Gotham S1:E3 – The Balloonman (Three Nights in Gotham)


When we last left intrepid white-knight Detective James Gordon, he was sitting on a bench next to young Selena Kyle at GCPD headquarters. Right before cutting to black, she says, “I know who really killed the Waynes.”

After a sequence where Oswald returns to Gotham (which amounted to a supercut of every conceivable street crime happening at once within the same city block and a sequence where a lowlife financeer gets vigilant-ed the hell out of by the titular Balloonman (wearing a pig mask, so there went the Professor Pyg idea) hand-cuffing him to a weather balloon and leaving him to the mercy of the four winds while a large crowd of reports simply watch him drift away into the air, we finally catch up with our favorite Dicks, Gordon and Bullock, on the scene of another case entirely.

In what dimension should our first encounter with Jim Gordon in this episode NOT be extracting the exact information Selena Kyle teased at the end of last episode? How is he not doing everything but beating the identity of the real Wayne killers out of her right on that spot? Either this is truly shoddy detective work or this show really thinks we’re dumb enough to believe that the best (morally) detective on the force would say, “Ok, well, you have a lead on this closed case in which I know I killed an innocent man. Stop back whenever and I’ll take that info. Thanks, street urchin. Go ahead back to the streets where people just snatched you away and I’ll see you later.”

Nope. Jim and Bullock are now hot on the tail of “The Balloonman”, the afforementioned vigilante. Bullock continues to prove that his character was written as the laziest most BS detective on the force by saying that the financeer “got what he deserved”, case closed. Of course, Bullock is pissed that his partner is dragging him into another investigation because he has to be the absolute counterpoint to Gordon. Let the crime-of-the-week begin!

We get a quick glimpse of Fish Mooney as she speaks with Detectives Montoya and Allen from Major Crimes about the Oswald Cobblepot “murder”. Continuing with her best Eartha Kitt in the most vomitous fashion, Fish coughs up Jim Gordon as the shooter with Falcone (mispronounced) giving the order. Predictably, the two Dicks from the MCU confront Gordon about it but not before we get back to a bit of Selena Kyle.

Selena leads Jim to the alleyway after Jim called her back into the office (rather than, y’know, getting that over with immediately like a good detective) and does nothing more than set herself at the scene by referencing the stolen wallet she ditched in the sewer back in episode one. Jim handcuffs her to a fire escape before going into the sewer which turns out to be predictably laughable as she picks the cuffs and promptly ditches him while he’s ankle-deep in human filth.

We also get introduced to another mega-corrupt cop who winds up being red-shirted as the Balloonman’s next victim. See, Jim found out that there were four weather balloons stolen from a supplier (through some easy dicking around) which means there are two more victims yet to come.

They track down the guy who originally stole and sold the balloons and it’s not until this point that two police detectives – people who are paid to figure things out, mind you – need to have a skeezy stoner guy tell them exactly how balloons work and make them realize what goes up must come down. Frozen. And fast. We then get treated to the corrupt cop plummeting dead onto an innocent woman walking her dog. The coroner’s office promptly shows up with giant shovels to scrape them off the street because apparently victims of horrible accidents are routinely considered comic relief in Gotham City.

Key evidence is found on the body of the cop which has Jim Gordon’s name on it (GASP!). We find out that it’s the child services request Gordon made to have Selena brought to him. Apparently, orphaned children are as easy to order up as Chinese food. The bad cop JUST SO HAPPENED to swipe the orphan receipt from the Balloonman’s jacket just before he was sent to hypoxyia heaven.

Long story short, the next turns out to be a Cardinal who molested children (topical as well as borderline controversial, So Brash! So Bold! So Fox!). They use the orphan order slip and figure it’s (WOW!) the guy from child services! They track him to his place, have a bunch of overly long-winded pointed gun discussions, Bullock winds up cuffing him to his last balloon. Jim jumps to save him, tells Bullock to shoot the balloon. Bullock hesitates, thinking to his lazy self that if the Balloonman is killed, it will save him the work part of police work. He eventually shoots the balloon and Gordon and the Balloonman fall onto the roof of a conveniently parked van so as not to hit the ground from at least two stories up.

