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The Fandom Menace

There’s this theory going around the internet – isn’t there always a theory going around the internet? – and it’s been around for a while. Of course, I am just now picking up on it, along with many other people, due to the uptick in a certain fandom based on an upcoming, highly-anticipated, and amazing-looking sequel.

I’m going to talk about it, but only as part of the overall point of this entry. Promise you won’t go away because of the certain name you see below and I swear I’ll make the rest of this article worth your while.

Promise?

Pinky-promise?

Ok.

The big theory is that Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord – the real Phantom Menace titular to Episode I.

Lest you think this is some laughable fan theory made up to grant significance to what is viewed as one of the worst Star Wars characters of all time, I compel you to look at the evidence for yourself.

I’ll wait here while you check it out. You really should before we go any further.

Welcome to mind blow land. I’m not going to present the entire theory here, that’s why I posted the link. Please, seriously, click through and check it out. It’s important to the next few paragraphs but I suppose not the entire article as a whole.

Now, some of you may view this with a skeptic’s eye, as I originally did. Some of you may even say, “Lucas isn’t that smart,” but I would persuade you to think of your qualifier for that. Most of you feel betrayed by Lucas BECAUSE of Jar Jar Binks and his stupidity. But what if – WHAT IF – all of this was true and Jar Jar’s presence was justified by making him the most powerful Sith Lord in the universe? How would George Lucas look to you then? How would you feel knowing that the buyer’s remorse you felt for your midnight Phantom Menace tickets resulted in what could have been the most amazing reveal in all of film history?

None of us would have seen it coming. If I could wax hypothetical on the theory for just another paragraph or three, I would like to posit some quick ways this would have changed everything about the prequels. For the better. Maybe for the amazing.

Count Dooku was the shoehorn replacement for Darth Jar Jar in spots. I think the reveal would have happened at the end of Attack of the Clones. Instead of battling Count Dooku, the Jedi would have had an epic lightsaber battle with Darth Jar Jar who would instantly drop the stupid Gungan accent and suddenly be quite smooth and intellectual. He and Anakin would have some words with “Little Ani’s” heart being broken after realizing his childhood friend was a Sith Lord all along. They fight, Jar Jar gains the upper hand – maybe even says some words to convince Anakin to come to the Dark Side – and he is the one who cuts off Anakin’s arm. Then we get the Yoda vs. Jar Jar fight which would have been an epic achievement in CGI (maybe, probably, maybe not?).

This would be a much clearer influence for Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side than Palpatine blah-blahing some old story about Darth Plagueis the Wise and his ability to resurrect and retain life. Hell, Jar Jar himself could have been Darth Plagueis the Wise. My personal theory is that Jar Jar may have even been Jedi Master Saifo-Dias who supposedly ordered the Clone Army from Kamino. I’m probably wrong there, but, if Jar Jar is a missing and high-ranking Force adept on either side of the coin (or both), he could fill many holes that exist in the legends by being that “unseen” character.

Either way, Anakin’s betrayal by Jar Jar at the end of Attack of the Clones would have been brutal but his old, innocent friend seducing him to the Dark Side would have been much more interesting. Jar Jar always approved of the love between Padme and Anakin. He would be very understanding and accepting (and greedy) regarding their prophecy fulfilling children. I couldn’t even imagine the after-effects of the whole ordeal. Would they have killed Jar Jar by the end of Revenge of the Sith or would he have escaped, leaving us to wonder where he was during the events of the Rebellion? We’ll never know.

We will never know. That is the most important takeaway from this theory – we will never and can never know what exactly Lucas had in mind. Even if he confesses – which I would advise him to do immediately – that the Darth Jar Jar theory is real, we will never get to see those movies. We will never get to hear that story. Why? Because we all dropped the ball. Hard.

