Welcome, Bat Fanatics, to our weekly debrief of Gotham. Today, News Editor Laura, and Staff Writer Ardo take on Episode 3: The Balloonman!
(Gotham isn’t my favorite so far, so I’ll be interspersing this debrief with gifs from shows I actually enjoy. — ed.)
Well then. That was an episode. I guess we should start off with initial feelings. I felt like there were individual moments that were great but overall it was a bit of a snooze fest but that’s expected in an episode filled with ALLUSIONS TO THE BATVERSE. What did you think, Laura?
Well, Ardo, this episode was basically one long buzzer sound to me. It’s the kind of episode where I watch the sobriquets go flashing by on the promos and wonder how these critics could call it “GRIPPING,” unless there was some serious squinting from the editorial team when they ran across a sentence says “Gotham left me GRIPPING my own hair with frustration, when are they going to pick up the pace.” Honestly, I’m not sure I could tell you with any specificity what happened in the case, except that I know this week it was very much What Was On The Tin: the episode was called The Balloon Man and there were, indeed, several men attached to balloons in it! So kudos for having a little more title connection there.
Like you say, most of the episode felt like brick-laying to me, but the thing about brick-laying is that it’s pretty damn boring to watch.
Also, Gordon and Harvey are basically the worst detectives of all time.
But you mentioned good individual moments — let’s take a gander at those. What worked for you, Ardo?
Honestly? The same things that have been working the last few episodes. I like the Harvey Bullock dynamic but mostly Bullock although I think Gordon is great for the role he offers in the show. I think once he realized how messed up to the core the city is, it’ll offer some layers to the character. Again, Cobblepot shined on screen and the lovely surprise was the great screen time we got with Selina (mini Catwoman) at the start of the episode and want to see her given more opportunities like that going forward.
David Mazouz is killing it with mini Batman but I wish they were rushing it the way they are in getting him to that Bat suit. We can talk about that later because that seems to be a consistent theme with the show that we can discuss later on but I have to bring up Alfred. ALFRED WAS LESS TRAUMATIZING THIS WEEK! I think his behaviour (minus the no therapy excuse) makes sense given his new role as being Bruce’s guardian and having to deal with his own grief over the Waynes. Dr. Andrea Letamendi discusses that in her very smart recap of last week’s episode but I personally think that it could have been conveyed a little better through the writing. I did like the dynamic between the butler and our mini vigilante a lot.
It’s true, he was less traumatizing. Good job, Alfred! You weren’t as terrible as you could have been. Though admittedly I think saying “There are easier ways to kill someone” to a kid whose parents were just viciously murdered at point-blank range is a little harsh.
Also, I’m a little baffled by Gotham’s purpose. I had thought it was meant to be the story of how Jim Gordon became the Commissioner and how Gotham went downhill, but it’s been leaning heavily on the origin of Batman ever since the pilot, up to and including that news anchor practically breaking the fourth wall and giving young Bruce a call to arms.
I was also pretty turned off by Detective Renee Montoya macking on Barbara. We get it, you used to date. But you know what word describes exes who let themselves into your home, where you live with your fiance, and try to win you back, by dissing your fiance, to whom you are engaged. Because fiance? Creepers. That is the crazy ex. Can’t Renee get a better shake?
I completely agree with you on the Renee front. I also think that Alfred’s not so awesome comment is more like a shoe in mouth problem (is that how it goes?) that a single person with a kid they have to suddenly take care of will likely have to deal with from time to time. I, personally, would have said worse things. Again, I wouldn’t do the things he did in the last few episodes though.
I think we’ve reached the essential issue with the series that will prevent it from becoming anymore engaging or interesting in the long run. Bruno Heller has stressed for months and months, practically banging our heads against it, that this was a story without Batman. This was about Gotham as much as it was about the rise of Jim Gordon because this city is the thing that broke people and also had the ability to build legends. So colour me surprised when in the three episodes we’re given, we have little Bruce so quickly forming into Batman when he won’t leave to train for his destiny for another decade at least. Where you’re introducing people and concepts in so quickly like that call to arms that you mentioned before. I get it. Batman is a kick ass character with a lot of story opportunities but that’s not the show. The writing is doing everything it can to be a Batman show without having to say Batman when it should be a Gotham show that has us begging for a Batman because the city is just a shitty place that’s stomping on our regular, non-superhero good guys.
