You gotta feel sorry for Warner Bros sometimes. In 2008, they ruled the world with The Dark Knight, but since then Marvel has been dominating them at the box office. Even their 52 reboot, while good in the short term, ended up being a flop among the fans. The one area they’ve had a bit more success has been in television, with Green Arrow becoming a surprise hit, and a new Flash tv show on the horizon. That said, how does their dip back into the Batman well work out? Is it a hit for the shaky DC empire, or is a spectacular failure? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep on reading!!
The show begins with Catwoman, who I shall now refer to as Kitten Girl, running on the rooftops of Gotham.
She goes back to the ground, pickpockets some jerkoff and gets away without a sweat. Kitten Girl is certainly capable for her age, and she’s able to portray a decent amount of charisma through her movements alone. Right off the bat, I can see her become Salina Kyle in the future. She runs off to an alley with her ill-gotten gains (a wallet and a jug of milk) and feeds the cats that are living there. She has to bolt almost immediately though because a family is coming down the alley for no apparent reason. Wanna guess who they are?
Sure enough, they get mugged and summarily shot to death, leaving little Bruce with an enough psychological scaring to convince him to wear funny outfits while beating up poor people.
After that, we cut to the Gotham police depart which just looks kind of weird. It looks like a repurposed cathedral or something, what with the really high ceilings, and all the arches with lights on them.
We get introduced to James Gordon, who looks like a mix between Brad Pitt and Jeremy Renner, and he diffuses a hostage situation within the office. Let me get this straight. The holding cells are mere inches away from the detectives’ desks? Anyway, a criminal (who wasn’t handcuffed for some reason) overpowered the cop who was taking him to a holding cell, and took her gun. Considering he was UNCUFFED and at least twice as tall as her, it almost seemed inevitable. Anyway, Gordon takes care of the situation but gets chewed out by his new partner (Harvey Bullock) who’s pissed he didn’t shoot the guy dead. Okay…
Yeah, right off the bat I can’t take this guy seriously. You know why Bullock wasn’t the main character of The Animated Series? IT’S BECAUSE HE’S NOT A DEEP CHARACTER!!! The guy’s pretty good at playing a scumbag, but I don’t know if he’s going to be able to turn this into anything other than a one note asshole. The two of them are sent out to investigate a double homicide and arrive at the Wayne murder. No one there seems to have figured out who they hell was killed, and the moment Bullock finds out, he wants to pass on this case off to someone else like it’s a hot potato. Gordon however doesn’t give a shit because he goes off to talk to Bruce, which I guess means the two of them HAVE to take the case. Seriously, a cop on the scene says that.
Gordon’s comforting him, telling him about his dad who was killed by drunk driver, and promises to find the man who did this. Alfred comes by at that point (I swear he looks Martin Freeman) to pick up the newly orphaned Bruce.
The two of them leave and we get bombarded with the show’s title. We cut from there to a diner (that has some weird fucking lighting) where Gordon and Bullock are talking about the case. Well, one of them is talking. The other is just bitching.
I swear there has to be at least a dozen cop cars outside because every shot has blinking lights dancing on these dudes’ faces. They get visited by some super cops (Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen ) who want to take the case off their hands, which is exactly what Bullock wants, but he doesn’t give it to them because they’re smug assholes. From there we cut to the two of them talking to the police captain who reiterates that they should probably do their job and solve the case. Bullock wants Gordon gone already which seems odd because he’s the only one who gives a shit about solving the damn thing. Maybe if Bullock hadn’t just rejected a chance to drop it (by handing it to the super cops) it’d make sense, but Gordon is the only one who’s gonna help you right now. The captain says Gordon stays on the case, so Bullock begrudgingly takes him on a trip to beat the shit out of various muggers. They interrogate them in a montage that accomplishes nothing because immediately AFTER the montage, they get a report on some ACTUAL evidence. The evidence was of course analyzed by Edward Nigma who looks a hell of a lot like Dr. Scientist. (Don’t know who that is? He’s the villain in my What’s Streaming? web series and he sometimes plays games with me in Procrastination)
The actor is pretty good in the part, and I’m hoping they develop him much more throughout the series. Considering how by the numbers Gordon is and how lousily Bullock works, it’d be nice to have SOMEONE on the department who’s at least somewhat interesting. The guy figured out that the bullet was a really nice one and that whatever gun fired it wasn’t in their database. Gordon concludes that the mugging was actually an assassination made to LOOK like a street crime, meaning the killer is either a professional or someone with a grudge against the Waynes. Bullock takes Gordon to a local crime boss called Fish Mooney who runs the streets that the Waynes were killed on meaning she might know something. As far as I can tell, she’s a completely original character, but her right hand man (or maybe her intern?) is Oswald Cobblepot.
