Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of this age proving time and time again that he’s as much the face of DC as Superman. Like a shadow, he stalks the streets of Gotham city catching crooks and keeping his home city in the name of justice. But what happens if you take Batman away from the equation? It seems ridiculous. How can they craft the gritty, dark realism of Batman’s world without… well Batman? Somehow, the creators of Gotham have found the secret formula and figured out a way to do just this. Let’s see if we can figure out why.
Gotham explores the past of Bruce Wayne’s city shortly after the death of his parents when Catwoman was a simple street urchin and Commissioner Gordon was still a rookie cop. Speaking of Gordon, he’s the main focus. If you can’t follow Batman, why not follow the second most well-known Batman character(well, after Alfred)? This proves to be a good choice as we get to see just how corrupt(er) the Gotham police force was before Batman started protecting the city. Even his own partner, a police legend: Harvey Bullock is not squeaky clean like Gordon. Their partnership is interesting to observe, even in the first episode as Gordon, like a rookie is constantly getting into trouble, diving headfirst into criminal nests. Luckily, Harvey’s influence from being friends with a gang boss(though somewhat briefly) and experience keeps him from getting killed… barely. I’m interested to see how their relationship develops throughout the show.
One of the things I most enjoyed about the first episode was the appearances from various Batman villains when they were still young and not nut jobs… for the most part at least. They are each revealed cleverly through a “show, don’t tell” kind of way. You don’t know your watching a young Catwoman because some guy yells “Damn you Selina!” or “Hey look, it’s Catgirl!”. Instead, you are opened to the characters through their personality and characteristics. You know it’s a young Catwoman because she is lithe and silent, watching Bruce’s parents get murdered from a distance shortly after feeding a cat. You know it’s The Riddler because he’s constantly talking in riddles about murder evidence he has analysed. You know it’s (very) young Poison Ivy because she is quiet and almost never steps away from a potted plant on the table. The best out of all of these however, I found to be Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin. Cobblepot walks with a hobble and is gloriously manic, trying to overthrow his gang leader and slitting the throat of a fisherman quite gruesomely in a single episode. He definitely got the most focus though I would also like to see more of Ed Nygma, The Riddler. Unfortunately, he only got a brief but brilliant scene so I hope he gets more focus in future episodes.
For a first episode, I’d say Gotham did a pretty good job of setting up and telling the story in the brief time it had for the pilot. To put it simply, Bruce’s parents get shot, Gordon promises Bruce he will find their killer and bring him to justice, he supposedly catches the killer, finds out the supposed killer was framed and vows to Bruce that he will catch the real killer and maybe clean up the police department along the way. A new Batman villain, Fish Mooney looks to be the main villain for the series due to her sway, influence and power over the Gotham being the leader of one of the biggest gangs. Although she works under Carmine Falcone, he only appears very briefly and prefers to just let Fish get on with it whenever he can so I doubt he’s going to play as big a part. I was shocked in a good way by the ending and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact it makes in the future.
There are however, a few problems with Gotham. One of these is the dull performance given by David Mazouz, the actor for Bruce Wayne. I know Bruce is supposed to be a little emo and mysterious but apart from the brief moment after he watches his parents get shot in front of him, his acting was quite unimpressive. When watching him talk, I almost found myself falling asleep due to lack of emotion. Hopefully, he will improve in future episodes. As well as this, the first episode is rife with glaring plot holes. “Oh, I’m innocent and this policeman wants to check my house? Guess I better run away and attempt to kill him when he refuses to give up the chase.” “He has no shiny shoes! This 100% proves he isn’t the killer and there is absolutely no chance they just got dirty in the rain last night or he threw them away. God I’m such a smart cop!”
Nevertheless, the first episode of Gotham does a good job of setting up gleaming potential for the future. I can’t wait to see Ed Nygma’s slow descent into madness or Catwoman evolve into a master thief. The first episode definitely has me intrigued to watch more. As long as they don’t waste the potential, this looks to be one hell of a show!