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'Gotham' recap, 'Arkham'

Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) looks out for a criminal targeting the Mayor's life.
Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) looks out for a criminal targeting the Mayor's life. (Jessica Miglio/FOX)

If "war is just politics by other means," then last night's episode was just the battle.

Veteran thugs Maroni and Falcone took their chunks of land for the Arkham Asylum land development project, with the former turning his share it into a waste management system and the latter reopening the defunct insane asylum. All with little to no bloodshed, thanks to Jim Gordon.

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So, the mobsters, backed by politicians, turned a low-income mental health facility, initially the brainchild of Bruce Wayne's parents, into a dump of an insane asylum. How's that for social commentary?

Despite Maroni and Falcone's triumphs, behind the scenes, their younger cronies were the real victors.

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Oswald Cobblepot waddled up in the ranks in Maroni's gang, from lowly dishwasher to restaurant manager. Fish Mooney, meanwhile, recruited a new weapon: a femme fatale with looks, talent and that "something else," to get the edge on Falcone.

With time, they'll take down their mentors, and Oswald and Fish will then face each other to determine who rules Gotham. That is when the real war will begin.

"Arkham" was thrilling, intense and everything you want from a "Batman" production. Best part: our hero, Jim Gordon, still keeps his footing as the good guy while tangoing with the seediest villain in the city.

"Kill me now or trust me!" Oswald shrieks at Jim. Trust has nothing to do with the reason he's still alive. Oswald knows Jim's too honorable to kill him, and he uses this to manipulate him.

"I can be your secret agent," he assures him.

What good is it to have the disloyal, murderous Oswald on your side? Sure, he might have tipped Jim off to the assassination attempt on the mayor's life, but his word is as good as that insidious pink box of poisoned cannoli. Nothing is ever how it seems in "Gotham."

I wonder what Oswald has in store for Jim. He's backstabbing and calculating; there's no way he'd keep up that friendly informant act for long.

But first, I think they have to worry about what Falcone, Maroni or Fish would do if they found out they had worked together or that Oswald's still alive.

Robin Lord Taylor is delightfully sinful as Oswald. How disturbing was that leer as he entered Jim's apartment unannounced? And that smirk as he watched his henchmen dig into the cannoli?

That shiver you felt down your spine is normal. He's hands-down the best character on "Gotham." Sorry Jim and Fish, but he dominated last night's episode.

When the restaurant manager said, "You keep that sniveling nose to yourself," I knew he was a goner. No one pokes fun at the Penguin's beak and gets away with it. The only surprise here is that Oswald orchestrated it through a robbery rather than carrying out the murder himself.

It seemed too convenient that Oswald would have enough time to grab a sack of money and make his way to shelter in the icebox (where else would the Penguin take cover?) before the robbers got to him. Especially with that wobble of his.

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The Jim and Barbara breakup surprised me a bit. Not that they were the right fit for each other in the least. They're that couple that's better apart than together. Aside from lying and hiding secrets from each other (tsk tsk), they got in the way of each other's ability to fight crime.

Now Jim can keep his golden-boy cop routine without the guilt of his dirty secrets affecting his relationship. Barbara, on the other hand, can become a vigilante without worrying about betraying Jim.

Fellow recapper Lacy Baugher theorized Barbs could become the Oracle. That would explain the awesome clock tower window in her apartment. (Side note: How do I get one of those?! Is the Bromo Seltzer tower leasing?)

It also makes sense, because how could she become Batgirl or Batwoman when Batman as a superhero doesn't exist yet? Young Bruce is still learning the ropes from Alfred and Jim.

Then again, the Oracle has amazing memory and computer-hacking skills. No offense to Barbs, but what exactly is she good at? We only see her saunter around the apartment and voice her moral convictions. That's not enough to be a vigilante. Maybe hacking is the sketchy past Detective Montoya keeps bringing up?

Whatever her super power or skill, Barbara needs to form her own identity as a vigilante. Hopefully, with this breakup, she can take the time to figure out how she can help Gotham.

Sure, she has an unsavory past. But who doesn't love a good redemption story?

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM "ARKHAM"

BEST ONE LINER: "I know what a paradox is, smartass!" Harvey yells at Ed Nygma. Maybe that hostile environment is what will drive him over the edge to become the Riddler.

CREEPIEST FAKE NAME: Peter Humboldt. How do you come up with a name like that on the spot?

CREEPIEST BOSS: Fish Mooney. Tough one to pick, now that Oswald's gotten a promotion But Oswald doesn't sexually harass his henchmen. That said, Fish should have kept both girls. She'll need an army of fembots for whatever Falcone, Maroni and Oswald have in store for her.

MOST FITTING DAY JOB FOR AN ASSASSIN: Human Resources. Killing dreams of hopeful applicants by day, murdering corrupt politicians by night.

BEST REFERENCE TO THE BEST BATMAN MOVIE: Anyone else get a serious "Wanna see a magic trick?" vibe with that spikey kaleidoscope of death? Eek!

YOU HAD ONE JOB: "You wanna know why they hire a professional? Cause he always finishes the job." Pretty sure a pro would know not to tell the cops what he's about to do before he does it.

NUMBER ONE RULE TO LIVE BY IN "GOTHAM": Don't ever take anything from some rando on the street of Gotham. Oh wait, he voted for you? Well, then, that changes…absolutely nothing! Keep your head down and never go outside after sunset. Or just move out of town. That place makes my skin crawl.

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