Season One, Episode Eleven – “Rogues’ Gallery”
By Matt Fleming. After a six week holiday hiatus, Fox’s Gotham returns in underwhelming fashion, taking cues (and absolutely not ripping off) source material ranging from German Expressionism to HBO’s The Sopranos, patronizing its audience throughout the entire painful episode, inexplicably titled, “Rogues’ Gallery”. It gives the audience a look into Jim Gordon’s new gig, the crumbling foundation of the competing underworld families, and how a child can make a adult woman really upset with one phone call.
The montage that opens the episode reminds us where we left off: Jim Gordon is reassigned as security to the reopened Arkham Asylum, his annoying girlfriend has returned to her lesbian ex-girlfriend (Gordon’s police colleague, Renee Montoya), and sad Harvey Bullock is drinking at work. The central mystery of “Rogues’ Gallery” takes place in the angular asylum, Gotham’s home for the criminally (or just generally) insane. Someone seems to be lobotomizing inmates at random, so obviously Jim Gordon has a crime to solve. He enlists the aide of hot doctor Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), but soon realizes being a crazy-people detective is even harder than working for the GCPD. Gordon’s former partner Harvey Bullock helps Gordon get around the “cheese grinder” that runs the asylum (the impeccable Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), but some sly misdirection ends with the inmates getting released from their cells. The villain is revealed to Jim, but too little too late. Outside the asylum, The Penguin gets his knuckles rapped by Don Maroni, while the Falcone insurgency continues to get convoluted with Fish accelerating the fates of all involved.
Maybe the time away from Gotham has lead to the healing of a callous the first ten episodes built up, or maybe the reprieve released me from some Stockholm-syndrome-type spell. Whatever the case, Gotham begins its second half with a big thud. The adventures of Jim Gordon in a mall cop uniform just doesn’t have the appeal as Detective Grimace and his Drinking Buddy. Jim’s grimace has transformed into a look of puzzlement and frustration as he struggles to maintain peace in an understaffed asylum full of comically crazy cons and one hot doctor. The lengths to which the show goes to reinforce the spookiness of Arkham are gaudy, ham-fisted, and honestly boring. It’s like a goth teen’s rendering of None Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Meanwhile, through no actions of his own, Jim’s personal life is undone even further.
The episode shoe-horns some Barbara drama into an episode that seems filled with, well, filler. While she is in self-destruction exile with Renee Montoya, Selina “Cat” Kyle breaks into her apartment, bringing along Ivy “Not Pamela” Pepper. When Barbara finally tries to call Jim at home, Ivy answers, and the pantsless idiot thinks the child is a grown woman. The way this show is written, I can’t honestly see Jim and Barbara getting married and having a semblance of happiness together, and I’m actively rooting for hot doctor Thompkins. When Barbara shrieks, “this was a mistake; I’m toxic,” I agree. The character is a ruiner of worlds.
The episode has few highlights, and they are namely its guest stars: Isiah Whitlock, Jr. does his best with some terrible dialogue, and it is unfortunate that his grumpy Arkham director schtick only lasts one episode. Morena Baccarin is sufficiently attractive and charming as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the hot doctor who is definitely into Jim Gordon (and is supremely more tolerable than Erin Richards). It appears that she will be sticking around, which is good. The less time Ben McKenzie spends alone on screen, the more opportunities he has to wince and brood. Allyce Beasley is a pleasant surprise as almost-villain “Nurse” Dorothy Duncan.
However, the episode introduces Jim Gordon’s new arch nemesis, insane/genius/psychopathic inmate Jack Gruber, a character who seemingly wants so badly to be in the NBC series Hannibal. His “Foghorn Lecter” accent, his mad scientist visage clearly inspired by Philo from UHF, and his painfully pandering monologuing cement him as a character I will complain about for weeks to come.
The schizophrenic pace of this episode is rattling, and though it sets up future plot events, “Rogues’ Gallery” is frantic and difficult. While some episodes of Gotham bounce between the ten or so season subplots (to varying degrees of success), this installation spends too much time with too blurry a focus upon storylines that do not entertain. The scariest part? This is the beginning of a twelve-episode race to May. The young Bat, Bruce Wayne, will resume his adolescent training soon, and I would not be surprised if Bruno Heller will have the kid put on a mask and come to Jim Gordon’s aid. After all, this is Gotham.
-The Penguin’s screentime is diminished tonight, and his cockiness gets him into a lot more trouble than usual. Too stinky to hug.
-His rival, Fish Mooney, seems a bit closer to her confrontation with Don Falcone over who has the more fabulous hair, and I’m afraid John Doman might pull the upset.
-If every remaining episode keeps Donal Logue off screen until the third act, I’m gonna be pissed. I’m ready for Bullock to get a spinoff.
–Gotham has pulled the switcheroo too many times for a new series, I’m beginning to anticipate it every single time. In this show’s opinion, doctors are always bad guys.
-Sal Maroni’s platform for election to public office will inevitably score big with Gotham’s fishing community. No new taxes!
-Barbara should have been more worried that apparently Jim is stepping out with a 13-year-old, but nope, she just gets jealous. Because she’s allowed to go on a druggy sexcapade, but he can’t have teenage girls over.