Gotham (2014) - TV Thriller - Days Before Batman
Gotham is a gritty and entertaining crime thriller on Fox TV set in the infamous Gotham City, portraying the early years of detective Jim Gordon and his fight against the rising villains, while he helped a young Bruce Wayne uncover the killer of his parents. A story on Gotham City without Batman in it seemed difficult to imagine at first, but Season 1 turned out to be more than just a pleasant surprise!
Good Cop, Bad Cop
Jim Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, and Harvey Bullock, played by Donal Logue, have done a great job portraying their contrasting characters.
Jim Gordon is the no-nonsense, stubborn and relentless cop ready to jump at people's throats, pick fights with gangsters and do all the reckless things possible. His father used to be the district attorney and a a close friend to Don Falcone, the Mafia boss.
Harvey Bullock is Jim's cop-partner. He is a senior player in the game, a charming, smooth talking and initially unwilling ally, trying his best to play safe and tone down the hot-headed partner Jim.
Both make awesome partners and their Harvey's continuous banter provides some comic relief. While Jim Gordon starts off as a good cop, he soon discovers that corruption exists within the police department itself and that crime cannot be fought with honesty alone. He quickly learns from his mistakes and does not hesitate to break the rules occasionally or beat up suspects to extract information, as ans when the need arises.
We are introduced to some really interesting villains - their earlier versions before Batman came into play.
Perfect Blend of Style and Evil
Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, is stylish and scary at the same time. Her character is not there in the comics, but her presence make the show all the more entertaining.
She is an ambitious night club owner who works for Don Falcone, an elderly mafia who runs Gotham City, but dreams of taking his place one day. She plots with the Don's Russian ally to overthrow him, plants a femme fatale spy on him, gets betrayed by Penguin who worked for her, escapes from the city and later returns to wreak vengeance on all her enemies.
Her episodes as a prisoner of the horrifying Dollmaker was a refreshing change from the dark grimy streets of Gotham to dark grimy prison on a secret island.
Call Me Penguin - I Dare You!
Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot is the most intriguing, dangerous and crazy villain of the lot. I just loved him in spite of his completely psychopathic character. You will keep guessing whose side he is on - he betrays Fish Mooney, goes on the run and joins Don Maroni, the rising don of the city, betrays him and reveals his allegiance to Don Falcone, only to betray him as well and become the king of villains in Gotham City.
His rise from a humble beginning as a socially awkward, bullied victim to the most dangerous and conniving villain makes for an exciting journey. The Penguin was really my least favourite villain in Batman, but in Gotham series, Robin Lord Taylor has done an amazing job as the Penguin and has become my favourite Batman villain.
The Riddler is introduced early in the series where he plays the forensic guy in Gotham City Police Department. Only he is not the Riddler yet, he is just the socially awkward Edward Nygma who has a serious crush on Miss Kringle, the file-keeper, but is shunned by her and everyone else in the department for being weird and creepy.
He reveals his dark side in the latter episodes of season 1 when he kills Miss Kringle's abusive boyfriend, a sadistic cop who hits her and insults him regularly. Wish we see more of him in the coming seasons. It's usually the creepy ones that make the most interesting characters - especially the ones that have deadly secrets to hide.
Bruce Wayne aka Future Batman Sub-Plot
The young Bruce Wayne is a tormented teenage boy, who tries to unravel the mystery of his parents's murder that leads him deeper and deeper into the secrets that lie buried in his father's company, the Wayne Enterprise and some of its employees.
Bruce is surprisingly mature for his age and manages to connect the dots, as he investigates the conspiracy against his parents, with the help of his loyal and protective butler Alfred Pennyworth. It is an interesting sub-plot and gels well with main premise of the story.
Alfred - Butler and Guardian
Alfred's character has earned a certain criticism because of his reaction when Bruce confessed to him that he was hiding the truth behind Reggie's fall and that he was pushed by Selena. Probably, Alfred was expected to react more angrily towards Bruce and not condone murder as a guardian and mentor to the young boy.
But do you really expect the Batman's right-hand-man-cum-confidante to be an unconditional saint with no moral deviations whatsoever? Not to forget, Alfred gave shelter to his old friend Reggie, only to be betrayed and stabbed by him revealing that he was working a killing contract from the Wayne Enterprise all along. So yes, if Alfred didn't show shock and anger at Reggie's murder, I don't blame him. If anything, Reggie's murder was a payback.
Selina Kyle aka Cat
Selina Kyle is a thirteen year old homeless child who witnesses the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne in the dark alley. True to her nickname Cat, she is agile, alert and silent in her movements as she jumps along roofs and ledges.
The teenage crush angle between Bruce and Cat is explored several times in the series, somewhat preparing us for the future Catwoman. She helps Bruce track down the suspects in her parents murder and shows a latent affection for him in spite of all the darkness in her. She is the one who pushes Reggie out of the window, when he threatens to expose Bruce to the conspirators.
Barbara and The Ogre
This sub-plot is not like your Shrek the Ogre fairy-tale. Far from it, it shows the demented relationship between Barbara Kean, Jim Gorndon's troubled ex-girlfriend and the Jason Lennon, a rich and handsome man who in reality is a serial-killer, known as the Ogre.
Don't Worry, I'll Find My Soulmate. And I'll Just Kill The Rest.
The Ogre hunts women in the hope of finding the perfect match for himself - someone who will give him real, unconditional and intense love.
This is the one sub-plot in Gotham that started off as really exciting and twisted, only to be reduced to a misogynist cliché where the damsel in distress is rescued by the knight in shining armour Jim Gordon.
Beauty and the Beast
Tell Me Who To Kill
Barbara herself admits to Jason - "once you know the real me, you will run screaming like everybody else." When Jason take her to his private basement filled with kinky toys likes gags, chains, hand-cuffs and other restraints, not to forget the numerous swords, axes and hatchets, Barbara is only more than thrilled. So we can assume safely that Barbara isn't all simple and straight.
The next morning however, she is completely terrified when Jason tells that he wanted to kill her the previous night but stopped after he realized she was more like him that she knew. Now I am not suggesting that one should feel completely thrilled to be dating a potential killer, but dating him after several obvious danger signs and then freaking out doesn't quite add up.
The scene between Barbara and Leslie Thompson (Jim's current girlfriend) was over-the-top. Barbara confesses to her about killing her parents and then attacks her with a knife - all this after several days of successfully pretending that she and her parents were Jason's victims.
After a three-episode long promising role, it looked like Jason Lennon aka the Ogre was here to stay for some more time. But it was very disappointing to see Jason quickly taken down by Jim Gordon. He should have escaped and Barbara would have gone on pretending. It would have been a good sub-plot for the next season as well. But then I am not the story-writer!
Who is the best villain in Gotham Season 1?
Choose one of the following:
The season finale is good enough and does justice as a final episode to a good season. The overall series is highly entertaining. It won't bore you for one bit, with its endless number of ruthless and scheming villains - characters to look out for are Penguin and Fish Mooney.
It is a crime drama set in the Batman universe, so don't expect everything to be realistic. I would rate Gotham as 8.5 out of 10, for one simple reason - the pre-Batman TV show manages to succeed in spite of not having Batman in it.
Gotham Season 1 Trailer
© 2015 Ritu Temptor