Gotham might be changing, but it's still corrupt to its core. And at its core is Arkham Asylum, where Jim Gordon's battling the insane inmates and equally insane staff.
In the first half of the season, "Gotham" cautiously cranked out a standard-issue villain per episode, mostly as background noise as the main players took stage. Some were new, some classic, but they never stuck around for long.
The chaos that ensued amplified the character development and dynamic, like Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne (the latter was absent but not terribly missed last night).
Now that the show has its footing, the writers confidently introduce Jack Gruber, a new villain to the show and Batman mythos. And from the looks of the upcoming episode, he'll be the show's first recurring villain.
It's about time. Changing the one-and-done villain storyline is what "Gotham" needs to jump-start its winter season. The previous routine was beginning to feel stale.
Even Jim's new gig at Arkham seems promising. No, not for Jim (you saw that place — it looks like hell!), just for the storyline.
Jim seems to be handling his demotion well, minus the fact he hasn't been back to his apartment in so long that it's covered with dust and smells of rotting food.
(Side-note: Is the apartment officially his now that Detective Montoya has moved out of her own place so that Barbara can have "space"? How much "space" does that girl need?)
So, Jim would rather sleep at the insane asylum rather than his plush uptown apartment? That is certifiably crazy. Maybe he should make it call it a day and check himself into Arkham as a patient.
Sleeping quirks aside, he maintains his integrity, telling Dr. Jerry Lang, head of Arkham, that the Frogman needs medical attention after starting a prison riot.
Dr. Lang responds in the typical corrupt boss fashion: "Think you can't fall any farther? Think again." Pissing off the people in charge? Yup, Jim's still got it.
In fact, he's practically running the show at Arkham, much like he did at GCPD. When Frogman is found in a vegetative state from a high dose of electroshock therapy, Jim's the one heading the investigation.
One by one he leads the high-octane psychopaths of Arkham Asylum into a room for interrogation. I was about to say Jim's office, but he's fallen so far down the ladder that there's no way he has his name on a plaque outside his door.
Jim doesn't find the perp right away, but there's a lot of shifty-eyed suspects who fit the bill: Dorothy Duncan, the Nurse Ratchet doppelgänger; Aaron Helzinger, the unsettlingly tranquil axe murderer; and Jack Gruber, the melodramatic psychopath.
Initially I thought Jack was a red herring — his menacing glare was too obvious to be the electroshock killer. Besides, he doesn't "waste psychic energy on the dead."
My next guess was that Nurse Duncan manipulated the Lennie Smalls-esque Aaron to do her bidding. As it turns out, both she and Aaron were Jack's minions and electroshock victims.
The multiple bait-and-switches were convoluted and clumsy at times. Nurse Duncan's "inmate posing as a nurse" subplot could have been saved for another episode.
Still, I'm liking this change of scenery, even if it is detrimental to Jim's career and sanity.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM "ROGUE'S GALLERY"
BEST LINE: "That's The Penguin," he snarls to the fisherman. Man, he is owning his nickname! Too bad he got his ass handed to him this round.
BEST HARVEY ONE-LINER: "See, I like having you here. 'Cause I can sit here at my desk and look at you. It's soothing, like a bonsai tree." Huh? The Penguin has the face only a mother could love. And we all know about that. Blegh!
BEST BURN: "Examine your soul, Penguin." – Harvey Bullock, aka the guy who openly sipping from a flask at his work desk. Ouch.
DOWN IN THE HOLE: They killed off Senator Clay Davis, err, Dr. Jerry Lang, that soon? Sheeeeeeeee-it! (Always with nine E's! Learn how to say it right here.) I was looking forward to having another "Wire" alum on the show. Can Bruno Heller get Kima or Bubs on the set?
BROMANTIC DUO: Yay, I knew it wouldn't take long for Jim and Harvey to reunite! How sweet was it when Harvey greeted Jim with a hug and a smooch on the face? I suspect that Jim won't be doomed to work at Arkham for much longer. That said, I do want to see Jim tackling more cases on his own, or maybe with the help of Dr. Leslie Tompkins. Speaking of …
BEST COMEBACK: "He's sleeping off his meds," says Dr. Tompkins, referring to the injured inmate. His response: "I'm trying! Get a room, you guys!" Good, I'm glad sparks were flying between Jim and Dr. Tompkins. He needs another love interest since Barb's been MIA. While we're at it…
MOST DEPRESSING INTROSPECTION: "I am perfectly together, thank you," Barb tells Det. Montoya. "I'm just toxic, is all." Sheesh. Since when has self-deprecation been one of the Twelve Steps? Now that she's less pouty and more introspective, Barb's more interesting — I'll give her that. I just hate how they're dragging out the big reveal as to why she has a drinking and drug addiction. There's only so many phones she can hurl across the room until she's a snoozefest again.
MOST CLICHÉ MOB KILLING: Butch offing Saviano "Sopranos" style. You know, at the docks with doo-wop music playing and the city skyline in the background. How else could we tell it was a mob hit?
WEIRDEST CLIFFHANGER: See, this is what I don't get about TV world. Jim's a cop. If he sees an empty bowl of vegan soup (or whatever Ivy was eating to remedy her flu) and doesn't see Barb in the apartment and won't see her around for a couple days, wouldn't he call her to ask her if she had been there? You know, to confirm that no one had broken into his place? That's some mighty lame detective work there, Jim.