Welcome to Gotham, here’s your complimentary kick in the gut.
It’s leaning way too hard on Bruce and the build-up to Batman, and I think the writers feel like that’s a get-out-of-jail-free card that’s going to distract us from flat writing and monotone acting choices. I understand the desire for a noir-esque pace, but with the monochromatic color scheme and the lack of any real rise or fall of mood or tone onscreen, the whole episode just felt like one long blur. Gordon acts and sounds exactly the same with Selina as he does with Harvey or Barbara; it’s all sad basset hound, no matter what else is going on. There’s no shift, the whole series is just one long held note so far. It’s not building tension, it’s wearing down attention spans.
Cobblepot, though: he’s great. He’s the only color in the whole thing. Jada Pinkett Smith is starting to lose me with her scenery-chewing, and her preordained-to-be-doomed coup against Falcone is lacking any kind of dramatic drive. We already know what’s going to happen to her, because while we’ve heard of Cobblepot and Falcone, there is no Fish Mooney anywhere in the rest of Batman’s canon.
It’s GOTHAM, people. Give me some drama!
I’m not enjoying Jada’s acting choices for this character. She feels like a caricature of a villain. I think the actors are being given terrible direction and are given terrible writing to spit out onto the screen. Cobblepot is the only one who has a clear motivation for his actions, we he’s doing it, the acting is flawless and, most importantly, you can tell he’s someone who’s going to be someone. You feel it in your bones and are excited to see what else he’ll do to become THE PENGUIN. I do think that they refer to his Penguin-ness too much but again that is more to do with the writing.
You brought up something that I couldn’t pinpoint before. Gotham doesn’t make me feel anything. It’s a decaying city that just suffered the loss of the Waynes. The moment Gordon realizes that this city is utter shit is the moment where we also feel that way too: buried under the weight of feeling like nothing can be done to correct things. But we don’t because we’ve seen corruption on screen all the time in cop shows and Gotham isn’t offering anything new. What is this show saying that’s new? What is it offering that the dozens of police dramas aren’t? Don’t say Batman because he’s not supposed to be a part of this remember? The other characters aren’t meaty enough to add anything to the landscape. That’s the problem Agents of SHIELD had but at least Gotham is slightly more interesting but that won’t last if they keep this up. They need to focus on the characters and not on the 75 years worth of legend that they feel the need to drum up to make the show interesting.
Why were these characters interesting in the first place to last 75 years???? That’s the question they should ask themselves.
I said before that if I didn’t know this was Jim Gordon I was watching, I wouldn’t care.
I changed my mind.
I’m pretty sure I don’t care either way.
Someone needs to slip King Shark or Killer Croc or Mr. Freeze in there right quick: Gotham is a town is serious need of a wacky villain or two to keep things afloat.
Any final thoughts, Ardo? I’m pretty sure most of mine drifted away with the very first victim of the Balloon Man’s fiendish and not at all absurd murder plan.
Yeah. Two actually: 1) weather balloons aren’t the only ones to eventually pop or deflate after spending some time up in the sky. STOP SPREADING THESE LIES. ALL BALLOONS DO THIS.
2) How is Harvey a detective? Seriously? I’m sure Harvey in the comics was a decent detective and detected stuff. Come on, Harvey! That’s it.
Oh, and get better, GOTHAM.
Powerful stuff. #WeNeedAccurateBalloonRepresentation
Remember to tune in next week to join us for Episode 1.04: Arkham! It’s sure to be something to watch on your television, if you choose to do so. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, feel free to bring a drink if you’re of a legal age to do so, and party with Ardo, myself, and the millions of viewers wondering what exactly is happening on our screens.