That’s the main plot, let’s get to the sub-plots.

Oswald comes back to town (as referenced) and is recognized by a Falcone thug. He pretends to be Dimitri from Odessa but the thug knows better. The thug drags him into a garage where he tells Oswald that he’ll be turned in to Fish Mooney for a bounty because Fish believes Oswald to be dead. Oswald begs for his freedom and, when nothing comes of it, he murders the thug with a pocket knife, steals a benji from the guy, and buys a tuna sandwich at the food truck across the street while the corpse bleeds out all over the garage floor.

Oswald then gets a job washing dishes in an Italian restaurant (not associated with his former, oft mispronounced, crime family) after first being denied and then straight up murdering the guy he wants to replace (after hours, of course). A smile comes over his face when Sal Maroni walks into the place and makes nice with the owner. Maroni being the main competition for the unpronounceable Falcone family.

Eventually, Oswald, now posing as Paolo (Italian on his mother’s side rather than crazy on his mother’s side) overhears a conversation between Maroni and the restaurant owner that involves a lot of names, including (as they directly point out) Falcone and Arkham. He gives “Paolo” a couple hunskys for claiming he heard nothing. They have a rather jovial exchange (including a VERY stereotypical Catholic Italian mobster moment) and it seems like Oswald is well on his way to starting into a new crime family. I’m sure he’ll quickly rise through the ranks, giving the inside dish to Maroni on Fish Mooney’s operation.

Speaking of Fish, there are a few extra-creamy limburger moments where she purrs at her lover, Laslow, the one who last week got the crap kicked out of him by Falcone’s goons as Fish’s “punishment”. She tells her head muscly guy that Laslow has lost his spine. She orders a retaliation against Falcone’s current lover (Natalia, for the record) and also tells muscly guy to “take care of poor Laslow as well”. Look, I know she’s supposed to be cold, but seriously? Straight-up killing her lover because he’s nervous after getting the shit beat out of him by serious gangsters is a bit too over-the-line-crazy which is, apparently, how they would rather characterize Fish Mooney. They’d rather use the “bitches be crazy” stereotype than the “cold, calculating, cunning businesswoman” type which, in my opinion, devalues the character. I guess shows like this that tout strong female leads only like them when they’re sex kittens or crazy. Or tiny teenage pickpockets. More on that in a minute.

Falcone and Fish have an exchange later in the show where Falcone stops by Fish’s club for seemingly no good reason other than to tell her that Natalia was mugged and he’s going to kill anyone responsible once he finds them. Blah blah foreshadowing blah. The exchanges between these two are supposed to look like a well-organized chess game and instead it looks like two rednecks playing checkers on a pickle barrel. Thankfully, there wasn’t much Fish Mooney in this episode which actually lent to this episode being marginally better overall.

Also in this episode, we get a little more about Barbara. Though not the worst character on the show by far, Barb seems to be the most sexualized. Every time we see her, she’s dressed in a sexy manner. In this episode, we see her in one of Jim’s dress shirts and nothing else, just as she gets out of the shower, and in sexy evening apparel. Yes, we get it. Jim’s fiancée is hot. Yes, their penthouse apartment (with awesome and incredibly uncommon clock tower window) is opulent, so she must also be well-to-do and have a decent job even though we haven’t yet had a hint of what that might be aside from her saying that “she has a meeting” later that day.