I don’t know what to make of him. He’s mean, he’s hot headed, and he’s kinda creepy, which are all things I think of when I think The Penguin. Yet, he just doesn’t seem to have that “thing” that lets us know he’s going to be a criminal mastermind instead of just staying this lady’s peon. I admit he’s still young, but he’s still not convincing me he’ll naturally get there, so maybe there’s gonna be some big tragedy at some point that’ll change him. When we first see him, he’s holding an umbrella for Fish who’s kicking the crap out of some guy who’s been stealing money from her. One of Fish’s employee’s (she owns a burlesque club) informs her that Bullock is waiting for her, so she leaves some thugs of hers along with Cobblepot to continue dealing with the thief. While Bullock is talking to Fish, Gordon heads out back to see what the noise is. He notices Cobblepot beating the dude with a baseball bat, but doesn’t take any action to stop it. It’s a decent way of showing how little authority the police have in certain situations because of how ingrained the criminal organizations are in this town. Gordon returns to find Bullock and Fish have finished their talk which seems to have amount to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, because we immediately cut to Gordon at his apartment. This scene though is fucking amazing. First of all, his apartment is MASSIVE and incredibly well furnished. His girlfriend has amazing clothes and looks like a super model. Her acting is so god damn wooden, and her lines are nothing but reassurances, that I swear this woman is written like a wifu.
Of course, they can’t go out tonight because Gordon is feeling tired, and the girlfriend is more than happy to capitulate, so they end up making love IN FRONT OF A ROARING FIRE!!!! The guy’s supposed to be a cop right!? How the hell does he afford any of this? I don’t know. Maybe his girlfriend is a millionaire and decided she wanted to spend a shit load of money on a guy who’s job doesn’t usually guarantee them a long life expectancy. I swear, there’s no chemistry between them and the only reason they’re together is because the lady is poorly written and the main character has to be dating a hot chick. The next morning, Gordon gets a call from Bullock telling him to meet him someplace to discuss a new lead. When Gordon finds Bullock (drinking his ass off), Bullock informs him that Fish Mooney told him someone tried to fence Martha Wayne’s necklace. They head to the guys apartment, and a little girl answers the door. She’s clearly been abused by her father, and when the cops ask her name she says “Ivy”. WHAT!?!?!?!?
FIRST OF ALL her name is Pamela. NOT IVY!!! Second of all, they’re using the shitty 52 reboot origin of her which was probably a fucking mandate from DC. IT ALL HAS TO BE 52 NOW! I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea that a characters motivation (SAVE THE PLANTS) can be completely undercut with the whole “abuse” convention. She’s not REALLY into protecting the planet from pollution. She’s just deferring her pain from being smacked as a kid. The cops interview her dad (Mario), but in the middle of it he runs off and Gordon gives chase. It’s an okay chase scene, but nothing too impressive. Towards the end there’s some hand to hand fighting, but the camera is shaky and the editing is pretty choppy. Mario is about to cut Gordon’s neck open when Bullock out of nowhere shoots him dead. The cops then search the apartment, find the necklace and declare Mario the killer of the Waynes. Good job right? WRONG!!! We cut to The Not Yet Penguin who’s meeting with Montoya and Allen (the super cops from earlier) and tells that that Fish and the police framed Mario for the crime.
Alright, so The Penguin is showing us some of his conniving side. He’s doing this in the hopes of getting Fish arrested so he can take over. I don’t know if he COULD take over, but he does have plans to be a bigger player. He’s getting closer to what I would see as The Penguin. We cut to the Wayne funeral where Bruce gets a chance to thank Gordon, and we get another glimpse of Kitten Girl who’s sneaking around the funeral grounds for some reason. Then something weird happens. Montoya goes to Gordon’s girlfriend (Barbara) and tells her that the police framed Mario and that Gordon might be involved with it. What!?
This whole scene is an unpleasant mess. The two of them clearly have a sexual history together which is fine (Montoya is a lesbian in the comics) but her coming over here with unverified rumors to try and get her ex to leave her fiancée? What the fuck is this shit!? She’s supposed to be the GOOD cop in a department full of assholes! IN THE COMICS, SHE QUITS THE FORCE BECAUSE IT’S TOO CORUPT!! Why is she using her job to (presumably) try and trick an ex back into her arms? Not only that, but Barbara hasn’t told Gordon about her bisexuality, because people getting married NEVER share their sexual histories with each other! The show wants us to think of it like it’s some sort of secret that could CHANGE EVERYTHING BETWEEN THEM!!! I don’t know. Maybe Montoya is SUPPOSED to be unlikable but there really aren’t that many likable people to begin with. What do we have? Boring Gordon? Silent Kitten Girl? Eventually Bad Guy Nigma? Barbara ignores Montoya’s warnings, but still questions Gordon about it later. He pleads his innocence and Barbara tells him what Montoya said, which gets him pissed. He confronts Montoya the next day about the evidence, but doesn’t get anywhere with her because she still suspects him of being in on the frame job. He tries to run the idea by Bullock but he’s more than likely involved and I’m surprised Gordon is even bothering to tell him. After getting nowhere with Bullock, he goes to talk to Fish who doesn’t help (obviously) and instead gets knocked out by her and then she orders a bunch of her goons to kill him. They drag Gordon to a giant meat freezer, but before they can take him out, Bullock arrives out of nowhere and tries to negotiate for Gordon’s freedom. He’s allowed to talk to Fish over the phone who’s watching the Not Yet Crazy Joker do standup.