The reason I made you promise to stay with me at the beginning of the post was that mentioning the name Jar Jar Binks is nearly guaranteed to shut people off immediately. You think of his stupid face, his bumbling, and his meesa-yousa bullshit and you immediately want to change the channel. We ALL hated Jar Jar. We hated him so hard and so publically that articles were written about it. Hate mail was sent to Lucas because of it. The pressure of the fanbase purely hating on this character made Lucas change his plans, as evidenced in tweets and interviews.

We killed Darth Jar Jar with the unbridled hate of the collective internet before Lucas had a chance to perpetrate the end of his scheme. We were tainted by the “Greedo shot first” incident and thought he was completely off his rocker. Jar Jar put us all over the edge and made us lose faith. Lucas became a joke and, ultimately, sold to Disney because he knew that no one would ever trust him to make a good Star Wars movie again. That’s not to say that The Force Awakens doesn’t look amazing, but I digress.

Fandom banded together and pressured a creator so hard that he ditched an entire master plan for fear that people would boycott any movie which would assign an important role to a character as conceivably ridiculous as Jar Jar. I remember before Attack of the Clones came out, there were rumors that Jar Jar would become a Jedi or something like that and I remember pounding my fist on a bar and cursing Lucas’ name if he made it true. Little did I know that almost fifteen years later I would be sitting here looking back at that me as part of the problem.

The same sort of thing happened to J.K. Rowling when info leaked that, after the Battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of Voldemort, Harry would become a squib due to the loss of his connection to the Dark Lord. Fans and forums went apeshit and caused J.K. to bow to pressure and “fix” the ending.

That’s really where all this talk was going.

Fandom has a huge influence on the way modern creators craft a story. This is a pure and important fact and, perhaps, a peril of being a storyteller in the internet era. The power of internet fandom can topple dynasties in hours if they disagree with something happening on a given show or in a movie or in a book series. Fandom can become militant. Fandom can tear down worlds. Fandom can hold stories for ransom.

As a storyteller and a universe builder, my question is this – Is this the right thing to do? Should an author/filmmaker/showrunner bow immediately to the pressure of the fans? How does this compromise story elements? How much should this change the overall plot or goal?

I am not speaking out about fandom in general as I am part of it. I have written (in my head if not in word files hidden deep within my vault) the way I thought Lost and Harry Potter should have ended. I am vocal about how I think things should progress in shows (which ultimately don’t materialize). I have my own ideas of how things should go if I would write them. I am deep in the fandom of certain things but I have learned in my old age to trust in the writers for the most part. Not that they are always right, but as fandom, we should respect that it is their story to tell.

There have been moments during reading/watching where I have angrily shaken my fist or been outwardly vocal or even cried due to a plot turn or a character death or a stupidly implausible whatever. There have been characters in things that I really wanted to die who make it all the way to the end and vice versa. That is part of the emotion of the narrative.

Nothing can ever satisfy everyone within a fandom. There will always be some hate for certain characters/events/situations/places but in the end, the creator of that story should stand firm and not bow to the demands of the fandom. The fandom should respect the source material, even if it’s not created yet.

On the other side, some fan service is ok, but never at the expense of the narrative. Bowing to fan pressure to the narrative is the reason Jango Fett was the source of the Clone Army – because people just couldn’t get enough of Boba that there just HAD to be a way to shoe-horn in someone in Mandelorian armor flying Slave I and generally being an overall badass. I know I keep going with the Star Wars references but the way the fandom influenced the prequels is, in my opinion, why they were so awful. Lucas put out the Phantom Menace and we all (myself included) hated it. We railed so hard against it that he took all of our suggestions into account when proceeding to Episodes II and III and those turned out to be garbage to the point of being completely disavowed by sections of general nerdity.

If you need a more contemporary example, think about the phrase “if Daryl dies, we riot,” and tell me that doesn’t influence a certain group of showrunners.

As an author, I have to tell you – trust us. We have a plan. Even if you don’t think we do, we totally do. We have this stuff lined up. We know the direction things need to go. We have already decided who lives and who dies and we’re very sorry if that somehow puts out your favorite character but that is the story we are telling. Sometimes these things are unavoidable. By all means, if a character is killed off, you can always push for a prequel. Or an alternate universe. But, let that character stay dead if the author says they’re dead. There are enough Jean Greys out there.

