Gotham Recap: Bats in the Belfry

This week on Fox’s Gotham, ‎demoted Jim Gordon found himself investigating a murder within the dreary Arkham Asylum, Penguin’s hubris landed him behind bars and Barbara got dealt a “toxic” blow.

Cutting to the chase: This was not a particularly good episode, all the more disappointing since it heralded the start of the back half of the season. I was, frankly, bored.

In the weeks since I first screened “Rogues’ Gallery,” I’ve mulled why this fell so short, rivaling “Selina” (aka the one with the ‘nappers of kids) as the most lackluster episode to date. And what keeps jumping to the fore is the fact that in a post-American Horror Story: Asylum world, you simply can’t make your mental patients generic. You need to assign specificity to a large swath of them, but as the episode’s montage — in which Jim grilled patient after patient — made clear, this was a random gaggle of generically unwell people, all twitches, googly eyes and jibberish. This asylum, as nondescript as its denizens, devoid of distinct design, deserves a better class of kook and decorator.

That the perpetrator of the rudimentary electroshock treatments was almost immediately identifiable — you don’t cast Christopher Heyerdahl just for background color — made the mystery all the more tedious to wait out. Let’s hope that puppetmaster Gruber pops back up like a bad penny; one can never have too much Heyerdahl.

The asylum story paved the way for Morena Baccarin’s introduction as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, but was anyone else a bit excited by the fleeting tease that she was a loon in sheep’s clothing? The larger trick with the Thompkins character is that what made her special in DC comics lore was her maternal role to young master Bruce. And since Gotham brass have said they’re not taking that path anytime soon, we need other cause to connect with her as an “island,” and the prospect of her eventually “getting a room” with Jim won’t suffice.

Rounding out the episode were the latest rounds of “Which goon can trust whom?” as Fish tested Butch and Penguin rubbed Maroni the wrong way. Meanwhile, Selina stowed sickly Ivy away in Jim’s apartment, to no great dramatic end other than the awkward phone call from Barbara, who had been jilted by lady love Montoya.

Here’s hoping that Jim gets his old job — and his partner Bullock, who still crackles in even the tiniest capacity — back soon, or that the show finds a way to make the Arkham arc unarguably, independently compelling.

What did you think of “Rogues’ Gallery”?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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22 Comments
  1. Joey says:

    I think there were too many plotlines out in this episode, and I’m really grateful that there was no Bruce or Alfred, though I must admit I loved BAMF!Alfred in the fall finale. Gotta say though that Christopher Heyerdahl always makes a great villain.

    • Imzadi says:

      When I heard the character’s name, Gruber, I immediately wondered if he was the uncle (or father) of Die Hard’s Hans Gruber! BTW was the nurse played by Vera from Flo? She looked so familiar–a little like the late Imogene Coca, too.

  2. Jeff hunter says:

    I happned to like the episode.Not every ep comes back from Christmas a four-star show.Anyway,it sucks that fox has to show a rerun next wek because of the national championship game-in which OSU will kick Oregon ass:-) but I think ILl live.

  3. Derron Smith says:

    We’ll probably see more of Heyerdahl as I think Jack Gruber is really Hugo Strange.

  4. James says:

    Can they please cancel Gotham already and put on a proper Batman show on The CW? That way Batman can crossover to The Flash and Arrow!

  5. Yonas says:

    Congrats to the awesome Sue Chung on writing this ep! :)

  6. Brandon Tokar says:

    Really enjoyed this epsiode!! I think it is a great way to come back and im excited for more

  7. Drew says:

    You lost me as soon as you mentioned a Ryan Murphy series an example of anything that any TV writer should ever do.

    This was a good episode. Not every episode can be full of payoffs. Some need to be about setting things up, and that is what this was. It introduced new characters and storylines pretty well.

  8. The Kaibosh says:

    I tuned in to see how the introduction of Leslie Thompkins would go. I thought it went well. In her first appearance we can already see that she’s written as a three dimensional character. She shows the warmth and compassion that we already know Leslie will carry with her for years to come and the fleeting tease of whether she is an inmate makes her a little kooky; which is fun. I suspect we’ll get a back story as to why she’s at Arkham and that she won’t stay there for too long. Ultimately I expect she’ll make her way to a regular hospital and/or Bruce’s prep school as the staff doctor where she will eventually treat young Bruce’s many black eyes and bruises that he will get as he gets into fight after fight with other boys and bullies. The rest of the show was very done and I don’t understand the criticism. Sometimes a paint by numbers painting comes out nice. Finally the most important development was the introduction of sultry and manipulative Ivy.

    • Joey says:

      Excellent analysis on Leslie. You explained her presence on the show perfectly!

      • donholley77 says:

        Totally agree! Right now, I like the character of Dr. Tompkins as a better love interest for Jim, than Barbara. She’s a skank! :D

        • The Kaibosh says:

          I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Barbara is a skank but she definitely has her personal challenges which ultimately is supposed to make her character more compelling. If we care about Jim Gordon as the hero of the show than we as viewers should partially care about the woman he professes to love which for now is Barbara so I’m not ready to condemn her just yet. One thing we know for sure is that sometime in the not too distant future a baby girl will be born who will also be named Barbara. This little girl as we all know will become a famous crime fighter herself. What we don’t know and is open to interpretation is what ultimately happens to the little girls’s mother which we should all assume for the moment is Barbara Kean. In this new interpretation I would like to think that its entirely possible that Jim and Leslie fall in love but are forced apart by an unplanned pregnancy where Jim stays with Barbara but ultimately is left to wonder what could have been with Leslie.

          • DonnaMaMa says:

            depends on how they do it with baby Barbara, in some DCU, she is Jim’s neice

          • donholley77 says:

            Exactly! ‘Gotham’ has already proven they don’t have to ‘Stay in The DC Universe’. If Jim & Leslie prove a better match, I think TPTB will go that way. I gotta feeling The future Mrs. Gordon will be a villainess!- At least for awhile!

  9. donholley77 says:

    Very disappointing episode. I think things are dragging, because of the extra episodes ordered for the season.

  10. Liza says:

    It was a good episode not great but good. I still want to know why gotham took dr leslie thompkins as Jims new love intrest and not the other big woman in jims life sarah essen. She is the one in the comics that is his big love right? well after barbara? I do have to say that i love catwoman i just hope that she becomes a character that is going to grow up a bit faster and that she becomes a character that we don’t see every episode but a few times a season, just like katherine in the vampire diaries and sara in arrow, that makes it more exciting to see her again because catwoman always disappears for a while and shows up again. I can’t wait to see more of the riddler but also for next season to finally see the first moments of the joker!

  11. JM says:

    I agree that a few of the plotlines, Selena, were pointless. I didn’t know Heyerdahl before this and so I suspected the nurse. It was nice to be wrong. However, I DID know that Fish’s guy would stand by her, but I’ve said before that Fish (and Barbara) are the worst characters on the show. (Please find someone who can write female characters!)
    Still, I love this show in general and thought this episode was more of a ‘setup’ show as another commenter said. It’s really fascinating to see all these characters develop.