The types of unfortunate people that are preyed upon by Gotham’s criminals seems to go back and forth like a ball in a game of Pong. In “Selina Kyle”, we saw the poor suffering as a result of Gotham’s high crime rates. Then, in “The Balloonman” and “Arkham” we saw the rich and corrupt being punished either by the outraged public or by a hired assassin. Now, in Viper, a total rebound has occurred and the poor are getting picked on this episode. So far, we’ve seen an infinite rabbit hole of corporate corruption, human trafficking and cold assassinations. In this episode however, the weekly problem that’s ailing the streets of Gotham this time is a dangerous new drug. Despite the target seemingly being the poor, if it isn’t stopped in time, it could be bad for the higher-ups as well as the gutter rats. Gordon and Bullock find themselves unravelling a philosophical attack with a motive that’s questionably justified. Will they be able to stop the spread of the drug in time? Or will Gotham fall into chaos? Well, even more chaosier chaos.
Viper opens on a high with Bruce actually doing something other than being emo and being an asshole to Alfred. He continues from last episode investigating the Arkham project in an attempt to try and find how the gangs of Gotham managed to gain so much power over the district. Alfred tries to persuade him to stop but for once I agree with Bruce. Rather than just staying at home he should make use of his vast wealth and try and help Gordon weed out Gotham’s criminal roots. Bruce is starting to develop some of his Batman badassery or at least some of the detective skills that make the Bat just as much as a force to be reckoned with as his brawn does. Despite just being a kid, as the heir of the Wayne legacy, he still has a fair amount of influence and wants to use it to its fullest. Later on in the episode, he also attends a charity event and starts questioning a representative of Wayne Enterprises about the irregularities and although he doesn’t get far I have to commend Bruce. Could a character be developing? I hope so.
Viper then continues with a literal high as the effects of the drug are showcased on an unsuspecting homeless man. He is granted superhuman strength along with a strange craving for milk which he sates by robbing a corner store and literally ripping the ATM out of the wall… for seemingly no reason. Despite being on break, Gordon is insistent they investigate and they eventually find him and witness the eventual, gruesome side effect of the drug: death! Well, it would have seemed gruesome if the special effects weren’t so hilariously bad. I know it’s not easy to make a squashing effect but for the amount of CGI involved they may as well have added in a flying, fire-breathing dinosaur behind him and it would have looked no less real. I enjoyed Harvey’s and Gordon’s interactions again in this episode and the witty banter they share and watching their polar opposite personalities clash. Harvey got beat up a bit too much for my liking in this episode considering how experienced he is supposed to be though maybe that’s just me.
Unfortunately, I had mixed feelings about one of my favourite characters, Penguin in this episode. I was excited to watch him work his way into Maroni’s circle further until he fantastically failed by making the simple mistake of letting slip that he originally worked for one of Maroni’s SWORN ENEMIES. He then gets beat up and acts like a snivelling idiot for the rest of the episode even dragging Gordon into it to confirm his story and save him. When you need to be saved by a rookie cop who’s favourite hobby is painting targets on his back and almost got killed in the first episode then you’re probably not all that bright. I suppose it works out in the end, hopefully as Penguin intended with Maroni seeing his potential as a major player on the field to help wipe out his biggest opponent. Nevertheless, I felt it downplayed Penguin’s character a bit. On the one hand, it shows that even Penguin isn’t invincible and is merely a pawn on the chessboard for Gotham’s crime lords but on the other, it massively reduces his menacing character. Hopefully Penguin can crawl out of the gutter again in future episodes.
We were also shown more of Fish Mooney and her plan to overthrow Falcone which seems to be getting interesting. Throughout the episode, we were shown small insights into the plan which acted as some clever foreshadowing for the big reveal at the end of the episode. It all clicked and seemed pretty obvious when the big plan was revealed but it kept me guessing right up to that point which isn’t very easy to pull off showing Gotham’s writing can be clever when it wants to be. She also had a few brief interactions with another one of Falcone’s crime lieutenants, a russian gangster who’s place in Falcone’s gang wasn’t made all that clear. I’m not sure how I feel about him and Fish being in a relationship especially considering how quickly Mooney killed off her last love but looks can be deceiving and it could turn out to be a major plot point later on. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Finally I’d like to talk about the villain of this episode. It’s only the fifth episode but we’ve already had a diverse range of good and bad villains. Unfortunately, the villain of this episode, Stan Potolsky; a genius chemist who used to work for drug company WellZyn falls a little short of greatness. He’s still a long shot from the hilariously bad two-dimensional Gladwell of the previous episode but he’s no Balloonman or Joker either. His motives are interesting and understandable and make you ask yourself whether he’s really the bad guy. However, he makes some pretty stupid decisions that make no sense as far as I can see. He starts distributing the drug to the poor of Gotham and… his plan works and we see through a news report just how big of an effect it’s having on Gotham. So why then, does he think people don’t care about the poor and then goes to force the rich to inhale it? You’ve given them less than a day even if they didn’t report on it and they DID which is fulfilling your goals so why does he think people were just ignoring it? Eventually, when Gordon stops him, he proceeds to take the drug before falling off the roof of a building in the most painfully cliche, mad villain fashion. If they’d just developed him a bit further he could of proven to be a great villain at the least but this problem sadly ruined his character for me.
After watching Viper, although my thoughts are mixed, I still think it’s an entertaining episode and I definitely didn’t dislike it as much as I did Gotham. The villain is a lot better though there is still(or was since he’s recently deceased) a lot of room for improvement. Selina still seems to be sticking to the shadows though she had a brief encounter with Gordon at the beginning which didn’t really go anywhere. I was happy to see a bit more of the insanely(literally) intelligent Ed Nygma and loved his comments on how interesting the effects of the drug were. Gotham, so far has done a good job of establishing… well, itself and has set the stage for future events that could be a lot bigger, more widespread and even more chaotic than what we’ve seen so far. It seems a storm is on its way and when it arrives, I can’t wait to witness all the havoc.