I had my doubts about FOX’s Gotham, but after seeing the first two episodes (“Pilot” and “Selina Kyle”) I’m officially on-board. Initially my fears were that Gotham would be a generic cop drama with occasional nods to the Batman canon, but the show is instead neo-noir mixed with elements of a crime drama and action series. Most of the main characters are different shades of grey, from the pragmatic Harvey Bullock, to the ruthless and power-hungry Fish Mooney, to the homeless thief Selina “Cat” Kyle, to the “law and order” crime boss Carmine Falcone, to honest cop Jim Gordon haven’t compromise some of his values to navigate his corrupt and nihilistic atmosphere. Then there’s Bruce Wayne, heir to the Wayne fortune, raised by his butler Alfred Pennyworth and destined to be Gotham’s savior.

Gotham S1 E1 & E2 – Review

Instead of waiting until the first season is over to review it, I’ve decided to review the series one episode at a time. Each week I’ll post a review and give my predictions and thoughts on where the series could be going. In this first review I’ve decided to not review the first or second alone, but instead together, examining the characters and setting. My reviews after this one will be fully devoted to a single episode. With that being said, let’s get to it.

Setting: One of the standout aspects of Gotham is the setting. Similar to Batman: The Animated Series, the show has a timeless feel to it; whereas that show had police zeppelins, black and white television, and tommy guns mixed with sci-fi technology, in Gotham characters dress in clothing that looks like it comes from a previous era and the locations seem older as well (such as Fish Mooney’s club, with its old-fashioned strippers and servers), and the only “modern” technology we’ve seen so far are cell phones (and even then, cell phones are hardly modern). The city itself is a character, and one can feel its corrupting and nihilistic influence in every scene; Gotham City is a place where morality must bend to reality, the cops are often as corrupt as criminals (and are sometimes indistinguishable), and even the “heroes” don’t fully trust each other. The city itself is visually stunning, both retro and modern at the same time (going back to the timeless feel).

Characters: Ostensibly, the main character is Detective Jim Gordon, a cop new to Gotham who finds his idealism solely crumbling. Jim wants to do the right thing and help others, but has to work within Gotham’s corrupt system to get anything done. Gordon’s partner is Harvey Bullock, a veteran cop who frequently works with criminals to achieve his desired ends; one gets the impression that Bullock might have been like Jim long-ago, before he had to adapt or perish to the city. Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth are still in the background at this point, but it feels like the writers are slowly building on them as a way to focus on other characters. Other major mythos characters include a psychotic Oswald Cobblepot, who at first seems weak and sympathetic before being revealed to be a complete monster who will kill for real or perceived insults and betray anyone for his own benefit; Edward Nygma, who in the series still loves riddles but currently works for the police; Carmine Falcone, a Lawful Evil type who believes that criminal enterprise cannot exist, ironically, without law and order; finally, there is Selina Kyle, the young thief who will grow up to be Catwoman. There are appearances from Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen (inexplicably adults, meaning they’re going to be much older than Bruce when he’s an adult), Ivy Pepper (the future Poison Ivy–still not crazy about her new name, hopefully it gets changed somehow), and Jim’s (maybe) future wife Barbara. Barbara is particularly interesting in the show, traditionally she’s been a minor character who disappears once Gordon falls in love with Sarah Essen (who is in the show, but is Jim’s boss and far older than him–which doesn’t disqualify her necessarily), but it seems that she could be the one who has the affair this time. Indeed, it is hinted at that Barbara is bisexual and was previously in a relationship with Renee Montoya, which is a great twist, and provides much more story for both characters. There were also a few Easter Eggs within the show, including a possible pre-Joker. I look forward to seeing how all of these characters develop and grow to become the characters we all know.

Plot: The murder of the Waynes is the catalyst for the events that unfold in the show. Every character is involved, either directly or indirectly, with this crime. Although we can assume Joe Chill was the killer, we don’t know for sure and even if this turns out to be the case we still don’t know why he killed the Waynes. The show suggests that the killer might have been working for someone and killed the Waynes on orders from them, but this could be a red-herring. So far, the plot is focused on Gordon and Bullock’s attempts to navigate the dangerous politics of the city.

That’s the review for this week. If you haven’t watched the show yet you have time to catch up. Let me know what you think about the show and my review (suggestions for what you want me to talk about are also encouraged). Until next time.

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