A whole new meaning to getting high.
What They Say:
The Balloonman – Gordon and Bullock track down a vigilante who uses weather balloons to kill corrupt citizens; Cobblepot gets a job close to a major figure in the underworld.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gotham has been pretty busy with its first couple of episodes with what it’s trying to introduce and it’s been at the expense of the actual story of the week aspect itself. The pacing for those has been a bit less than stellar overall, but you get the gist of the kind of bad things that go down in Gotham and the weird side of it as well. For me, those are of less interest at the moment since it’s mostly shaking things down, but we’ve gotten some hints of a potential bigger threat for the season with the Dollmaker, so you do have to pay attention to it. What keeps me really interested though is getting some of the character stories that are starting here, particularly with Cobblepot but also just in seeing the dynamic between Bullock and Gordon. I continue to hope that Bullock doesn’t turn out to have a heart of gold because his ass of a self is what makes him so much fun to watch.
I’m also thrilled to see how much fun Oswald Cobblepot is in the series. The character of the Penguin has been ground into people’s mind as either what we had back in Batman ‘66 or the interpretation from Tim Burton as played by Danny Devito. What Robin Lord Taylor is doing here in this series is obviously more real world, but it has a greater sense of fun criminality about it that really makes me grin and want to see what he has up his sleeve next. His return to Gotham is done simply at the start here and it’s just good to have him back in the city while wondering what he’s been up to while in the outskirts of the city. But he’s being overshadowed a bit here, almost literally, as the next round of crime in the city that’s going on is pretty weird as someone known as the Balloonman is going after corrupt people in the city, attaching weather balloons to them and sending them on their merry way into the sky to die.
Gordon’s search for truth and justice is not something that’s easily done in Gotham and we see how he’s struggling to deal with the department and what forces are at play in there. His main mission is to find the Wayne’s killer of course, though other cases of course come up. With Selina claiming to have information, we see the two of them really starting to form a relationship here, one that’s contentious in a really fun way as she proves that she can be trusted in some ways but not in others. But also that she can’t quite be kept locked up easily enough. The dynamic between the two and the dialogue is really well done here as you get his frustration but also her playfulness.
The attacks on the corrupt of Gotham takes an interesting turn along the way, after Gordon and Bullock discover that four balloons were stolen, as the next one that gets dealt with is a corrupt senior cop. It’s rather amusing watching it unfold as the cop, Cranston, gets taken down by the same guy that did the first one but he dresses up like The Shadow here, who was named Cranston Lamont. The death of a cop in this manner, no matter how dirty, certainly raises the profile of the case a lot and that makes things even more dangerous in general. We see a little of that worry at home with Gordon and Barbara, which provides our nice little recap of events in a way as he fills her in. And for him to speechify a bit, which is a case being made about doing what needs being done in order to make sure that vigilantes don’t start populating the city.
Cobblepot’s subplot through the episode is a hoot to watch as he makes his return to Gotham and starts to insert himself into things in small ways. We see just how quick and cold he can be when someone sees him and recognizes him and he even goes pretty far, presumably, to get a pair of shoes in order to get a job at a specific restaurant. A restaurant that’s frequented by Don Maroni. Cobblepot has his plans and seeing him looking at everything with his kind of calculation is definitely something that makes me grin. His getting a little time with Maroni in a kind of child-like way makes it even more adorable in a weird kind of way as you see the wheels turning.
The Balloonman arc in the show has a really weird vibe to it overall, but in a kind of lighter tone that really does work well. Their hunt for the mysterious Balloonman leads them to a couple of different places, including a great fight sequence that has Bullock getting tossed all over the place, and it adds another victim in a Cardinal that’s accused of some very bad sexual practices. Bullock and Gordon working together is definitely trying to find its balance and between the montage sequence of Bullock shaking down people for info and their actual dealing with the real criminal, well, it may feel uneven in some ways but I really like the way it plays out. Especially since we once again see that Bullock just isn’t going to be that good guy, at least for awhile. And as I said before, hopefully not ever.
Gotham has a kind of curious lighter tone about itself this time around and it managed to work really well for me overall. There’s a certain kind of humor that can work here, and an almost gallows humor from some of the cops, which makes you grin at the wrong time. while the main story from the previous episode didn’t do much for me, this one was a lot of fun and has me a bit more hopeful than before. We get some good stuff with Gordon and Selina this time around and a bit more on the past relationship between Montoya and Barbara that was hinted at previously in a blunt way. For me, the real fun continues to be Bullock and Cobbleplot in what they’re doing, but I’m also loving the scenery chewing that Fish Mooney is engaging in and the kind of old school approach to being a mafia boss that Falcone is dealing in. It’s good stuff all around that leaves me pretty pleased with the episode.