This week’s episode of “Gotham” seemed to be rather unfocused, with a lot of different stories being paid service over the course of this one episode. Normally, this wouldn’t translate very well to a cohesive hour of television, but this episode seemed to largely work on its own merits. There were a few sloppy executions and handlings, but overall, it’s pretty surprising how well it stuck together.
The first story that it touched on ever so briefly was the overarching tale of Fish Mooney’s efforts to overthrow Don Carmine Falcone. With early service paid toward apparent dissension in the ranks of the Falcone organization, we’re given a very different perspective by the end of the episode on what’s really going on, and a new character brought on recently is finally explained in full. It should prove to be an interesting story going forward, especially since the linkages this series seems to have to Falcone as he was in the Batman mythology seems tenuous at best: we could either be seeing a failed plot to bump him off from a character who is original to this show (Fish), or we’ll be seeing that same character’s monumental failure, since in the comics, Falcone survives well after Batman’s first strike on the city.
The second story concerns the Penguin, and what happens when he fully discloses his storied history with the Falcone family to his new boss: Sal Maroni (played by “Dexter’s” David Zayas). Maroni’s representation in this show is actually pretty great, and by concept alone is actually a bit truer to the comics than even The Dark Knight was in 2008. Maroni has taken a keen interest in Penguin as a potential asset as the future supervillain climbs the ladder of his organization, and things between the two characters take an even more interesting turn when there are no more secrets left between them as far as Penguin’s true history is concerned.
David Zayas seems to relish his role as Gotham’s number two crime boss, and he balances his inherent charm in the part with a flaring sense of viciousness that only arrives in spurts, giving you a greater idea of how he became the man he is today. Things also get hairy for Gordon, since Maroni is now aware of what he did, or really didn’t do, which would definitely be of interest to Bullock, Fish, and Falcone.
The final story concerned the main characters, Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, as they try to stop the spread of a new, powerful, and potent drug on the streets of Gotham. Weaving in and out of this element of the story is Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth, with Bruce’s continued self-education about Gotham leading him to some startling facts about the company his family built, and the current stewards in charge of it.
The investigation into the drug also alludes to future Batman villain Bane, and how its existence is likely a forerunner to the same super-steroid that ultimately allows him to possess superhuman strength. While it was interesting (and maybe a little incongruous) seeing Gordon and Bullock working so well together, the pacing of this element of the story was slowed down when the conclusion is basically just handed to the cops when they meet with a character that has past ties to the antagonist of the episode.
Overall, this was one of the better episodes of the show’s first few thus far, and surprisingly fun to watch given its somewhat disparate elements combining into something that was, surprisingly, pretty narratively sound. It’ll be interesting to see if future episodes decide to have this much going on, or if this was a special occasion as we ramp up toward the many things to come. 8/10
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