Gotham Review: “Rogues’ Gallery” (Season 1, Episode 11)

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Gotham may have had its missteps this week, but as I said earlier, there were things that far outweighed them and left me hopeful for the remainder of the season. Firefly and Homeland alum Morena Baccarin is a great addition as the mysterious Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who comic book readers know has intimate ties to the Waynes and is a formative person in Bruce Wayne’s life. She’ll likely strike up a relationship with Gordon throughout the course of this season (which is great, because the less Barbara, the better), but I hope she gets more exploration than that. Baccarin did a great job of allowing us to suspect that she could be in on the episode’s crime until the big reveal that she ultimately wasn’t; we’re not used to seeing controlled and subtle performances on this show, so I applaud her efforts and cannot wait to see her again.

The Wire alum Isiah Whitlock, Jr. is another fine addition as Gordon’s new hapless boss, Director/Doctor Whichever-You-Prefer Lang. He served as a great foil to Gordon throughout the episode while also being enjoyable to watch and understandably unnerved. I hope he doesn’t die of those wounds, because he’d be a great recurring character on the show.

Last in the additions is Hell on Wheels and Stargate Atlantis actor Christopher Heyerdahl as Jack Gruber, the inmate behind the plot to electrocute and ultimately brainwash his fellow crazies. It was pretty obvious from the outset that he was both sinister and involved in the crime, but I still liked him nonetheless. Some Google searching the name “Jack Gruber” led to a series of dead ends, meaning that this particular character doesn’t come from the pages of DC Comics.

In the promo for episode twelve, he begins calling himself the Electrocutioner, which is a character (or three, actually) from the DC catalog. So perhaps Gruber is some sort of amalgam of past versions. In any case, I’m glad that he survived long enough to escape Arkham; so many antagonists have been killed in their episodes that it’s refreshing to see that the series is interested in serialized storytelling after all, and may be setting up a “big bad” that doesn’t come with a great deal of pre-established baggage (looking at you, Riddler).

With some fine tuning and less time spent with good-for-nothing side characters like Barbara and Butch, “Rogues’ Gallery” could have been a stellar episode of television, and a great step in the right direction for GothamAs it turns out, it’s still a nice nudge in the right direction, but the series still has a few kinks to work out. Hopefully it does so soon, because I doubt many viewers have the patience for over eleven weeks of messy storytelling.

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