And, if you don’t like the way things are going, be cool and wait it out. Let things unfold without the backlash. If we had, we would have Darth Jar Jar. And it would have been amazing.

Have an opinion on this topic? Feel free to voice it in the comments. I’m interested in fandom’s opinion on this. Also, if you’re interested in joining the Unlucky Seven fandom, let me know. I want one so bad.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

All-New, All-Different

While I fail to see the problem with the recent rash of changes Marvel has completed over the last year or more, you need look no further than the comments sections of just about any post on the internet announcing one of them to realize that there are some very vocal people out there who don’t really care for what’s going on.

It starts with a cry that these are marketing ploys; something akin to the Death of Superman in the sense that it won’t last too long and was only done to drum up new sales. I fail to see the problem from this angle as it’s the prerogative of a company to be successful. If that success means changing something, even briefly, to become more profitable, then that’s probably something the company should do. It’s just good business.

It continues with a cry that these marketing ploys are “pandering” to a more diverse audience to broaden Marvel’s readers. I also fail to see the problem here, aside from the use of the word “pandering”. Again, a successful business targets a broad base of consumers. Why be exclusionary? From a strict business standpoint, the more people you have reading your books the better.

After these two logical arguments have been presented as to the business of running a major comic label, detractors will continue their line of objection by stating that the changes to the characters in the story makes Marvel’s integrity questionable at best. That replacing beloved characters like Steve Rogers or Bruce Banner or the Odinson with equivalents such as Sam Wilson or Amadeus Cho or Jane Foster, respectively, does some sort of massive disservice to the story and the community at large.

Of course, the logical argument to this is that, if one actually reads the comics involved, then one would see that the replacements and changes are all integral to the story. Story is the important part, after all, and it wasn’t as if Steve or Bruce or even the Odin-born Thor were removed inexplicably from the Marvel Universe. They continue to exist. They continue to affect the ever-unfolding fabric of the Marvel Universe because they couldn’t just be brushed aside. Their story goes on though they might not get quite as much of the spotlight as they once did.

“Oh,” say the commenters, “But, we don’t want the all-new, all-different. We want more of the same.”

To these particular dissenters, I reply: Why? Steve Rogers has been around forever and, when he died briefly not too long ago, Bucky picked up the shield until Steve returned. There was even a period where Steve was just Captain Steve Rogers, letting Bucky continue with the Captain America moniker for a while longer. Not quite as many were upset with this. Steve’s story went on, Bucky’s story went on. The story allowed for this to happen.

We know why, though, don’t we? We know why the Sam Wilson handoff – even though it was perfectly in line with details of the story – didn’t pass as quietly. It had nothing to do with integrating mechanical wings into the stars-and-bars motif, either.

It’s the same reason that so much controversy was generated when a woman picked up the fallen Mjolnir after Thor Odinson was rendered unworthy. It’s also the same reason people are going insane that a Korean man (who has been a staple in the Marvel Universe for longer than most “fans” probably know) is slated to replace Bruce Banner.

It’s the same reason that Miles Morales freaked so many people out back in 2011.

When I was a kid, I grew up reading comics. My first love was the X-Men (followed shortly by Batman, but that is another blog entry).

I loved the X-Men because it was a team of people with crazy powers. All the characters had such different voices and looks. It was vibrant and different and some people looked practically inhuman (not a cross-reference). It was way different than watching reruns of Challenge of the Super Friends because not everyone was running around in a mask. They showed the X-Men at play as well as at work. There were actual inter-character relationships working there. It was intricate and engaging and not just good guys/bad guys because you had characters like Wolverine – the consummate anti-hero – and Magneto – the guy who was bad but not really but really but not really. You know what I mean.

