Martin Carr reviews the eleventh episode of Gotham…
I am going to say something which makes me sound old. Watching the latest episode from Gotham’s playlist this week made me think of Terri Hatcher. Not the Hatcher from televisual travesty Desperate Housewives, but more so the sultry persona which made The New Adventures of Superman worth watching. And who do I blame for this moment of nostalgia other than Morena Baccarin, established sci-fi actress ,chief head turner and attending physician Dr Leslie Thompkins in Monday night’s Gotham.
Baccarin has been carving out a niche in numerous sci-fi series for years now. Familiar from Firefly, film adaptation Serenity and V to name a few she remains memorable for many reasons beyond the obvious. Having built her resume primarily through the portrayal of aliens, Baccarin’s Leslie Thompkins presents a problem for me. In a word her looks prove an issue. Within the confines of Arkham which comes across as a combination of Cuckoo’s Nest chic and T2 interior design with bad lighting, Baccarin seems incongruous.
Now I understand that being attractive is no crime and within the perimeters of both V and Firefly these were distinct advantages. However, if you are playing exotic aliens from far flung galaxies then a sense of otherworldliness is aided immensely by a catalogue model gene pool. On the other hand, if your character practices psychiatric medicine having perfect bone structure is unlikely to lend credence to a portrayal. Just to clarify, her performance was fine only certain elements lead to less of an investment in the character. On the flip side Christopher Heyerdahl’s grade ‘A’ sociopath Jack Gruber represented a much more intriguing proposition.
Borrowing from the Hannibal Lecter playbook by way of Anthony Hopkins, Heyerdahl had minimal scenes but gave Gruber depth and menace in equal measure. Casting himself as Prospero in their Tempest interpretation, Heyerdahl gives away more plot pointers than anywhere else in Gotham’s running time. Looking like a cross between Judge Doom from Roger Rabbit and Taber’s Cuckoo’s Nest, he proves more than a match for those wishing to keep him behind bars.
Beyond the confines of Arkham it remains business as usual. There seems very little progress and no real sense of urgency this week, which probably has more to do with the new location than anything else. What was duly noted however is a lack of key players, which left only Gordon and Bullock to add a sense of levity and an established chemistry to proceedings. Penguin, Mooney and Maroni do pop up but the onus is firmly on Gotham’s most famous holding facility.
Arkham is at once gothic and overbearing. A stone edifice both ghoulish and archaic, destined to fulfil a short tenure on screen before becoming window dressing once more. One more member of an ever expanding Rogue’s Gallery, as Gotham grows in confidence, diversifies story arcs and becomes an established Monday night fixture.