FOX’s ‘Gotham’ detects its 11th installment in 2015 premiere “Rogues’ Gallery,” as Gordon makes friends and enemies with his new position at Arkham Asylum, Penguin finds himself on the end of a harsh lesson from Maroni, and Selina Kyle takes in an ailing Ivy.

Last year’s ‘Gotham’ winter finale, “Lovecraft,” saw Bruce and Selina become the target of contract killers, forcing them to go on the run as Fish Mooney worried that Falcone may have caught on to her duplicity, so how does FOX’s latest episode of Bat-prequel drama shine a light on the city’s villainous beginnings?

Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Gotham’ episode 11, “Rogues’ Gallery”!

I did not miss reviewing ‘Gotham.’ I like to play a little game with each episode screened for critics, in which I see how far into the day I can procrastinate actually watching the thing, and subsequently having to give it any real consideration. In this case, the screener for “Rogues’ Gallery” had been available for weeks, and I made it until about 5:30 P.M., or so, the day of. A personal best!

Each time, an inner voice crops up to remind me that ‘Gotham’ has at its core a troupe of wonderful players, a uniquely rich cache of source material, and has in the past built a surprising amount of momentum when its bizarre brand of origin storytelling coalesces into something meaningful, as was the case with 2014 closer “Lovecraft.” Then, showrunner Bruno Heller gets on the horn to discuss “prenatal origin stories,” or compare the show to the act of imagining your parents’ childhoods, and…well, it’s not impossible to imagine why watching ‘Gotham’ feels like more of a chore than it should.

We’ve reached the midpoint of ‘Gotham’’s first season now, or at least the midpoint resultant from the decision to expand beyond 16 episodes, and “Rogues’ Gallery” appropriately feels like the first major casualty of that misstep. The idea of placing Gordon within the walls of a re-opened Arkham Asylum seemed like a creatively fertile move last year, and the refreshing change of scenery opens a somewhat more unique visual palate for the series, yet Gordon’s pursuit of a staff member experimenting on inmates feels strangely hollow.

After all, laws of TV averages and the like dictate that the true perpetrator would turn out to be one of the shifty-seeming guest stars, and likely the most famous of the bunch*, yet “Rogues’ Gallery” strangely goes for a combination of all three, one that might take a repeat viewing or two to form even the basest sense. Even poor Morena Baccarin seems bored by the slapdash mystery, and even less enamored with a hasty conclusion that sees Gordon single-handedly holding off an entire wing of raving inmates. As for the actual perpetrators? One ends up inexplicably trampled, and apparent mastermind Jack Gruber escapes with his lackey. Do you dare to imagine he’ll return for future shenanigans? I bet he’ll return for future shenanigans!

*One does not simply cast Christopher Heyerdahl without setting him up as a major villain, but anyone else re-watching ‘The Wire’ like myself would have to give some major consideration to Isiah Whitlock’s Dr. Lang. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeee-it.

Sadly, that ol’ holding pattern of ‘Gotham’ rears its ugly head once more, as Bullock and the detectives contextually lament their inability to return Jim to the GCPD already, the Penguin again overreaches in his scheming, and Fish Mooney continually schemes some other schemers with scheming for a shot at Falcone’s chair. Oh, and Selina Kyle breaks Ivy into the Gordon residence for some soup, and Barbara mistakes a child’s voice for a woman that Jim may or may not have invited into their apartment. Riveting stuff, guys.

Selina Kyle, admittedly a role model in seeming uncomfortably older than the reality.

I’ll hope beyond hope that “Rogues’ Gallery” faced the most dire stretches of ‘Gotham’’s expansion to 22 episodes, as for an episode that sparingly didn’t attempt to shoehorn in Li’l Bruce Wayne or Alfred, tonight’s hour seemed especially thin. The unusual placement won’t do the back half of the season any favors either, as this is the first new episode since November, and the next is scheduled to arrive on January 19. I had hoped time off from ‘Gotham’ would soften my perspective on the series, but good grief if “Rogues’ Gallery” wasn’t the Bat-prequel drama at its most uneventfully bleak yet.

AND ANOTHER THING…

  • I needed to rewatch all of Nurse Ratched Dorothy’s scenes to suss out how no one would have recognized her as an inmate from Arkham’s previous run. Lang clearly addresses her as “nurse” at one point, so we’re left to reason out that only Dr. Thompkins could have recognized her from the female wing. Still, Bullock’s “she’s crazy, nuff said” felt like an exceptionally brazen cover for such a convoluted twist.
  • Presumably Selina didn’t think Ivy could make it as far as Wayne manor, but why was Gordon apparently never returning home?
  • It’s genuinely astonishing how little the writers want to humanize Barbara or provide any rational characterization, at this point.
  • I’m all for giving Butch Gilzean a bit of character development, but why did we need to see him mulling over the choice to betray Fish, if nothing seemed to inform his final decision?

Well, what say you? Did ‘Gotham’’s 11th episode “Rogues’ Gallery” help set the stage any further for Batman’s beginning? How do you think the prequel drama fared in its winter premiere? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and check back for our next review of ‘Gotham’ on FOX!