The first half of Fox’s Baby Batman series Gotham was marked by so many inconsistencies, high highs and low lows that week to week it was impossible to tell which show you were going to get. Would it be the downright brilliance of ‘Penguin’s Umbrella’ or the donut-throwing stupidity of ‘Harvey Dent?’ I was hoping that in the month-long gap between episode ten and ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ that Gotham would tighten up a little bit, doing away with its many persistent problems and showcasing the bright spots it showed along the way.
As it turns out, this show is racked with the same old cramps, a reference to the opening scene in which some stupid person thought it was a good idea to stage Shakespeare’s The Tempest in an institute for the criminally insane.
What even are the stakes on this show anymore? We have Jim Gordon who is determined to bring down, um, everyone while remaining a security guard at Arkham Asylum. So far his plan includes nothing, and then more nothing. Then there’s the mob war going on, which episode after episode only seems to be heating up, but really accomplishes nothing. Is there anyone that was really on-edge wondering whether Butch would switch allegiances or kill Jimmy Saviano? Did anyone really care that Butch shot Jimmy in the end? I didn’t even know who Jimmy was before this, much less that he was next in line to take over after Falcone. Over in nothing-land we have little Catwoman and Poison Ivy, who just seem to need a place to stay while they wait to become 1000% more interesting in about 20 years. The only purpose either served here was to prank call Barbara.
And speaking of Barbara, oh my God Barbara. Is there a less likable character — man, woman, child, animal, etc? — on TV at this moment. To recap: she left behind her fiance without ANY warning to get back together with her ex-lover/drug partner, and is now furious that another woman might be spending time with Jim. She’s also furious that her new lover is like “hey, Barbara, I might want to stop sleeping past noon and doing drugs, maybe become a better person.” I laughed out loud when Montoya came back to her apartment to find Barbara still in bed. How the hell did this woman ever own a successful art gallery? Was it ever open while the sun was up? All I know is, if this show sticks to comic book history Barbara and Jim have to get back together eventually, and it’s going to suuuuuuck.
Meanwhile, over at Arkham, people are getting their brains fried. With electricity. It wasn’t too bad of a weekly story…until one of the most confusing plot twists I’ve ever seen. Dorothy Duncan, a nurse at Arkham that people seem to be interacting with just fine, is actually not a nurse. She’s a patient at Arkham. Or used to be. Or still is. Really, I don’t know. Apparently when Arkham closed the first time Dorothy just sort of…stayed behind?… and lived in the basement until it re-opened. I am so confused who knew about this. Was it a Shutter Island form of treatment where everybody but Jim was pretending she was a nurse? Because Jim most definitely didn’t know. But I think that director guy did? And if no one knew, that’s even worse. I know Arkham is supposed to be suffering when it comes to security but no one said, “Hey, I have no idea who that nurse is.” Anyway, it’s hard to say and doesn’t really matter because about two seconds after the big reveal Dorothy is stomped to death in a prison riot.
Somehow, amid all this, Oswald Cobblepot remained the most compelling character from inside of a prison cell. Worth noting: this episode was the first to feature no Bruce Wayne or Alfred, and I actually missed them. At least their relationship makes sense.
So no, I’m not happy with Gotham. But, as always, let’s run down every reference, fact, and nugget of Bat-history brought up in episode eleven,“Rogues’ Gallery.”
Dr. Leslie Thompkins
Dr. Leslie Thompkins, in her later years, is Bruce Wayne’s godparent and parent figure along with Alfred Pennyworth and in turn knows Batman’s secret identity. So yes, she is very important to the comics. What’s important here is that she is played by Morena Baccarin, who gives me warm Fireflies in my stomach.
This is that one guy Jim questioned, the one that didn’t have the ability to lie but ended up becoming a murder-y science experiment with super strength. That’s…actually pretty accurate. Aaron Helzinger eventually becomes the character Amygdala, after the bundle of cells in the brain that controls a number of emotional associations is removed from his head in an experiment. This ends, like most experiments in Gotham City, in Helzinger’s homicidal rage becoming amplified. Bummer, dude.
Also, one time in 1998 Batman became a vampire and beheaded Aaron, so fingers crossed we see THAT on Gotham.
This guy (Spoilers? Maybe? Probably not?)
So this guy tells Jim his name is Jack Gruber, signs his name Jack Gruber and is overall just referred to as Jack Gruber. But that’s totally not Jack Gruber. Nope, nope I’m pretty sure that’s a young(ish) Hugo Strange. Strange is the mad scientist of the Batman world, complete with monstrous experiments, a beard, and crazy round scientist glasses just like the one “Jack Gruber” is wearing. Yeah, okay Jack. Generally, lobotomies and shock treatment have been pretty high on Hugo Strange’s hobby list throughout the years.
The trouble is, Hugo Strange doesn’t create or utilize Amygdala at all in the comics. No, Aaron Helzinger was first forced to attack Batman in 1991 by Jeremiah Arkham, nephew to Arkham Asylum founder/crazy person Amadeus Arkham. SO, in theory, Jack Gruber could also be Jeremiah Arkham chilling in his uncle’s madhouse, perfecting his experiments. That would be cool, too.
Most likely, Jack Gruber is just Jack Gruber and will be stomped to death in a prison riot five minutes into next week’s episode.