Bullock tries to get her to hold off on Gordon and lets her know that Montoya and Allen were the ones to tip him off about the frame job. She pretends to capitulate but when the phone is handed back to her main enforcer, she tells him to gut them both. While Bullock joins Gordon on a meat hook, Fish turns to Cobblepot and puts the fear of GOD into him after telling him she knows he’s the one to snitch to the cops. Cobblepot begs for his life, but Fish isn’t in a forgiving mood so she knocks the fucker out. Back at the meat locker, the goons are ready to take out the cops and call in the executioner to finish them off.
Before this ridiculous douche bag can skin our heroes alive, a bunch of mobsters come bursting in and take out most of Fish’s men! It turns out that Falcone (the big crime lord in Gotham) isn’t happy with one of his underlings (Fish) trying to kill cops without his say so and had to deliver the message personally. Well jeez dude! Did you have to kill those guys? I’m sure they would have listened to you! Falcone lets the cops go and pulls Gordon aside to have a little chat. For some reason, he reveals that no one knows who killed the Waynes and that the frame job was to give the ILLUSION of an effective police department. He lets Gordon go because he feels confident that Gordon is now disillusioned about his chances of being a good cop in Gotham, but there’s one more thing he has planned. Bullock drives Gordon to a pier and tells him that he has to kill the man in the trunk to prove to Falcone that he’s a team player.
If Gordon doesn’t, Bullock is gonna have to kill him and then his girlfriend. Ouch. Rough spot to be in and it’s probably the first time this episode has some real tension. Is he going to fail his moral code today in order to keep up the good fight in the future? Is he willing to die an honorable death as a no name detective? We know who the penguin is and what he’ll become, so wouldn’t taking him out now end up justified in the long run? Wait a minute. Am I THINKING while watching this!?!? When the fuck did that happen!? Gordon grabs Cobblepot and starts dragging him to the edge of the pier so he can dump the body in when after shooting him in the head. Of course, Gordon doesn’t do it! Instead he tells the guy to stay the fuck out of Gotham, shoots next to his head, and throws him in the water. Bullock is watching from the car and assumes he actually shot him, never once thinking it could be a trick. Okay, it’s silly but I’ll take it. Gordon took control of the situation and handled things like a BOSS. After that, Gordon goes to Wayne manor where Bruce is already starting his Batman training.
Once Bruce is brought down from the roof (trying to conquer his fears) Gordon lets him know that the case hasn’t been solved and that he’ll work hard to do it. Bruce is fine with it and the actor is actually starting to embody the character. We all heard the high pitched scream from the trailers, and sure enough he was on that level for most of his appearances in this episode. However, he now has a steely determination to him that reveals the change that is currently going on within him. The episode ends with Cobblepot washing to shore, killing some dude for a sandwich and looking towards Gotham with nothing but revenge and conquest in his heart.
I’ve said it multiple times, but it bears repeating. Pilots are really hard to do. They have to give you enough info to set the story in motion, give you some hints as to what’s to come, and they have to do it on their first try. It usually takes a season for a show to find out exactly what it wants to be, but the expectations put on the very first episode put undue pressure on a show to be great right off the bat. All that said, I can’t say this program wowed me in any way. It’s amazing how there’s NOTHING this show does to make it stand out. We’ve seen cop shows, mob shows, wacky psychopaths, and determined tough guys. This show doesn’t descend into outright BAD territory too often, but it’s obnoxiously mediocre for most of its running time. They COULD have given this some gravitas and impact, but every time they introduce someone we KNOW will be major players at some point (Ivy, Joker, hell even Montoya) it never comes across as anything but a weak reference. A facsimile of what it has the potential to be. They MIGHT realize it at some point (Penguin got some decent moments near the end) but they’re not selling it on me. Gordon is only interesting at the very end, and the actor comes across like a block of wood. His girlfriend too! Bullock is alright but it only highlights how uninteresting and boring Gordon is when the two of them are together. Overall, it was a pretty weak start to a series this high profile, but the way it picked up at the end is enough to get me to keep watching. Let’s hope it improves SIGNIFICANTLY in the next episode.