Rogues Gallery Plot:
When someone at Arkham Asylum starts attacking prisoners using electric shock, it’s up to the newly demoted Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to locate the attacker. Elsewhere, Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) becomes engulfed in a power struggle for Falcone’s (John Doman) throne, and Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) goes over Maroni’s (David Zayas) head.
After a month and change long hiatus, Gotham has returned. I wish I could say it was a triumphant return, but this week’s episode was only “okay.” I’ve praised this show for always being able to move the story along, but this was the first episode that truly felt like filler. That’s understandable once in a while, but I was expecting more after a long break. The first 10-15 minutes were kind of rough. It returned to full on “hamming it up” mode, and even gave us a female orderly (Allyce Beasley) who was very reminiscent of the atrocious kidnapper from the second episode. I thought we put this crap behind us? After that first jarring wave, the episode at least settled into something solid, but it never grabbed me.
Let’s start at Arkham Asylum. This was the first real drawback to doing a pre-Batman show, as the inmates felt very vanilla and restricted. You could feel the writers shrugging their shoulders saying, “Yeah, we wish we could use Batman villains here, but we can’t. Oh well.” The bright side of the Arkham scenes was the introduction of Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, a Batman staple from the comics. She was very good in the role, and had great chemistry with McKenzie’s Gordon. The Arkham storyline was kind of hit or miss. At times I was into it, but overall pretty blah. At least they gave us a villain who will actually return, and isn’t just a “freak of the week.” We’re midway through the first season, so hopefully the show has evolved past that.
Bullock (Donal Logue) comes into the episode pretty late, but he brought some much-needed life. I love this character, and you can tell the writers do as well. He’s hilarious, and the chemistry between him and Gordon has now been perfected. He provides all the comic relief you need, which is why I don’t understand this need to ham it up at times. Enough with that!
We get another unfortunate scene between Barbara (Erin Richards) and Montoya (Victoria Cartagena). It wasn’t cringe-worthy, but the writing was downright bad. At least Cartagena has improved acting wise, but Erin Richards simply cannot keep up with the rest of this cast, and the character is written like a complete idiot. This is made worse by the fact that Gordon and Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) are fantastic together, and they share one of the best scenes in the episode with Bullock. I know the Batman lore tells us that Gordon and Barbara get married, but there’s a real opportunity here to get rid of Barbara and make Essen the primary love interest. I’d be all for it.
When I talk about filler, there are two storylines in particular that did not need to be here at all. Oswald is completely wasted. In every episode, Oswald always seems to get the upper hand, and I guess the goal here was to take him down a peg, but it could have been executed a lot better. While I enjoyed the banter between Selina (Camren Bicondova) and Ivy (Clare Foley), this plot was totally unnecessary. I definitely want to see more of them together, but in a stronger storyline.
The one plot thread that did have a lot of character meat to it though was between two mob underlings – Fish’s right hand man Butch (Drew Powell), and Jimmy (John Enos III), the seemingly heir apparent to Falcone. They have a very well written scene together at the end with a great choice of music. This sequence could have been in a great mob film.
Despite a few good character moments, this was definitely one of the weaker episodes this season. It was still entertaining, but I just wish they would fully embrace the darker aspects of the show. They have for the most part, but there’s still a hammy vibe here and there, and I want it gone.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.