05 “Viper” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


One surprise from Gotham in the first four episodes, has been the number of appearances from Bruce Wayne. The young actor playing the role is good, don’t get me wrong, but I hadn’t been anticipating such a focus on someone who is some ten to twenty years from being Batman. So nobody — surely — can be expecting an appearance by the Caped Crusader.

Unless they go down the flash-forward route… (As in the opposite of flashbacks, not the Robert J Sawyer novel. And let us hope they do not take the former option -Ed).

The point is that, if they have made such an effort to keep referring back to the boy that we certainly haven’t forgotten about, then something is looming which is going to involve him doing more than moping.

I’m just saying.

This week’s episode sees Gotham plagued by a new drug, which gives people super-strength and makes them go wildly out of control. Before their bones crumble and they die. Lovely. Anyway, this drug is being distributed throughout the Gotham underworld of rough sleepers and drug users by a mysterious figure, for reasons unknown. Gordon investigates, as Bruce Wayne is digging into the activities of his parents’ company, Wayne Enterprises, in relation to the Arkham deal last week. And in mob news Oswald Cobblepot continues to ingratiate himself into Maroni’s operation, and Fish Mooney trains her new weapon against Falcone.

The main course first then, The drug, “viper” is a pretty cool plot device with suitably gruesome effects as it reaches the final stages show the sort of dark wit that Gotham is trying to make its own. My initial thoughts when the busker was high on it was that it was something Joker-y (pale skin, big grin). I was a little disappointed then that they later went onto with a direct namecheck, as being an early version of the “venom” super-soldier serum linked to Bane.

I was expecting a little more disappointment than I got, though. True, it’s hardly surprising or original the the bad guy, Stan Potolski, is a pharmaceutical employee whose employer trampled on his ethics, but he’s a sufficiently background figure that I don’t care. And the old man taking viper and bending his zimmer frame like licorice gave me a chuckle.

What I did like was how it was subtly interwoven with Bruce Wayne. Making him interested in the corruption inside Wayne Enterprises is both a mirror of Gordon’s unease at the corruption in the police, and a way of making his arc not just “becoming the Batman”. It also sets up another evil organisation, opposite the mob, the police, and all the random crazies apparently running around Gotham.

Oh, and the way that Gordon vanquished Stan Potolski had a bit of a feel of Indiana Jones shooting the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Cobblepot, meanwhile, sees a pretty spectacular return to form after the highs of last year’s criminal politicking. For reasons unknown, he tells Maroni the truth about his background. Maroni reponds by abducting Gordon to verify it all — which he does — before enlisting Cobblepot in his plan to hit Falcone’s casino. Cobblepot is, presumably, playing the long game getting into Maroni’s organisation, but I have to say that at this point it looks a lot like ineptitude.

And Fish Mooney’s X-Factor-meets-Fight Club bit last week makes more sense now. She trains the winning girl to sing opera, to act motherly, and makes her over completely. The endgame is at the end, when she “happens” to come across Falcone whilst singing the opera, and he is struck by how much she reminds him of his, err, mother. We can see where this is going, can’t we?

Closing thoughts:

  • Ed Nigma needs his own show. His child-like glee at viper, oblivious to the people dying, was the funniest thing on the show, and again that dark sense of humour raises its head.
  • Conversely, the “Where is Stan?”/”What’s alturism?” bit between Gordon and Bullock fell flat for me. Sorry!
  • The Russian gangster is a moron. He either a) thinks that Fish Mooney is genuinely in it with him against Falcone and won’t sacrifice him at the first opportunity (she isn’t, and she will), or b) that he can best her when the key moment comes (he can’t). Either way, idiot.
  • Catgirl is back (for ten seconds)! Yay, Catgirl?
  • Sean Pertwee has gotten the mood of Alfred just right, managing to blend the gruff disapproval with the power balance between the butler and his young master. And the quiet moment as he wordlessly sits down to help Bruce investigate Wayne enterprises, converted to the cause, is perfectly judged.

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