“Rogues’ Gallery” is about chaos and order. It shows how closely knit the two are, interwoven and ever repeating. Order turns into chaos which creates a need for order and rises only to fall into chaos once again. We do not live in a static universe and those of us who choose to participate must pick between them. But which is good, and which is evil?
Jim Gordon believes in order. Although he has been demoted to serving in Arkham Asylum, a place steeped in potential chaos, he manages to maintain a sort of order and protect the innocent, both inmate and employee, at least for a time. He meets another like-minded individual, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (played by the exceptionally talented and lovely Morena Baccarin, most recognized by fans for her role in Firefly), a kind and friendly physician who seems out of place in the dank, dark dungeon of Arkham.
This small light in the darkness wavers, however, as the residents of Arkham swarm with their queen at the helm. Someone has been using electroshock therapy on random (or seemingly random) inmates to provoke certain behaviors. Inmates are damaged, however, as the electroshock therapy seems to be a sort of stab in the dark, changing with each patient as the behaviors are honed. The chaos swells into near catastrophe as Jim rushes to find the culprit.
The director of Arkham attempts to dissuade Jim from his decision to include the Gotham PD, but with Bullock’s rough and ready attitude, Dr. Lang has no choice but to be taken away for a chat while Jim descends into the basement for answers. Detective Bullock, played by Donal Logue, has been the most consistent character on the show. He’s rough, he’s chaotic (a nice pairing with Jim’s calm, orderly outlook), and hilarious. The two of them make a great team, but it has taken half a season for them to rely on each other’s strengths instead of pushing for their own way.
This relationship has progressed in a more realistic way than many other such pairings, and I find it refreshing that the writers have taken the time to cement who each person is so that their individual strengths are on display. It takes away the need for a hierarchy and instead allows the characters to give and take, depending on the situation, which is a much smarter way to deal with things since there are situations in which Bullock or Gordon will be better at taking the lead.
While Jim and Bullock shake down the Asylum, there are other established orders descending into chaos. There are two runaways squatting in Jim’s apartment; Fish Mooney and her right-hand man Butch are laying the groundwork to overthrow Carmine Falcone; and Penguin lands in jail after attempting to raise the taxes of his bosses’ most hard working employees without his knowledge.
The theme of order and chaos is explored through each of these situations. The younger generations are rising to power, which will cause an upset in the already-established order. The street children, the mob lackeys, and the younger mob bosses are hungry. They are dangerous, and the old order does not even realize how close they are to their own chaotic end.
There are even levels of chaos and order in individual characters like Barbara Gordon. After she leaves Jim she returns to Detective Montoya who breaks up with her after realizing how chaotic Barbara’s life truly is. Barbara might have appeared in good order at the beginning of the show, but she is on a slippery slope to madness from her intake of alcohol and drugs. What is she running from? What happened to her? Will she be able to restore order, or will she succumb to chaos?
Gotham’s “Rogues’ Gallery” holds chaos and order to the light for a closer inspection. Order isn’t always a good thing, and chaos is always a little more dangerous than believed. Chaos and order, however, coexist. They need each other. Without one or the other there’d be a vacuum. One nourishes the other and they turn, over and over, a cycle of creation and regeneration as one leads to the other. Both are needed to create a balance.
“Rogues’ Gallery” is particularly interesting when looked at from the viewpoint of real life. We are experiencing upheaval ourselves. There are chaotic outbursts like Ferguson, where the appointed order is corrupt and in need of overhaul. There are new orders being formed, such as ISIS, that are at the very least dubious in their intent and practices. We see this conversion from order to chaos and back to order again in our daily lives, in big events such as these, and small ones like traffic jams and queues at the coffee shop.
I think Gotham’s writers have the ability to take gigantic themes such as chaos and order and condense them into an episode, a system, a place, and even a person. To be able to put these ideas into characters’ lives in such a way that we see our own world mirrored is an incredible thing. It’s what keeps me coming back to watch more every week. Gotham, by exploring the murky depths of its universe, holds a light up to our own.