Synopsis for 1×11: Jim Gordon makes a new ally in Dr. Leslie Tompkins as the two of them try to solve a mystery going on deep inside Arkham Asylum. We also spend a lot of time checking in with other characters and reminding ourselves that, yes, they still exist and, yes, they all still matter for some reason or another (I guess).

Rating: ★★★☆☆

After a short hiatus we’re back in Gotham this week, but unlike the first half of the season we’re no longer working the streets. No, the bulk of what matters this episode instead takes place in a far more dangerous place: the halls of Arkham Asylum. If you remember from a few months back, the mayor pushed forward an effort to reopen the decrepit old building for the city’s criminally insane. Our boy Jim Gordon – disgraced after his, perhaps a bit ill-conceived, attempt to take down some Gotham’s corrupt elite – is now working there as a guard.

It seems like it ought to be a pretty lame, unfulfilling, and hardly at all challenging position, right? That’s the point: they want to demote him so far he gets fed up and quits. But, of course, in a place like Arkham it was only a matter of time before things started to go south.

Hey, if things don’t work out with Barbara… [FOX]
Gordon teams up with Dr. Leslie Tompkins – played by the ever gorgeous Morena Baccarin – to investigate a series of strange occurrences within the asylum. Patients are suffering from unexplainable after effects of some kind of unauthorized electroshock therapy. Foiled at every turn by the director of the facility who has it out for Gordon for no good reason, the two nearly die trying to figure out what’s going on. I mean there are some seriously freaky scenes with corridors flooding with insane, murderous inmates – yikes. It’s kind of great. Very survival horror-esque.

After serving us up a red herring in an appropriately creepy American Horror Story-esque nurse, this episode introduces us to Jack Gruber – a sociopath who had been using makeshift electroshock therapy to bend staff and inmates to his will from the moment he got there (that’s him in the article’s featured image, by the way). He’s creepy and – in the end – escapes to haunt Gordon and Gotham another day.

So, you know, the asylum-based story in itself is interesting.

Unfortunately, it’s also bogged down by everything that’s going on outside of the gates of Arkham.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Jim got to call in Bullock and that he got to come back for a bit. Half an episode without him and I already desperately miss him in my life. But beyond that… I could have done without all the other jumping around. Selina and Ivy shacking up in Jim’s – well, technically Barbara’s – sweet penthouse was adorable, if ultimately useless story-wise. Montoya feeling guilty about betraying Gordon by having an affair with Barbara was a nice reversal of last episode where she seemed perfectly cool with keeping it from him while acting like she was on his side.

Tell me they aren't freakin' adorable. [FOX]
Tell me they aren’t freakin’ adorable. [FOX]
If we had just had those few scenes then maybe it’d be all right.

But I’m getting so tired of Fish Mooney’s plotting and scheme. It never seems to get anywhere. What are the big take aways this episode? No one figures Fish will take over after Falcone anyway and Butch whacks Jimmy after spending the night in the clink with Penguin. Which, by the way, while I love the Penguin and actually enjoyed his scenes, this episode they didn’t really add much to anything that was going on.

I like Gotham. I really do. But sometimes it just seems like too much is going on at one time. They keep trying to shove in too many characters, too many locations, and too many stories. Episodes like this could be strong but they get weighed down by the writers’ need to touch base with as many characters as possible in one episode. It juggles things too loosely and at times falters.

Rogue’s Gallery was a fun episode. It was a great return to the series and I appreciated that at the end it became very clear that Gordon’s predicament and exile to Arkham would not be a quick fix. But something more really needs to happen with the whole Fish Mooney mutiny thing because those scenes are really starting to drag on.

And while I look forward to seeing more of Gordon in Arkham, I really hope these two get back together soon. Harvey kissing Jim’s forehead when they were finally back together again basically made my life.

They need each other. [FOX]
They need each other. [FOX]

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