Gotham 1.3 The Balloonman aka More Bullock Please

By Caleb Gillombardo on

 

This week’s episode of Gotham was the first one that I was really entertained by. Well, sort of. Let’s say that the entertainment ratio swung towards the positive side of the scale.

As a recap, in this episode we witnessed Gotham’s first vigilante hero strike out against corrupt public officials. For some reason, he decided to do so by attaching them to stolen weather balloons and sending them soaring into the atmosphere. While we watched this case develop and close in 42 minutes, we also witnessed the drama within the Falcone crime family develop, Bruce get interested in things and eat a sandwich, and Gordon lay out some exposition about his core motivations.

There are some really important things that happen in this episode, which I will get to shortly. There are also some really dumb things that happened, which will also be gotten to.

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What I really enjoyed about this episode was Bullock. This show needs to be The Bullock Show. He gets amazingly funny lines and he’s just a joy to watch on screen. Early in the episode he delivers the “I’m going to get a danish, it’s what I deserve” with all the seriousness and silliness that it needed to land perfectly. Of course, it did seem like the line was a nod to the Dark Knight series, which took me out of the moment a bit, but I don’t care because it was a damn funny line.

The scene with Gordon, Selina, and Bullock when she steals Bullock’s pen is equally hilarious. It was short and subtle and it was exactly the kind of humor that I wish the show had more of.

Bullock also delivers some solid police work. He’s played as the grouch that is entrenched in corruption, but he still is shown successfully working a case. We got another montage scene like in the first episode, which is highly entertaining. And we got his burrito line. Hilarious.

We also get to see the sleezy side of Bullock. He is the counterpoint to Gordon’s heroism and dedication. He is the voice that rationalizes taking bribes and working with the mob. What’s interesting here is the dynamic that develops within a person when he or she takes on this attitude. I would assume that Bullock did not start out as this type of person. So what made this change occur? This is the story that interests me. I want to watch more of Bullock’s life and know both how this happened and how he lives his life with this dichotomy of beliefs. Has he completely changed himself or does he still struggle with the decision on a daily basis?

I want to watch the Bullock show and see this develop.

Wow, that was a huge Bullock rant. Sorry.

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This is also the first episode in which I enjoyed Alfred. I still feel that his character is only in the show because he has to be, but this was the first episode where we saw him actually take care of Bruce, which is the point of his character.

This episode did a lot to move the story forward, even though we know exactly where the story is going. It was good to see the momentum.

So with that being said, there was still a lot in this show that I did not like.

There were 7 shots of a horrible CG Gotham city for no reason. There are plenty of cities in the world that would look fine. There were also at least 5 huge sledgehammer moments when the plot just beat us senselessly.

The entire plot with Oswald is laughable. I’m not sure why they are focusing so much time on him. I guess they are wanting to show the evolution of the character into the super-villain. Heh. I just implied that Penguin was a super-villain. Ha. He’s just such a goofball. Every moment of his screen time in Gotham is just a joke. He’s jumped from the butt of the mob’s jokes to a crazed murderer. In a tuxedo. I’ll admit that seeing the journey from criminal to villain is intriguing, but not with the Penguin, and not in this situation. This could be handled much better with a more interesting character. Or at the very least, we could have some good motivation for his actions. At this point, it’s all revenge. Boring. His introduction into this episode on the street corner where all the crimes were happening at the same time? Cheesy. His appearance at the end in the tux? Ugh. The only thing worse would’ve been if he had smacked Barb with an umbrella. He’s not intimidating. We see his violence, but that’s not enough to build a character on.

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Fish continues to deliver groan-inducing scenes. I like the concept of struggle within the mob family, but she is not giving us anything to care about. I think the character would be solid, but it’s the acting that is ruining it. Hell, even the strippers in the background of her scenes seem bored and pained at witnessing what is happening.

The introduction of Cranston just to kill him off was a waste of time. Yes, he served as a solid example of what’s wrong with GCPD, but it was just one more thing I didn’t care about.

The method of killing the corrupt individuals was just weird. Ok, yes, it was establishing the crazy things that we know will happen in the future of the city. But it was the most random thing possible for an average guy taking the law into his own hands to decide to do. Seriously, how the hell did he come up with this idea? And on this topic, how stupid are the GCPD cops not to realize that the bodies would eventually fall? They played that moment of realization like it was so dramatic. And from a scientific standpoint, wouldn’t the bodies have been moved way out of the city by upper atmospheric winds. And why the hell did Cranston fly away screaming instead of shooting the balloon when he was just a few feet off the ground?

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Beyond what I did and did not like about this episode, we have to talk about the absolutely huge line that Gordon had about half way through the show. He was talking to Barb in his extremely nice apartment and said, “Everyone has to matter or nobody matters. Otherwise, people lose faith. That’s when we get vigilantes.” Holy crap. Yes, it’s a bit heavy-handed, but that is a really well-written line that will serve as foundation to the rest of the show. I wish we would’ve gotten that chunk of dialogue in an episode that did not feature Gotham’s first vigilante killer, but they are clearly playing the “hey, the audience isn’t smart enough to figure this out if we don’t cram it all together” card. Or maybe they’re being really smart and playing this whole thing like a comic book where heavy-handed dialogue is a bit more accepted. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

This line also speaks volumes to Gordon’s character and motivation. In previous articles, I’ve talked about how much faith Gordon puts into and draws from the concepts of right and wrong. He looks at everything in black and white. He holds himself responsible to those principles and can’t understand why other people don’t do the same. That’s the true source of his disconnect between everyone else in GCPD. What we add to that motivation is that Gordon does not see a difference in class as well. He sees everyone on the same playing field. Everyone has to play by the same rules of right and wrong and accept the consequences of their actions, provided the consequences are defined and assigned by a system of justice that is also built on those rules of right and wrong.

We can see that Gordon is fighting a battle that has already been lost. He doesn’t have a chance. But he doesn’t care. He’s going to keep fighting because he has to. He will not compromise. I’m interested to see how this continues through the show. Will Gordon continue to be the unfailing defender of right and wrong or will he be crushed by his own dedication to a belief that is practically impossible to fulfill?

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At this point, I assume the show will eventually point towards the comic book reality that we all know. So that indicates that Gordon will stay the course. That leaves little room for character development, but it will be interesting to see how he deals with the inevitable situations that will challenge his beliefs. There is a chance, however, that this show will lead into its own comic reality where characters and events don’t play out exactly like we expect. Maybe we’ll see Gordon fail. Maybe that’s why Batman will need to step up; to fill the gap of hero that Gordon has created and help Gordon regain his faith.

That would be awesome, but it’s probably not going to happen.

I’m still not a huge fan of the show, but I’m finding the interesting bits that keep me coming back for more every week.

 

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