Gotham Recap: This Town Deserves a Better Class of Vigilante

Gotham Penguin Returns

I’m feeling some deja vu, as Fox’s Gotham unspools its early episodes.

Namely, I am reminded of the experience many of us had sampling Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this time last year. Buzzy newcomer, based on comic books. Solid pilot. And then… searching. A show searching for its thing.

In the case of the ABC series, it was a significant wait — 16 episodes, until Captain America 2 disassembled S.H.I.E.L.D. and revived HYDRA — before the show was truly allowed to reveal what it was designed to be.

With Gotham, I wonder if the increasingly alluded-to Arkham plot will serve that same purpose.

RELATED Gotham Scoop: Nicholas D’Agosto Joins Fox Drama as Harvey Dent

Because again this week, it was more world building — entirely expected for a nascent, mythology-rich series. Jim Gordon further came to terms with how “sick” a city Gotham has become, that a man who cuffs the corrupt and perverse to weather balloons and releases them to an eventual death was barely a priority for the police, and in fact was championed by many. As Jim notes to fiancee Barbara (who, yes, has a romantic past with the MCU’s Montoya), “When people lose hope, that’s when you get vigilantes.” The Balloon Man himself underscored Jim’s latest epiphanies, explaining how the mayor’s plan to shuttle the street kids to a dreaded upstate facility was the last straw for him, that when it came to picking a target for his final balloon, “It didn’t matter,” the city is so dense with the despicable.

RELATED Gotham Star Talks of Penguin’s Debt to Jim Gordon, Bond With Mom Carol Kane

Elsewhere, we saw more plotting on Fish Mooney’s part — always planting misleading bugs in people’s ears, keeping Falcone just this side of being a frenemy, scorching the Earth that Boy Scout Jim Gordon walks on. Meanwhile, Penguin set foot back in Gotham City and kept killing willy-nilly, be it to keep secret his “resurrection” or just get a pair of new shoes. Even at a new job washing dishes, he finds himself within earshot of rival mobster Salvatore Maroni (Dexter‘s David Zayas). Always listening and observing, believing, “Gotham needs me! I am its future!” But as of right now, Oswald is… in Jim’s foyer, greeting the man who was sent to kill but instead yet saved him: “Hello, James, old friend.”

RELATED Fall TV Premiere Poll: Gotham Cops a ‘B+’ Grade

We had a smidgen of movement on the Wayne murders front, as Selina demonstrated to Jim that she was a witness to the tragedy — only to give the cop the slip afterward. But for those who came for the “Batman” in “Batman prequel series,” there were a pair of in arguably interesting moments — first, as young Master Bruce impressively parried with Alfred, in what apparently was his latest fencing tutorial. And then toward hour’s end, as Bruce was enrapt with a news broadcast about the Balloon Man’s capture. If vigilantes are not to be tolerated, the newswoman mused, “Who will defend the people of Gotham?”

Something for the lad to chew on over the next decade or so.

What did you think of Gotham Episode 3? Do you sense the Arkham plot — whatever it is that Falcone and/or Maroni have in store for the shuttered prison — is the narrative engine we’re waiting for?


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. torimelching says:

    This was the make or break episode for me. I won’t be watching again. The episodes are all over the place, they don’t need to keep adding new villains every single week. The Penguin is really the only interesting character IMO.

  2. JD says:

    I think this show is superbly written, with richly drawn characters that are slowly gaining depth weekly. It’s tough to be patient when, as fans of Batman, we know so much much of the lineage of the characters. I think they are doing a great job of a weekly case while connecting long range foundationary elements.

  3. Jenna says:

    I’m still in, and enjoying it. I’m a patient person as long as the production and acting is good. I love the tone of the show and the cast, and I’m going to trust the writers.

  4. Jess says:

    I love this show. I am happy with the pacing of the show. They have ten years worth of telling to go through. I love to see how the characters become heroes or villains.

  5. This is one of the worst written TV shows I’ve ever watched. Just deplorable. The dialogue is hilariously awful. I am a hardcore Batman fan and have been looking forward to this show for months. After 3 episodes I am not only completely disappointed, but I am shocked that writing this bad even got on a major network. This show seems like it’s written by people who were rejected from writing SyFy movies. And the acting seems right out of Sharknado. The ONLY time this show is entertaining is when young Bruce or Penguin is on screen. Every other second is a tediously boring cop show where somebody says “You can’t do that, this is GOTHAM” every 5 minutes.

