Previously on Arkham Asylum…
The episode begins in the madhouse that is Arkham Asylum. Some of the inmates are putting on a stage performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Gordon at least looks to be adjusting to his new life well. Suddenly, one of the inmates rushes up and pummels one of the performers, Royston, played by Sam Seferian. This is the fourth outburst in as many weeks as Gordon has been stationed here.
And there’s no one less happy about this than Director Gerry Lang, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr. Even though Nurse Dorothy Duncan, played by Allyce Beasley, takes responsibility for the incident, Lang places full blame on Gordon since he’s in charge of security. Gordon counters that the man needs medical attention, so Lang agrees to bring in a doctor. But any more incidents and he’ll place Gordon on the remedial duty roster. Well, this guy’s just the best, isn’t he?
Enter Dr. Leslie Thompkins, played by Inara from Firefly, better known as Morena Baccarin. Dr. Thompkins is well aware of Gordon’s notorious reputation. Even all the girls in the female ward are talking about him. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. Thompkins admires Gordon for not quitting, despite being put out to dry for fighting against City Hall.
By the way, Selina and Ivy are sleeping on the street, though Ivy is under the weather and doesn’t want a doctor. Selina knows a place they can stay.
So they go to Barbara’s. How Selina scaled the building and Ivy walked right into the apartment without anyone noticing or finding it strange, I don’t know. The two only plan to stay until Ivy is better.
At the dock, Gabe and Penguin- I’m sorry, The Penguin, as Oswald prefers to be called now, arrive at the waterfront to speak with some fishermen about Penguin’s proposal. They turn it down. The rates set by Don Maroni last year are high enough, so there’s no reason to consider paying a higher rate under Penguin. The Penguin isn’t worried. After all, the mob owns the cops. Well, one of those cops owns Penguin with a punch to the face.
Back at Arkham, Jim calls out to inmate Robert Jones, better known as “Frogman,” played by Mark Pettograsso. When Jim doesn’t get a response, he heads in and finds Frogman in a catatonic state with a burn mark on his forehead.
Based on Dr. Thompkins’ analysis of Frogman’s electrode wounds, she concludes that Frogman had been given a very crude and invasive kind of electroshock therapy. Metal needles were inserted into the brain and someone turned on the switch. This is normally done to modify abhorrent behavior, but whoever did this used a strong voltage, rendering Frogman’s brain fried.
And that’s when Director Lang enters. Gordon doesn’t take this, though. Lang is running Arkham with skeleton staff and zero surveillance in a very old building. Arkham’s resources aren’t good enough to deal with a criminal investigation. It’s time to call the GCPD, but Lang won’t have that. This is an in-house matter and as long as Frogman is still breathing, he’s still alive. Gordon’s task? Find the inmate who did this and have a report on Lang’s desk by Friday.
As for who did this, it would require some basic knowledge of human anatomy, basic electrical skills, circuit boards, wiring…oh, and the door keys.
All the inmates’ cells have been searched, so Gordon speaks to one of the guards that he feels looks and feels like a hunted animal. The guard, Stephen, brings up the fight that broke out during the play. Right after it, he noticed his keys were missing, but doesn’t know who took them. Either way, he just grabbed a spare set.
Fish continues her power play by speaking with Saviano and another of Falcone’s lieutenants, who have serious issues with Falcone. But who would take over? Saviano. After all, he’s next in line based on seniority. That’s the way the system works. Well, Fish never considered that. It’s a new dawn, new city, and time for some new, fresh thinking at the top. Even though the two doubt if Fish could do it, this is all just hypothetical, right?
Gordon interviews Arkham’s inmates, starting with Jack Gruber, played by Christopher Heyerdahl. Gruber plays games with Gordon, talking about how Frogman earned his name because he believes there’s a bullfrog inside of him that controls his thoughts. Gruber doesn’t waste psychic energy on the dead. Gordon is skeptical, given Gruber’s evaluation that lists him as a Grade-A psychopath. Regardless, Gruber denies taking the keys. We then get a montage of Gordon interviewing the rest of the patients. They aren’t so cooperative. Though there is one with a stuffed animal that just rushes at Gordon out of nowhere. I don’t know why, but that made me laugh.
Finally, we meet inmate Aaron Helzinger, played by Kevin McCormick. He’s a bit timid, this Aaron. Nurse Duncan tells Gordon that Aaron never lies because he doesn’t have the concept for it. He killed his family with an axe, so you should at least tread with caution.
Fish figures that Saviano is the only problem with her plan to deal with Falcone. Everyone else she can influence, but not him. Butch offers to talk to Saviano, as they go way back.
