Arts & Culture Editor
If there’s anything that Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) of Fox’s “Gotham” was right about, it’s that a war was brewing in the city of Gotham, and it’s declared in full force the episodes “Arkham” and “Viper.”
Kicking off where “The Balloonman” left off, Cobblepot has visited Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) even though Jim told him to never return to Gotham. However, Cobblepot offers to feed the detective news about the happenings in Gotham’s criminal underworld. To quote a famous mob movie, he’s given an offer he simply can’t refuse.
Meanwhile, Jim and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) investigate a series of murders involving a hitman named Gladwell who kills his victims using a puncture machine that fits in his pocket and is used to pop out the victims eyes. Though it is not revealed who this mysterious, vicious man works for, it is revealed that the real Gladwell died several years ago.
On the political front, the ownership of the region known as Arkham District, the grimy, gritty area riddled by the poorest people in the city, is up in the air. With Thomas and Martha Wayne now dead, the two major crime bosses in Gotham, Falcone and Maroni, are at war over the land and its mental facility.
The fifth episode, “Viper,” actually refers to a powerful narcotic that hits the streets of Gotham and increases the user’s physical strength and gives them a God complex. Sound familiar? It should to avid fans of the “Batman” universe. Viper is also known as Venom, which is what the supervillain Bane uses to give himself unnatural strength.
While Bane himself doesn’t show up in the episode, one can only assume that he never suffered the same side effects as those who have been exposed to Viper. Viper unlocks unused DNA and burns calcium in the bones for fuel, giving them excessive milk cravings and causing their bones crumble until they die. What’s more, it was created by Stan Patolski, a twisted and corrupt former employee of Wayne Enterprises subsidiary WellZyn. Jim and Harvey trail the chemist to a Wayne Enterprises charity function and confront him on the rooftop where he has a tank of the drug ready to be unleashed. They manage to kill him before he can do so.
The first few episodes of any show tends to be uneven and inconsistent, as the show is still trying to define itself and figure out what element work. With these two episodes, though, the plot is moving forward much more quickly and “Gotham” seems to have defined what it is as a show.
“Gotham” has finally and truly embraced its comic book noir feel. It’s dark, twisted, sometimes equally ridiculous and difficult to watch due to how graphic it can be. Gone are the cartoonish villains such as the goons for the Dollmaker and the Balloonman and enter the dark minds of Gladwell and Patolski. The criminal circles of Falcone, Maroni and Fish Mooney are quickly becoming more prominent in the plot.
There are several stand out performances that audiences have started to look forward to from week to week. Taylor continues to give an enjoyably hammy performance as Cobblepot and steals every scene he’s in. Hakeem Kae-Kalim gives a chilling performance as Gladwell. His character proves within the first few minutes of “Arkham” to be a vast departure from past villains.
Despite a few hiccups in the first few episodes, “Gotham” seems to have finally found its footing and has a stellar cast and fan base to back it up. Now that Fox has ordered six additional episodes and “Gotham” will now enjoy a full 22-episode first season, it will be interesting to see what the writers have in store for the rest of the season.