You really shouldn’t compare Gotham to Game of Thrones, but it’s sort of hard not to with Gotham‘s mid-season premiere, “Rogues’ Gallery,” which spends a lot of time jumping all over the place and yet fails to tell an overly compelling story in any of the different plotlines that are touched on. This episode is also designed to move a lot of pieces into place for future episodes, especially as we see the villain of the week easily get away and taunt Jim Gordon with the fact that he will see him again.
Happily, however, Jim Gordon’s new role at Arkham Asylum does have its plusses — as we’ll get into — and it looks like he’ll be stuck there for some time.
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Gordon Investigates a Murder at Arkham
As new Arkham Asylum guard Jim Gordon learns in the opening moments of this week’s episode, a silly musical does not calm inmates’ violent tempers. One, nicknamed Frogman, launches a riot in the middle of the performance by other inmates that somehow, inexplicably, gets blamed on Gordon by Gerry Lang, presumably the warden, and played by Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
(You can’t help but wait for him to say, “Sheeeeeet, Gordon,” but, alas, it never happens.)
After the riot, Gordon meets Dr. Leslie Thompkins, played by Morena Baccarin. They have a fun, flirty chemistry and it’ll be interesting to see how long Thompkins will stick around the show when Gordon eventually makes his way back to Gotham PD.
The next morning, Gordon discovers Frogman dead in his cell. Well, he’s not technically all the way dead — he’s just brain dead, thanks to someone frying his brain with some electrodes. The former cop has no problem jumping in to start an investigation.
Gordon narrows in right away in trying to figure out who swiped some guard keys that allowed the murderer access to Frogman’s cell. We the viewer are then treated to a lame montage of him interviewing crazy people, including Aaron Henzinger, and getting frustrated.
Later that night, we see an inmate named Royston hooked up to electrodes. He isn’t brain dead, but he’s messed up. Gordon starts to think someone on the staff is involved.
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Gordon decides to call in Bullock to help with the investigation. Bullock is happy to see his former partner and even gives him a big hug and kiss. But he’s really there just to get Lang out of the asylum so Jim can investigate the staff without him interfering.
While at Gotham PD, Lang tells Bullock that there aren’t any skilled surgeons on staff that could pull off what’s been done to the victims. More so, he awkwardly tells Bullock that he’s got secrets that are too dangerous for Bullock to know about. (From what I’ve been able to tell, Lang isn’t an existing Batman character, but if you know something I don’t know, please say so in the comments!)
Both Bullock and Jim then come to the same conclusion individually — Dorothy Duncan, a nurse, is only pretending to be a nurse. Once she realizes she’s cornered, she frees all the inmates but winds up getting trampled to death for her trouble.
Then, in one of the most absurdly lame moments of the episode, Gordon holds back 20 or so prisoners by yelling at them. That’s right — they don’t attack him or Leslie. They actually stand back and let Gordon and Leslie sneak through a gate that they easily lock behind them.
After the riots are contained, we learn Dorothy was an original inmate of the asylum and hunkered down in the basement, waiting for it to re-open. Bullock makes a case to the captain that Gordon proved his worth, but she says it’s not up to her if he can come back to work. So, thankfully, Gordon will remain at the asylum for the time being.
And then in a twist I honestly should have seen coming but didn’t, Dorothy also had the electrode shock treatment done on her, meaning someone else was responsible for the murders. Turns out, it was Jack Gruber, another inmate, who was in charge and escapes with Aaron. He then leaves a note for Gordon promising that they’ll meet again.
(If you want to know who Gruber is, head down to the last section of this recap.)
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The Penguin Learns His Place
Cobblepot, who is now officially going as the Penguin, begins the episode deciding to shake down some fishermen for more protection money. When the cops show up, he’s confident they’ll side with him, but one of them winds up sucker punching him in the face.
Penguin begs Bullock to let him out of the cell later in the episode, and him begging is one of my favorite parts of the episode. Watching Penguin go from being the smartest, most dangerous person in the room to the meekest is always a treat.
Maroni comes to see Penguin later and tells him, “You’re in here because I put you in there.” He was mad that Penguin had the gall to raise the taxes without checking with him first. “That’s hubris, my friend,” he tells him.
Maroni still has him freed, but not before telling him, “You’re a monkey, a smart monkey. But I’m the zookeeper.” Yes, that is real dialogue that appeared on a major network TV show in 2015.
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Selina and Ivy Hide Out, While Barbara Considers Coming Home
This week’s episode sees Selina and Ivy hiding out in Gordon’s apartment because Ivy is very sick and doesn’t have a home right now.
Barbara, meanwhile, gets into a huge argument with Renee over Gordon. Renee believes them getting together was a mistake and says, “We are toxic together, you and me.” Uh … unless I forgot what happened over the first half of the season, this is all brand new info to me! Yes, these two characters are terrible, but I’m pretty sure we never actually saw them terrible together.
Barbara decides to call home, but Ivy picks up the phone and pretends she’s basically sleeping with Gordon without saying it. I shudder to think about how many episodes this will take to resolve.
Gordon returns home later and sees someone that has been there, but he doesn’t run into Ivy or Selina.
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Fish Eliminates the Competition
Even though we’re a long way away from the season finale, nobody told Fish because she spends this episode getting ready for the eventuality (in her mind) of Falcone’s death. (At her hands, of course.) A mobster named Jimmy is apparently next in line and grew up with one of Fish’s closest allies: Butch.
While Fish worries about whether or not Butch will turn on her, Butch goes to see Jimmy privately. Jimmy says there is no way Fish would get the chair with Falcone’s death and even offers Butch a deal to turn on Fish, something Butch does not tell Fish about later.
Unsurprisingly, Butch proves his loyalty to Fish and winds up killing Jimmy after telling him this lame story about how he cheated him out of some prime meat they stole as kids.
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For Comic Fans (or Those That Love the Mythos)
The following could be considered spoilers, depending on how much you want to know about Gotham characters and their comics counterparts.
— Dr. Leslie Thompkins has only been featured once previously in TV or films, so you’re forgiven if the name doesn’t ring a bell. In the comics, she’s one of the few people who knows Batman’s true identity and is often called upon to fix Bruce’s especially bad injuries.
— By the way, it’s kind of a shame Dr. Thompkins isn’t slated for romance with Gordon since she has 10 times the chemistry with him that Barbara does.
— If you knew Leslie’s name, you might also have known Aaron Henzinger’s name. He’s one day fated to be Amygdala.
— Finally, even though he goes by the name Jack Gruber, this week’s villain looks awfully close to Hugo Strange. Additionally, Gotham’s showrunner did promise Hugo Strange was coming to the show.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)