Gotham, “Balloonman” Review

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Gotham seemed a bit more ridiculous than usual this week. While the first two episode were slightly schizophrenic in tone, they were at least more establishing something. “Balloonman” felt outright cartoonish at times, and it wasn’t completely the fault of the titular villain. Oh, he gets a good amount of the blame, but for the most part, his presence only brought to light the same issue i’ve been worried about since the pilot; Gotham is a little too corrupt.

So far we have seen cops taking bribes, beating suspects, threaten to beat homeless/kidnapped children, and totally ignore cases just because. gotham-balloonman-jpgHell, at this point, there is an active rumor about Gordon killing Cobblepot that is both frowned upon and used as proof of hypocrisy every time Gordon actually tries to do his job. Where it once looked like Gotham was going be more about a good cop having to operate within the shades of grey that oft paint crime tails, it is on its way to becoming a full blown caricature of the concept. It also doesn’t help that the crime in Gotham is so over the top in its portrayal. The scene where Cobblepot returned to the city may have been played for laughs, but juxtaposed to the truly, grizzly crime that has been shown so far, this scene just solidified that Gotham has to find a way to balance the crime and corruption a little better. At least in the early going. That isn’t to say “Balloonman” was all bad, but that story itself (the villain of the week) wasn’t nearly strong enough to keep us from noticing the cracks.

See, the outlandish nature by which the Balloonman actually killed his victims was still fun, and much like the child abductors from “Selina Kyle”, it had just the right amount of creepiness to make it morosely entertaining. What it also showed was that the city was already willing to take justice into its own hands in lieu of a competent police force. While one set of seemingly honest cops were still looking into the Cobblepot murder, our two guys, Bullock and Gordon, were tasked with Balloonman.

Bullock, ever the blowhard, wanted nothing to do with it at first, but once he got to be the man on the street the character really began to shine. I like Donal Logue. I have ever since he was in the original Blade movie, and his portrayal of Bullock in this universe is spot on for what the character should be. He’s jaded, slightly connected, and has just enough humanity left in him to give a crap at just the right moments. It is those moments where Gordon is clearly having an influence on him. It’s also those moments that make his approval of killing Cobblepot so weird now. He may be the guy who’ll bust a couple heads, but not the guy who’s murdering (potentially) innocent people.

Speaking of Cobblepot. I dig him. Every psychotic break, every murder, every subtle moment of clarity when he realizes just how off he really is;balloonman-700x400 great. Never change. I’m also digging the Mooney/Falcone situation, but I feel like they’ve both played some pretty big hands so far considering they’re still supposed to be shaky allies at best. He beat up her boy, she killed his chica, then killed her own boy just so he couldn’t. I mean, it was fun, but how long are they going to continue faking it with each other before an all out war starts. Also, we have the Moroni factor (played by Dexter’s  David Zayas). So now there are three power players making moves. Yet they still act as if the crime element isn’t in total control. At this point, all of the major crime bosses in Gotham should pool together and make a super gang. I mean, they have to outnumber the good cops ten-to-one by now. Can you dig it!

Some tonal issues aside, this was a very telling episode of Gotham. There were moments of dark hilarity (Balloonman victim falling from the sky), but there were also cringe worthy moments (Balloonman actually saying out loud that he won’t be the last vigilante). We get it, Batman is coming, about 20 years down the line, the city will be protected by a crazy man in a bat suit. But what’s being lost is that’s supposed to be a big deal when it happens, at this rate, Batman will be received on the same level as a regular fry in you curly batch and not the other way around.

Score: C-

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