No, I didn’t really have all these feelings when I was a kid because I didn’t know how to define them. As an adult, I can tell you about this with much more articulation. I liked the X-Men because they were all different.

The X-Men were all outcasts from society; sometimes because of their powers but, more often than not, because of their appearance. I related to them because I was in a similar predicament, growing up a different color from most of the kids around me. I was a pariah, I was looked at differently, and I always hoped I would find out someday that I was a mutant. Aside from Wolverine, my favorites were Beast and Nightcrawler because, out of the lineup at the time, they were the least human in appearance. Also because Beast was super smart and Nightcrawler could teleport (a power I coveted highly).

As I got older and the comic progressed, somewhere in my early teens, I related to the two of them even further. Nightcrawler had a crisis of faith and became a Catholic priest for a time (something that, until I was like 12, I had possibly considered) and later, Beast continuing to mutate into something more feline, getting further away from his humanity.

My point (before this backstory drags on any further) is that I loved the X-Men because they took in anyone. They gave a home to people who were dealing with some serious issues. I related to that because, as a weird, intelligent, brown kid in a white neighborhood, I never really felt like I fit in. It’s why I continued to read comics. It’s why I wanted to write. I realized because of the X-Men that there might be a hero out there who was like me.

Marvel expanding its universe to be inclusive is possibly the best thing they could have ever done. Introducing characters like Miles Morales and Kamala Khan… Elevating characters like Sam Wilson, Carol Danvers, Jane Foster, Amadeus Cho, and even Laura Kinney (that’s X-23 to you noobs)… This is what we need. The little kid reading three-month old issues of X-Men Classic about Wolverine and Storm (mainly) taking on the Brood – one of the first comics I ever owned – is cheering for the kids who are picking up the books now and finding heroes to whom they can directly relate – showing them that they can be super, too.

Purists will brush off this entire blog entry. I wonder, honestly, through the veil of anonymity that is the internet, why they call themselves “purists”.

A true comic book purist accepts canon as gospel. What the company says goes. If they say Steve Rogers had his serum stripped from him, then he has. If they say Bucky didn’t want to pick up the shield again, then he does not. If they say that Sam Wilson was next in line for the throne, then bow to your new king and STFU. A comic book purist would accept the changes and be excited about the directions the story will take from this point on.

Instead, these “purists” seem to be more concerned with the color of Sam’s skin and what it means that a strong Black character is holding the shield and bearing the mantle of Captain America. They get upset about the rumors that Peter Parker wants to retire from crime fighting to run his new company (which, admittedly, was built by Doc Ock as “Superior” Peter) and hand the role over to Miles Morales, a half-Black-half-Puerto Rican kid who has proven himself an amazing (not reference humor) Spider-Man in another universe. The rumor is that Banner will do the same (or be otherwise depowered), leaving room for Amadeus Cho to put on the purple pants of destiny.

“NO!” they scream, “You’re taking away our heroes for the sake of colorwashing the cast! You can’t just make all that history disappear!”

Colorwashing, by the way, is a despicable term. If you use this, please unfriend me and never come here again.

No one is taking anyone away. They are staying. No legacies have been eliminated. No timelines have been changed (well, unless you’re Spidey, then who knows). Their stories go on. And, as far as them not wanting to see action anymore, can you blame them? How many times has Peter Parker skirted death, caused the death of loved ones, cause property damage… how many more happy returns can there be? If someone else is capable, can’t he put down the power and the responsibility and let it be taken up by someone a little younger? Someone who has more of the drive? Hasn’t Peter deserved a little bit of the reward for all that risk over the years? Steve Rogers has been fighting for America since World War II. Can’t he have a little break where he’s not freaking dead?

Don’t even get me started on Banner…

The “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe, in my opinion, is shaping up to be fantastic. People will hate it. We know why. It is nice, however, to see one of the big comic labels recognizing that diversity is important. Not only does it allow the kid that I was see someone more like me being a superhero, but those kids like me will also read stories that are more relatable to their own lives.

