One question has been burning in my mind ever since I started watching this masterful show earlier this fall- how the hell does Jim Gordon sit comfortably? I imagine it would be rather difficult given the fact that he has gargantuan balls. I mean seriously, this guy must have trouble walking cause they’re always dragging on the ground! Since the beginning he has done nothing but prove just how awesome of a character Jim Gordon is despite having played second fiddle to Batman all these years. And with this Jim-heavy episode, nothing changes. In fact, this episode only furthers the idea that if Jim Gordon were to become a super-hero, the only conceivable name he could take would be Cajones.
And it’s fitting given how, in the last few episodes, the series drifted slightly away from Jim. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad at all. I mean seeing Alfred (played exquisitely by Sean Pertwee, the son of famed Third Doctor actor John Pertwee) go full on bad-ass is something I’ve wanted from the character for years. And we’ve had really good development around the character of Jim Gordon. But “Rogues Gallery” is a Jim Gordon nut-fest. And, thankfully, it does lift the episode past a few less than astounding moments.
At the start of the episode Jim has just began his posting, or punishment to call a spade a spade, at Arkham Asylum. Now in all DC depictions of Arkham it has a dank, filthy feel to it. The production designers and location people for Gotham picked the perfect place, as Gotham’s Arkham looks like it should still be condemned. It’s badly lit, badly in need of a paint job and woefully staffed. In fact they did such a great job with the set you can almost smell the mothballs and urine stained mattresses through the screen. This is Jim’s new home. With Barbara having run off with Detective Montoya, Jim really has no reason to go back to his affluent flat. This fact is taken advantage of by the ever mischievous Selina Kyle and her ward-for-the-episode Ivy Pepper.
Throughout the opening of the episode, lead actor Ben McKenzie does an absolutely astounding job of showing how much this fall from grace has affected Jim Gordon without actually having to say anything about it. There’s an aging in his eyes, a weariness, a loneliness that really makes you feel for him. The poor guy just lost the job he had worked so hard at and the woman he had loved so fiercely and it shows in the lines on Ben McKenzie’s face and the bags under his eyes. Gordon is hurt and broken, but far too masculine and strong to ever show it. Fans of the television series “Firefly” will be happy to know that the lovely Mrs. Morena Baccarin plays a major part in this episode, and possibly future ones, as Doctor Leslie Thompkins, a regular in the DC comic books. Now, I love Mrs. Baccarin. She has proven time and time again that she is a truly gifted actress (not to mention knockout gorgeous). But her character really feels undefined in this episode. Just sort of a device to drive the plot with no real shading. This leaves the chemistry between Baccarin and McKenzie feeling dry and bit forced. I don’t think this will really matter, given what we learned about Barbara later in the episode (more on that later in the review).
The one part that, I feel, the episode could have really done without is the whole Selina Kyle/Ivy Pepper subplot. It felt really unnecessary and contrived and, other than some small parts later with Jim and Barbara, really didn’t advance the story overall. Camren Bicondova does an admirable job, as usual, at giving some much needed depth to Selina Kyle’s character (especially at her age), but overall her acting is a bit predictable at times. It’s nit picky of me, I know, but its so out of sorts for her in this role, given her stellar job in previous episodes. It is obvious that she is well directed though, as she still slinks around like a cat and is ever observant like a streetwise kid.
In the last episode we were given a huge shock when Barbara, who we thought would be Jim stalwartly love, left him for her old lesbian lover, Detective Montoya. It didn’t feel right, and we were angry with her. Don’t get me started on that bitch Montoya! The writers in the episode validate those feelings in a masterful scene with Babs and Montoya. Montoya, the typical alcoholic-people user that she is, basically used Barbara so she wouldn’t feel so lonely and to test whether she could handle the relationship now that she was sober. This winds up being disastrous for Babs, who reignited their relationship with the real hope of actually being in love. Instead, after apparently one night of sex, Montoya tells her to GTFO and calls her toxic. This leaves Babs heartbroken and shamed. Erin Richards really plays up the role and basically steals the entire scene. Normally I wouldn’t feel sympathy for this type of character, but Mrs. Richards somehow brings me really, truly hope that Jim forgives her. But, unfortunately, one call to the Selina-and-Ivy occupied Gordon household confirms her suspicion that Jim has already moved on.
Now on to the breakout star of this episode: Butch Gilzean. I have to highlight Drew Powell’s acting in this episode, as he really keeps you guessing from start to finish as to which side of the fence he’s gonna land on. Fish really plays second fiddle to him in this episode, which I am thankful for as I have never truly warmed up to Jada Pinkett Smith’s character. But he doesn’t manipulate like Penguin or Fish. He’s very respectful right up until the heart wrenching last scene. I’d watch out for Butch taking a slightly larger role in the scheme of things from now on, though he obviously won’t become a main player.
Overall, the episode felt a little disjointed. The James Patterson-esque Arkham kept things moving along at a brisk pace, and it allowed for a reasonably entertaining plot line, featuring several twists and turns and a final bad guy that you would not see coming. Then you had the other major part of the episode, the Godfather:Gotham part, with Penguin slapped in a holding cell because he defied someones orders (gotta give kudos to Robin Lord Taylor’s redefining of the role). Meanwhile the internal power struggle in Falcone’s camp is seeing through the eyes of the soldier butch. This part really plays for emotional effect, with the up-and-coming Penguin being knocked down a peg or two and the over-looked Butch really showing his worth. Had the episode focused on one of those two aspects, it would have been tremendous. But as it was it felt a little bit pieced together and poorly paced. The weakest moments definitely came from Selina Kyle’s commandeering of Jim Gordon’s flat.
Another frustrating thing is the inconsistencies with chemistry. As I pointed out, Jim and Leslie’s friendship feels a bit forced and shallow despite being played outstandingly by Baccaring and McKenzie. Ivy and Selina lag mostly because of underdeveloped phrasing with Clare Foley’s character, but she’s still young so it’s got a lot of potential. And despite great acting during their one scene together, Montoya and Bab’s really didn’t get the level of connection that I would have liked to truly launch this scene into the stratosphere. Despite that, great chemistry existed- as always- between McKenzie’s Gordon and Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock, Butch and mob underboss Saviano and Gordon and his new boss.
In the end, this episode is a solid reintroduction to the series after the mid-season break. And what I love about this episode, and the series in general,is the focus on Jim and his supporting cast instead of Bruce Wayne. This is Jim Gordon’s show, he’s running it and you better like it. And we do.
Ben McKenzie- Will probably be the standard by which all live action Jim Gordon’s will be judged by.
Donal Logue- Because you gotta love Harvey Bullock!
Robin Lord Taylor- Redefining the role of Oswald Cobblepot with his sinister, sniveling smile.
Erin Richards- Mostly for the one season with Montoya. Hopefully she gets more scenes like this later on in the series.
Drew Powell- The breakout star of the episode, Butch is not someone you should ever, under any circumstance, underestimate.
Christopher Heyerdahl- For brilliantly playing the eloquent sociopath Jack Gruber.
And just a note: was Cory Michael Smith sick or something? Cause I would’ve much rather preferred him over that boring ass Medical Examiner.