Sunday, 11 January 2015

Gotham Episode 11 'Rogues Gallery' Review

So Jim Gordon Is still stuck working at Arkham Asylum, following the demotion he received last week from the Mayor. It turns out however, that if Jim Gordon can’t get to the crimes, the crimes will come to Jim Gordon. Somebody is taking inmates from Arkham and experimenting on them using homemade shock therapy. Meanwhile Butch’s loyalty to Mooney is brought into question by an old friend of his.

So ‘Rogues Gallery’ is weird, it doesn’t entirely feel like an episode of Gotham. The characters are all in place and many of the elements fit but it just doesn’t feel right. I think this is partially because the episode is at odds with itself. It seems keen to separate Gordon from the wider world of Gotham, forcing him to solve things on his own. However we keep visiting the other members of the extended universe, completely undermining the sense of isolation the episode is trying to build.

This is a shame because Gordon hasn’t been this likeable in weeks, if at all. The character of James Gordon is at his best when he is put upon, when things don’t work out for him. Therefore forcing him into a situation where he is somewhat out of his league does a lot to ground the more annoying elements of his Mr Perfect character. We could have easily spent this entire episode following Jim and that would have been more than enough to entertain. 

The introduction of a new love interest for Jim is an interesting angle for the show. Dr Leslie Thompkins is smart, capable and interesting, three things that Barbara Kean continues not to be. I’m curious if Barbara’s dissent into drugs and alcohol are a way to write out the character or the setup for an end game redemption. If it’s the latter I’d be very surprised if Thompkins makes it out of the first season alive.

The Penguin doesn’t have much to do this week, being stuck in a cell at the police station. I get the feeling that with the amount of flipper hungry Penguin fan girls around, we will get increasingly more excuses to have him on screen. Even if the justification for why the character is around has to suffer. Robin Lord Taylor continues to excel as the Penguin, even when given very little to work with. 

As good as Robin’s Penguin or Ben McKenzie’s Gordon are, they are both easily beaten by Drew Powell’s Butch this week. It’s not unusual for the B plot in an episode of Gotham to be the stronger part of the story. That being said this is the first time that it has been done purely by the performance of one actor. Butch is stuck between his boss Fish Mooney and his childhood friend Saviano. Both parties want the other dead and the pressure this puts on Butch is palpable. It is a credit to Drew Powell’s acting that we do not know his decision, not till the final moment. 

So Gotham this week is a bit messy, what else is new? That being said the writing remains relatively strong and the cast remain fantastic. Several seeds have been planted in this episode and I’m curious what they will grow to become as the series progresses. Hopefully we’ll get a few shocks before the end of the season.

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