Coming off the announcement that FOX has extended Gotham to a full 22-episode order, we seem to be gaining some focus. After a bit of a jumbled pilot, and a couple weeks of worth of oddball villains, Gotham‘s forth episode dove further into impending gang war.
Monday night’s episode, simply titled Arkham, showed us just how weak the local government is as politicians were knocked off the chess board with impunity, and the Mayor bent to the will of the city’s crime families. So, while the episode seemed more singularly themed, there was still a lot that happened.
First off – Arkham. Would it be a new waste dump site or low rent housing? That was the question that Falcone and Maroni were warring over. As it turned out, it’s no both. More importantly though, in line with what the Waynes wanted, the Asylum will also be reopened. This provides a breeding ground for Batman’s future adversaries to hone their personas. And, as I’ve said before, the Arkham Asylum is a vital piece of the Bat-Mythology, so it needs to be present.
Aside from the fight for the Arkham land, some of the shows other villains made moves as well. First there is Gladwell (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) who many people predicted would end up a major villain – but instead was a one-off character it would seem. He was a welcome change from the more cartoony villains we saw in the last couple of episodes. A bit more serious in demeanor, he carried an air of professionalism. This is something the in the comics often drew a line between the mob and “the freaks” as Carmine Falcone has been known to call them. A split in the underworld between the classic gimmick killers like Doug and Patti, or the Balloonman, and more professional hitman types like Mr. Gladwell. Eventually this split will be better exemplified by characters like The Joker and the Riddler, as opposed to Black Mask or Deadshot.
Among the other dark forces at work in Gotham is Fish Mooney, who seems intent on taking down Falcone and claiming her own place atop the crime landscape. Mooney is played by Jada Pinkett Smith, who has garnered some attention through the first three episodes, but didn’t really shine until this one. Easily her best performance through four weeks, Smith commanded attention this week as she preps a trap for Gotham’s number one crime lord. Fish is interesting in the fact that she was created for the FOX show and doesn’t draw her inspiration from the comics, therefore the writers can really do whatever they want with her. That leaves us wondering if she really can take down “the Roman”.
Finally, and likely the most important of the events from Arkham, Cobblepot’s power play. In one fell swoop Oswald played Maroni against Falcone, got a major promotion, and acquired a nice chunk of change for his startup. Perhaps that restaurant he’s running will eventually get a name change, perhaps something Iceberg related. Robin Lord Taylor (who had a nice little cameo in the season five premiere of The Walking Dead) has been pretty much excellent thus far. His ‘alliance’ with Jim Gordon and his weakened appearance and demeanor have everyone fooled, but he seems primed to take over sooner rather than later.
Overall, Arkham probably edges the second episode, Selina Kyle, as the strongest of the series thus far. We still need to see Bullock written better, and Nigma still seems totally forced whenever onscreen, but it’s heading in the right direction.
Images: AMC, FOX Broadcasting