Synopsis: Jim Gordon comes to Gotham to find the city deeply ingrained in corruption. After meeting a young Bruce Wayne after the death of the boy’s wealthy parents he starts on a crusade to somehow save the city from the criminal element and from itself.
About a month and a half ago I wrote up my thoughts about the Gotham premiere after seeing it at SDCC over the summer. I thought it was a flawed show with potential and, to be honest, upon a second viewing my opinion hasn’t really changed. I still think that Gotham is enjoyable and that the show could continue to grow into something great. But I still have a lot of reservations.
Still, I will admit that I enjoyed the show the second time around a lot more than the first.
It’s a good first look at the world they are trying to build.
It’s not a perfect pilot, no. But very few pilots are perfect. It’s hard to bring an audience into something new especially when it’s not actually new. We know Gotham and we know so many of the characters that are being introduced already. There have been basically a million and one retellings of classic Batman origin stories already so it’s hard for them to distinguish themselves.
Gotham begins by throwing us into one of the most familiar scenes in the Batman mythology – the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Moments after we start out with a lighthearted moment following around a young, street urchin we know as Selina Kyle she inadvertently watches a moment that will change Gotham City forever. Shortly afterward Jim Gordon – newly arrived back to the city after a long absence apparently while in the military – and his partner Harvey Bullock find their way on to the case. From the moment he meets young Bruce Wayne, Jim connects with him in what is likely to be an overarching theme throughout the series. This Jim Gordon is going to take a much more direct roll in shaping the man Bruce becomes – the man who eventually dons the cowl.
In trying to track down the Waynes’ killers we’re introduced to a cast of new and familiar characters – some of whom aren’t necessarily all that familiar just yet. Edward Nigma is an overly excited and riddle obsessed crime scene tech whose screen time is limited this time around but I doubt it will be long before we see him again. Fish Mooney, played by the gorgeous Jada Pinkett-Smith, is a small time crime boss operating under big bossman Falcone whose got a sort of partnership with Bullock. We meet a couple more characters through her. She leads Jim and Bullock to Ivy Pepper – the stand in for Pamela Isley – by framing her father for the Waynes’ murder who Bullock ultimately kills while in pursuit to save Jim’s life. That ultimately leads them to Montoya and Allen who basically accuse them of being involved in the whole thing. Because, you know, that’s some how a logical jump. Blame the guy whose been on the job for a day.
The most important character we’re introduced to is Oswald Cobblepott who seems to be a pretty loyal lackey before he betrays her. Honestly, Robin Lord Taylor makes this show. His portrayal of a crazy, deranged, and increasingly violent criminal is spectacular and I can’t wait to see how his story progresses.
After Montoya tips off Jim that she thinks he’s dirty by going to talk to his girlfriend, Barbara (who apparently she had a thing with in the past at some point?), he kind of makes a bunch of dumb decisions that nearly get him killed. He goes to try and take on Fish Mooney which makes Bullock have to go try and save his ass. Instead, they both almost wind up strung up and beaten to death in a meatpacking plant until Falcone – of all people – comes to the rescue. Turns out Falcone and Jim’s dad go way back and Jim finally sees just how dirty this city has become. After pretending to kill Cobblepott in order to save his own life and prove to Falcone he understands the way things work, he makes a promise to Bruce Wayne. He’s going to fix the police department and he’s going to fix the city.
Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done.
And we all know that ultimately this isn’t a story that’s going to have a happy ending because Bruce Wayne will still end up becoming Batman. The city is not going to be saved.
That’s one of the greatest things about this show, you know? We know where it’s going to go. We have no delusions that Jim Gordon is going to change anything. But we know the men and women these people grow up to be and we want to see that. We want to grow with them.
In particular, I’m looking forward to seeing Jim and Bullock’s relationship grow. Bullock is a great character and while this show may be in part about the rise of Batman and Jim Gordon I’m expecting it to also be a lot about Bullock’s redemption. He’s a conflicted guy and his portrayal – though not as eccentric – is almost as great as Robin Lord Taylor’s. Because he’s a guy who knows the world he’s in. He knows it’s shit. And he sees in Jim the kind of guy whose going to get himself killed. And he doesn’t want that because I think deep down Jim’s the kind of cop that Bullock wants to be or maybe used to be.
I’m really looking forward to seeing them together going forward.
Some things I didn’t like?
I’m not a big fan of the weird noir/comic thing they’re going for with their cinematography. And I think they need to decide just how comic book-esque they are going to make things. The first scene with Jim and a crowded Gotham Police Department precinct office looked straight out a comic book but the blend of seriousness and humor at times in the show doesn’t work the same way it would in a comic. I need more consistency, I think.
Also: I still don’t like Montoya’s characterization yet. I want more from her and I want don’t want her sexuality to be nothing more than a point of contention between her and Jim because they both have a history with Barbara Keen. She’s a fantastic character and she deserves more than that because she becomes a hero in her own right – something I kind of hope happens in the series as well.
So, going forward? I have hope for this show. The trailer for next week and stills I’ve seen of the next couple episodes give me a lot of hope. If nothing else, this is a show that looks like it might make it through a full first season – something that no new show is ever guaranteed these days. But FOX is taking more risks and doing more with the genre-specific shows as evidenced by Sleepy Hollow which bodes well for Gotham’s future.
You’re more than welcome to join us next week on Twitter where I’ll be live tweeting the whole episode for the Eastern and Central timezones. Catch me tweeting under my personal account (@samaside) using the hashtags #nerdswatch and #GothamOnFox!!
Also, can we talk about how freakin’ AWESOME next week looks?