Gotham, Season 1, Episode 5, 'Viper', Review

10/21/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


The following review contains spoilers for all episodes of Gotham

For a season that has had a somewhat rocky start, Gotham takes a questionable turn in episode 5, by introducing a somewhat supernatural element that is a far cry from the more grounded and gritty approach that (most of) the rest of the show has been.

Gotham continues to feel fairly disjointed with so many (seemingly) disconnected story-lines.  Every scene change seems to wipe the slate clean as far as plot, because separate character arcs rarely intersect.  The one gem in the show continues to be Oswald Cobblepot's story, as he rises through the ranks of Maroni's gang, but that is an unfortunately minor subplot that tends to take a back seat to some much less watchable parts of the show.

The dialogue and acting continues to be suspect in nearly every scene.  The tone and volume used by the characters rarely seems to reflect the words that are actually written in the script.  It seems like everyone is always yelling at each other, and the music and setting can seem really tense, but the actual dialogue doesn't support the tension.  This episode had one of the best examples of this yet, as a scene comes to a close with Donal Logue's Harvey Bullock yelling "WHAT'S ALTRUISM?"

Fish Mooney wasn't nearly so irritating this episode, but that had more to do with screen time than anything else.  Her character is still a mystery, as she could have been killed off several episodes ago and nothing significant would have been lost.  It's clear that everyone seems to be starting to turn against Falcone, which admittedly sets up an interesting dynamic, but it also seems to undermine his character in the process.  By the time they try to usurp him, it's going to seem insignificant due to his demonstrated incompetence and inability to know what Fish is up to, or blindness to the fact that Oswald Cobblepot is still alive in a city that Falcone supposedly owns.

I feel like Gordon is growing on me, but his character is so slow moving.  The only reason he's growing on me is because he is closer to where he should have been when the show started.  I also feel like he has no real story.  He feels more like a piece of driftwood being tossed around by a million other competing plot-lines.

Then there's Bruce and Alfred.  I will say that I like where those characters are going more this episode than I have in others, but they are also one of those many plots that seems to confuse the overall story.  The show was sold as a show about Gotham and about a young Jim Gordon, but Bruce Wayne is one of the only characters that feels properly established.

His presence also puts the show in this weird place, where it is almost a story of  lil' Batman, or maybe lil' Matches Malone in this episode.  He is basically training to be Batman, but that happening on screen presents more issues than it does add benefits.  It would be much better for all his detective work to happen off screen, and we only find out about it through the eyes of Jim Gordon.  That's really how this whole show should be viewed.  Through the eyes of Jim Gordon.

That's not even getting to the issues with this weeks actual story, which introduced "Viper," which is a drug that is basically "Venom," which gives Bane his super powers.  This version only has a short half life, though, before it kills the user.  Besides this being way less grounded and excessively (and needlessly) campy, it feels like a retread of the worst parts of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with extremis and Arrow with the mirakuru.

This doesn't only challenge the grounded aesthetic of Gotham, but also presents major issues for the appearance of Bane later during Batman's career, potentially more than 2 decades away.  According to the Gotham canon, Bruce Wayne will not only have known about venom for at least 15 years, but have access to all sorts of records about its creation and possible countermeasures, since it was developed by a Wayne Enterprises subsidiary.

That probably strikes at the core of my main frustration with Gotham.  Batman is amazing.  A show about Gotham is appealing, because Batman is amazing, but the show is creating a Batman that is much less amazing than the one that inspired the show!

As the season goes on, it feels like there are less and less reasons to follow this show.  If there's not some significant improvement and simplification of the many plot threads in the next few weeks, then Gotham may be better suited for a rainy day binge-watch once it hits Netflix.

Gotham airs Monday nights at 8/7c


0 disqus:

Sound off