DC has miles to go before they can even think of catching up. In fact, if DC did something similar now, THAT would be the real disingenuous pandering marketing ploy.

Keep making mine Marvel. Marvel, please keep making Marvel ours.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Gotham S1:E7 – Penguin’s Umbrella (held in Gotham against my will…)

Open on Oswald walking down the street with a couple of large thug bodyguards. Cut immediately to a LOL-worthy Fish Mooney temper tantrum, bitching about Oswald being alive and demanding his head. Throw it to Jim who is telling Barb over the phone from the GCPD locker room to get out now. Once he hangs up, Harvey is there to punch him directly in the jaw and hold him at gunpoint, stating that he’ll have to “take (Jim’s) body back to Falcone and beg – BEG – for mercy.”

Oh no. I am so very afraid for Jim Gordon’s life. Y’know, not knowing any of his future story.

Bullock gets distracted, Jim gets his gun, tells Harvey he has a plan. Harvey tells him that he hopes he doesn’t see him again. Jim storms out.

Barb’s phone vibrates on the dining room table as a Falcone thug (with partner) tells her she has a very nice place (still too nice for a police detective, if you ask me). They’re holding her until her fiance comes home. Just as the thug starts talking all rapey (we get it, they’re bad guys) Jim rounds the corner, gun drawn. A Mexican standoff turns into Jim getting the upper hand (knocking out the talky-rapey one and shooting the gun-haver). Jim and Barb make it to the bus station and Jim sends Barb away telling her to never come back to Gotham, since we’ve seen how well that line has worked in the past. She tearfully boards the bus like a good Stepford woman and the title card hits.

Gordon returns to the noisy police station and silences the place with his very presence, asking for “blank warrants that Judge Bam Bam (?) signed. He gets them and walks out.

Falcone is tending to chickens (WTF?!?) while Fish and her Nico Bellic clone (fellow crime boss) bitch that Gordon and Oswald should both be taken out immediately. He tells them that he knows what he’s doing and brushes off their request. We find out from Fish that the Lorde Girl she hired to seduce Falcone is holed up in Falcone’s house cooking and cleaning. He, according to Fish, likes to watch her do chores which, as stated, is weird but seems to be a lightly misogynistic and pretty much harmless fetish if true.

Back at the GCPD, Gordon is typing up those pre-signed warrants when Capt (not) Sarah shows up and asks what he’s doing. He reveals to her that he’s written up arrest warrants for the Mayor, Carmine Falcone, and his close associates on the charge of perversion of justice in the Wayne murders. Kinda out of left field, but whatever. The Captain predictably tells him he’s completely effing crazy and makes him realize that the city is too corrupt to prosecute and imprison their major figures. The Captain tells him to get out of town but Jim, staunchly and in the most noble fashion, Jim says, “No, this is my town, blah blah justice blah.”

At the same time, in the bullpen of the GCPD, a bald Billy Corgan looking dude and a couple of dominatrixes (dominatricees? dominatrixis?) walk in and start acting like they’re in charge. None of the cops seem to want to lift a finger to this as Billy Corgan climbs onto a desk and announces himself as Victor Zsasz (pretty awesome, honestly) and tells the congregation of blue shirts that he was sent by Carmine Falcone personally and is looking for one Jim Gordon. Predictably, everyone points out exactly where Gordon is because he has made absolutely no friends here. Zsasz was apparently told to bring Gordon in alive. Jim tells him, “There are fifty cops in here. Try something.” Zsasz tells all the cops to go away and they do without a second thought. Things devolve into a gunfight between Jim, Zsasz, and his fetish models. Jim quickly runs out of ammo and, while attempting the old throw-the-garbage-can-at-the-gunman trick, catches a bullet to the lower abdomen while making good his escape through the back door and into the motor pool. The bad guys give chase and there’s the typical tense “hide and seek” moment as the injured Jim is taunted by Zsasz.

