Monday, October 20, 2014

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - A New Drug Hits the City, Fish Mentors Liza & Bruce Learns More About His Parent's Company in 'Viper'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 1.05 "Viper"

Gordon and Bullock search for the source of a new street drug that causes euphoria then death. Meanwhile, Oswald works his way deeper into Maroni's inner circle and Fish continues to plot against Falcone.

Right now, it doesn't really feel like Gotham is collectively building towards anything. There are many separate parts of this narrative that are doing their own thing. But the pieces of this elaborate puzzle aren't coming together. The only connective tissue that brings everything together is the city of Gotham. For a show called Gotham, it's good that the city is a major component of the story. However, there's no feeling that what Jim and Harvey do at the police department hunting a bad guy every week will effect Bruce investigating his parents' company and how that will effect the ongoing gang war between Falcone, Fish and Moroni.

If I had to pick the most problematic of the series problems right now, it would definitely be the investigative procedural aspect of the show. Because of creator Bruno Heller's past with The Mentalist, I would have expected him to know how to balance the episodic crime-of-the-week stuff with the ongoing serialization on the fringes of the show. And yet, there's a lot of things the show feels the need to cover on a weekly basis - Jim hitting the streets looking for justice; Fish at her club; Bruce at his mansion, etc - that it hinders the amount of time that can be spent setting up an interesting and engaging episodic plot. Then there are the procedural aspects which seem to hint at a slightly more fantastical reality than the one most of the regular characters are in. This week that includes a drug that gives people immense strength but kills them a few hours later. It's tonal whip lash to go from a guy lifting up an ATM only to have it crush him a second later to Falcone talking to his family or Moroni trying to determine whether or not Oswald is telling the truth.

The case-of-the-week is better in this episode - largely because it better connects to another part of the narrative, Wayne Enterprises. And yet, it also continues the trend of every low level villain Jim and Harvey deal with each week alluding to something bigger to come. Sooner or later, that setup better start paying off. The homeless kid snatchers alluded to the Doll Maker. The Balloonman alluded to vigilante justice. Gladwell and his fancy but ineffective toy for killing people alluded to the redistricting of Arkham. And yet, all of it is pretty meaningless. It's not connecting in a way this type of show should. The distribution of Viper only allows Bruce to see the corruption going on within his parents' company now that they are no longer there running things. That is a much better story arc for the young actor. But it's not forcing the rest of the show to get swept up into it.

And so many of the subplots and smaller moments do work. I'm still very intrigued by the shifting balance of power going on between Falcone, Fish and Moroni. Fish uses Liza to seduce Falcone. Moroni gets to be less hammy now that he has won a part of Arkham and has Oswald - as his true self - on his side. Like I said before, this was the best episode so far for Bruce because he got to break out of the monotony of his familiar environment. It's just a lot of promise and not much reward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Viper" was written by Rebecca Perry Cutter and directed by Tim Hunter.
  • Also, Selina showed up for a second to remind us that she is still a part of this show and taunting Jim that she has information that he needs about the Wayne murders.
  • Edward Nygma continues to get on my nerves. The more I see that character, the more I think it's an acting problem.
  • It was nice to see Jim get to tell the truth about the conspiracy with the Wayne murders and Oswald. Of course, it comes with him being unwittingly pulled into the world of Maroni. And that likely won't be the good for him in the future.