EDITOR’S NOTE: WARNING: The following article contains spoilers. If you do not wish to have the plot of this episode ruined for you, please do not read this review until you have watched the episode.
If you considered last week’s “Selina Kyle” episode to be an improvement from the pilot episode of Gotham then I think it will be safe to say you’ll find “The Balloonman” alright.
“The Balloonman” was a bit of a cluster as it was caught up in teasing and hinting towards the future of Gotham when Batman arrives on the scene. Despite that the most disappointing part of all these teases is the lack of subtly. The show has done very little so far to surprise or even attempt to surprise the viewers. Have we really been taken aback by anything so far into the show? We all knew Gordon wouldn’t shoot Cobblepot, we knew Mario Pepper was framed, et cetera. The only surprise I can think of is the cliffhanger at the end of this episode which made me feel the most intrigued I’ve felt so far this season.
Despite all the shade I just threw at this episode, I still enjoyed it. There were moments where I was pleasantly delighted with the cast. They each improve every week , from Bullock sweet talking some prostitutes to Jada Pinkett-Smith’s enticing showing as Fish Mooney. The new addition of David Zayas as crime boss Maroni was a welcome addition as the titans of the crime world continue to make their presence felt.
On to some of the highlights and lowlights from this episode.
As I said, the entire ensemble of actors has done a commendable job despite some tonal issues in the scripts. There isn’t a weak link in the fence as far as I can see, every character and their relationships with other characters create an invigorating dynamic. Going into this show I was most worried about Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot but much to my delight he has become one of my favorite characters and this week’s episode does well to show not just his twistedness but his intelligence as well. Setting himself up in a restaurant frequented by Sal Maroni definitely sets up some interesting scenarios.
The scene with Alfred and Bruce sword fighting was also delightful, I’m really digging this hard-ass, witty Alfred who isn’t afraid to show Bruce a little tough love in times of need. We can immediately see the famous father-son relationship brewing before our eyes.
Finally the idea of The Balloonman is uniquely scary, in a good way, I’ve never thought of a killer of ties his victims to balloons and have them float away to their deaths. It was a fresh new idea in a show that is sure to have as many comic references as they’re allowed. Also the conversation between Gordon and The Balloonman where he says, “There will be more like me.” was especially cool. Pair that with the news reporter asking the question, “Who will protect us now?” with young Bruce looking on made for a great sequence of events.
Gordon said it best tonight in his scene with Barbara, “I had no idea things were this bad.”
I mean at this point does anyone believe the GCPD even attempts to make it look like they’re doing their job? The level of disdain for the police force hit somewhat of a critical level in this episode where cops are condoning beating homeless kids and Bullock’s straight up refusal to investigate a murder.
Falcone said in the pilot episode that crime needs to be at a balance with the law for it to prosper. I’ve yet to see a balance at all because it seems the only time someone does something is if the media blasts them for their ineptitude. You would think it would be in the best interest for all the crime bosses if they had actual cops patrolling around to at least put up a facade. At this point the worst criminals on the show are the cops themselves.
The show stumbled a couple of times but managed to move forward plot-wise as we saw all the criminals and crime bosses of Gotham make certain steps to reach this “terrible war” that Cobblepot won’t shut up about. The combos of Gordon/Bullock and Bruce/Alfred continue to make the show interesting and I can’t wait to see where they go from here. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the emergence of Harvey Dent, who will be portrayed by Nicholas D’agosto. Dent should kick the GCPD in the right direction as he did before he got all supervillany. Gordon takes a backseat this episode as the criminals hog the limelight.