They use every trope in the book for the last moments of the standoff as, Just when Zsasz is about to find Jim, a rookie looking officer strolls in (apparently having missed the memo from upstairs) and tells Zsasz to freeze or hold it or some other thing. While Zsasz is busy shooting that woman in the kneecaps, Jim tries to sprint away and catches another bullet in his back for the trouble. As Zsasz closes in for the coup de grace, Montoya and Allen, our favorite MCU detectives, ride to Gordon’s rescue! Oh, wow! They’re able to fend of Zsasz and the Leather Girls long enough for Jim to get in the car and escape! Miracle of miracles! Sigh.

Best part about this scene: Zsasz finishes off the poor young female officer with a shot to the heart (and he’s to blame), promptly produces a box cutter, and slashes another hash mark into his arm, proclaiming her “twenty-eight”. Ok, that was pretty cool.

After commercial, Jim wakes up in a university dissection lab. The doctor says she’s a friend of Montoya and Allen. She pulled out the bullets and, amazingly, none of his organs were damaged. She calls out to detective Allen by his first name, Crispus, when Gordon gets out of bed.

It’s here I pause the show. Renee Montoya’s partner is Crispus F***ING Allen?!? How did I not make this connection? It’s right there in the comics. I feel shame. More on this later in the post.

Fish is taking a meeting with Maroni over Oswald. Blah blah threats blah. Maroni calls out Penguin and there’s a pretty funny scene in which Maroni makes Penguin apologize to Fish who then calls Oswald a scaly-faced bitch before slapping him and leaving. Really, the whole exchange plays off as a comedy.

Meanwhile, Falcone’s rapey thug from earlier rolls up on a group of nuns while in the back of a molester van. He kidnaps them, chains them together, and puts them in the middle of the street in front of a Maroni Moving and Storage truck. The truck stops (lucky day to be a nun) and rapey thug tells the drivers that Falcone won’t let any Maroni trucks through until they get Penguin. He kindly offers the men a choice between a beating and a bullet because a serious message must be sent. The scene is actually pretty darkly funny including the part where he puts holes in both of their shins.

Maroni won’t give up Penguin, vows revenge, Penguin tells him that he knows exactly where to hit them, blah blah gangster blah.

Montoya apologizes to Jim for being a dick while they sit outside Wayne Manor. Alfred catches Allen around the perimeter and holds him at knife point until realizing he’s with Gordon. We go to stately Wayne Study (still the only room in the biggest house in Gotham), Bruce does his whole “one day I’ll be Batman” schtick while Gordon tells him that everything is connected to his parents’ murder. Jim vows to Bruce that, should he die, Montoya and Allen will take over the investigation in his place. Gordon does the whole “now I have to go it alone” bit and offers a handshake to Bruce who hugs him instead. How unexpected and heartwarming.

Penguin leads a group of Maroni thugs to destroy a Falcone drug lab. They kill everyone inside including Nico. Maroni’s main thug, after all the murderation, punches Penguin and calls him out on being nothing more than a snitch. He threatens to kill Oswald and blame it on one of Nico’s men just to get Penguin out of his boss’ hair. Oswald calls the thug a cheapskate and it’s revealed that Penguin has bought off the other thugs who hold the guy down while Penguin knifes him in the stomach. His psychopathic and eloquent monologue proves that Oswald is the best thing on this show.

Maroni and Falcone meet (Penguin and Fish on their respective sides). Maroni bargains a piece of land (according to Fish, a “toxic waste dump on an Indian burial ground) in Arkham for Penguin’s life. Everyone walks away happy.

Jim is back at his apartment and looks to be gearing up for war when Bullock happens to show up, drunk with a prostitute on his arm. Bullock says he’s “doomed anyhow, so he’s going to join the good guys”. Jim tells Bullock his plan about arresting everyone everywhere in the city in any way involved with the framing of Mario Pepper and the Wayne murders. Bullock proceeds to bang a prostitute in Jim’s bed without much real objection from Jim. Gross.

