I mentioned in my last review that I would discuss the level of corruption displayed in Gotham to greater detail. In keeping with my promise, I will start this review by stating how “The Baloonman” continued to demonstrate the show’s tone through it. If you thought last week’s episode was harsh with the juvenile delinquency, consider how Cobblepot’s first scene back in Gotham includes prostitution, extortion, robbery and murder all happening at the same time in broad daylight. This is certainly no coincidence in direction; Gotham wants us to understand how far gone this city is. But how far should the writers be willing to? Falcone’s line in the pilot still rings in my head every time the show veers off to show how dark it is. Gotham works better that way, when the line is drawn and the GCPD are still a considerable presence in the eyes of organized crime. However, that didn’t exactly seem to be the case this week.
The problem with this aspect of “The Baloonman” is the cops themselves. Batman’s not coming anytime soon, and they don’t know that yet. So, what really took away their intent to clean up the streets? In one scene, Gordon almost had to drag Bullock with him to work the Baloonman case because apparently it’s okay for Gotham City police detectives to “choose their own adventure.” How many homicides have been brushed to the side because of this? And when did Bullock suddenly believe that it’s okay to let an estranged murder run amock because he or she is terrorizing other crooks? Although the show did quickly back up Bullock’s train of thought by having him do his own brand of police work — beating up thugs for information, chatting with prostitutes, extorting kiosk clerks for free food — you get the feeling Gotham is trying to make excuses for its generally glaring lack of morality. At the very least, Gordon does come off a bit more as a savior in this regard. Fellow detectives Allen and Montoya also seem more respectable, as their honest, go-getting attitude towards the Cobblepot “murder” looks admirable in comparison. Not all is lost. But man, I’m gonna require some convincing before I agree with the moral standard the show is placing the GCPD under.
This week’s “Villian of the week” plays directly into my discussion for a few reasons: One, the Baloonman murders crooks, and two, he believes that he’s allowed to institute his own methods of justice because the police don’t actively enforce theirs. Without knowing exactly when corruption is separated from authority in this town, I have to believe that his motives would be acceptable. In fact, Gotham’s civilian bystanders were supporting his actions throughout most of the episode. If the people of this city truly find that taking crime into their own hands would leave them better off, than it’s easy to assume that the cops have not been an influence lately.
As a viewer, it’s hard to say this is a good thing for the show, in part because of the many references to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman down the line. The Baloonman’s tactics have Bruce reading the newspaper and following the news, instead of going to school and taking his mind off his parents. When did he become this inquisitive? And why is it that every scene he’s in has to include a conversation with Alfred about his fears? At this point, we are being force fed into the idea of Bruce becoming Batman, instead of allowing him to grow up and let the fallout of his parents’ murder properly take its course. Sure, the roots have got to be planted somewhere, but it’s just not subtle this way.
Despite all the shortcomings, there still was plenty to like this week. The Baloonman was a nice foil to everything going on, and I thought him tying people to balloons and floating them in the sky was awesome. Sure, the guy was a little one-note, but at least his tactics weren’t. Fish Mooney squealing to Allen and Montoya about Falcone’s order on the Cobblepot hit was genius, but the icing on the cake for her was when she ordered the beating on Falcone’s lover. Payback’s a dish-yada-yada-yada, but how ’bout it, though? Fish took some pressure off her hands with the police AND answered back at Falcone all in the same week! My gut is telling me that Falcone knows she ordered that hit in the back of his mind, but hasn’t planned anything yet. With such an intense power struggle, I think we’re better off letting it by play out one move at a time. It sure as hell has been better off that way so far.
This episode also did a fantastic job assimilating Cobblepot back into Gotham, as his vicious journey into supremacy took another big step. After all the crazy s#*! he did last week, it made sense for him to return to Gotham so soon, especially under the circumstances surrounding the mob war. To make things even more interesting, he wound up finding a job as a chef for Sal Maroni’s restaurant. David Zayas may not appear to be the ideal actor to portray the character, but he rings out the kind of deceptively soft-spoken demeanor a true mob boss carries. I think I’m going to enjoy where this subplot is headed, because if Cobblepot has his way (as he did last week and this week) he could spell instant trouble for everyone else, including Maroni. Hopefully, he’s eased up the ranks; I’d love to see him work alongside Maroni for a little while.
Detective Gordon’s got a lot on his plate this week, and I’m beginning to wonder when the can of worms will spill out between Barbara and his lies. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out about the Waynes murder, and if the ending was any consideration, she’s about to find out some other dark truths we’re already aware of. With Cobblepot casually showing up at his doorstep, how much will Gordon finally open up to Barbara with about his job? And what’s with Montoya’s past with Barbara? It’d really be a shame if her only secret was that they had a relationship together in the past, as I was hoping for something more volatile. At least she brought it to Barbara’s attention that Gordon was ordered to kill Cobblepot (although that’s kinda moot now.) Anyway, It’s been made very clear that Jim and Barbara pick up each other’s deceit tactics well. So, next week could be huge for both of them with Cobblepot re-entering the fray, and Montoya digging her nose deeper.
I’m not sure exactly what kind of picture Gotham is trying to paint with corruption and police influence. It’s a scary thing for a show of this subject matter to neglect the idea of setting boundaries between what’s right and wrong, mainly because there are innocent people in this world not being accounted for. On top of that, part of me thinks it’s all just a device for Batman’s upbringing, hurting the interest I would’ve had with Bruce’s story arc. “The Baloonman” failed to come through in a lot of ways, but it still delivered elsewhere: Fish countering Falcone’s hit last week, Sal Maroni being introduced, Gordon’s personal life being threatened, and the “villian of the week” having some real nice executions. So far, the organized crime half of Gotham is the only one that has taken off, and that’s concerning. Hopefully the show strikes the correct balance between corruption and justice before the line is blurred for good.
+The Baloonman a bit boring, but he can commit a mean killing
+Fish Mooney answers back at Falcone’s hit
+Cobblepot’s back, and say hello to Maroni
-Gotham (the city, not the show) is perhaps too dirty for its own good
-Too many signs of Bruce becoming Batman
-The reasoning behind the GCPD’s corrupt nature never brought up