Gotham Season 1 Review “Rogues’ Gallery”

Gotham Rogues' Gallery Episode 11 04

On the latest episode of Gotham, Gordon began his tenure at Arkham, with predictably troubling results, in “Rogues’ Gallery.” In this case, it began with an attack on an actor in a play the inmates were putting on by the imposing Aaron (Kevin McCormick), which turned out to be a ruse of sorts, as one of the guards’ keys were stolen during the melee. After that, several inmates turned up with wounds in their heads, the result of experimental-seeming, unsolicited ECT treatments, with decidedly mixed results.

At first assuming it’s an inmate, Gordon’s investigation into the matter eventually leads him to suspect the staff, but, as we later discovered, his initial instincts were right on the money. Gordon’s new boss, Dr. Lang (Isiah Whitlock Jr. of “The Wire”) wasn’t exactly keen on Gordon looking into anything, but a visit from Bullock changes his mind about that pretty quickly, and the result is that Lang realizes that one of his staff is actually a patient who escaped and posed as a nurse (Allyce Beasley, who my older readers might recognize from “Moonlighting”).

However, it turns out she was another victim, not the culprit, though she does release the inmates from their rooms and causes a near-riot which inadvertently leads to her own death, as she is killed in the ensuing attempted break-out by being trampled underfoot by said inmates. Instead, the real culprit is Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl, “True Blood”), who, in addition to his little ECT experiments, snagged the keys to the kingdom and uses them to stage a break-out of his own, along with muscle Aaron, who kills various people, including Lang, in their escape.

I wasn’t able to find any info on Gruber in terms of the Batverse, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what familiar villain he turns out to be, if any. Perhaps it will be a new addition, a la Fish. (If anyone else out there was able to find out any further info, let me know in the comment section below!)

However, there was one name that was indeed familiar from the comics, and that was Dr. Leslie Thompkins, here played by a face no doubt familiar to sci-fi/fantasy fans, Morena Baccarin, of “Firefly” fame, and more recently, “Homeland.” The character eventually becomes a sort of maternal figure to young Bruce Wayne, and here, she’s also seemingly being posited as a potential love interest for Gordon as well.

As for the woman he eventually ends up with (assuming “Gotham” follows the historical blueprint of the character), Barbara continued her downward spiral into her old bad habits, to the point that even Montoya realized that sneaking her back into her life behind Gordon’s back might have been an ill-advised idea- especially if she wants to maintain her own sobriety and not fall back into bad habits herself.

Not helping matters was young Ivy, who, along with Selina, was squatting in Gordon’s apartment and answered his phone, leaving Barbara with the impression that Gordon had moved on with another woman. I think things are getting worse before they get better with the potential future Mrs. Gordon, to say the least.

As for Fish, after receding to the background for much of the last few episodes, she returned to the forefront here, taking a long hard look at the competition to size up what her next move should be. Next on her list was Saviano (John Enos III, “Femme Fatales”), who was a longtime friend of her second-in-command, Butch (Drew Powell, “The Mentalist”).

Saviano was none too keen on the idea of a female boss, so Butch agreed to talk to him on her behalf to determine if he could be swayed otherwise. Alas, he could not, instead offering to cut Butch in on the action if he joined his team, but Butch opted to go Team Fish, shooting his old pal after confessing he’d stole from him when they were kids. The say confession is good for the soul, but I’m not so sure about murder.

Finally, Oswald Cobblepot finally began to embrace his role as “Penguin”- excuse me, “The Penguin”- but got a little too big for his flippers when he overstepped some boundaries with boss Maroni, who had him arrested for his troubles when he tried to jack up the rates for some local fishermen. Though Maroni eventually bailed him out, he made it clear who the real boss is. My guess is that The Penguin won’t be taking that lying down for long.

All in all, it was a strong episode, with some great moments sprinkled throughout, notably the stuff at Arkham- I especially liked the opening play sequence and the inmate revolt, which, along with the reveal that one of the staff was a patient themselves, reminded me of an old horror movie called “Don’t Look in the Basement.” I also thought that having Ivy throw a wrench into the situation with an already-on-the-edge Barbara was an inspired touch, too.

Moving on, I’d like to address the overall feel of the show as a whole. It came to my attention over the break that “Gotham” has been getting a lot of hate from DC fans and critics alike, which surprised me. Notably, critic Jeff Jensen, who I was a huge fan of during the heady days of watching “Lost” as it aired- I dare say I looked as much forward to reading his elaborate columns as I did watching the show itself, even if it did sort of set me up to expect too much of the show in the end.

Anyway, Jensen wrote a borderline scathing review of this episode before it aired, which led me to believe this was going to be a total train wreck, but I didn’t end up feeling that way at all, nor did I agree with most of his and other people’s primary complaints with the show as a whole. I mean, everyone has a right to their own opinion, but I was a bit flummoxed by all the negativity being directed in the show’s direction, some of which was silly at best.

For instance, Jensen repeatedly talked about how he hated the kids on the show, leading me to think they were going to be actively annoying in this episode, but instead, Bruce wasn’t even in it, and Selina and Ivy were only in a couple of scenes, one of which involved the former helping the poor Ivy, who was sick and freezing, into a safer, warmer environment. Granted, it was essentially squatting, but Selina’s heart was in the right place, whereas I’m not sure where Jensen’s was! I mean, you’d have to have a heart of stone to hate on a destitute kid finding adequate shelter, and even the phone bit was amusing, but hardly irritating.

What’s more, I really like the dynamic between young Bruce and Alfred- I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite things on the show. It’s neat to see how Bruce goes from a child to a superhero, and it’s a story we haven’t really seen before, and was one of the main draws for me personally. (For the record, I didn’t watch “Smallville,” so maybe fans of that are judging “Gotham” more harshly in light of the way that show handled things.)

I also don’t mind playing spot-the-reference. To me, that’s one of the more amusing elements of the show. Sure, they laid it on a bit thick early on, but they’ve slowed down the constant references considerably since. About the worst thing I could say is that the show is struggling a bit to find a consistent tone. I think certain characters- notably Gordon himself- are underdeveloped, while others are fascinating, such as The Penguin and Bullock. Tellingly, those are amongst the most developed of the characters, so perhaps the main problem is that there’s so many characters to go around, it’s inevitable that some get a shorter shrift than others.

But here’s the thing: it’s a new show. It used to be that a show was allowed to develop in its own time, and grow as it went along, ironing out the problems as the story and characters progressed. Nowadays, it seems, what with binge-watching and the low-attention-span internet generation (of which I am part of, and admittedly just as susceptible to as any of my peers), it seems like most shows hardly even have a chance to find themselves anymore. Either they nail it out of the gate, or it’s sayonara. As Chris Rock famously put it: “Here today, gone today!”

That’s a shame, and it’s perhaps an even bigger shame to see people who I used to look up to falling prey to this sort of mentality- they should really know better, especially people who have done this sort of thing for a living for years like myself. So, I have to say to good old “Doc” Jensen, and others like him: my prescription is to give it a season and then pass judgment. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it stands to reason that neither will “Gotham” be.

(PS- Being bisexual doesn’t mean you’re “sexually confused,” FYI, people.)

Agree? Disagree? All opinions are welcome down below in the comments section. Sound off…if you dare!