The Legendary Prison
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Arkham is easily the best episode yet of Gotham, which to be fair hasn’t been that rough of an accomplishment considering how the past two episodes especially have been so irritating. In comparison to its predecessors, it’s more focused, it’s more tight, and it gives a ton of focus to Fish and Cobblepot, which is certainly a welcome development. But at the same time, it’s completely flabbergasted as to what it is. Gotham annoying in that sense still has no idea of where it’s ultimately heading, or at the very least it isn’t sure of how to focus on those specific developments yet. This episode’s dark villain restored in the hands of Hakeem Kae-Kazim’s Gladwell, it’s sort of odd that last week we had a guy named the Balloonman. For my personal preferences, I hope the show sticks to this episode as a closer template compared to last week’s. The darkness suits everything about Gotham in the way last week’s extraordinarily annoying campiness simply doesn’t. There’s also a bit of danger, however, of the show falling into a week of the villain, a procedural format that it needs to avoid in order to stay alive.
Fish Mooney’s dark competition of the week was a nice touch, ensuring that she remains a dark, understated villain. “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have it all?” is a great little quip, but the two men actually killing each other for the honor of the spot was a bit surprising at the very least. I was expecting at least one of them to survive. But what this storyline does allow for Fish is a sort of grounding in direct competition with Falcone, which is the sort of focus on the underground gangster war the show so desperately needed. But she wasn’t the only one who seemingly hired Gladwell. Falcone had done the same thing. Both of them apparently had done so in wanting to have councilmen allied with their opponent killed off. But the storyline frustratingly doesn’t lead anywhere intelligent and or logical. It’s almost like a low-budget slasher film in how those sequences are executed, pun intended. His weapon of an eye spear is cool, but after about three and a half seconds it loses any value whatsoever. The first Councilman is stupid enough to stick the damn thing near its eye and while the second Councilman is being chased, he thinks it’s a good idea to wait for an elevator instead of, oh, I don’t know, running up the stairs or getting in a cab (that one in his circumstance is a bit of a stretch). Or anything, anything, more plausible than waiting around by literally standing in front of two metal doors. For ****’s sake! To add insult to injury, Gladwell, who was shaping up in a fantastic fashion, gets shot at the end. Yeah!…
Arkham, as the episode’s title would suggest, returns in large form this week. The area around Arkham is, as one would expect, is an abandoned, derelict part of Gotham City. Bruce’s parents, before their tragic deaths, wanted to turn Arkham into an ares of affordable housing with a high-tech mental health facility. Which makes it all the worse that they’re dead, because basically everyone else in their beloved city is an arse. Falcone in an intriguing side note supports the plan, because of contracts and finances. Sal Maroni opposes the plan as the opposite of Falcone, wanting to turn it into a waste dump. The stupidity of this entire enterprise is that the right option is so **** obvious, that this being turned into the impetus for Galdwell to be hired in the first place shouldn’t have been necessary. The gangsters wanting to get something out of this is necessary, although for Falcone it makes sense at least. But wouldn’t the people around that area and or the people of Gotham City in general be supportive of something as good as affordable housing and mental health clinics? Oh, and then the compromise arrives because somehow this becomes a difficult decision for everyone involved. There’s going to be low-income housing and a waste dump. Really. I’m not serious. That’s the idea. So the poor of Gotham will be living next to literal ****. God help this show.
Oswald Cobblepot continues to be the absolute thing about this show and why I haven’t thrown my hands up in the air and just given up on the entire enterprise to begin with. His character’s fascinating because there’s shading to him beyond the nominal Gotham labels of “evil”, “gangster”, “lesbian”, or “just”. Like all the great villains, he imbues this self-delusion of himself as a heroic, towering figure. And he works as a great, towering figure. Arkham tries this experiment of putting him under Maroni’s employment and in the shadows, which is decidedly not where the character should be. It’s a kind of entertaining fiasco that ensues, which is a bit bemusing because it doesn’t really provide Maroni with the gravitas he needs to carry a good chunk of the gangster war plot. On a character level, it makes sense that he would poison his accomplices. On a larger, more meta level with his ideas of self-delusional grandeur, it does not. But at the very least, thank goodness for Robin Taylor Lord, who might be the critical saving grace of this show right now.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Barbara revealing her secret to Gordon; The focus on Gordon’s marriage is helpful if Gotham wants us to take him seriously as the center of the show
-Commissioner Sarah Essen remains a completely vapid character
-Renne Montoya is basically the vengeful lesbian and that’s about it at this point
Written By: Ken Woodruff
Directed By: TJ Scott
Image Courtesy: We Geek Girls