So the first episode of Gotham impressed. I really rather liked it, and unlike some other reviewers, I quite liked the little Easter eggs it tucked away for “the fans”, and the weird sense of humour it had about itself. Which is nice, given that we’re in Gotham in the start of its grungey “bad days”.
I should, though, make a declaration for the record: I‘m not a Batman superfan. I’m reasonably up on the storylines, the characters, the ideas, but I can’t quote chapter and verse of the mythos as I can with some other stuff. That’s, perhaps, a little weird, given some of the stuff which I can reel off with near eidetic memory, but there you go. So some of this stuff is liable to go over my head.
So with caveats securely in place, let’s head back to pseudo-New York.
Fresh from faking his execution of Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot at the end of the last episode, Jim Gordon is back on the job. This time he and Bullock are investigating a dead homeless veteran, who was executed by a couple of intensely creepy sods abducting street kids. Lo and behold, Selina “Catwoman” Kyle, going simply by Cat at this point in her arc, narrowly misses out on being kidnapped. Through a mixture of policework and manipulation, Gordon makes his way towards finding the perpetrators. Meanwhile, the still-alive Cobblepot has a plan to come back smarter and stronger than ever, though still seems to have a hair trigger temper when it comes to his nickname…
The first thing that I noticed was that, oh yeah, this is actually — technically — a cop show. So Jim Gordon is going to actually be investigating crimes, rather than going around meeting proto-side characters from the franchise. I know it sound obvious, but the murder of the Waynes last episode was such an integral part of the Batman origin story that it didn’t seem to have registered.
And it pretty well works as a premise hook. There’s plenty of crime going on in Gotham, and with Gordon already established as basically on the only honest cop in the city, it’s plausible that the cases he is mixed up in are going to lead right to the very top.
The child abduction thing is creepy, mainly because it’s so unexplained. There are a few references to the Dollmaker which are bound to come back later, but fundamentally this seems to be a way to flesh out Gotham — and the rampant deprivation — and to join up Gordon and Kyle’s threads. I don’t know the Dollmaker, though I do know its a Batman villain. It’s probably wise making a fuss of the non-household names like this, as so many of the “big” villains are in development.
Speaking of, I am thoroughly sold on the Penguin as the first big origin story. Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as the psychotic Fallout Boy reject crime-boss-to-be is a delight, and his sudden glassy-eyed sadism works fantastically. Also worthy of mention is his Miss Haversham-esque mother. It’s a small glimpse now, but speaks of more to come.
We’re still very early on, but I’m sucked in — enough that the abrupt cliffhanger-y ending annoyed me. It is moving on the central plots concurrently, whilst still giving an episodic feel. It also seems to have its own mood and tempo, separate from the other Batman media. How well that will survive when we’re into really recognisable territory remains to be seen, but this has been a very strong start.
- I was sure that Bullock had clocked that Gordon didn’t actually shoot the Penguin last episode. Like, convinced of it. But apparently not. Which makes me question how he rose so high in the police force. Corruption, obviously, but he’d need to be at least semi-competent, surely?
- I kinda feel like the poor dead homeless man got forgotten in all of the fuss…
- Sean Pertwee is very good as Alfred, but the writers need to lay off of the forced British-isms. I cringed at the “tea-time” line.
- Edward Nygma is hilarious. I’d watch a whole episode of him creeping around the police station being obviously a bad guy in waiting.