Recap: Gotham Episode 1.04, Arkham

An episode titled “Arkham” yielded a small cheer from me (someone who is obsessed with asylums) and a groan from my husband (a die-hard Batman fan). And while the episode dealt with Arkham more in the abstract than actually making it “part of the action,” it was still a good episode, and probably the best yet.

The focus of the episode is, naturally, what to do with the Arkham section of Gotham. Falcone wants to build low-cost housing and retrofit the asylum into a state-of-the-art mental health facility. Incidentally, this was what the Waynes had been working towards. Maroni wants to use it as a dump. It is a huge chunk of property, and would be a huge win for whichever gang gets the bid.

Then councilmen start dying. First Jenkins – a supporter of Falcone’s plan – and his aide are found dead after being impaled by a huge spike. Then it is Zeller – a Maroni supporter – is found torched in the Arkham Asylum courtyard. The autopsy shows that Zeller was first spiked to death, then burned, suggesting the same man – an independent hit man – killed all three. An incarcerated informant trades the name of the hit man for a couple cartons of cigarettes: Richard Gladwell.

Jim and Bullock visit Gladwell’s place of work, a beautiful 1940s art deco building which is notable because there are no computers there – everyone uses typewriters. Gladwell runs, but drops a note of paper which lists three letters: C L M. Jim puzzles over this while Bullock checks in with Fish, who suggests that Falcone cannot afford to lose even a piece of the Arkham project. “He is old and weak.” Fish has a “plan B” should Falcone fall.

Jim is pissed off that Oswald is back in Gotham. If Falcone discovers he is still alive, they will both be killed. Oswald has nowhere else to go – Gotham is his home – and wants to help Jim, be his “secret agent.” Oswald believes that Jim is the only hope for Gotham. Jim, naturally, doesn’t trust him. So Oswald gives him a show of good faith: Gladwell will kill again the night of the vote. He doesn’t know who, but he guarantees a hit will take place tonight. Jim is stumped – the rest of the council members, along with the mayor, are all under police protection. He checks out the list of officers on the protection detail, and realizes that the three cops assigned to protect the mayor each have a last name that matches one of the letters found on the note: C, L, M.

Jim goes to the mayor’s house and finds his protection detail missing. He rushes in and insists the mayor gather his essentials so he can get him out of town. Of course, Gladwell shows up before they can leave, and he and Jim fight. Bullock shows up in the nick o’ time, and together he and Jim shoot Gladwell.

The vote goes on as scheduled, and a compromise is reached: Maroni and Falcone will split the Arkham project.

Meanwhile, Oswald is moving up the ladder in Maroni’s organization. He stages a robbery of the restaurant he works in. The robbers kill Lou and steal one of the two sacks of money Maroni’s men are counting in the back room. Oswald sets it up so that Maroni’s goons find him hiding in the refrigerator, clutching the remaining sack of money. Maroni is so grateful he promotes Oswald to restaurant manager. Oswald then poisons the men who he hired, and takes the money they stole.

Also: Fish auditions a couple of torch singers for her club, but really wants them as some kind of secret weapon, the details of which she does not divulge. She can’t decide between the two, so she lets them fight it out. Liza is the winner. And Barbara finally admits to Jim the relationship she had with Montoya. He is pissed, but not about the lesbianism; because she kept the relationship a secret for so long. She, in turn, is pissed that he won’t be honest with her about who Oswald is. “Let me in or let me go,” she implores. Jim says nothing so I assume they are broken up (at least temporarily). Finally, Bruce starts to go through his parents files, thinking that their murders are related to the war brewing over Arkham.

A few random things I noticed:

The Arkham Asylum sign was beautiful and creepy and looked just like it came out of the comics or cartoons. Respect.

I am not a fan of Barbara. She doesn’t seem like a real character, and we never see her outside her apartment. She allegedly has a social life and a job and all that, but we never once see her out in the world. Tonight was the first time we saw Barbara out of the apartment. It took until the final act of episode four for her to leave the house – and then it was just a quick scene at the police station. It could have very easily taken place at the apartment, but it doesn’t.

Liza sings a vampy version of the Siouxsie & the Banshees song, “Spellbound.” Is this perhaps a nod to the famous scene in Batman Returns, where Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle dance to Siouxsie & the Banshees’ “Face to Face?”