning machine to help him rob banks. Considering Gruber’s passion for electricity and psychopathic tendencies, it’s a safe bet that either he is Hugo Strange or a made for TV facsimile.
Overall this return to Gotham was lukewarm at best. Gordon’s involvement in an Arkham Asylum case on day one was pretty much a lock, but the other pieces to the puzzle — namely The Penguin, Barbara and Selina — were just unnecessary window dressing. This show excels when it becomes a serialized drama, but fumbles and falls as a cheap police procedural. This week ‘Gotham’ tried to give a cliffhanger into next week as Jack Gruber returns, but the campy nature of the asylum combined with the don’t care attitude for all the other stories this week short of the stop by Fish Mooney’s power grab was just a wholly unsatisfying hour of television.
‘Gotham’ returns in two weeks time for a brand new episode at 8pm ET on FOX.