Gotham Review – “The Balloonman” S1E3

Here is the problem with Gotham: It is trying too hard to be a lead-in to Batman’s story instead of just being Jim Gordon’s story.  I could go into the fact that the beauty of the relationship between vigilante Batman and police detective Gordon is that they both emerged in Gotham at the same time, trying to do the same thing: save Gotham from itself.  Unfortunately, it is hard to watch the show rewrite history by making Bruce Wayne a little boy.  I have tried to not nitpick because I hate when hipsters say, “Well, actually the original says blah blah blah.” But in this case, Bruce Wayne being a little boy is ruining Jim Gordon’s growth.  Instead of focusing on the police department, and the mob, and the crookedness of it all, the writers are trying to cram in way too many Batman villains from the get go.

Case in point: The Balloonman.  So The Balloonman was a villain introduced in the late 60’s, but disappeared after the Infinite Earth Crisis in the mid 80’s.  Disappeared.  Until last night when his presence dropped on us like he was a dead guy and we were an old lady just trying to walk our dog.  And the point of it all? The Balloonman being a “vigilante” for Gotham in this episode is the lead in for Bruce Wayne also wanting to be a vigilante.  What a let down.  For a little background, a man with a cart and a pig mask was attaching famously corrupt men in Gotham to weather balloons and sending them up to the sky.  It was 40 minutes of trying to track him by the police department, who was up in arms over the whole thing, because they were next on the list.  And then he was caught (I’ll get to that later), and the sum of it all was that Bruce Wayne is now inspired… or something.

Gotham - "The Balloonman"
Wanna take a balloon ride from this guy?  Me either.

That was the crux of the episode, but that would make all the other notes I took worthless, so let’s just jump right into all the other stuff that didn’t matter.  So why don’t we start with Selina Kyle?  She is annoying as hell.  And not in a cute teenager way, but in the Dawn in season 5 of Buffy kind of way.  I think a kid who steals a pen from a cop may think she’s being rebellious, but in fact would be eaten alive on the streets of Gotham.  Her attitude is not charismatic, but rather stunningly off-putting.  It will be a challenge to change my opinion of Selina, but it could be done.  A little less mean-girl, fake street-rat attitude, and a little more of an air of knowledge and superiority.

Bad-Ass over here.
Selina Kyle: Pen Thief. As if insurance agents don’t get away with this crime everyday.

While I am still not a fan of Fish Mooney, I didn’t find her as terrible this week. Perhaps it was because her screen time was not such an influence.  I just have to ask, does anyone else think it’s weird that her cabaret dancers in the background are always on stage and wear a lifetime’s supply of sequins all the time?  I do.  Alfred is starting to get kinda cool.  Since the show is choosing to focus a large part of their plot on Bruce, I would like more about Alfred.  He had his fencing scene with Bruce, but what struck me was his comment about how The Balloonman was killing people: “I can think of an easier way to kill someone.”  Wow!  Alfred thinks about killing people?  If this show lasts, it will be amazing to see what their take on his backstory is.

And I want to take a second and comment on the Barbara/Montoya relationship.  What is the purpose?  To get fan-boys to ogle at two pretty girls kissing?  It seems totally weird that Barbara is bisexual, not because I think being bisexual is weird, but Barbara’s sexuality doesn’t have a point to it.  Perhaps it’s not even that there is no point, I mean there doesn’t need to a point for a person’s sexual choices.  My biggest gripe is that these two have NO chemistry.  I can’t believe for one second that these two were ever an item.  Put some passion into it ladies!

Is Barbara destined to be Batwoman, or is she just a prop?
Is Barbara destined to be Batwoman, or is she just a prop?

The best parts of this episode all involved the “crime bosses.”  Not only is Carmine Falcone intimidating, yet likable, but the introduction of Sal Maroni (played by David Zayas of Dexter) was spot on.  He is equally as intimidating, but also a very good actor.  Which is kind of rare in this show, honestly.  I loved that Oswald overhears Maroni’s conversation and knows how to take advantage of the situation.  But so far, Oswald is my favorite character and the reason I will keep coming back every week.  If you are going to be bad in Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot is the guy to envy.  He is doing it right.  Robin Lord Taylor is by far the best actor on the series, never going over the top, and making me question whether or not its O.K. to kill people in the alley way (kidding!) I even laughed when he ordered a tuna sandwich.  Clever or corny?  I don’t know but I liked it.  And the ending with Cobblepot!  Without revealing too much of a spoiler, it was the only redeeming scene of the episode.

Gotham - The Balloonman"
I’m crazy, and I know it.

But what I want to end on is a bad note.  It’s very Debbie Downer of me, I know.  But Gordon and Bullock pissed me off this week.  How dense are they?  Here is my laundry list:

  • It is obvious that even though MCU (Montoya and Allen)is a pain in the ass, they are good people. Why would Gordon make them even more suspicious of his supposed murderous act by acting so strangely?
  • Isn’t Bullock “finding” The Balloonman in corrupt ways making him a target of The Balloonman seeing that Bullock is a public corrupt figure?
  • How is a stoner with a hawaiian t-shirt smarter than the cops that they don’t understand that balloons freaking pop and the bodies don’t just “disappear”?
  • Gordon’s declaration of who The Balloonman is with no explanation to the audience.  This is one the times I could have used a little coddling.
  • I’m tired of Bullock saying “I’ll beat it out of you.”  This isn’t The Big Bang Theory; we don’t need a catchphrase.
  • How did Gordon and Bullock not see a GIANT weather balloon just hanging the alley by the old orphanage when the were chatting?!?!

While there are aspects of the show that are keeping me intrigued (Oswald Cobblepot, Sam Maroni and Carmine Falcone), I felt that this week’s episode of Gotham may have taken two steps backward with the development of the majority of the characters.  While the overall storyline isn’t moving forward either, Cobblepot’s bold move did give the plot a push.  Hush Comics gives “The Balloonman” a C- for general lack of direction, a bad purpose for this week’s baddie, and really bad detective work.

All photos belong to DC Entertainment.

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Adrian Puryear

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, and Breaking Bad are the best things to ever happen to me. I'm only a Three on MeowMeowBeenz. I really want to be a Four.

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