Monday, October 13, 2014

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - Jim Protects the Mayor, Barbara Shares a Secret and Fish Auditions New Talent in 'Arkham'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 1.04 "Arkham"

As a contentious city council vote on the future of the Arkham district approaches, politicians from both sides are in danger. Gordon and Bullock must race to protect the council and an old friend visits Gordon.

Earlier today FOX ordered six more episodes of Gotham - expanding the season to 22 episodes. It has been a strong series in the ratings so far. I'm intrigued by how it'll be able to develop and maintain all the pieces of its narrative over more episodes. It seems like it could be trickier - especially considering the season was originally envisioned as being capped off at 16 episodes to keep the plotting tight.

The show itself is setting itself up for some major shifts this week. The politicians and criminals are focused on a deal that would redevelop the Arkham district and overhaul the former asylum to meet today's standards. Meanwhile, Jim and Oswald have forged a new partnership that, if nothing else, opens Jim's eyes a little bit to the changing balance of power throughout the city. He recognizes what Falcone and Moroni are dealing now that the death of the Waynes has thrown the balance off-kilter. He seems to agree to listen to what Oswald has to say. And yet, it's really important to know the body count Oswald has tallied up since he took the trip to the river. At least four more bodies are dropped by him throughout this episode. He is becoming just as vicious as the leaders of the mob and Jim hasn't come to that realization yet. They are setting it up as a big reveal later that will show that he truly doesn't have anyone with whom he can talk openly. But right now, it's just an awkward acquaintanceship.

The episode is framed through the investigation of several city councilman deaths as the vote for the Arkham plan comes to a head. It's a little awkward because early in the hour Harvey says it makes no sense to kill the politicians because new people would replace them - and their allegiances are big unknowns. And yet, the episode operates under the suspicion that Falcone and Moroni are ordering these hits in reaction to what the other one is doing. Falcone never appears on screen and Moroni is just on the fringes. It doesn't exactly create strong personal stakes for this deal - which ultimately becomes a compromise between the two plans. That sounds off. Does this city's government actually work like that? The city council vote is given so much importance. And then, it seems like the solution is ultimately just a business deal between the two heads of the mob and the mayor. It's largely just a lack of focus. Gotham actually thinks it's really interesting and fascinating - and gets overly distracted - with how guest star Hakeem Kae-Kazim kills people. It is a cool device but it doesn't have the necessary development to be actually effective as a story device.

And then, there's Fish who is off trying to find a new woman to sing at her club - as well as person whom she can mentor. It's just off. I have no clue what the ultimate purpose of this plot is suppose to be. Fish wants to expand her operation and now she's taking someone new under her wing. Did we really need to see the two girls physically fight in order to get the job? It shows that the one who ultimately gets it can be just as ruthless as Fish. But to what end? I have no clue - except knowing that Harvey may owe Fish a favor. Even that wasn't that clear. He said it but then she had no impact whatsoever on the main case of "Arkham."

Some more thoughts:
  • "Arkham" was written by Ken Woodruff and directed by TJ Scott.
  • Bruce too is learning how severely his parents' plans for the city are changing following their deaths. He is left helpless to the fallout. And now, he is convinced that Gotham cannot be saved. Jim tells him it's still worth trying which may fuel his later development.
  • Barbara came clean about her secret past with Montoya to Jim - who was just generically upset. The two of them then broke up because he can't tell her about his own secrets. I'm interested to see how Barbara remains an important part of this narrative if she's not interacting with Jim. Or if I even care about her when she's away from him.
  • I completely saw Oswald staging the robbery in order to move up in Moroni's organization coming as well as him killing the people he hired to do the job. But hey, now he has some money.