This Week on Gotham…
The show returns with a game changing double bill. Reassigned to Arkham Asylum after the death of Dick Lovecraft, Jim Gordon toils under scrutiny of the hard-to-please Dr. Gerry Lang (Isiah Whitlock, Jnr.). After a series of mysterious attacks on inmates, Gordon goes over Lang’s head to call in the GCPD. Jack Buchinsky (under the pseudonym Gruber) is revealed to be behind the plot, but manages to stage an escape, along with his accomplice Aaron Danzing.
In part two, with the responsible parties escaped and on the run, Gordon is given a shot at earning his job back – if he can collar the criminals within 24 hours. If he fails, both he and Bullock’s police careers are over.
- Barbara’s brief affair with Montoya comes to a swift end.
- Cobblepot tries to extort some fisherman already on Maroni’s payroll and gets arrested.
- Saviano (one of Falcone’s lieutenants) attempts to turn Butch to his cause, but Butch kills him.
In Part Two…
- Cobblepot potentially gives away to Maroni that he’s working for Falcone.
- Barbara goes to stay with her parents.
- Fish ‘kidnaps’ Liza to initiate her attempted mob coup, but Falcone counter attacks.
Airing these episodes together was a risky move by Channel 5. Coming off a decent break, it can sometimes be tricky to entice the viewership back into their previous consumption pattern. Giving them two hours of what they want can certainly get them back on board, but if those two hours are substandard? Well, you may irreparably damage yourself.
It’s a good job that Gotham delivered then.
Rogue’s Gallery had two main objectives to fulfil. The first was to introduce us all to a new character, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), and second was to set up the events of What the Little Bird Told Him.
But lets get the guff out of the way first. The brief scenes between Barbara and Montoya felt shoehorned in. I’d much prefer they had Montoya out in the field investigating something, anything. Barbara is pretty pointless now, and there is little to no empathy for her at this point. She’s always felt a bit flat and two-dimensional, and this attempt to flesh her character out just feels…. forced. Hopefully, we will not see much more of her.
One other small negative was the scene where Maroni explains to Cobbleplot was hubris is to his face. It seemed a little blunt and full on, as if the show runners wanted to make sure that the audience knew its meaning.
There’s a decent subplot where Butch is courted by Saviano in attempt to get him to move against Fish and Falcone. We discover that they are childhood friends, and very loyal to one another. In the end Butch kills Saviano, confirming his loyalty has remained with Fish all along. This was all quite well done, but Saviano has barely been in the show, and his relationship with Butch only now revealed. This could have been a more enthralling subplot had it been built upon over a longer period of time.
The remainder of Rogue’s Gallery almost exclusively follows Gordon as he tries to get a series of mysterious attacks on the inmates of Arkham investigated. Unfortunately his boss Dr. Lang doesn’t want the negative press associated with calling in the GCPD – of course, Gordon ends up just going over his head.
The episode plays out as a simple whodunnit. Anyone familiar with Christopher Heyerdahl’s short (but very memorable) run as Alastair in Supernatural could probably see the reveal coming. In both shows, he is great as a softly spoken, well educated, and totally twisted villain.
Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire) puts in a good turn as Dr. Lang. It is a shame he was killed off, as a Gotham-ised version of Clay Davis could have been a boon for the show.
All in all, Rogue’s Gallery was a solid return, and laid the foundations for its superior follow-up, What the Little Bird Told Him.
The second episode in this weeks double bill, saw Jack Buchinsky got full Electrocutioner. Heyerdahl clearly enjoys himself in the role, and this was probably the most memorable ‘villain-of-the-week’ to date. I’m quite thankful that he was apprehended rather than killed off.
Buchinsky’s capture leads to Gordon being re-instated. Well, that Arkham adventure last long didn’t it? Still, it’s good to see him back with Bullock.
While the Electrocutioner was the baddie of the week, the focus was split equally with the mobsters of Gotham City. Fish decides that the time is right to overthrow Falcone, and so stages a kidnapping of Liza. Falcone immediately realises it is Fish behind it all, and initially agrees to go meekly into the night, allowing Fish to take over operations, as long as he can leave with Liza.
What follows next was exactly what the show needed.
Cobblepot reveals to Falcone that Liza is a double agent who has been in Fish’s employ from the get go. This simple bit of news changes the dynamic of the whole situation. A reinvigorated Falcone sheds his grandfatherly pensioner look and reclaims his mob boss throne in a devastatingly effective scene at Fish’s club. In one fell swoop, he takes Fish prisoner, before killing Liza with his bare hands. John Doman is simply fantastic here.
As a reward for the information, Cobblepot is given Fish’s club. Hopefully this will lead to some entertaining hijinx down the line.
A small mention should be given to Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Homeland). In just a few scenes she already has more chemistry with Ben McKenzie’s Gordon than Erin Richards’ Barbara Kean has even hinted at.
This being me on nicely to the few gripes of the second episode. Firstly, Barbara’s scene with her parents was kind of pointless. Instead of spending the two or three minutes they had together (and the production time in its set up), could they have not just said later on that she’s moved back with them? Hmmm…
The other gripe is small, and mainly only because it was a bit silly. Cobblepot blurting out Falcone’s name in front of Maroni after the former was hit by the Electrocutioner looked downright daft, and felt a bit out of place. Still, it was over in a moment and it does mean we’ll finally get some movement in his own storyline.
As a whole feature (Channel 5 edited out the outro of 1.11 and intro of 1.12 to make it seem like a cohesive piece), this was a good return, heightened by guest stars Heyerdahl, Baccarin and Whitlock Jr.
* Score for the whole feature, individual scores were 3 and 4 respectively.