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Gotham: Arkham Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture

Gotham was the first of 4 DC adaptions to hit the small this fall. Last week, Arrow and Flash premiered on the CW filling up comic nerds’ TV schedule. Gotham started out with a few good episodes, however it never contained any phenomenal elements. Now that the top tier shows are on the air, does Gotham still merit a spot in your weekly schedule? I’m no longer entirely certain whether or not the answer to that question is yes. Gotham returns this week with its weakest episode yet, entitled “Arkham”.

I’ll start off with what I liked about the episode. Oswald Cobblepot continues to be the breakout character of this show. Robin Lord Taylor nails the role and this episode may be Oswald’s best showing yet. His plot-line continues to be riveting and the show’s greatest asset. His relationship with Maroni is a standout and his chemistry with Gordon is interesting as well. There’s a certain likeability to Cobblepot in spite of his psychopathic nature. He’s very well-mannered and seems to want to please others during his social interactions. This adds a redeeming quality factor to the character, expanding his depth and complementing an already great character.

Unfortunately, that’s close to all I liked about this episode. Now, “Arkham” includes many of Gotham’s recurring flaws. The characters are predominantly all portrayed as belligerent and while this works for some, it doesn’t fit for Alfred or Gordon. Alfred didn’t have any terrible scenes this episode and the writing was an improvement for his character but he continues to be an inaccurate and in my opinion unlikeable rendition of the character. Gordon had a much worse showing in this episode, however. His opening scene with Cobblepot made me reflect on whether or not Gordon is truly a good man. The Gordon I know wouldn’t slam someone up against a wall and think that he should kill him. In my eyes, a good man doesn’t have those thoughts and even if he does, he curbs them. This Gordon is too angry and his morals make him relatable but his attitude lessens his likeability.

In addition to my problems with his portrayal, I’m quite underwhelmed by his relationship with Barbara. The couple is allocated too much screen time with superficial emotional resonance and a lack of depth. It won’t break our hearts to watch this couple’s skirmishes after only 3 episodes. It’s a gratuitous storyline that’s clumsily fit into an already jumbled and unfocused episode.

Which leads me to my next point, this episode is jumbled with all sorts of plot-lines that don’t amass into a cohesive hole. There’s too much going on in this episode with Cobblepot, Arkham, Barbara and Jim, the villain of the week, Fish Mooney and Bruce Wayne. Those are too many plot-lines to follow for one episode ensuing in a sense of messy compilation in the writing.

Gotham strives to be a gritty cop show, yet includes a few components that have to relations to what it’s trying to be. For example, Bruce Wayne. I understand the studio wants to emphasize that this is a pre-Batman show, but at its core Gotham is a cop show. What is a twelve year old child’s relevance to a cop show after he’s talked about his parent’s murder? Tying Arkham to the Wayne’s was another blatant and forced way to include Bruce into the plot. Fox are trying too hard to attract viewers with the Batman elements rather than securing viewers with quality. Another example of the irrelevant material is a very clumsy joke involving a girl confessing to her crimes when Gordon accidently points his gun at her. Even my 12-year old sister sighed and said, “Well that was dumb.”

I could get into other reasons explaining why I disliked this episode but I’ll discontinue my complaints here. Gotham has potential but is drastically failing to tap into it when Cobblepot isn’t on screen. My Mondays nights may unfortunately be freed if this trend continues throughout the month. With competitors like Arrow and The Flash, Gotham falls short. Here’s hoping that Arrow’s history is repeated with this show and it improves over time!





stephengervais's picture
Definitely agree with your review Kalem! Lots of flaws in this episode. Oswald is what is keeping me tuning into each episode.

Scene I really didn't like was how easily and anti-climatic is seemed to be to identify the hitman. The detectives just waltzed into a prison, hand over two cartons of smokes and with no fuss no muss the prisoner not only gives up the hitamn but knows a significant amount of information on him.

Also didn't like the gimmick the hitman used. The spike/tube thing was never explained and honestly just seemed to written in for him so he'd have a gimmick.

I'll still be watching but I'm really hoping for some improved writing.