To be completely honest, I’m not very fond of how Gotham is shaping up so far. It’s first half did indeed show some promise, but more often than not it disappointed in various areas. There’s also so much story to chew from so many different perspectives that it pains me to say that I’ve only cared about the crime aspect of the show still. Furthermore, I feel that the writers are having a difficult time making (what is now beginning to feel like) an ensemble cast work. For all these reasons I just mentioned, I came into “Rogue’s Gallery” with limited expectations. And that’s saying a lot, even for an episode intended to pull us all back in after taking a break. Sadly, not even those were met.
I don’t even know where to begin with “Rogue’s Gallery,” as it started tumbling the minute we saw Selina Kyle reach out to Pois–ahem, Ivy Pepper, and shelter her in Gordon’s home (which wound up becoming one of the many notably inconsequential subplots to this week’s episode.) I guess the best place to start is with the game-change from the mid-season finale. The mayor’s decision to “demote” Gordon to Arkham Asylum makes absolutely no sense still, and unfortunately, this week’s proceedings did nothing to explain it. At least the concept of him walking the halls of the insane remains cool, and we did indeed see some great–albeit morally controversial–scenes. The Shakespearean play, for example, was effectively atmospheric, despite the fact that the mentally-unstable inmates themselves were performing it. Gordon getting chased down Arkham by a flurry of released prisoners was also fun to watch, and helped established the situation that our central(?) hero was now a part of. Even when it fails to deliver a solid story or shoves comic book references down our throats, Gotham continues to get darker and gloomier, which is always a good thing in my opinion.
Morena Baccarrin’s Dr. Leslie Thompkins is an awesome addition to the series, and it’s nice to see her develop instant chemistry with Gordon. Her arrival couldn’t come at a better time, considering the glaring lack of staff and the mental state of the inmates. Here’s hoping Gotham recognizes Thompkin’s appeal and gives her a more significant role in the future. It’s a shame I can’t say the same thing for Dr. Gerry Lang (“The Wire” alumni Isiah Whitlock Jr.) who the script vehemently tried to present as both rude and ignorant. With an undermanned staff, I never understood why he was so reluctant to call the cops over the electrified prisoners, in-house or not. What’s worse was him blatantly insulting Gordon for incidents beyond his control, as well as insisting that the culprit had to be an inmate without any conclusive evidence or proof. Lang seemed like the last person anyone would give the privilege of running an insane asylum. But, hey, we all know how this place ends up in the comics. Perhaps this was Gotham attempting to show us why it fell apart in the first place. If that’s the case, though, it didn’t work at all. At least they were smart enough to kill off Lang, which, sadly, I enjoyed discovering.
The “whodunnit” aspect of “Rogue’s Gallery” sucked too. Halfway through the episode, it was obvious that nurse Dorothy Duncan had something to do with the illegal shock therapy; all you had to do was listen to her talk. It took every inch of significance away from the detective work both Gordon and Bullock (who was called in by Gordon to help) put into solving the case. Even though Jack Gruber was a decent villian-of-the-week and wound up escaping in the end, the reveal that he was indeed the perp was telegraphed from a mile away. Did the director just assume that we forgot about that shot of him sitting idly by in his cell while the other inmates ran wild? Since we are finally aware of Gruber’s motives — using shock therapy on the Arkham inmates as a way of conducting tests — this episode should’ve spent some time covering the purpose of Gruber’s actions. As a viewer, I would have liked to get inside his brain and pick it a bit. He didn’t perform these tests out of spite, so why not at least hint at his true intentions?
And can Barbara just get over herself already? I lost all hope for her after leaving Gordon over a bunch of BS. Watching her and Montoya’s fling blow up in her face felt like a disgusting slap in the face of viewers hoping to see anything but in the mid-season premiere, myself included. Kudos to Montoya for breaking it off for all our sakes. And kudos to Ivy for fooling Barbara with that phone call. I don’t know how in the world she did, but I guess when you’re eleven years old and have the suspension of disbelief on your side, anything is possible. Putting it in perspective, it was one of the most embarrassingly bad scenes of any show I’ve seen in years.
God knows how long it’s going to take Fish Mooney to take over Falcone’s crime ring. We’ve waited almost a month to see what she would do next, just so she could hypothetically ask who’d be next in line to Falcone. You kind of just knew this episode was going nowhere at this point, but it became especially disappointing that it got worse with Fish and her actions. I’m not going to lie; Fish’s story arc is beginning to tire. I’m not even convinced that she could shift the balance of power in her favor anymore. Something drastic needs to happen. Fish makes too many small moves these days to take her intentions seriously, and Butch taking matters into his own hands didn’t exactly speed things up much. Sure, killing Jimmy Saviano moves the chains a little (and entails that he has his own plans to claim power,) but we aren’t even aware of how vast Falcone’s crime family is. This could be a big or small chess move, yet we would never know because Gotham hardly ever considers these important factors as, well, important.
Lastly, there truly was no point at all, whatsover, in having Penguin in this episode. Maroni manufacturing his arrest just to send a message to his apprentice did nothing for me, and quite frankly was a terrible way to remind us of the tariff that FALCONE issued a few weeks back. It didn’t move the story arc forward, and felt like a giant waste of time.
I couldn’t imagine a slower start for Gotham’s first half, but “Rogue’s Gallery” did an impeccable job of grinding the entire second half of the season to a complete halt. Besides the introduction of Dr. Thompkins and Gruber escaping, hardly anything changed. What made matters worse is realizing the best aspect of the show — the mob war — is beginning to lose its luster. I didn’t anxiously wait for Gotham to return because it was getting worse at the break. It’s been a little less than a month removed from it’s last episode and that hasn’t changed a bit.
+ Dr. Thompkins a nice addition to the series
+ Some cool moments within the halls of Arkham Asylum
– I’m really starting to hate everything about Barbara right now
– That phone call between Ivy and Barbara…
– Gerry Lang written poorly
– I’m starting to lose interest in Fish’s plans
– Hardly pushed the story arc forward at all