This week our new favourite show ‘Gotham’ returned to screens in the US with it’s first new episode since November ‘Rogues’ Gallery’.
When last we left our hero James Gordon he had been dismissed from the GCPD after the death of Dick Lovecraft – see our review of ‘Harvey Dent‘ & ‘Love Craft‘ for more – and shipped off to the newly opened Arkham Asylum to live out his days on guard duty.
Picking up after the break we find Gordon watching the inmates of Arkham putting on a show which unsurprisingly ends in attempted murder. During this sequence we get a quick nod to other characters in the franchise who are struggling with this new status quo:
- Selina is back on the streets, left out in the rain
- Bullock is alone and drinking
- Barbara is still with Montoya and heavily medicated
These are not happy times in ‘Gotham’ but when are they? We meet Arkham warden Dr Lang – what no Quincy Sharp? – and are then quickly introduced to Dr Leslie (Lee) Thompkins who is working at the asylum in the capacity of a medical doctor. Thompkins and Gordon work together to solve the mystery of multiple assaults taking place within the asylum, along with a little help from Bullock.
Outside the asylum things are not working out for Barbara and Renee. It’s quite hard to tell where these two are geographically as Montoya seems separated from the action with the mob and Barbara is not around to interact with Jim but the two still pop up sporadically. Barbara has already seen her relationship with Jim crumble and now her relationship with Renee is ending too.
‘Gotham’ needs to explore more of the history between these two. We understand their background together was unstable and clearly included drug use and that almost relapse is what causes Renee to end things in this episode but it still feels like the writers have used this as a way to shoehorn in the sexuality of the Montoya character from the comics whilst also finding something for Barbara to do.
The character of Barbara has to exist because she’s the mother of Batgirl. She can’t just be written out of the franchise but comics fans will know she has never been a major character and really only enters and exists the comic storylines as required. That works fine in the medium of comics but for TV she needs a purpose and currently she is sadly lacking that.
After the excitement of the mid-season finale both Bruce and Alfred are missing in action for ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ but there’s still room for a little Selina Kyle along with her new partner in crime Ivy Pepper. The writers promised an injection of more Ivy for this second part of the season and with the two of them moving in to the vacant Gordon apartment this seems to be laying the ground work for the two to have more screen time in future episodes.
Of all the changes to characters from the comics I’m most concerned about Ivy. She’s just a little bit too weird, which in the context of ‘Gotham’ is a little scary. Nygma is weird. Oswald is pretty odd. Ivy is just too off the wall. She doesn’t portray herself as being able to become an accomplished botanist in her future but we’ll see how she develops over time.
Bullock is a little lost without Gordon which is a shame because his character has always been one of the strongest on the show. The writers do a good job of placing him in the action but clearly Gordon’s tenure at Arkham will not be long lasting. Bullock and Gordon will soon find themselves back together at the GCPD.
There’s a lot going on with the various mob factions and I love it. It’s reminiscent of stories from the comics like ‘Long Halloween’ where the so-called super villains mix in very well with the mob aspects of the show. Bruno Heller and his team have done a great job of bringing a realism to ‘Gotham’ whilst allowing the more fantastical elements to bubble away in the background.
Penguin lands himself in hot water this week when he’s arrested for trying to extort already extorted dock workers. It’s a life lesson at the hands of Maroni that is typical of this version of the character. There’s a cockiness to Penguin right now because he feels untouchable. His character yo-yos between exuberance and anxious and for the past few episodes with his star on the rise he needed to be brought back down to Earth and that happens here perfectly. Maroni does need to learn you shouldn’t annoy the Penguin however.
As expected the asylum setting allows for some great imagery. This episode features a brilliant prison break with crowds of crazies on the run. Its perfect comic book fare and I’d like to see more of it in the future.
‘Rogues’ Gallery’ is easily one of the best episodes of ‘Gotham’ so far.