    • Joey says:

      You must not watch much television if this is one of the worst written TV shows you’ve ever seen.

    • William Lopez says:

      I respect your opinion. As a fellow Batman lover, I have no intention of assaulting your perception. I want you to know that I utterly disagree with you. I think the acting is brilliant. If you want evidence, please observe Fish, or Jada Smith. She is sexy. Intimidating. Aspirational. Strong. I think the writing has a depth and meaning that makes me think of NCIS. These are real people experiencing real problems in a really corrupt and dangerous city. This is not a blonde god that sits on a throne and only helps humanity when an eye-patch heeds his help. No, this superhero drama shows you the burglars and kingpins and murderers that remind us all of the true beauty in Batman, and superheroes in general. The big screen doesn’t provide the time and money to display Comm. Gordon saving a family suffering the loss of their father from infamy and wrongdoing. The big screen doesn’t let us witness Bruce struggle with the pain and nightmares from his parents’ murder. Gotham is my absolute favorite superhero show BECAUSE of the very fact that it is not focused on a cape and cowl fighting crime. No, from Gotham we get to see lives touched by Gordon, a cop that I now respect vehemently and much more than I did from his supporting role in Nolan’s movies. We also get to see Penguin’s mentality and Selina’s youth and so many things never truly grasped from a page or disc. I understand if you expected more Batman in this Batman prequel and maybe less procedural stuff. I think the truth is that Batman and his tale is much more than caves and batarangs. This depth of this show let’s you finally love the people that we thought we knew but didn’t. And in my personal opinion this cop stuff is just so cool, I find myself so eager for the procedurals because we get to experience the growth of Jim’s career.

      I only hope you take more time to form your final opinion on Gotham. You say you are a hardcore Batman fan, so please do not be offended and please do not be shallow. Our hero needs our support now more than ever under Marvel’s large shadow.

  6. Joey says:

    I think Gotham just keeps getting better and better. Really looking forward to the frequently-alluded-to Arkham arc. I can see the reason plain as day why this has got over 90% approval on RT.

  7. Doc Michaels says:

    Excellent review Michael. So far this show is going nowhere slowly….or giving us a reason why we ought to care or invest in these characters. Maybe they’ll get it together but this show is a major disappointment thus far.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Thanks, Sneezy!

    • Mike says:

      I agree it’s more than a little upsetting to see them treading water only a few episodes in…
      Almost feels like a show you wish you’d started watching two or three seasons in when all the tedious setup was out of the way and the writers could have more freedom to play around with things. Right now there’s no hook, no cool new approach to a character that draws an interest. It’s like they’re enslaved to nonexistent source material.

  8. Bwhit says:

    I like Gotham, just enough of the campy stuff mixed with drama. This is episode three, people need to be patient, plot development is still happening. I really like the actor who plays the Penguin, he is the perfect guy to play the villain. I for one am enjoying this take on the orgins of not only Batman, but the people of Gotham and its villains.

  9. Ben MacKenzie powerfully displayed the conflicted nature a young Gordon would have when faced with something that goes against what he believes in.

  10. James D says:

    while i thought this was a better episode then the previous two i agree with Matt and many here, it seems to lack purpose. They spend half the time talking about how corrupt the city is and the other half in a quasi haze hap hazzardly solving a crime. I thought Jada was interesting in the pilot but now she is just over acting to the point i find her impossible to watch. I really want to like this show, but I’m not see much there except for the kid who plays bruce he is good, and Cobblepot. I’ll give it a few more episodes and pray that it finds it’s footing. Writers room should plaster in giant letters all around the room the phrase show don’t tell, it would serve them well. Sorry for being harsh but honestly I’m a little dissapointed.

    • Joey says:

      As far as Jada goes, I don’t think many people are getting that is who the character is. I don’t think it’s overacting at all. Fish is that much of a caricature, plus I’m certain she has some mental issues as well, shown specifically after her meeting with Falcone in the second episode.

