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GOTHAM: S1E5 ‘Viper’

                                                         
                                                        MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
It’s taken 5 episodes of Gotham, but
finally one of my main grips with the series has, for the moment
anyway, be rectified. I have always been critical of the series need
to shoehorn Bruce Wayne into every episode regardless of the story.
It always felt forced . The very first scene goes a ways to give
young Bruce an actual reason for appearing in the episode, and for
the first time, in my opinion anyway, there are genuine shades of the
Dark Knight evident in his character. The episode opens with the
Batman to be investigating a potential conspiracy within Wayne
Industries, and it’s connection to Arkham and the escalating mob feud
threatening to tear Gotham apart. I have to say I enjoyed Mazouz’s
performance in the brief scene as it reminded me a little of vintage
Keaton. The subplot finally gives Bruce something to do and it is a
welcome addition to the series story lines.
‘Viper’ focuses not only on the events
of previous episodes but introduces to Gotham a new and lethal
designer drug which gives it’s user super strong strength but is as
lethal as it is euphoric being almost completely fatal to the user.
Compounding this awful scenario is the fact that the drug is being
distributed free of charge and addicts are snatching it up without a
care leading to a series of violent crimes and gruesome deaths.
Gordon and Bullock become involved after a particularly high junkie
decides to make off with an ATM singlehandedly. The drug, which will
be familiar to fans of the Batman mythos, hints not only at an iconic
storyline and villain from the comics but is the first instance in
the series that we see the more spectacular elements of the source
material appear on screen.
As interesting as this story is the
real meat of the episode lies as always with the Penguin and his
machinations. Here the fugitive mobster takes a very big risk and
pays his hand with Maroni. This dangerous move also has consequences
for Gordon and brings the idealistic detective deeper into the
Falcone/Maroni feud. It’s an intriguing turn of events.
Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney is sadly
relegated to the sidelines this episode and there’s nothing much to
say about her, apart from one scene later on she really doesn’t add
much to the story.
As always the performances are quality
even if the more interesting characters are underused, Bullock get’s
little more than a look in here. Penguin’s final initiation into
Maroni’s inner circle is played out well and there is some nice
gallows humor to be had at the expense of the Viper addicts. But the
most welcome element in the episode is Bruce Wayne finally having a
reason to be there. Whereas previous episode struggled to find a
place for him ‘Viper’ actually puts him in the center of the action
and it works. Also absent is Erin Richard’s as Barbara, and thankfully a result this episode doesn’t get bogged down with lackluster dramatics.

‘Viper’ is consistent with the quality
of previous episodes, well acted and well produced, but get’s
additional marks for fixing, for the time being anyway, a very
noticeable flaw.

Overall a fun, comic book leaning
episode. 8/10

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