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Gotham Hits a Low Point in "Arkham"

Mike Hoffman | 14 Oct 2014 22:15
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Gotham S1EP4: social

"Arkham" is everything wrong with Gotham. Which is a shame, because there are some great moments in this show.

When we look back on the first season of Gotham, hopefully we'll remember "Arkham" as its lowest point. Because if this show gets any worse than this, it will be insufferable. On top of the dialogue problems the show has suffered from, the newest episode doesn't just ask us to suspend our disbelief. To enjoy "Arkham", you would have to expel your disbelief and your disbelief's whole family would have to move to a new school district.

Someone is killing councilmen? Put the rookie and his lazy partner on it. The suspect ran into the supply closet? Wait, there are some papers on his desk we should look at first. Creepy guy approaches you in the middle of the night and hands you a strange object? Better point it at your eye like he asks.

Every show, movie, and video game requires that you ignore this stuff on occasion, but "Arkham" hits you with poor decisions and unrealistic police work so often that it can't be overlooked. Before long, these problems are so distracting that you'd be forgiven for missing that, aside from its persistent issues, Gotham does a lot of great stuff.

The acting is still fantastic, save for Edward Nygma and Barbara Kean. The cast does a great job with a terrible script and they manage to continue delivering boring, clich├ęd lines with enough emotion or nuance to make it work. And yes, I even think Bruce is pretty okay, even though the show would benefit from reducing his screen time or giving him something better to do ("Arkham" and last week's "The Balloonman" actually pull this off).

The villain-of-the-week starts off well. Hakeem Kae-Kazim is great in his first few scenes as a hitman working for the two opposing sides of a mob conflict, simultaneously. Unfortunately, during the climax his character is reduced to a pointless line about hitmen and a throwaway fight scene.

Visually, "Arkham" does some new tricks that Gotham should use in the rest of the series. Not everyone may be a fan of the pans and zooms, the shadows and fog, but it all creates a unique style for the show that works well with the weird/creepy side of Gotham City. Check out the clip to the left for one (decent) example, but be warned there are spoilers for this episode and the seasonal arc. If the show does follow this trend, though, hopefully it can avoid leaving gaffing tape in frame or playing off accidental lens flare as "style".

While the episodic plot involving the hitman and rival mobsters is a bit of a mess, both of the stories about Cobblepot and Jada Pinkett Smith's Fish Mooney are fun to watch. At times they are rather predictable, but these are two of the best cast members on the show and they perfectly capture that horrible side of Gotham's underworld. This show might be worth watching just to see what happens with these two characters.

Gotham is on Fox, Monday nights at 8/7c. It's also available to view on Fox's website and Hulu. The rest of this review is deep in spoiler territory.

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