"Gotham" 1.3 – The Balloonman (6.5 out of 10) – Directed by Danny Cannon; Written by Bruno Heller; Based on characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Howard Chaykin, Frank Miller, Greg Rucka, et al; Starring Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sean Pertwee…; Rated TV14” Aired on Fox 10/4/14.
This week’s episode of Gotham was a bit of a let down. I enjoyed the villain this week known as The Balloonman who found corrupt people in Gotham and attached them to a weather balloon as a form of justice. There were some great easter eggs hidden within the episode including the one I mentioned last week where he dressed up like Professor Pyg. The other was when a guy named Lamont killed another guy named Cranston. In the comics Lamont Cranston is The Shadow who The Balloonman even dressed as when he was busy being a vigilante.
What worked well this week was Cobblepot’s continued arc into the villain we will know as Penguin. He comes back to Gotham and is excited by the corruption he sees in the streets. Planning his revenge he gets a job in one of Maroni’s restaurants and listens in on the conversations taking place. He must be attempting to do more of what we saw in the pilot episode and turn that information over to the police in order to take out his competition as the head of Gotham’s crime. Next week looks promising as the episode ends with Cobblepot showing up at Gordon’s home and saying “Hello old friend.” Watching this all unfold is one of my favorite parts of the show. Robin Lord Taylor does an amazing job in his role. He is one of those actors that after his audition there was no other choice. This was the first episode we got to see Maroni, played by David Zayas from Dexter, this is another actor that the moment I saw him in his role it just felt right. Watching him play a bad guy is also a lot of fun after seeing him be a good cop for so many years.
The relationship between Gordon/Cobblepot is bringing some great tension to the show. This week Gordon lands in more hot water as major crimes thinks that Cobblepot is dead and that Gordon pulled the trigger. Makes sense seeing as that is exactly what Gordon wanted everyone to think. Cobblepot showing back up puts the future commissioner of Gotham in an interesting position though. Here is living proof of his innocence and someone who knows that the GCPD framed the wrong man for the Wayne’s murder. However if he uses Cobblepot to that end the crooked police and mob will know that they can't rely on Gordon to be the bad cop they need and if that’s the case he’s better off dead. How this will all unfold is what is keeping me excited for the series.
We get to see more of Bruce’s transformation into the Dark Knight but it was laid on too thick this week. The most in your face moments were with The Balloonman saying “There will be more like me” and a reporter whose line was “Now that The Balloonman is gone who will defend the people of Gotham?” to which young Bruce clearly starts thinking about. Alfred even makes a comment about the criminals sleeping better now that The Balloonman has been arrested to which Bruce responds “He killed people, which makes him a criminal too.” I’m okay with nods to the hero that Bruce will become but he’s still at the very beginning of his journey. The best part of Bruce’s story this week was when Alfred and him were “dueling” with canes and the young Bruce was clearly having fun only to have that moment of happiness ripped away from him when Alfred found the police file of the Wayne’s murder. The way that the show was able to capture that overall tone of Batman’s life was beautiful. It’s one of the best parts of the comics that what happiness Bruce does find in his life eventually is lost partly because fate is cruel but also because of Batman won't allow himself to find happiness as Bruce Wayne. His happiness and purpose is protecting Gotham and that moment was a glimpse into that. I do want the show to branch out though. Focus more on Gordon becoming the Commissioner and fixing the police force instead of the idea of Batman.
What didn’t work this week was the police force. They are the city’s problem, I expected Bullock to be corrupt and that part is done perfectly. The entire police force being crooked however is overkill. With the way they are being portrayed it seems like Gordon is the only good cop on the force. I know the GCPD has to be crooked but there has to be at least one other person there who wants to try and do some good but feels trapped until Gordon comes along and helps them see the error of their ways. Even Gordon says that he didn’t realize how bad it really is. Granted we are only three episodes in which leaves them plenty of time to introduce one other character that has a decent heart, (A young Harvey Dent perhaps?) but at this point the only way Gordon will get a decent department is to fire everyone with a badge. Nicholas D’agosto was just cast as Harvey Dent but there is no word on when he will show up.
Overall it was an okay week for Gotham. “The Balloonman” felt more like a filler episode then anything else but it had its moments. The dark humor the show is going for was great (particularly the part where Bullock gets beaten up by a hooker) but what I want is for the show to focus on Gordon fixing what he can in Gotham and lay off the foreshadowing of Batman. If the show can do that it will stand on its own rather than relying on a source material that at best we will see during a flash-forward in the series finale.