That night, while Jim gets some shut eye, Royston gets some shock therapy. Gordon wakes up at the sound of some rattling and finds Royston banging at the gates and only reciting lines from the play.
Next morning, Dr. Thompkins examines Royston. It’s the same technique used on Frogman, but with less severe results since Royston is able to walk and talk. Gordon suggests that Dr. Thompkins remain in the female ward since he feels there will be more drama. He feels that this could be an inside job, but doesn’t think Thompkins could be the culprit. She’s not the type.
Director Lang balks at the idea of a staff member performing these experiments. He thinks Gordon is forcing his hand to make him call the GCPD, but that’s not the case at all. Gordon already called them.
Montoya and Barbara. Well, I guess this was unavoidable. Montoya asks if Barbara has spoken to Gordon, but Barbara tells Montoya that she has no reason to be jealous of Gordon. Montoya comes out and says that this was a mistake. You’re damn right. This entire subplot was a mistake. Oh wait, she’s talking about them. She never should have let it go on for this long. She wanted this to be good, but the two are toxic together. Montoya offers to call Gordon so Barbara can get some help. Before Barbara can leave, Montoya says that she’ll go instead.
Okay, Bullock’s on the scene. Give us something to care about, Donal Logue. Bullock is overjoyed to see Gordon again. He’s certain that this is a police matter- third degree assault at least. Lang is livid that Gordon would go around him and call law enforcement, but hey, Bullock figures that Lang would want to keep this sort of thing quiet. He asks Lang if he did it. He denies it, though he does have the skill. So, looks like Bullock’s gonna have to take Lang down to the precinct. While that happens, Gordon plans to look through the staff records.
At the waterfront, Butch meets up with Saviano and the two catch up on old times. Saviano figures that Butch is there to talk some sense into him, but he still thinks that Fish is overreaching. Without Butch and his crew, Fish has little. Butch seems to consider that. Saviano makes an offer to Butch: drop Fish and join his crew. The club and all the businesses attached will go to him, and that’s just a day one welcome bonus. Butch tells his old friend that he’ll think it over.
So Penguin and Gabe stew in their GCPD holding cell. When Bullock enters the precinct, Penguin calls out to him. I didn’t think you could just randomly yell out in a police precinct, but hey, this is Gotham. He wants to make a simple phone call to Maroni, but Bullock likes having Penguin there. That way, he can just look at him from his cell. It soothes him like a bonsai tree.
Lang explains to Bullock that electroshock therapy is used for behavioral alteration. Skilled surgeons can garner very specific responses, but those inmates weren’t treated by a skilled surgeon because Arkham doesn’t have any. Now, Bullock knows that Lang didn’t do this.
He’s not the type to challenge authority, but he knows that he’s hiding something. Yes, Lang is hiding something, and if folks like Bullock and Gordon know what’s good for them, they’ll stop digging any deeper. Lang doesn’t feel any staff member would do this. He’s known them over five years and they came to Arkham together, but then a name hits him.
Gordon looks through Arkham’s files, but they’re incomplete. He wonders if there are more in the basement, but Nurse Duncan tells him that the records office isn’t accessible because the basement has been closed off due to unsafe chemicals. She knows a way down, though.
As she leads him down, the two are joined by Dr. Thompkins, who didn’t take Gordon’s advice to leave. She wants to join them, and she gets her chance when Duncan throws her at Gordon and rushes off. Well, time for a lockdown. Gordon receives a call from Bullock, who confirms what Gordon now knows: Duncan is an inmate.
Duncan frees the inmates and leads them on a chase, but she trips and is quickly trampled to death.
Dr. Thompkins and Gordon reach a locked gate. Gordon tries ordering the inmates to their cells, but he just keeps them in place long enough for Thompkins to open the gate.
Okay, I hate this scene, so let’s breeze through it. Barbara calls her place, hoping to hear from Gordon. Ivy answers the phone and pretends to be another woman. Barbara falls for it.
At GCPD, Bullock informs Gordon and Essen that Dorothy Duncan was a medical student who killed five kids with poison candy for homework. When the asylum closed down, Gordon figures that she must have kept herself hidden in the basement until it reopened. Essen is also glad to see Gordon again. She would love to bring him back, but she can’t. Not yet, anyway.
Maroni springs Gabe and Penguin free, but then, Penguin learns that Maroni put Penguin there in the first place. Know what hubris is? It’s when limping second bananas think they’re hot stuff and try to raise taxes on fishermen without asking their superiors. Penguin apologizes and promises to never do it again. Let this be a lesson to Penguin: he’s a smart monkey, but still a monkey nonetheless.
