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Gotham Episode 1.3: The Balloonman – Review

Gotham Logo

If this episode could be summed up with one phrase, it would be this: Gotham is headed toward being a city overrun with vigilantes.  Selina Kyle tells Jim Gordon that she witnessed the Waynes’ murder and takes him back to the scene of the crime, showing that she either was there (which we as the viewers know to be the truth) or is smart enough to have read the newspapers and police reports (which Gordon believes is a distinct possibility).  A little outsmarting, a little Houdiniesque escaping from handcuffs, and a lot of muddy shoes later, Gordon looks like an a-hole and the girl who would-be Catwoman is nowhere to be found, one less cop to trust along the way.  Then we get a nice little mention of “O’Brien,” whom comic book loyalists will recognize as the man destined to become the superhero Plastic Man (please, Fox, do not do Plastic Man on this show or, really, ever).  All of this is set-up to a world that needs vigilantes to protect it.  Enter: The Balloonman, a once good citizen who is tired of corrupt politicians, cops, and crime bosses running the streets.  He is killing notable “bad guys” and the cops are hot on his trail, but mostly because he has taken out one of their own.

Gotham Jada Pinkett Smith

Meanwhile, Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone continue their power struggle with one another, which will undoubtedly reach its boiling point now that the Penguin is back in town and very much alive.  It is worth noting that actress Jada Pinkett Smith is as dangerous as she is beautiful in a role that I was a bit skeptical of at first, but have grown to become quite fond of in just three short weeks.  She really is a star and a lesser actress would turn her into campy, making her unbelievable and altogether forgettable.  It was also a nice glimpse of things to come to see another crime boss lending an ear to a “low level nobody,” who we all know is actually the long-thought-dead Oswald Cobblepot.

Gotham Cast

The rumors of a past affair between Detective Renee Montoya and Jim Gordon’s fiancee, Barbara Kean, were put to rest this week as well in a well-handled additional wrench into the love life of the main character of the show.  We also see Gordon starting to win over the rest of the cops (slowly but surely) as he forces Bullock to do the right thing.  Bruce Wayne and Alfred have a brief reprieve from their collective terrible situation and are seen to be genuinely having fun fencing in the Wayne Manor library, but a need for vigilantes has Bruce reflecting at the end of the episode that the Balloonman was just as bad as the men and women he killed.  He was a villain, not a hero.

I know I’m probably starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but Robin Lord Taylor’s performance is yet again the highlight of the episode.  He gracefully walks (or waddles) the line between complete and utter useless weasel who is willing to do absolutely anything to survive and fantastically creepy psychopath with a grand scheme plan unlike any other Gothamites.  His three or four brief scenes steal the show, and the cliffhanger with him arriving at Jim Gordon’s door and wishing to chat about the future is just enough of a teaser that we can almost forget that the episode was essentially just a filler week.  Can’t wait to see what happens next… I’m guessing Cobblepot is going to start a gang war.

My Rating: 4/5

Be sure to check out next week’s episode (and my review of said episode) as well as the Baturday column this weekend celebrating the week of Batman books.  In the meantime, what were your thoughts on this week’s episode?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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