  11. Mike says:

    I’m okay with where this is going but like many others here it just feels like they’re trying too hard in some places (WAY too many bad guys way too fast) and not hard enough in others (Gotham is almost comically corrupt; Barbara seems to exist solely to be attractive, get hit on by Montoya and serve as an info dump for her not so doting husband).
    For a show with this much prep work why does everything seem so oddly forced?

  12. K says:

    I personally thought the show gained some traction this week. Even though we were introduced to several different villains in the pilot, they’re really only focusing on the Penguin right now (and Fish I guess. Also the actor playing the Penguin was a fantastic casting choice.) Barbara is slowly getting more interesting, and I enjoy the Bruce and Alfred scenes. I also like the dynamic between Bullock and Gordon. My only complaint is Montoya and her partner whose name escapes me right now. Why would two detectives just unfailingly believe whatever a crime boss tells them? (I get that she’s jealous of Gordon, but what’s his excuse?)
    Overall, I agree that the Arkham plot is probably going to be what really kicks the show into gear, but the Penguin’s return to Gotham should prove interesting for now.

  13. karakk says:

    I leaned a lesson a long time ago from “Battlestar Galactica” – if you want to be gritty and dark, you’d better damn well have the writing to make it work. When BSG was on its game, it was AMAZING television…but when it wasn’t, it was almost unwatchable. “Gotham” feels that way to me, except without the amazing part. It’s not horrible, it just doesn’t have the writing chops to back up any of this “serious drama” they’ve built the show around. I stuck with “Agents of Shield” for all of those wobbly 16 episodes because it at least had likable characters and some humor to latch onto, “Gotham” doesn’t even have that. If I can’t connect to the plot, the relationships, OR the characters…what’s left to keep me watching? The promise of even MORE villains the show doesn’t know what to do with…?

  14. Carl Byrd says:

    Seriously, so many negative comments. How many awful Batman cartoons have we seen over the years and you are ragging on Gotham? Not as high brow as the Nolan films which I loved… Gotham is the slow burn … Miles better than Shield which looks like they make it in the Disney backlot. I’m going to keep watching.

  15. Sara says:

    Really not liking Montoya. I get that she’s still hung up on Barbara….but she just acting desperate now. Taking any crumb she can to try and get Barbara to turn on Jim. It’s sad. Characters like that annoy me. Unlike others with short attention spans…I’m not dumping this show after 3 episodes. Geez.

  16. The Kaibosh says:

    Bruce and Alfred sword fighting and then talking about being a “Detective” was a clear reference to Batman’s destined struggle with R’as Al Ghul.

  17. selfie says:

    I’m still in, although I really wasn’t into the Balloonman plot, the show definitely has me hooked. I wish they had chosen a different actor to play Alfred, his voice, not his accent, is annoying.

  18. Are we even watching the same show? Gotham continues to be the best show of the new season. This episode did what it needed to do. It established the fact that the people of Gotham would accept a vigilante, it established The Penguin’s new alliance was Sal, and it brought Penguin back to Gotham to set up his Arc with Gordon.

  19. ANNA says:

    The female characters, aside from Selena Kyle, are all over the place. Montoya is just as ‘crooked’ for all her scheming to get Barbara back as the other cops she’s trying to stop. And I don’t care at all about Barbara’s doubt or faith in Jim since they revealed she just sits around in her apartment getting high all day- I don’t know why I should care if she judges Jim or not. He should be judging her. Fish Mooney registers but I get the feeling she’s going to be the first major character to die, so I’m not getting attached. Very sick of the penguin, it’s probably just my taste but I don’t like anticipating a murder every time he is on screen. On a technical point it seemed ludicrous to me that Cranston didn’t think to shoot the balloon as he was floating away, his gun was dangling right next to him. They could have easily resolved this by balloon man taking his gun before he cuffed him. It’s still a well made show, we’ll keep watching.

  20. Lies says:

    I don’t get it, i think this show is really really good. You always have those same people who keep complaining on shows like arrow and gotham but come on i love every minute of it! Selina doing that to jim, that was clearly a catwoman act. Bruce wayne becoming batman, yess also that storyline is on track. And i love the penguin, can’t wait to see more of the other badguys! This show only makes me happy, the actors are great, and so are the stories.