Review: Gotham 1.05 – “Viper”

Gotham needs to decide what type of show it is going to be. Is it going to be gritty and realistic á la the Christopher Nolan films? Or is it going to be over-the-top and cartoonish like the 1960’s Batman TV show? It needs to decide and go one way because the mash up of gritty and cartoonish is unsettling to the viewers!  Visually it’s very gritty, but then there is Fish, being ridiculous.

Anyway, this week, a dastardly drug called “Viper” has been released onto the streets by the likes of a creepy looking dude with a mangled ear (Daniel London). This is real. This is gritty. This is Gotham, of mangled ears. His first target? A homeless(?) singer (Kett Turton), who readily takes it trowing caution to the smelly sewer wind of Gotham. He immediately gets all invigorated and “Banes” out! His first place of destruction? A convenience store where he gulps down gallons of milk. Does this Viper drug work on people who are lactose intolerant? Hm.

daCOPSJim and Harvey are quickly on the scene, after an odd beat of them buying hamburgers on the street and seeing Selina Kyle try to pickpocket in broad daylight across from some cops. Um, Selina, maybe be a little less obvious! I guess the writers wanted to give her something to do this week. Still odd. Jim and Harvey follow the trail (and the milk cartons) to the drug-fueled thug, who isn’t feeling too hot anymore. He tries to attack them with the ATM he stole but collapses underneath it as his body grossly falls apart! The creeper drug distributor is now just passing out the drug on the street, looking lifeless. And apparently people in Gotham just take drugs from strangers with no concern. This city is messed up.

At the precinct the next day, frenzied drug-fueled denizens litter the office in rages. Edward Ngyma seems pleased and sufficiently explains the drug’s entire life cycle, saying after a state of euphoria, the person then dies. He is FASCINATED, fascinated. And no one is concerned about his borderline insanity. Edward determines only one lab could’ve made the stuff: WellZyn. Jim and Harvey bring in Taylor Reece (Margaret Colin), the head of WellZyn. She quickly reveals that the guy with the mangled ear’s name is Stan Potolsky and he was unstable and did indeed cut his own ear off. But she claims WellZyn has nothing to with anything, which we all know is probably not true.

So, Jim and Harvey investigate more and follow a lead to Gotham University, where the meet a crotchety old professor named Isaac Steiner (Peter Maloney), who knew Stan. He quickly gives it all up, saying that he is working with Stan and WellZyn must pay! He inhales the Viper drugs, crushes his walker, and attacks Harvey, but Jim shoots him down. He dies cursing WellZyn. People know how to hold a grudge in this city, sheesh.

alf and bruceCrazy Stan is planning on releasing a big ol’ tub of the Viper drug at a fancy board party for Wayne Enterprises and WellZyn, a subsidary. In attendance: young Bruce Wayne. All episode, Bruce has been going total “Carrie Mathison from Homeland” with a whole wall of papers and photos, connected by lines. He is going to find out what is really going on at Wayne Enterprises. Poor Bruce. He needs a friend or a pet or just needs to get outside and enjoy life. There are so many papers and files at Wayne Manor. How many can he go through in one season? Time will tell.

creeperAt the ritzy event, Bruce questions an employee named Molly Mathis (Sharon Washington) about “irregularities” in some of the papers. She seems taken aback, but before she can really help, they are interrupted by a live feed of Stan on the roof, promising death to all, especially WellZyn. Luckily, Jim and Harvey arrive just in time, diverting the people and making the “Viper” drug just hit Stan in the face. He decides to jump off the roof. Oh Stan, we hardly knew ye. But before he jumped, he told Jim to look in Warehouse 39. So, Jim and Harvey head to Warehouse 39 – but it’s empty, of course. As they leave, Molly Mathis watches from a car, telling someone on the phone that they will be on top of it and not too worry. Hmmm, suspicious behavior!

penguin maroniIn other lesser storylines, Sal Maroni and his right hand man, Frankie (Danny Mastrogiorgio), are talking big game about Falcone, and blah, blah, blah. All of the mob family stuff isn’t that great because, to be frank, I don’t care about them at all. Oswald Cobblepot is still creepily fun and trying to cause problems. He tells them the true tale of his journey thus far and Maroni goes as far as bagging and bringing in Jim to verify Oswald’s story. Jim is all reluctant and goody-two shoed, but helps Oswald out. After Jim’s testimoney, Maroni is loving Penguin and they even committ a robbery together. Aw, that’s friendship. HA.

oswaldAnd, meanwhile, Fish Mooney is still training her new weapon, the vapid Liza (Mackenzie Leigh) to take down Falcone – though I don’t understand why she would go through all the trouble of training some girl to seduce him. It’d be much easier to just kill him. And what is Liza wanting out of this? Her face is so blank and boring. I just don’t care.

mobFamOh, and Fish is also double-crossing Falcone with his Russian associate, Nikolai (Jeremy Davidson). They pretend to hate each other, but are secretly sleeping together. Uh-okay? You know Fish is playing him, too. The episode ends with an innocent looking Liza meeting Falcone… Ok, great. I don’t care. And I must say it’s pretty creepy to ply a young girl on an older man. She could be his daughter – or even – his granddaughter. YUCK.

fishAnd that is it for this week. Some of the plot advanced, but most of it is still at a standstill. How many times can we see Bruce poring over the files of his parent’s murders while Alfred watches from the sides? How many times can we see Maroni and Falcone and Fish jostling for meaningless power? How many times can we see Jim and Harvey save the day in the last seconds? Apparently the answer is many times, folks! Barbara wasn’t in this episode at all, which I loved. Sorry, Barb.

I just wish the show would leap into the craziness, or get really dark. It’s trying to have both which doesn’t work for me. I am still hopeful and won’t give up, but I really hope it chooses. Also, we need more character development! That will make me care a whole lot more, specifically Jim, who is just so good and boring. More backstory, more fun, more development of the characters, then bring in the plot. Comment below and let me know what you think. Do you prefer a gritty, dark show or a humorous, campy show? Or do you think Gotham can do both?

Gotham airs on FOX, Mondays at 8/9c. Watch full episodes on FOX.com.

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Post Author: Ben Fleck