Looks like Duncan was just a victim. The medical examiner brings in Duncan’s file and photos reveal month old electrode wounds, similar to the other victims. They were hidden by her hair. But then who did this?
At Arkham, Helzinger kills a guard, and who helped him?
Jack Gruber. And Director Lang picked the wrong time to walk into the hallway.
Gordon and Bullock rush to Arkham, but find a dying Lang on the ground. With blood pouring from his mouth, Lang manages to sputter out Gruber’s name before he dies. In Lang’s hand is a note from Gruber: he’s been practicing his craft on inmates for a while. Nurse Dorothy was an early success, but he may have found success with Helzinger.
Gordon heads to Barbara’s and finds that someone else has been there.
Butch meets back up with Saviano and tells him about the time when the two were 14 and they stole around 50 pounds of meat. The thing is, Butch kept a lot to himself and gave Saviano the cheap cuts. Though it was a long time ago, Butch just wants to apologize. Brothers don’t do that kind of stuff to each other. The episode comes to a close as Butch kills Saviano.
“Rogues’ Gallery” feels like Gotham trying to re-establish its tone after the first season break. It succeeds on some levels, but due to overloading the storyline with too many subplots, it suffers from the same issue as previous episodes of trying to do too much all at once.
In a short amount of time, Gotham has introduced us to many characters- some familiar to the Batman universe, and others created just for this show. This episode tries the balancing act of trying to give them all screen time and attention, but it just feels cluttered. The opening montage is indicative of that, giving us Arkham Asylum, but also showing us what the other characters have been doing. At least Bruce, Alfred and Nygma didn’t appear, for once.
For my money, I would like to have seen more of Arkham Asylum. I like the look and feel of it. This is meant to be a dark and mysterious place, but then we have the montage of Gordon interviewing inmates for comedic effect, which, while funny, reminded me that Gotham has serious issues with its tone.
We don’t need to see Fish continue her power play against Falcone or watch Penguin learn a lesson about trying to one-up Maroni. While I’m happy for Butch to receive some character development as we dug into his history, the mob stuff felt shoehorned in just to remind us that, yes, there is a mob war going on.
Ivy and Selina. The show does not know what to do with these kids. First off, I’m curious as to why Selina would take Ivy to Barbara’s place. Why wouldn’t she go back to Wayne Manor? She knows where it is and could easily break in whenever she wants. Or, hell, why not go back to that underground safe zone? I don’t get why she would need to Barbara’s place when, last I checked, she’s only been there one time.
Going back to their forced entry, how the hell did Selina scale that entire building? We see a shot of her hanging around on the balcony and that’s a long drop down. I know that Selina Kyle is acrobatic and nimble, but she’s still a kid. She got all the way up there in no time at all.
And what about Ivy? She just walked in the front door and knew which apartment to go to. Was there someone that let her in and just assumed she was the daughter of someone else who lived there? I would like to say that this was the weakest part of the episode-
-but that honor is reserved for Barbara and Montoya’s subplot. Their connection is about as inconsistent as Gotham’s tone. If Montoya thinks that this whole thing between them is a bad idea, why even allow it to happen in the first place? If it’s because they’re both just vulnerable people, then I’m even less invested in the characters because they’re needy. And Montoya is the one who came to Barbara in the first place. Why try to rekindle what you already know won’t work out? And is Barbara so stupid that she can’t tell the difference between a grown woman and a sickly little girl? She knows Gordon better than most people. Why isn’t she smarter than this? Does she really think that Gordon would cheat on her? And is she really in a position to be angry when she’s the one already cheating on him? This plot just sucks.
The guest appearances seemed to get lost in the shuffle. I’m fine with Morena Baccarin’s performance as Leslie Thompkins, but I wish we’d just gotten more of her. She looks to be someone who admires Gordon standing up to corruption and I think the two can make a good pair. Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Gerry Lang was fine, but he didn’t get much to do aside from yelling at and berating Gordon.
Things didn’t pick up for me until Bullock appeared, and it was great to see him unite with Gordon again. Their reunion was my favorite scene of the episode. You could tell in his voice that, despite their initial tension, Bullock has come to see Gordon as a friend and less as an adversary.
I’m fine with Jack Gruber escaping because that means he’s still a constant threat.
Overall, “Rogues Gallery” was nothing to get too excited about. The series is still plagued with too many characters and subplots that it doesn’t have time to fully develop all of them. Less is more, in this case.