'Gotham' Central: Five Questions About "Arkham"

On this week's episode: real estate turf wars and the all-invasive male gaze
Jessica Miglio/FOX

If it’s Monday evening, then it must be time for a surprisingly high number of murders in a grimy urban setting. Welcome once again to Gotham, where even people with names like “Richard Gladwell” can turn out to be assassins for hire.

Well, not exactly; the real Gladwell was revealed to have been dead for five years, leaving the assassin nameless by the time he was finally stopped via multiple gunshot wounds thanks to Gordon and Bullock. Given that he’d made reference to his father earlier in tonight's episode, what’re the odds that we’ll see Papa Pokey-Eyes Assassin show up to avenge his son’s death in a later episode? Perhaps it could even turn out to be someone like Philo Zeiss in an attempt to do something with that whole eye motif. (I also realized that although the series is filled with characters from the Batman comics, each of the villains to date has been an all-new character created for the show, oddly enough. How soon before we get a “traditional” Batman bad guy?

Despite the murders, this was more an episode where the series’ long-running plots took center stage and moved forward ever so slightly. With that in mind, here are five questions about “Arkham.”

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Can We Talk About The Weird Sexual Politics Of This Show Already?

Even as this episode turned the dial down on the “hey, let’s have the crimes be over-the-top,” it unfortunately dialed up the uncomfortable gratuitous “hey, girl-on-girl action, am I right, guys?” male gaze that’s appeared on the periphery of a couple of episodes already. Even before we got to the two singers literally fighting for the job, we had Fish demanding to be seduced by each of them, and Jim Gordon acing appalled when he discovered Barbara’s relationship with Montoya, leaving her to ask “Is it because she’s a woman…?” and, almost more importantly, Gordon not telling her that that’s got nothing to do with it. The moral of this episode, then, is that girls kissing each other and getting into cat fights is cool and all, but two women in a relationship for a year just might be something to be ashamed about. Seriously, Gotham: you can do so much better than this, and more to the point, with Montoya and Barbara as major players in the series, you should do much better than this.

(Also, good job leaving Gordon, Barbara. I don’t care that you canonically end up married to him in the comic book mythology, you deserve better than that jerk who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of hypocrisy when it comes to keeping secrets in relationships. Now go and become Batwoman already.)

Why Does Fish Need A Weapon?

It’s obvious that Fish has recruited Liza, the Siouxsie & the Banshees-singing killer chanteuse (she was performing a version of ”Spellbound, if you’re wondering) for some kind of plan designed to take care of Carmine Falcone once and for all. The scene where Fish talked about having a “Plan B” while the camera panned over to the singer was enough of a clue where that story is going. But… what’s the plan, exactly? Is Liza going to replace Falcone’s girlfriend who met with an “accident” last week, and then end up killing him? And if that’s really the plan, what is Fish going to do to ensure that Liza doesn’t just end up revealing everything to Falcone at some point?

What Is So Special About Arkham?

Apparently, Arkham isn’t just an asylum in Gotham’s Gotham; it’s an area of town that’s up for development and worth the crime families going to war over, which… seems unlikely, unless there’s something very special about that land for some reason, or the crime families of Gotham are seriously into real estate. Given that the latter option doesn’t seem like it’d make particularly exciting television, it’s worth asking: what’s going on with the Arkham area?

What Is Oswald Up To?

Firstly, let’s all agree right now that if Robin Lord-Taylor brings over pastries at any point, we’ll make sure that he takes a bite or two first, just in case. If this episode did anything for the nascent Penguin, it was to underscore that he can’t be trusted by anyone. Not only is he happily double-crossing the Maroni family by sharing information with Gordon, he also lied to Gordon by saying that no-one would be looking for him — just before he engineered a promotion for himself within the Maroni organization. Considering he’s still talking about the upcoming war in Gotham, maybe we should start wondering whether he’s as worried about that possibility as he claims — or whether he’s actually trying to ensure that it happens, hoping that he’ll be the last one standing at the end of it all. That latter suggestion is looking pretty likely right now.

Is Gotham A Generational Drama?

“What the hell’s this town come to?” asked the Mayor when Gordon said that he couldn’t guarantee his safety in the police headquarters, in a moment that echoed Falcone’s concerns for the city from the first episode. As much as Gotham is an origin story for Gordon, Batman, Oswald and, to a lesser extent, Selina and Nygma, we keep getting hints that it’s also a story about older characters having to come to terms with the moral collapse of the city, and the way in which the old days are over. If it wasn’t for the fact that we all know that Alfred is going to stick around for the long haul, I’d almost say that Gotham is as much about one generation finding itself replaced by another as anything else. It’s like punk music, only with more frowning and threat of imminent death by oversize balloon.

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