Right, Gotham. I’ve been singing your praises already today, so you better not let me down at this hurdle!
I only realised the other day that there are going to be 22 episodes of this first season of Gotham. That’s the old-style season length given to American shows as-was, and whilst I’m sure someone will correct me, you don’t see that many of these any more.
You could can argue over whether this is a mark of confidence, arrogance, or cynicism (may not get a second series, so will wring all the money out of it whilst they can). What it does do is change the dynamics of the series-arc. Whereas with American Horror Story or Defiance, this would be about the halfway point, with Gotham we’ve barely gotten started.
So, err, no pressure guys.
This week’s episode centres around an apparent copy-cat killer of an old case Bullock worked on — a masked figure called ‘the spirit of the goat’, who abducts and murders the firstborn of Gotham’s wealthiest. Except details quickly emerge to suggest that this isn’t a copycat killer, but somehow the original murderer who Bullock killed ten years ago. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon tries to patch things up with Barbara, whilst Major Crimes United moves in on cornering the protagonist.
Serious points here for the fact that Gotham seems to now feel comfortable that we know Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne are the central characters, and has moved onto some of the other ones. Bullock has a great episode here, and its nice — given the 16 episodes still to come — to see the writers relaxing into it.
Even so, I was a little worried that Goatman would be a weak villain. Between the mask, animal theme, and semi-mythical status, this is clearly a proto-Batman idea — and hark at young Bruce Wayne laying scorn on the choice of a goat. In the end, it actually turned out to be nothing like what I expected.
But down-and-outs hypnotised to become the manifestation of Gotham’s therapy, by a hypnotherapist with a grudge against inequality? It’s not that it’s untopical, or even that it doesn’t sit well within the Batman mythos, but I think we can all sympathise with Captain Essen and her raised eyebrow here, when Bullock tries to explain it all to her.
What does work strongly about the whole Goatman bit, is getting a closer look at Bullock. Until the typical dirty-but-no-more-than-the-rest older cop, and between the flashback of him charging in to stop the goat, and later on with his old partner crippled and embittered as a result. The little glimmers of heart in his interactions with former detective Dix are moving, particularly the moment where it is suggested that Bullock is paying for Dix’s care — and his porn…
Oswald Cobblepot is mostly on the fringes this episode. His homecoming was a little…well, a little less than I had been expecting. His mother is plainly potty, but it was all a little Miss Haversham. I wanted something a little more original, with a little more bite. His reappeance at the end, though, was telegraphed a mile off, and yet still brilliantly effective.
Which leads me back to Gordon. His main contribution this week is getting arrested at the end. Barbara tries to get him to run away, telling him that MCU have a witness and a warant, but he won’t. Of course he won’t. So in the final scenes, he’s hauled down to GCPD in handcuffs, proclaiming his innocence. Essen is furious, Bullock also defending his partner’s “innocence”, not getting Gordon’s nods that he really didn’t kill Cobblepot.
Until the Penguin himself rocks up in the doorway of the police station, and announces himself as — yep, Oswald Cobblepot.
Like I say, the ending was predictable, but I still loved it. This series is proving that it isn’t just about origin stories, but is actually weaving a compelling narrative of these characters as people. In Jim Gordon is the seeds of the Commissioner-to-come, and Cobblepot is delightfully — though not excessively sympathetic — Machiavellian crime-lord-in-waiting. If all crime shows were more like this, I might be more interested.
And if more superhero (ish -Ed) shows took their lead from Gotham, more people might be interested in them.
- Where can I get one of those Edward Nygma green question mark coffee mugs?
- Seriously though, it would hardly be less subtle if they gave Cory Michael Smith a hat with “I am the Riddler!” printed on it. Not that I mind. Nygma is probably my favourite thing about the show so far — and the subplot this week of his crush on the archivist was perfectly pitched — but I do hope they are playing the long game with him. Gotham would be the poorer without him in the background.
- Catgirl is back. Nicking things from Wayne Manor. What? Not a clue. Why? Dunno. Pretty sure we’ll find out before too long, though.
- And speaking of, they actually used Bruce Wayne right this week. Last week he was good too, but he can’t be hounding corruption out of Wayne Enterprises every week. Here he featured sparingly, and mostly to underscore the idea and meanings of Goatman.
- Dunna nunna nunna nunna, dunna nunna nunna nunna, cliffhanger!