We find out, after Detective Montoya breaks in to expand on their sexy side plot, that said meeting may have been AA. After hinting at their shared past back in episode one, Renee comes back to warn Barb about the strong rumor that Jim shot Oswald on Falcone’s orders. This is the scene where Barb has just got out of the shower and is wearing a short hooded robe because she can’t wear normal clothing that doesn’t show the max amount of leg while on screen. Barb pulls out a joint (lolwut?) and sits down to smoke it in front of her police detective ex-girlfriend (yeah, they openly admitted it finally). Renee shows some concern and wonders if Barb is back on drugs because blah blah Renee’s been clean for a year since Barb left blah blah romantic tension blah blah Barb less-than-threes Jim blah blah. Renee, in typical romantic fashion, questions the safety and health of her ex-lover and goes in for the unwanted kiss at which point Barb asks her to leave. Yay, pan-sexual love triangle! At least Detective Montoya has the good sense to put some freaking pants on. Then again, they’re not selling her as the bombshell hot chick, they’re selling her as the discarded lesbian, so pants it is!

Lastly, we get to see young Master Bruce. First, practicing fencing with Alfred using a pair of wooden canes, dancing around the same study we’ve seen in every episode of this show so far. Stately Wayne Manor has been reduced to a single room, probably due to the show’s budget constraints. From the looks of things, tiny grieving Bruce is becoming tiny Howard Hughes and not leaving this damn room for anything. Also, he’s the heir to the freaking Wayne fortune. Can’t he afford legit fencing gear rather than likely antique wooden walking sticks? Couldn’t they clear out one of their likely vast dining rooms or even a ballroom and practice there? Nope. Wayne Manor only exists in this tiny study.

During the ruckus, Alfred uncovers the fact that Bruce has been looking at the police file of his parents’ murder. When asked by Alfred how he got the file, Bruce simply says: “It wasn’t hard.”

Time-out. You mean to tell me that Bruce Wayne, without adult supervision or guidance, left Wayne Manor on his own and talked to some likely seedy characters in order to gain access to a restricted, confidential police file. And that it “wasn’t hard”. Look, I know he’s supposed to be Batman someday, but he sure as hell isn’t anywhere close yet. Practically everything he does would go through Alfred (as his legal guardian). Don’t tell me Alfred leaves him be with like a thousand bucks in bribe money for him to sneak off to the police station and get one of any hundreds of corrupt cops to give him the file on the most prestigious homicide case to ever befall Gotham City. And, don’t tell me for a minute that even a corrupt cop would question giving that file to a child, let alone a famous child and recognizable face like Bruce Wayne. I shake my head in pain at you, writers. I shake my head.

Anyway, the rest of Bruce’s portion of the episode involve him not eating (claiming lack of hunger) and reading headlines/watching newscasts involving the Balloonman. Bruce seems inspired by the antics (big shock) but tells Alfred that the Balloonman was wrong because he killed, and killing made him just another bad guy. So yeah, Batman-ing it up already. They are going to rush this kid into a costume.

No real complaints this week about misused characters or dropped names. The only thing that disappoints me is that they used a pig mask for the Balloonman in his first scene and squished it without context into the sizzle reel, making every Bat-fan worth their salt think that Professor Pyg was on the horizon. Shame on you for abusing nerds like that, Fox.

There have been rumors floating that Gotham may already be facing the axe. I am not surprised. As much as I would love this shit and cheese show to continue, if only because it gives me fodder for blog entries, the earlier this disgrace to the Bat-franchise can be laid low, the better. Though this episode was a slight improvement over last week’s, I will continue to rail against it based on principal. As always, we’ll see what kind of slop they throw in front of us hogs next week and evaluate it then.

Bidula’s Last Word – Gotham S1:E3 – 4/10

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

One thought on “Gotham S1:E3 – The Balloonman (Three Nights in Gotham)

  1. Bidula, given your expertise on the Bat Franchise, i wanted to ask a question…The show seems to revolve around a theme that Gordan and his parter killed an innocent man who was framed for the Waynes Murder. That guy, while he didnt kill the Waynes, was far from innocent. He Ran from the Police, and tried to kill Gordon with a knife, and would have if he wasnt shot. It wasnt the Waynes Murderer, but it was a good shoot regardless, why is Gordon remorseful about it at all?

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