Gotham Season 1 Review (So far)

Having just concluded it’s first half of season 1, Gotham will be back in the new year which leaves us with a little time to reflect on what we’ve seen so far. Warning: spoilers. Duh.

The City

I was beyond excited when I heard a television show about Gotham City was being made because I think it’s one of the more interesting fictional cities ever created. It’s corrupt, crime-ridden, poverty stricken and needs saving. Years before a certain Caped Crusader surfaces, the villains run the city and the only hope is a young detective named Jim Gordon. This is Gotham.

The show has a similar feel to the Tim Burton Batman movies. The layout of the police station is very old school and the city itself is very dark and gritty which is the perfect location for dark and gritty activities. I really think the production and set designers deserve a thumbs up because the key to making a show about Gotham is to make the city as Gotham-y as possible.

The Wayne Murder

Of course, a story about Gotham and a young Batman would not be complete without the moment that sets everything off – the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. We’ve seen enough variations of this and the first I thought was – meh, another one – but in the context of this story, the origin of the Gotham, it is completely necessary.

This show uses the mysterious murder as a catalyst for various arcs: 1) It’s the case Jim Gordon desperately wants to solve, 2) Jim and Bruce forge a bond throughout the investigation, 3) Selina Kyle saw the murder and is now an ally of Gordon and a friend of Bruce, 4) Bruce using this murder mystery and testing his limits to soon become…you know…him. After ten episodes we still don’t know who is the murderer or who is behind it all but I never expected it to be a mid-season arc anyway.

Jim Gordon

Let’s talk a little bit about the boy scout, Jim Gordon. Lack of mustache aside (and trust me that really stings) I really like this portrayal of the future commissioner. A soldier who returns to Gotham to find the war still continues, Jim Gordon has the ideals of a straight-laced cop in city that does not stand for that sort of thing. Gordon has to manoeuvre his way around the criminal dynamics and has to pretend to kill The Penguin in order to appear to be “with the programme.”

But it’s his “me against the whole damn city” that makes him endearing and a true hero when the city is crying out for one. His partner is the marginally corrupt Harvey Bullock – who appears in the comics but we’ve never seen a live action version of him before. The two of them have a dynamic that is pleasing to watch as they reluctantly rely on each other to take solve the mystery of the week. But his budding friendship with Bruce Wayne and his protective nature over the boy-that-would-be-batman is what is truly interesting.

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Criminal Underworld

In the background of the show is the battle of who will be the kingpin of crime in Gotham. A war erupts between Don Carmine Falcone – the current big bad kingpin of crime and Don Salvatore Maroni – who wants to overthrow him. But in Gotham you can’t trust anyone.

What I liked about this subplot is that it integrates well into the overall story of Gotham as the mafia war is interwoven into the Wayne Murder, the corrupt city, Arkham and the rise of the big villain of season one.

Fish Mooney

In ten episodes we’ve had a shitload of characters who we know and love. But one of the major characters is one that we’ve never heard of before. Falcone’s feisty and ambitious subordinate Fish Mooney.

The character itself is not very interesting I must admit. Jada Pinkett-Smith is a good actress but I get the feeling she’s trying way too hard. It’s good that Mooney is ambitious and wants to overthrow her boss by manipulating her way to the top. But her story is nothing more than a by-product of the real standout story: the rise of the Penguin.

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The Penguin

I’ve got to say, of all the Batman villains I didn’t expect the Penguin to be the one to stand out in Season 1. But nevertheless here we are. Robin Lord Taylor has taken this role to new heights and has morphed the character into someone who is truly diabolical. He’s evolved from the awkward henchman he was in earlier episodes and appears to be the mastermind pulling all the strings and playing everyone against each other.

For me, the true epitome of a classic villain is one who is memorable and actually makes the audience have to choose between whether they like him or hate him, whether to cheer for him or hope for his demise. Gotham’s Penguin does just that.

Villain of the Week

Aside from the star villains (Penguin, Victor Zsasz) and those who are at this point only destined for villainy (Catwoman, Riddler, Ivy, Dent, etc), Gotham is still at its core a police procedural show and Gordon and Bullock are detectives. Imagine if they JUST worried about the Wayne Murder for 40-odd minutes every week… That would get old and boring really quick.

Instead we have been treated to some episodes with lesser known villains such as The Balloonman, The Goat, and the Mask. We’ve also seen the Viper drug, kidnappers and the infamous asylum known as Arkham. I think introducing all these mini-villains is a good way to ease us into the show and since most of the Rogues Gallery villains have yet to discover their true villainy it is a necessity to keep the show moving.

Easter Eggs

Every Batman fanatic watching Gotham watches carefully and listens intently. Simple reason: Easter Eggs. Because this is a Batman origin story, we know how things are supposed to end up and we know who will end up being villains as soon as they show up. We know Harvey’s coin is doubled-headed because Two-Face. We chuckle when Nygma drinks his coffee out of a mug with a question mark because The Riddler. We know this. We look out for this.

Of course the biggest easter eggs will involve the notorious Joker who has yet to appear in the show and probably won’t for some time. Apparently there will be references to the Joker throughout the series but I’m not sure if they will actually introduce him anytime soon or if they actually should. The Joker is born from Batman. If Bruno Heller is against introducing Batman in the series then will it be fair to bring in the one villain everyone is hoping to see?

Baby Batman

There were rumours going around that Batman will not appear in the show. Bruce, definitely. But we apparently won’t see the Caped Crusader, which I think kind of sucks because it’s great to have these origin stories but even Smallville had Clark eventually become the Man of Steel. It took ten seasons but still. At the moment we know Bruce will be Batman but he is so young and helpless and slightly annoying. If they want David Mazouz to eventually don the bat suit then they’ll need around 15 seasons in order for it to be believable.

So the question is, will we see Baby Bruce throughout the show’s run or will we at some point jump into the future? Will we see Gotham controlled by Penguin, plagued by countless villains, trying to be salvaged by Gordon but needing the help of the Dark Knight? Only time will tell. Personally, I think they can only do so much before having to bring in Batman. It’s just a matter of time.

Season 1 rating (So far): 7.5 / 10

About the author: Dean is Batman.

Dean Ravell

Aspiring writer/director. Fascinated with all kinds of film and just wants to be part of the wonderful world of cinema. #AlmostFamous

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