After three weeks of setup and a couple of throw-away references it was time for a major setting from the world of Batman to make an appearance on ‘Gotham‘ and this week it comes in the form of episode four ‘Arkham‘.
I actually expected this episode to delve full on in to the world of the asylum itself which was probably asking for a bit much in only the fourth episode of the series, instead what we get is a great amount of development towards the gang war on which Gotham sits on the cusp of whilst delving further in to the corruption at city hall and the potential legacy of the Wayne family.
The episode picks up after the cliffhanger of ‘The Balloonman’ (reviewed here) with Cobblepot appearing on Gordon’s doorstep. The ensuing scenes between the two try to push the sense of impending doom that the show has but sadly on this occasion they fall slightly short of achieving their goal and although there’s a desperation to them it comes of as a little contrived.
The crux of the episode revolves around the stepping up of action between the Maroni and Falcone families. As Cobblepot worms his way in to Maroni’s back pocket the two families make moves to push the other out of the bidding war for the Arkham land previously earmarked for an affordable housing campaign setup by Thomas and Martha Wayne. Gordon finds himself caught in the middle of the action as each crime points towards one of the two families. The show ends with the official launch of the Arkham project with Mayor James showing his true allegiances.
‘Gotham‘ is now finding its feet within the genre, we’ve had episodes which push the crime elements and episodes which have pushed the more fantastical nature of the show all whilst trying to balance a slightly soapy human drama which needs to exist to take this show beyond the crime-of-the-week setup. ‘Arkham‘ balances out all those elements really well whilst introducing us to a new area of the city which we all know is going to become a massively important element in the future.
There’s a lot of talk about elected officials in danger this week which feels like a bit of a repeat from last week but all can be forgiven purely because finally we’re at Arkham. The setting itself brings together the same techniques which transform the city of New York in to Gotham on a weekly basis, there’s live action shot building mixed with some hyper-realistic elements which make it feel like the Arkham of the comics.
There’s not a huge amount of time to delve in to the history of the facility but hopefully as the project progresses there will be time to learn what the writers have in store for their own incarnation of the serious house on a serious Earth.
One of the slightly weirder elements to the episode is Fish Mooney’s attempt to find a new ‘weapon’ in the form of a young singer for the club. I’m sure there’ll be more to come with this story as the eventual winner does turn up in the trailer for next weeks episode ‘Viper‘ but in the meantime I’m in the dark as to her motives other than to make young girls dance sexily for her.
It’s good to see that the characters from the Bat-verse peppered throughout the series are not being pushed to the forefront and rammed in our faces as they were in the pilot. Edward Nygma has now made several followup appearances to that of the pilot and yet his character remains underused and nicely balanced out amongst the others. There’s a great subtlety to the series which I hadn’t expected given how shows like ‘The Flash‘ and ‘Arrow‘ are really pushing the boundaries of how much comic lore can be thrown on screen. The writers are clearly honouring the source material whilst allowed the creative freedom to create a universe of their own.
At this stage I’m really hoping to see some seismic activity in Gotham just to foreshadow the future ‘No Man’s Land‘ story that will probably never appear on film but as a fan I can only hope.
The actors are all really settling in to their roles well and the writing is continuing strongly. This is the best episode yet.