Netflix UK TV review: Gotham Episode 11
Dull Arkham plot4
Amon Warmann | On 16, Mar 2015Reading time: 3 mins
Not seen Episodes 1 to 10 of Gotham? This will contain spoilers.
The first 10 episodes of Gotham were, to say the least, uneven: although many of the characters that came to form the show’s core grew slowly more defined over time, dull hunt-for-the-killer episodes, among other problems, meant that the series’ ventures away from its default mediocre setting were rarer than we’d like. Still, few can deny that Gotham was on the upswing as 2014 came to a close, which means its mixed bag of a return is a little disappointing.
The final shot of Gotham’s previous hour saw a demoted Gordon taking up his new post in Arkham Asylum and it’s here where Rogues’ Gallery – a title perfectly in keeping with Gotham’s penchant for weird episode titles (only one new villain appears here) – holds its focus. Save for the introduction of some characters (more on that later) and a new set, the A plot, which has Gordon on the hunt for an Asylum resident experimenting on inmates, is never all that compelling.
Still, it does give us the best scene of the episode, wherein Bullock turns up at the nuthouse to help his former partner out. More Donal Logue please.
Far more interesting this week is the quandary Butch finds himself in as he is forced to consider whether he wants to continue to be Fish Mooney’s right hand man or join her rival – the final scene, especially, has a touch of The Sopranos about it. Elsewhere, although any opportunity to get more of Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin is always welcome, Rogues’ Gallery doesn’t really give him anything substantial to do. Indeed, Cobblepot overstepping his grounds feels like a silly error for one who has proven himself so methodical and the episode doesn’t advance the character at all, a statement which can be depressingly applied to almost everyone here. The silver lining, though, is that at least he’s fully adopted his namesake now. Long live The Penguin!
To its credit, one aspect Gotham has mostly gotten right thus far is its casting and in this regard, Rogues’ Gallery is a standout. From The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr – here suitably irritating as Gordon’s irritable new boss – to Allyce Beasley and Christopher Heyerdahl, these TV veterans all shine in their respective roles. The biggest debut of them all is, of course, Morena Baccarin as long-time Bat-comic character Doctor Leslie Tompkins, who already displays more chemistry with McKenzie’s Gordon than our former detective ever did with Barbara.
Speaking of Barbara, she continues to be Gotham’s weakest link. The show went to great lengths to have her rekindle her past fling with Detective Montoya in the previous episode – finally signalling a new (if galling) direction for the character – only to seemingly end it before it picks up any kind of steam. Follow that with the unintentionally funny revelation that Gordon’s other half can’t tell the difference between a child’s voice and a woman, and it’s clear that the writing has reached an embarrassing new low.
Gotham’s dance card was already pretty full before the introduction of Arkham, and focusing on Gordon’s new job here means we don’t get to see Bruce, Alfred, Falcone, Harvey Dent, and others. It’s a juggling act that we’re used to, but the show needs to get better at focusing on the stronger pieces and perhaps more merciless in jettisoning the weaker ones.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.