‘Gotham’ Weekly Review: The Hidden Altruism of Harvey Bullock

By October 29, 2014

This week’s episode of “Gotham” finally did some much-needed digging into, arguably, its most interesting principle character: Detective Harvey Bullock.

You see, probably one of the most jarring things as a big Batman fan going into this series is seeing Bullock and Jim Gordon at such odds with each other. Sure, it’s perfectly natural, since the overall demeanors of both characters couldn’t be more different, but comic book fans (as well as fans of the acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series”) know that there isn’t a bigger fan of Commissioner Gordon than Harvey Bullock. Gordon is equally loyal to the man he would choose as his Lieutenant when he ascended to Commissioner, and that fierce loyalty between both men would help make the Gotham PD the effective law enforcement institution it would become under Gordon’s watch, instead of the toothless, rampantly corrupt organization it had been in years past.

Naturally, a prequel show involving both of these characters has embraced their overall differences, and the likely outcome of their first years together: a clash of ideologies, with one believing that the other is too shortsighted to bring anything substantive to the table. In that regard, the show actually brings both characters to life faithfully, and this week’s episode was refreshing in that Bullock finally got to have a lion’s share of the limelight.

Comics fans know that Gordon and Bullock will become a powerful partnership in an effective GCPD, but the show properly depicts how they have tocome to terms with their differing personalities and corrupt GCPD before we can get to what we know from the comics.

Comics fans know that Gordon and Bullock will become a powerful partnership in an effective GCPD, but the show properly depicts how they have to come to terms with their differing personalities and corrupt department before we can get to what we know from the comics.

When a body turns up fitting the exact motive and description of a murderer that Bullock helped stop a decade prior, he’s driven in a way we haven’t seen before to see justice done. The murderer targets the first-born children of wealthy Gotham families, and perhaps harking back to his younger days, Bullock seems genuinely concerned about a killing spree starting under the same circumstances. Along the way, Gordon gets to learn a thing or two about his new partner from Bullock’s old partner, and we get to see a side of the normally abrasive hothead that the gruff cop that we haven’t been able to glimpse yet. While this element of the story was largely a successful deeper look at the character of Bullock (played very well by Donal Logue), the actual plot of the murder mystery itself seemed like kind of a cop-out (no pun intended). The show again fails to distinguish itself as either a comic book come to life or as a ground-level police drama, since it employs outwardly fantastical means to facilitate the killer’s actions, ultimately ending with an unceremonious thud. It wasn’t a useless journey, though, since the look deeper into Bullock was largely satisfying.

Although brief, we also get another satisfying look at the development of Bruce Wayne. Even though the killer is targeting people that fit Bruce’s own description of one of Gotham’s wealthy children, he’s unflinching and unafraid since he feels he still has work to do, and won’t leave the city for the time being as Alfred suggests. We almost got to see the first face-to-face meeting between Bruce and Selina Kyle, though as you’ll see from watching the episode, it was “close but no cigar.” Top it off with a slightly greater look at the job, demeanor, and even humanity (who knew he had any?) of Edward Nygma, and a very solid cliffhanger that seems to be culminating the whole season thus far, and you ultimately have a solid viewing experience.

“Gotham” has yet to really hit its stride, and this episode fumbles in a few places, but solid character work for Harvey, Bruce, Nygma, and Penguin (can’t say too much on that and risk spoilers, though), and you have a generally good viewing experience with a lot of anticipation as we head into next week. If the show stays on target by focusing on the people that set it apart from other dramas, namely the Batman characters, then it’ll succeed. Let’s hope the creative team is up to the task. 8/10

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.