Episode 111 “Rogue’s Gallery”
[Photos: Jessica Miglio/FOX]
Gotham returns with Jim Gordon in his new job as a security guard at Arkham Asylum, Fish Mooney maneuvering for a better position to take over Falcone’s organization, Penguin overstepping his boundaries, and Cat coming to Ivy’s aid.
And Barbara Kean is still a useless character.
Let’s get Barbara out of the way first, because she has a scene with Renee Montoya this episode, but it’s completely irrelevant and unnecessary. So far, the writers are stringing her out in a series of lesbian cliches that really don’t even relate to anything else going on in the story. The only times Barbara’s actions have intersected with the story are when she does something absolutely stupid.
Come on, guys.
The main portion of the story centers around Jim Gordon’s new assignment as a guard at Arkham, where he stumbles across a horrible series of experiments being run on the inmates. Someone is using aggressive electroshock therapy to fry the frontal lobe and pre-frontal cortex, and Gordon has almost no help at all in dealing with the situation. Director Doctor Lang — more bureaucrat than doctor — is ready to drop the hammer on Gordon for any little reason, so when this falls in their collective laps, he wants no part of it and orders Gordon to get it solved in a matter of days.
Now, let’s note here that the opening scenes set up the whole plot, for anyone who’s familiar with Shakespeare and is paying attention. The Tempest is all about misdirection, and with Jack Gruber front and center in the play, those with a sharp eye and keen wit would notice how calm and centered he is throughout the maelstrom of inmates being fried.
Gordon’s investigation takes him right past the inmates to a suspicion that someone on the staff may be responsible. The new pretty lady doctor? Morena Baccarin makes her debut as the New 52 Dr. Leslie Thompkins, and she instantly hits it off with Gordon. They have a slow-burn chemistry that should have been present between Jim and Barbara, but … well….
Dr. Thompkins is one of the sane ones, and she gets what Gordon is trying to do in Gotham City, even admires him for his quixotic passion. She’s clearly in the running to be part of Gordon’s small circle of confidants, such as Harvey Bullock.
Bullock, of course, is Bullock — brash, rude, obnoxious, and fully prepared to back up his partner no matter what. When he takes Dr. Lang down to GCPD headquarters (finding Penguin in the holding cell upon his arrival), it’s all part of an effort to shake loose information on who could have the skill set to use the machine for electroshock therapy. Bullock’s interrogation style is unorthodox, to be certain, but it works.
And it throws everyone onto the trail of nurse Dorothy Duncan, who’s the one member of the staff who didn’t come over with Lang and the rest of his people. Turns out, she’s actually not on the staff, but a resident in Arkham because of something she did many moons ago, and it makes her the number one suspect — and obviously so, to be honest. When Gordon was interrogating inmates, there was a minimum of effort to keep the red herring from roosting on her head, but it was there in the room. She was a little too obviously the one the writers wanted us to look at.
So, naturally, when she dies in the prison break, it’s supposed to throw everyone off the trail. Of course, it only does that for a short while, as the prison break, Dorothy’s death, and the death of Dr. Lang all lead up to the reveal that Gruber has been experimenting with the electroshock in order to create a perfect killing machine from an inmate — Aaron Helzinger (also known as Amygdala), who has no emotions whatsoever. In the comics, Amygdala is a stone-cold killer for the very same reason; the lack of an amygdala leaves him with no emotions but rage, and he’s a frequent villain for Batman.
It should be noted that in an episode called “Rogues Gallery” on a show about Batman-related characters in Gotham City, a great many of the camera shots inside Arkham are Dutch Angle, same as the villain shots in Batman with Adam West. You’re welcome.
Meanwhile, Butch is having a crisis of conscience as things heat up in the Falcone mob. Fish sees Saviano, Butch’s life-long friend, as a threat to her take-over. A little misdirection here, too, as we are made to guess where Butch’s loyalties lie. And it does seem, for a while, that he’s about to turn on Fish and move over to Saviano’s camp — until he shoots Saviano in the head.
Lots of misdirection and “things aren’t as they seem” in this episode: the red herrings flying about Arkham, Butch’s “wavering” loyalty, and the circumstances in which Penguin finds himself are not as they seem, either. Turns out Oswald’s feeling a little big for his britches, hiking up the tax on fishermen without Maroni’s permission — more of that “Penguin doesn’t like fish” bit — so Maroni lets him stew in lockup all day, giving us a great zinger from Harvey:
“See, I like having you here, ’cause I can sit at my desk, and look at you. It’s soothing, like a bonsai tree.”
The other small bit this week: Cat helping herself (and Ivy) to lodging in the abandoned Kean apartment. Note that Cat uses her sense of smell to determine that no one has been there for weeks. Apparently something’s gone bad in the kitchen, and she can smell it from the front hall.
How long before Gordon’s reputation is restored? How long before the camaraderie between Gordon and Dr. Thompkins moves into more dangerous territory? How long before Barbara Kean actually becomes helpful to the show?