Jim is on Arkham duty, playing security guard to the looniest of the loonies. During an inmate play, one of the inmates, “Frogman” Jones, goes into a rage and beats the hell out of Royston, one of the performers. Arkham director Jerry Lang blames Jim for this unfortunate mishap – this is the fourth incident since Jim came to Arkham. Dr. Leslie Thompkins comes over from the woman’s ward to care for Royston. She is clearly being set up as Jim Gordon’s new love interest, and I assume she will figure into Bruce Wayne’s storyline very soon. With Royston being cared for, Jim checks on Jones. He finds him non-responsive, so he enters his cell – and finds the man completely comatose. He is still alive and breathing on his own, but Dr. Thompkins’ diagnosis is that he is brain dead. Lang doesn’t care: he breathes on his own, he doesn’t have to fill out the paperwork for a dead inmate. Jones’s scars indicate he was subjected to rudimentary electro-shock therapy, but was given a voltage far beyond therapeutic doses.
Jim is given a week to figure out who is behind this – ahem – shocking crime. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) He starts with the staff and finds out one guard’s keys were stolen during the attack. Lang doesn’t believe it could be anyone on the staff, so Jim starts questioning the inmates. It isn’t going well for him; most of the inmates are too crazy to answer any questions. We do meet two, so you have to know that one (or both) are somehow involved: Jack Gruber, a sociopath rapist and murderer; and Aaron Helzinger, a man who, despite killing his family with an axe, is incapable of lying (according to Nurse Dorothy). Needless to say, the interviews are useless.
When Royston is discovered wandering the halls with the same electro-shock scars, Jim goes beyond his authority and calls in Bullock. Unlike Jones, Royston is ambulatory and can speak – but he only recites lines from the play. Bullock is excited to see Jim and despite Lang’s protests, he declares this a GCPD case. When Bullock gets Lang back to the precinct, he is cryptic and argumentative. Lang admits he is hiding something, but he’s not going to tell Bullock and it has nothing to do with this case. Bullock buys this; he doesn’t think Lang is involved, but the whole scene seems pointless. They take all this time to set up a seedy background and go nowhere with it.
Anyway, back at Arkham, Jim is going through staff files and he asks Nurse Dorothy to take him to the basement, where more files are stored. She is hesitant, but agrees. On their way down, Leslie shows up and wants to join them. Jim tells her to go home, and there is a moment where we are meant to wonder which woman is the nutjob. We all know that Leslie Thompkins isn’t a bad guy, so clearly Dorothy is the bad guy. She throws Leslie aside and makes a run for it. Bullock calls with the one piece of useful information he gleaned from Lang: Dorothy is an inmate, not staff. (Why does he let her pretend to be staff? If it is part of her treatment, why doesn’t he at least let the rest of the staff know? That is just irresponsible.) The phone call is too little, too late. Dorothy has unlocked all the cells and the inmates are now literally running the asylum. Leslie is trapped at the front gate, but Jim shows up in the nick o’ time and punches a couple inmates in the face. The pair are just barely able to escape. Dorothy wasn’t so lucky: she was trampled by the stampede of inmates.
Jim, Bullock, and the captain have a celebratory drink back at the precinct. Dorothy had killed five kids with poisoned candy while she was a nursing student, claiming it was part of her “homework.” She was an inmate of Arkham long ago, and they suspect that she was hunkered down in the basement until the asylum reopened. But the medical examiner breaks up the party with his report. Dorothy had the same electro-shock scars on her head; they had just been covered by her hair. They are about a month old, and she could not have done it to herself.
Aaron, the gentle “can’t lie” guy snaps the neck of the guards at Arkham, leaving a clear path for Gruber to exit. They encounter Lang in the hall. By the time Jim and Bullock arrive, it is too late. As he drowns on his own blood, Lang is able to spit out one final word: “Gruber.” It was unnecessary; Gruber left a taunting note for Jim. He and Aaron are in a stolen van, speeding away from the city.
So I guess we won’t find out what Lang’s “secrets” are, and a good chunk of this episode was a total waste of time. The only useful info Bullock got from him, Jim already figured out. Jack Gruber goes by the name Jack Gruber – and only Jack Gruber – in this episode, but he seems very similar (at least physically) to Hugo Strange. I have also heard theories that he may be Jeremiah Arkham, mainly because Jeremiah was known to pal around with Aaron – who later becomes Amygdala. The way this show is structured, it wouldn’t surprise me if the producers took bits from both of these characters and created an entirely new character.
Let’s quickly check in on the other denizens of Gotham:
*Barbara is shacking up at a hotel with Renee. The pair go on a pill and booze-filled bender, and after a few days, Renee decides she doesn’t want to go back down this rabbit hole and breaks things off with Barbara. Barbara doesn’t handle this well and calls Jim to patch things up, but instead finds another woman in her home, insinuating that Jim cannot come to the phone. This infuriates her. Maybe she will drink herself to death, or throw herself off a tall building. That is one rewrite of Batman canon I would wholeheartedly encourage. I hate Barbara with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.
*Selina finds Ivy sleeping in a box in the alley. She is clearly ill but refuses to see a doctor. Selina breaks into Jim Gordon’s apartment, finds it empty, and the girls camp there for a few days. Yes, it is Ivy that Barbara is talking to on the phone.
*Fish discusses with Jimmy, Falcone’s #2, who would take over should Falcone suddenly die. Hypothetically, of course. Jimmy is next in line and is not afraid to tell Fish she isn’t up to the task. Butch and Jimmy go way back, so Butch goes to talk to him privately. Jimmy offers him a top position in Falcone’s enterprise, and Butch promises to think about it. He ends up shooting Jimmy in the head.
*Penguin tries to raise taxes on fishermen. They protest and call the cops in. Penguin laughs; the cops are under his command. But when they show up, they punch Penguin in the face and throw him in jail. It is a day and a half before Maroni finally comes to bail him out. He is furious that Penguin would have such hubris, and this was meant to teach him a lesson. Profuse apologies get Penguin back into Maroni’s good graces, but I think he will be on probation for a while.