Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After last week’s slightly campier improvement on the theme, Arkham backslides into an episode full of bad cliches and very sketchy gender representation.
The theme this week was politics, and just like the politics in those pesky prequels we all love to hate, it brought us an unhealthy dose of needless exposition. Seriously guys, if you can’t show it, don’t tell it.
Right off the bat, though…what happened to the ladies on this show? It’s like a grizzled, misogynistic man from a sleazy, low budget crime thriller took hold of their souls and made them act like terrible caricatures. Gritty realism and hearkening back to 70s New York doesn’t have to mean a return to antiquated ideas of female characterization. Fish’s seduction scenes? Having two girls fight it out, literally, for the “job?” The girl in the office who ran off in histrionics over paper clips? “Is it because she’s a woman?” Barbara, a previously strong willed woman with a mind of her own who understood the boundaries between home and work, is suddenly made a villain by having her make an unreasonable ultimatum on Jim about his work. With little justification, and no actual breach of trust to go on, why the sudden paranoia? Oh yeah, Barbara’s ex-girlfriend, who is jealous (natch), had planted the seeds of doubt in her mind, and they sprouted this week. The male gaze was on overdrive this episode, and it was incredibly disturbing.
And that ultimatum scene? Yes, let’s have an intimate, private conversation on a large balcony overlooking a crowded police station. But it sure did look pretty. I really hope, when looking back over what will now be a full season of Gotham, that this will be an anomaly. I really, really hope…
The Villain of the Week, hitman Richard Gladwell The Button Man, managed to brutally kill three men and still be unbelievable boring. So forgettable they even forgot to bring up the issue of who hired him at the end of the episode. Or maybe they did. I forgot already. The real ‘A’ story is the development of Oswald’s heavily foreshadowed “war,” which begins with a whimper of a city council vote on what to do with Arkham (City and Asylum both). Sure enough, nothing that happens in this storyline really matters because everybody wins (and loses) in the end! Falcone gets to build low income housing, Maroni gets to have a waste treatment facility, and Oswald continues to hoodwink everyone. Okay, that part was actually worth it.
Despite the bad cliches and predictable plot, Robin Taylor-Ward really made his part of the episode work. Oswald’s development into the Penguin we know and love is on course. This week we got his trademark suit, and possibly the origin of his umbrella handle in the Button Man’s steam-punk flute/ monocular-ish weapon.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce is slowly learning the ways of the world. He actually got to participate in the ‘A’ story this week! With the “Wayne Plan” for Arkham City up for the vote, Bruce gave some exposition, and received the lesson that was supposed to justify this episode. It could have been done so much better.
Joker Watch: (no change*)
- Butch Gilzean
- Crispus Allan (What a twist!)
- Fish Mooney
- Harold the landlord
- Not yet seen
*Not many overt references this week. We did have Carlos Alvarez from the New 52, and Ed Nygma continues to vomit synonyms for “riddle,” but other than that I didn’t see any references to future villains, Joker or otherwise. Did I miss anything?