Gotham: 104 “Arkham” Review
Reviewed by Mark McCullough.
The tense cliff hanger of the Penguin’s return at the end of the preceding episode served as the launch pad into one of the most realised narratives in Gotham so far. The invasion of Jim’s privacy and the tense scene in his house served to illustrate that nowhere is safe Gotham is rotten to the core and there is no escaping that. Jim’s reaction to the Penguin sees him retaliate in a threatening way only to be intrigued by Penguin’s offer to be his ally and help in the coming war that the show has been so keen to build up over recent weeks. Within the first scenes of the episode, we learn that the Arkham area of the city is the fuse which will ignite the mass bloodshed.
Once more, the case of the week style story is utilised to good effect. Unlike last week however, the majority of the characters are heavier invested in events this time out, making for a more riveting storyline. Our criminal for this narrative is a hit man who finds himself in the unique position of working for both mob bosses, his assignment to kill those who stand in the way of a desired outcome in the Arkham project. This leads to several murders and forces the police into action as councilmen fall victim to the assassin who kills his victims in the imaginative ways the show has been keen to make almost its trademark.
This week was also a good one for the characters: Jim is given a personal conflict as his relationship with his girlfriend is not going as he planned. He finds himself in the horrible position of trying to protect her from the truth but in doing so is only pushing her away. Bullock is tolerable for a change and gets a fair bit to do, I appreciate it is hard to make a corrupt cop likeable, but Bullock is about as far away as possible, I have yet to see anything that really makes me invested in his character. Bruce is left pondering his parents‘ legacy and faces the prospect of his parents’ last wish for a new asylum being torn away from him. His relationship with Jim is also developing quite nicely as is his bond with Alfred who is really redeeming himself after a somewhat disappointing start.
None of the main players in the mobs have an awful lot to do this week; I don’t think Falcone even featured. This was a little disappointing as it detracted slightly from the scale of the potential political war over Arkham. However I appreciate that it does conform to the concept of using your pawns and I am sure the payoff when the war starts proper will be wonderful. Hands down the star of the show once more was the Penguin as we see him begin to make his rise back up the ranks of Gotham’s crime circle. We see him implement a scheme which affords him the opportunity to look good in front of the don, despite actually being behind the attack. We are reminded of how truly unhinged he is as we see how he reacts to the situation and how he treats his accomplices
Another very solid episode from the series. It is still very early days for the show but I have a genuine fear that have yet to be properly impressed by it. There has been nothing that stands out so far and really takes my breath away. It is entertaining for sure, but it’s not much more than that. If you asked me to describe the series to a friend I would say that it is something you should watch if you get the chance. Why is this a problem? Because if DC want to create a massive TV hit, they need to be producing something that is a must watch show. For now they are not at that height yet, there’s something missing, something holding the show back from the potential I know that it has. I just can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Hopefully next week has the answers.