(Beware, spoilers below!)
Back to Gotham this new year, we see Jim having it rough in his new role as guard of Arkham Asylum. As small scuffle breaks out in the prison and he receives a lot of flack for it. Calling a doctor in order to help, Jim is well complemented by Dr Tompkins for his previous determination, but this doesn’t make his job any easier.
One evening he finds one of the inmates ‘Frogman’, completely brain dead and Jim’s tasked to find out who’s behind it. Cue montage of him going through the many disturbing inmates and getting nowhere. Before we know it, the electrocutioner has hit again and Jim starts getting suspicious of the staff. Jim calls in Harvey, who arrests the director. The director says that no one apart from a skilled surgeon could have done it, and confesses that he has secrets that he’s not telling Harvey. Jim’s researching and sees that the records are incomplete and asks the Nurse to take him to the basement which was once closed off due to ‘unsafe chemicals’. We quickly find out that it’s the Nurse who was behind the attacks. She frees the other inmates but gets trampled dead. Unfortunately we find out that Gruber was behind the attacks all along, killing Dr Lang and leaving behind a creepy note for Jim.
Meanwhile, Selina finds Ivy very ill and takes her to Gordon’s apartment since both him and Barbara are out of town. Barbara is still having her affair with Renee, before the latter tells her that the cycle of drinking and drugs is toxic, and she can’t do their relationship anymore. Barbara calls up Gordon’s apartment and Ivy plays a trick on her (overall a rather weak scene).
In the crime world, both The Penguin and Fish are trying to assert power, with Fish considering hypotheticals with the next in line to the Falcone dynasty, and The Penguin getting on the wrong side of the law. Fish’s henchman Butch promises to try and vouch for her, but we’re left doubting what his motives are. Speaking to his old friend, Butch is told in no uncertain terms that Fish is doomed, overreaching herself. Meanwhile, The Penguin is languishing in prison but it figures that both from Moroni’s end and the GCPD end, he doesn’t have as much power as he thought. Finally Moroni shows up and reveals that he was behind putting The Penguin in jail to punish him for overreaching his position. In a creepy final scene, Butch goes and kills his old friend for Fish, who was never going to be persuaded.
Jack Gruber’s delicious fun in this first episode of the New Year, and the storyline with Jim easily overtakes the others in terms of how interesting it is. If anything, the scenes with Ivy and Selina felt forced in because of their roles in the Batman mythos, and though The Penguin and Fish were given little to do but scheme, we as the audience can believe this is in the name of long term story arcs. Butch so far has been little more than fella helping out Fish, so it was great to see him take a more central role in things, establishing even more that without the men backing her up, Fish is out of her depth. The atmosphere of Arkham lent a creepy feel to Gotham which suits it well, and I’m glad it’s back on our screens. Whilst I wait for the next episode, I’ll just sit and wonder who Jack Gruber will turn out to be…