(NOTE: Gotham Central is a summary of the Fox drama ‘Gotham’ as well as anecdotes, ties from the comics, general notes, and fan rant. This will contain some spoilers from the listed episode.)
The Recap Page:
Jim Gordon has his first taste of what happens when a vigilante runs amok in Gotham City. The Penguin gets a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant owned by mob boss Sal Maroni.
The episode picks up from the tease at the end of last episode with Penguin knock, knock, knocking on Gordon’s door. Lying to Barbara Kean, he says his name is Peter Humboldt (a Humboldt is a type of penguin, Barbara) and Gordon lies by saying he is a friend from work. Barbara knows something isn’t right.
Fish Mooney is trying out young ladies for some yet to be named position in her organization. After the girl sings, Mooney demands that she seduce her as a part of the tryout. Fish then summarizes the latter by saying “better stick to singing.”
The first political hit is made on a councilman by an unknown assailant who jabs the councilman’s bodyguard and then the councilman himself in the eye. As it turns out, the councilman was a backer of Carmine Falcone’s in terms of the current plan for the Arkham area of Gotham City. The Waynes had been trying to put into action a plan that would rehabilitate the decrepit area of Arkham into affordable housing as well as an updated mental rehabilitation facility. Falcone, the rival of Maroni, is a supporter of said plan only because he would own said housing while Maroni wishes to use the land as a waste dumping site. The assailant later volleys the first hit with another hit but this time he takes out one of Maroni’s backers.
Gordon and Bullock are on the trail of the suspect and track him to his place of work. Unbeknownst to Gordon, he nearly corners him in a supply closet and the assailant is poised to strike, until Bullock calls his attention because he found some very circumstantial evidence that he is just way too excited about. The assailant escapes but Gordon finds a note with the letters CLM.
The Penguin, still washing dishes, is in the kitchen doing such when three masked men barge in and kill most of Maroni’s men. Penguin is in the freezer with a bag of money that he was able to keep from the masked men in their robbery and is then promoted by Maroni because of his dedication to him. Later, the three masked men are hiding out and are visited by Penguin, who hired them in the first place, and are poisoned to death when treated to some bad cannolis.
Gordon figures out that CLM are the first initials of the three cops assigned to protect the mayor the night of the Arkham plan vote. He quickly makes his way over to the mayor’s house to find the three cops aren’t even there, but the hit man is. After some tussling, terrible dialogue, and talking out his planned actions, Bullock rushes in and they both shoot the hit man.
Barbara confronts Jim about lying to her which he then confronts her about her hidden past relationship with Renee Montoya. Barbara forces Jim to choose between letting her in to his life or letting her go. He doesn’t say anything and apparently she takes that as him letting her go.
The mayor gives a press conference that the result of the Arkham plan is a compromise between both a housing plan with a new mental rehabilitation facility AND a waste dump site.
After interviewing a second and much more sassier applicant, Fish Mooney is unable to decide between both and makes them fight. Mooney then chooses the second sassier girl because she says she will need someone to help take down the main mob bosses like Sal Maroni.
Peter Humboldt is an alias that the Penguin occasionally uses in the comics. Maybe if Barbara Kean had spent some more time on Wikipedia instead of worrying about Jim’s work friends she would have known that a Humboldt is a type of penguin. World’s WORST Detective.
Speaking of Barbara Kean, she is such an inconsequential character. Her earlier scenes this season with Montoya provided some promise, that this character would have some room to mature and turn into something that is not a complete throwaway and completely unimportant. Whether she is really gone or not after this is tough to say, and tough to say that she would be given that she is in all of the promos, but they need to retool her to have some more importance to this story.
And speaking of Barbara Kean’s apartment, we get it, they live behind a giant clock. This episode was directed by T.J. Scott, his first of the season and he will return for another one later. Some of the framing was very weird and a little too cinematic compared to the others. It was more of a distraction than an aid as some of the sweeping shots were a little strange.
The whole Fish Mooney subplot for this was just weird. I’m not entirely sure why she needs an assistant, because I don’t think she’s supposed to be a sacrificial lamb like Sabé in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Why are they trying out to be a singer in the first place? Why didn’t they just have open auditions for some tough girl? You could have made this character be someone important!
This is the first episode of Gotham that they had almost no easter eggs and it was extremely disappointing. I was hoping they would make the hit man be someone from the DC universe, even a throwaway like the’ve done with the Balloonman and some of the Gotham Central characters. Yes, they had some scenes at a dilapidated Arkham Asylum and they showed a map which had Arkham City printed on it, but there were no hidden gems, no notable new characters, no nothing.
Entertainment Buddha writer Nick Hershey offers an interesting metric to describe how good a tv show/movie is and describes the Time Check metric in his Storage 24 review. The long story short is that I checked how much time was left in “Arkham” early and often, because oh my god was that main plot boring. How can a story about a hit man knocking off political figures for BOTH sides of a mob war be so uninteresting? They also made this character a complete throwaway and overly cliché especially with his long monologues and especially when he said he’s going to make one more move when he jumped towards the mayor before Bullock shot him. He essentially says “I’m going to make a move to stab the mayor right meow”. That final fight was bad.
Earlier, the season one order for Gotham was extended from 16 to 22 episodes, ostensibly after the positive reaction to the first few episodes, but after this one and even parts of episode 3 “The Balloonman”, I’m really starting to worry about the longevity of a prequel series. Viewers who aren’t Batman fans need interesting story and developments to stay engaged and the only moments of that in “Arkham” were the Penguin moving up the ladder in Maroni’s organization and the war for Arkham, which ended in a boring compromise. Hardcore fans need that and love all of the easter eggs and winks to the DC universe, of which this episode served up none.
Gotham is showing its cracks when compared to other comic adaptations such as Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The retrospective story telling isn’t showing there aren’t as many interesting morsels as one would think even in the Batman universe and we don’t get nearly the amount of notable baddies as in the other shows, even cheesy Silver Age villains. Even the Weather Wizard stuff in The Flash was kind of cool so ante up, Gotham.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”