It’s a dark day on the streets of Gotham City as the highly-anticipated Gotham takes a trip through the seedy underbelly of Batman’s home town. But where do you start in a series that takes a look at Gotham City before the Dark Knight rose? As if you had to ask…
Director Danny Canon and writer Bruno Heller lay some pretty impressive foundations in this pilot episode… and it all kicks off with the most infamous crime of Gotham City’s past – the brutal murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
Our first glimpse of Gotham in all its grimy glory sets the tone for the entire series – its sweeping, gothic skyline filled with a sense of foreboding. It’s a sweeping look at the city we’ll come to know… and that really gives us a hint of what’s to come in this first episode.
I have to admit, I found the endless cameos a tad annoying. Within the first 20 minutes or so, we’re needlessly introduced to a whole host of iconic Batman characters… and I can’t help thinking that they would have been better introduced as the series progresses. But while that small niggle may prove a tad distracting, it does give us an overview of what to expect. And that’s plenty of rogues from the Batman legends.
We’re instantly introduced to Selina Kyle as she saunters through a bustling downtown street, picking pockets and stealing milk from old ladies… and while these scenes may not instantly connect to the story at hand, it seems that the order of the day is to deliver numerous strands which will be picked up later.
And the same goes for Edward Nygma, Ivy Pepper and even the young Bruce Wayne. But perhaps that last one was a bit obvious…
Of course, despite the light-hearted start featuring a young Catwoman, the show soon takes a brutal, bloody turn as we witness, first hand, the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. And we finally get a glimpse of what tipped Wayne over the edge – what changed him into the Dark Knight that we know and love.
The fact that Selina witnessed the murder will almost certainly turn out to be significant in some way… but for now, it looks as though the GCPD have quite the struggle on their hands. And although Detective Jim Gordon is clearly desperate to clean up those mean streets, it looks as though his partner isn’t going to make it easy.
Introducing Harvey Bullock – the not-so-squeaky-clean partner… and I can’t help thinking he’s going to be the thorn in Gordon’s side during his on-going quest to clean up Gotham.
“Do me a favour,” he says to the officer on the scene. “You didn’t see me, okay? That’s Thomas and Martha Wayne – I don’t need this kind of hassle.”
Of course, it’s clear that Bullock doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. But is there more to it than that? After a trip to visit local gangster Fish Mooney, it’s clear that Bulloch is as crooked as they come. But does he know more about the Wayne’s murder than he’s letting on?
It’s a concept that will no doubt become a central theme throughout the show – Jim Gordon butting heads with the phenomenally crooked Bullock. But is it really that convincing? He’s certainly a force to be reckoned with, but at this stage Bullock feels more like a caricature. I personally hope that this is just the beginning and perhaps we’ll see what turned Bullock into this cynical cop on the mobster’s payroll. Maybe he’ll even get a chance at redemption.
But the shining star in Gotham is Ben McKenzie’s Detective Jim Gordon.
He’s young, honourable and determined to make a difference… and even when faced with a tough decision, he’s looking for a way to do the right thing. And that’s no doubt going to be the driving force behind his character as Gordon tries his best to clean up Gotham. And it’s a noble cause, even if we know he won’t succeed.
Obviously, there’s still the matter of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder… and while a suspect is linked to the crime (and killed off by the end of the episode) it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. By the end of the episode, we’re no closer to finding out who killed the Wayne’s and neither is Jim Gordon. But then, we wouldn’t really expect it.
Instead, it sets up what will surely be a recurring plot line – who killed Batman’s parents?
Obviously, Fish Mooney has something to do with it… and with Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) desperate to take over her criminal empire, it’s not long before the criminals begin to turn on each other.
Even then, when Detective Gordon is given an ultimatum – to kill or be killed – he still manages to find an inventive way to do the right thing. But will this act of kindness toward The Penguin come back to bite him? You can bet on that.
What did you think of Gotham episode one? Did it live up to expectation? Let us know what you think in the comments below…