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'Gotham' Review (S1E4) - 'Arkham'


Earlier today word came out that Fox's Gotham got a full season order of 22 episodes. The show has done extremely well in the ratings and it seems the network's gamble to have a Batman prequel has paid off so far. That means there'll be six more episodes to look forward to. As for tonight's Arkham episode, well, it was eye popping. 


In a bit of a reversal from last week's Ballonman episode where victims were tied to a weather balloons and lofted into the sky this week the 'crime of the week' involved some bloody and brutal methods. Councilmen are being killed and one gets a spike through the eye and the other gets stuffed in a drum and set ablaze. It all happens within the first 15 minutes. Pretty gruesome stuff and sets the tone for the episode.


It's this type of change of tone from one week to another that gives the show a bit of an identity crisis. Just how violent and gratuitous is it meant to be? Some shows have an expectation of brutality on a weekly basis. The Walking Dead, CSI, Hannibal, and so on but where does Gotham stand on the balloon-to-human BBQ scale? Some consistency would be appreciated. 

When we last left Jim Gordon he had an unexpected visitor at his door. Oswald Cobblepot was back in town and begging to help 'the last honest cop in Gotham' avoid an impending gang war. Or was he? 

Back at his day job at Maroni's restaurant, Cobblepot, trusted dishwasher got a promotion saving a bag of cash from murderous bandits. That's one way to climb the business ladder. As usual Robin Lord Taylor is phenomenal as Cobblepot. You can't keep your eyes off him.


Equally as compelling is Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney. She still hasn't stepped outside her club as she's auditioning torch song singers. She's not looking for a girl she's looking for a weapon. Whatever that means. In any case, Smith owns every scene she's in and this one is no different as she asks each woman to 'seduce' her. 

The first gives her a backrub that disappoints and Smith's expressions are priceless. The second can't sing but sure does can seduce. It's not clear what Fish has in store for the winner. She promises 'power, money, respect' but it could simply be a plot to seduce Carmine Falcone and kill him. The selection process boils down to a street fight much like in The Dark Knight where the Joker breaks a cue stick in half and has two rival henchmen duke it out for a spot 'on the team.' 

Barbara and Jim have heart-to-heart about secrets. Suffice it to say it doesn't go well. Babs tells Jim about Det. Rene Montoya and their relationship from years back. Jim realizes Rene's been feeding information and misinformation about his involvement with Cobblepot. Yet not all secrets are revealed but Babs leaves Jim anyway. 


The Arkham District (including the Asylum) was the centerpiece of the episode as both crime families were vying for pieces of the development deal from the mayor. Pulling some strings was Cobblepot pitting the families against each other in what looks like a plan to see to ascend to the top while manipulating the players. 

The show is still finding itself although the narrative might be clearing up as the season is clearly becoming about the Penguin's ascension to power. The sessions between Jim and young Bruce Wayne are still more like debriefings than casual talks. Nonetheless, the show's production values are tremendous, the sets look vintage noir, shadows and dim lighting even people using electric typewriters and as long as Fish and Penguin are on screen the show is going to be fine.


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