Gotham: Viper (1×05)

Synopsis: Gotham comes under attack by a madman releasing a toxin in the form of a drug that turns people into super strong rage monsters. Bruce continues digging into Wayne Enterpise’s files to see if he can’t find some link to his parents’ murder and the Arkham project. Meanwhile Maroni finds out Cobblepott’s secret and Jim gets put into a tough situation.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

This week’s Gotham was a bit hit or miss for me. Maybe two-thirds of the story really drew me in but the more important third just fell a bit flat. I think that’s often the problem with a lot of ‘bad guy of the week’ shows. Some episodes are absolutely great while others fall flat. Luckily Gotham isn’t just your regular procedural series set in Gotham but an ensemble series that shifts perspective and keeps you interested even when one part of the episode isn’t quite so captivating.

Maybe I’m the only one but I just didn’t find the whole lot with the Venom vapor all that interesting. Yes, I know of it’s connection to Bane but you know what we all know? Bruce Wayne is like ten years old or something so while they may have thrown the toxin at us this early in the game it’s not like Bane is going to come along with it. And, if he does, I’m not going to really care because then what? He disappears for a couple decades until he comes back to break the Bat?

All right, so, let’s dig a bit deeper here.

This weeks’ episode starts out with a guy basically going around giving away a drug that cause the poor and downtrodden citizens of Gotham dumb enough to accept free drugs from a stranger into crazy rage monsters. Jim and Bullock probably shouldn’t even be on the case but they manage to happen across it while on their lunch break and from there on things start to sort of spiral out of control around the city. Edward Nygma helps out on the case popping up to explain exactly how the drug works – it eats away the calcium in the victim/addict’s bones – and that it’s incredibly sophisticated. So sophisticated that it turns out the only place in the city that could even begin to create something like that is a Wayne Enterprises subsidiary.

None of this would surprise young Bruce Wayne who is already starting to realize that the city he’s grown up in is shady as hell. He’s got his head on straighter now and while he’s still kind of a bit unhealthily chasing obsessions at least it’s less his ‘testing his limits’ and more detective related. He’s got it in his head that the Arkham deal is somehow related to the company his family left behind. And he’s not wrong. The Wayne Enterprises board of director is certainly a shady group of people and with the Waynes out of the way a lot of bad people are getting what they want.

And they'd get away with if not for this meddling kid... [FOX]
And they’d get away with if not for this meddling kid… [FOX]
But not everyone is happy about that.

In investigating Jim and Harvey find that, yes, this scientist with the mangled ear that’s been dosing people with this drug that eventually wears them out was affiliated with Wayne Enterprises and he’s pretty livid about what’s going on. He decides to take that out on the people at the company during a nice little company dinner where, conveniently, the board isn’t even at. But you know who is? Bruce Wayne who is desperately trying to find answers while everyone else tries to stonewall him and hide things deep in the company’s files and paperwork is there with Alfred. Luckily no one actually gets infected with the toxin because Jim is there to save the day before the crazy scientist guy jumps off a building for his own angsty reasons that I don’t even remember.

My problem with this plot wasn’t that it was a bit out there like I’ve heard a few people grumbling about. I appreciate that they are throwing in some more outlandish, crazy, unbelievable science into the series because that’s what Gotham is all about. It’s a city dealing with the incredible in a comic setting. My problem is that other than some hilarious scenes – like the one guy who takes the drug, pulls apart his walker, and then tries to beat Harvey to death with it – and some life-or-death moments it was largely forgettable.

I probably should have cared about this guy's story but... I didn't. So he released Venom into the populous. Cool. He won't matter ever again so why do I need to give him a second thought? [S]
I probably should have cared about this guy’s story but… I didn’t. So he released Venom into the populous. Big deal. He’ll never matter again so I’m not at all invested.[FOX]

The things that mattered are what came after and the other story lines that were completely unrelated.

After their near death experience at this company dinner, Alfred realizes that Bruce might actually be on to something and he comes around to Bruce’s meddling. It’s smart because keeping the kid researching means he’s not toying with his life ‘testing his limits’ or whatever. And if he can prove some wrongdoing by the people in charge Bruce might be able to save the company the people he’s worked for all his life have worked to build up. Besides, at this point Bruce is kind of making himself a target and the Maroni and Falcone families probably wouldn’t have any problem with whacking a kid if it served their interests. Alfred needs to get on board if he’s going to protect him.

Once again, though, the real part of this show that shines is the development of Oswald Cobblepott’s story line. Cobblepott at this point is managing the restaurant that Don Maroni uses as a front for his mob dealings, right? It puts him in the right place to start butting into family business except he is not nearly as tactful as he thinks. And for some God unknown reason he decides that days after trying to get into this family’s good graces it’s the perfect time to admit that he’s not some dish washer with an Italian name. No, he’s Oswald Cobblepott and he used to work for Fish Mooney and, yeah, of course Don Maroni is going to smash your face into the table you idiot. You just admitted to working for the enemy.

Aww, Jim... [FOX]
Aww, Jim… [FOX]
To save his own skin, he basically rats out Jim which forces him and Maroni into the same room. And once Jim confirms that Oswald is who he says he is he’s in a really bad position. Maroni now knows something about him and can hold this all over his head. So, basically, Jim is now stuck right between these two crime families in a very dangerous place and, as one of the only honest cops in Gotham, we have no idea what’s going to happen when Marconi comes asking questions. Thanks, Cobblepott, for screwing everyone over.

But man. Amazing scenes all around. Robin Lord Taylor plays the Penguin so perfectly. Awkward, scheming, dangerous, and pathetic all at once. It’s an incredible character and he really owns every moment of his time as Cobblepott. This is why I love this show.

Fish Mooney also makes the show worth while even when she’s not being at all subtle about her plans against Maroni.

Seriously, when she’s with him this episode it’s like not even possible he doesn’t realize s little pet project comes to fruition. She’s grooming this girl of hers to get to Maroni by getting in bed with him and boy does she hit below the belt. She trains her to act refined and teaches her a particular song that Falcone’s mother sang to him as a child so. Then she perfectly times it so that her girl is walking through the part, singing this song along with her iPod. It’s kind of a heartbreaking scene because he is so excited to find this young woman who seems interested in him and has this connection with him already. It’s heartbreaking because you know what’s coming for him down the line.

She's clearly up to something - just look at how she carries herself! [FOX]
She’s clearly up to something – just look at how she carries herself! [FOX]
Also, we get a brief look at Selina Kyle, again, but it was mostly just a reminder that, yes, she’s out there. And, yes, she’ll eventually come back.

Honestly, it was a weird moment. Kind of like most moments with Edward Nygma. I don’t need these characters thrown at me randomly, Gotham. I need them to be used properly and for them to be developed in a way that makes me care about them for more than the cameos.

While this episode certainly had it’s high notes, I think it was probably one of the weakest of the season so far. It definitely shows that Gotham is going to have some growing pains going forward. They just seem too determined to shove in as much as they can that it makes me wonder if they aren’t going to run their way through every possible plot line too early on. It makes me nervous. It makes me worry.

However, the trailer for next episode puts me a bit at east.

It has a very stupid title (‘The Spirit of the Goat,’ really?) but it looks so dark. I’m really excited to see how this one plays out because even Harvey seems worried…



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