Gotham: “The Balloonman” Season 1 Episode 3 Review

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Unfortunately, at least for now, this will likely be my last episode of Gotham. I’m not into what is settling into CSI: Gotham with a few poorly conceived Batman references sprinkled in.

The third episode of the series revolves around Gordon and Bullock tracking down a vigilante murdering corrupt city officials by attaching them to weather balloons. He’s called the Balloonman in the press. Since Gotham lacks any and all subtlety, young Bruce Wayne studies the man, later telling Alfred that because the Balloonman kills, he’s still a criminal. Based on this, and his decent enough swordplay skills against his butler in the beginning of the episode, why not just give him the cape and cowl now? Bruce seems mentally ready to take to the streets and administer justice just as he’s destined to. A lot of his psychological growth is already done it seems, leaving him to just go train with the ninjas.

It’s clear that Gotham wants to tell stories about these classic characters at their peak, not their development to that peak. Take Selina for example, just about the only character injecting any real energy into the show. Yet, she picks the lock in her handcuffs with a pen. At age, what, 14? Like Bruce, she seems all set to fulfill her destiny. But Selina is way more fun to watch than Bruce, making it way more forgivable.

The Balloonman case itself was hardly worth watching. The back-alley meetings between Falcone, Mooney, and now Maroni are far more interesting. The looming crime war seems to be a chance for Oswald to take someone’s place. That said, Robin Lord Taylor’s wide-eyed approach to the Penguin is losing my interest fast. That opening scene where a ton of crimes happen around him as he gets off the bus and he delightfully squeals, “Ah, home!” got an epic Liz Lemon style eye roll from me.

Everything about Gotham is so on-the-nose. Sure, the true identity of the Balloonman was admittedly surprising, but the monologue about his motives was horribly cliche.

Then there’s the evolving subplot about Barbara and Montoya. While I’m glad to see at least one aspect of Montoya’s character not lost in the translation (she is on the all-too-short list of LGBT characters in comic books), if the subplot leads to Gordon having a fit about his girlfriend having been with another woman, Gotham will go from mediocre television to taking progress backwards.

Nope, not for me.

As I said, this is my last Gotham review, at least until I hear that the show has gotten significantly better. By all means, the show could still find its footing and become what it wants to be. But right now, there’s too much of a betrayal of its own characters, some really bad acting and dialogue, and some plot threads that just seem absolutely awful. This is not the Batman show we deserve or need right now. At least The Flash premieres tomorrow and the already great Arrow is back the day after that. Great DC stories have a place on television. Sadly, right now, it’s not in Gotham City. Grade: C-

By Matt Dougherty


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