Another major character in Batman lore is introduced in this episode; no, not a caped crusader or a vile villain, but a building. A very spooky, gothic building, at that – Arkham Asylum. Introduced into the Batman comics unicerse as a place where the Dark Knight’s more batty opponents could be incarcerated, Arkham has taken on a life of its own, becoming the setting of many of the more eerie comic and movie adventures (as well as the live stage show). So how will it be portrayed in this crime drama?
Here, Arkham serves as the lynch-pin of the coming gang war between Falcone and Maroni. But before we get to see who ends up with ownership of Arkham, we see a councillor and his aide murdered using a particularly gruesome weapon. It’s Bullock whose underworld contacts suggest a name for the killer, but Gordon whose keen detective sense sniffs out not only the next intended target, but also the corrupt elements in the police department who are in on the plan.
Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot has inveigled himself into the sphere of wannabe crime lord Maroni, and is busy feathering his own nest. Ripping off Maroni’s cash pile and covering his own tracks with poisonous glee, Cobblepot starts positioning himself to become a major player on the crime scene. And just to remind us of his sinister presence, forensics expert Edward Nygma puts in a cameo appearance.
Fish Mooney continues her scheme against Falcone with a plot which somehow involves two night-club singers having a bitch-fight in a warehouse. Why either of them needed a job so much that they’d risk having their eyes scratched out, we’re not clear – but that’s Gotham. It’s brutal.
In fact, with its stabbings, burnings and shootings, this is a rather gruesome episode all round, reminding us that Gotham is a dark and violent place. But as in previous episodes, it doesn’t pay the viewer to ask too many questions about the mechanics of the action. Why the killer needed such a vicious execution device, when any old gun or knife would have done, is never questioned; indeed, the necessity for Gordon to lose his gun in order to make the killer more of a threat leads to a rather daft conclusion.
But Gordon’s tenacity, and the Mayor’s timidity and willingness to compromise, avert a gang war for the moment, while adding impetus to young Bruce Wayne’s character arc. Seeing their plans to rebuild Arkham Asylum sacrificed in favour of a mob-funded housing and waste disposal scheme, Bruce feels that his parents’ legacy is being squandered. You can almost feel the bat-angst seething in his veins.