GOTHAM: S1E3 “BALLOONMAN” Review

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                                                        MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
For the record I enjoyed last night’s
episode of Gotham. I found it entertaining and for the most part the
performances were up to par and the quality didn’t drop too much from
last weeks episode. The story was entertaining and I found the dark
humor peppered throughout very well executed, but regardless I do
feel that ‘Balloonman’ did highlight a few of the flaws that
unfortunately prevent the series from reaching it’s full potential.
I’ll start with the good. I’ve raved
before about the performances of the main cast so I don’t feel the
need to do that again, suffice it to say that McKenzie, Logue, Lord Taylor and of course Pinkett-Smith all bring their A game and didn’t disappoint me 3rd
time round. The production value for the show is still on top form
with Gotham City itself being an oppressive and eerily beautiful
presence throughout. What I really liked about the episode was the
premise, it was enjoyably comic book and dealt with a righteous
vigilante targeting the corrupt members of Gotham’s society using,
off all things, weather balloons. The idea of a killer using such an
elaborate method of attack could have been laughed off the screen but
here it fits and they pull it off well. It actually leads to one of
the most blackly funny scenes in the series so far. I won’t ruin the
scene but I will say what goes up must eventually come down. The
reason I enjoyed the idea of Balloonman so much was that it hinted at
the madness to come and that Gotham wasn’t just home to spectacularly
corrupt government officials and bloodthirsty gangsters but to the
theatrical crazies that we know and love from the source material.
The episode also deals with
Cobblepot’s return to Gotham and his first steps toward becoming the
powerful underworld leader that he is destined to be. I’ve said all
there is to say about Lord-Taylor’s performance before and I’ll just
reiterate that he is one of the shining lights in the series so far.
He deftly balances the Penguin’s savagery with an endearing
vulnerability. He’s weak and strong at the same time, pitiable and
yet frightening. By the episodes end we do see that he has a grander
plan in the works and I look forward to see it playing out.
We also get an introduction to another
important character from the comics, Sal Maroni. The gangster is
played by David Zayas and is presented as an imposing figure which I
feel is an nice counterbalance with the more refined Falcone. The
hulking gangsters machinations and aspirations to domination of
Gotham’s Underworld seeming to center around Arkham. How exactly the
famed Asylum plays into the potential gang war I do not know but the
very mention of it is intriguing.
And now onto the weak. There are
several elements that derail not only this episode but potentially
the series and they are very evident here. The main problem I will
site is Gordon’s love interest Barbara played by Erin Richards. She
is played with zero flair and her chemistry with Gordon is
nonexistent. Their relationship feels forced and I can’t find myself
actually wanting or in fact believing that they will be together. The
real problem here is that Barbara is given an very meaty subplot
involving her and Montoya, which is a fresh take on the jealous ex
boyfriend cliche, but it just feels flat because of the performance.
Victoria Cartenega, who plays Montoya, is actually better in these
scenes than she is when she is being a torn in Gordon’s side along
with her partner Crispus Allen. Whereas for the most part she is
playing a foil to our main hero and comes across as rather stoic and
determined, in the scenes with Barbara she shows a real vulnerability
and genuine concern for her but sadly Richards’ dull performance
scuppers the potential here. I am not familiar with Richard’s resume
and I have no doubt she is a talented actor but she doesn’t really
shine here. I hope she will grow into the role over the course of the
series and ultimately prove my opinions about her wrong.
The other problem in the episode and
something I can see being a problem throughout there series is the
constant cutting to young Bruce Wayne and the repeated reminders that
he will one day be Batman. I understand that the premise revolves
around the future Dark Knight but I think they can be a tad more
subtle. I hope that they will soon be confident enough to let a few
episodes pass by without hinting that Bruce Wayne will one day be
Batman. It’s unnecessary as we already know this is the case and for
now anyway Gordon, Bullock and the rest of the cast are much more
interesting.
Despite a few stumbles I still think
the series is doing great and this weeks episode is on par with the
last. The problems are still there but it is early days and I am
confident by the time season two looms that they will have all the
bugs fixed.

An enjoyable comic book episode.
7.5/10
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