They pin the mayor down in his limo in a funny-yet-stereotypical buddy cop maneuver and arrest him. They kidnap him to the Falcone estate and use the mayor to get inside. Without any effort whatsoever, they make it into Falcone’s inner sanctum with rifles and shotguns because when you’re dealing with a mob boss, there’s never any real security right? They serve a warrant, Falcone says Zsasz has Barb and pretty much LOLs in Gordon’s face. Falcone won’t prove this but dares Jim to bring him in if he thinks Falcone is lying.

We’re treated to Lorde girl in the kitchen making muffins with Zsasz as we see Barb sitting at the kitchen counter, hostage. Zsasz gets a phone call, looks at Barb and says, “What a shame…” Of course, it’s because Barb isn’t going to die. They release Barb to Jim. Falcone lets them go citing that there might still be hope for Jim. Zsasz is disappoint because he doesn’t get another hash-mark. Falcone does a lot of lecturing before they leave, blah blah foreshadowing.

Barb and Jim go home and kiss. Yay.

Lorde-girl is happy as Falcone is pleased with her muffins (and apparently not with her muffin itself) and goes to tend his chickens (again, WTF). Oswald appears, looking like he’s got a murder on, and calls Don Falcone by name. Falcone embraces Oswald and we get a flashback to the night before Gordon “killed” him.

All of a sudden, in a huge holy shit twist moment, we find out that Penguin and Falcone engineered EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE MAFIA PART OF THE SHOW SO FAR. Penguin made a death-row deal with Falcone to have Gordon be the one to kill him, knowing Jim wouldn’t do it. He promised to come back to Gotham, embed himself with Maroni, and then snitch to Falcone about everything Maroni was up to. This before Oswald dropped the big bomb that Fish and Nico were out to off Falcone himself. We also find out that Jim only lives because Oswald asked Falcone not to kill him as a favor.

Wow, that twist actually made this show a lot better. I have to admit, while it is still very cheesy in parts and some of the bits are grossly inaccurate, this show is growing on me.

About Crispus Allen… yeah, totally forgot that he was Renee’s partner in the comics. In the books, he is unjustly murdered by another colleague and winds up becoming the third incarnation of The Spectre – God’s own holy vengeful wrath. We probably won’t see that on this show but it’s nice to know they at least got Montoya’s partner right. We also probably won’t see Vic Sage and Montoya’s progression into becoming The Question but that’s ok too.

No real complaints again this week. All the stupid Fish Mooney crap almost feels vindicated knowing that Oswald has the upper hand in this whole scenario. We’ll see what happens next. This show is officially coming into its own. I might not have to write any more of these unless some larger inconsistencies crop up.

Bidula’s Last Word – 6/10, if only for the twist.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Oh, and, I’m running a Gofundme to help take Unlucky Seven to Con. You should check it out. There’s rewards and stuff.

—end transmission—

Gotham S1:E6 – Spirit of the Goat (I’m getting tired of going to Gotham…)

We open this week on a LOL-worthy flashback showing Bullock as a Gordon-esque rookie detective with a heavy drinking partner named, appropriately, Dix. This proves that Harvey learned how to be one from someone who was actually named for his attitude.

They’re chasing a killer who calls himself “The Spirit of the Goat”, a shoddily-disguised Batman-looking criminal. Bullock’s partner falls through a trap door (released by The Goat) and falls about ten feet to career ending injury. Bullock opens fire and kills The Goat.

Cut to now, Bullock is “on the clock before the boy scout” as Gordon isn’t yet at their crime scene. A woman, rather ritualistically strung up on a small boat with spent candles lining the rail of the bridge. Harvey is freaked because this is the exact sort of murder The Goat perpetrated back in the day. Apparently, the goat preys on well-to-do first-born daughters. This one was a 21-year-old socialite.

We soon find out why Gordon didn’t make it in to work on time. Barb is chewing his ear off about keeping secrets. He says he’ll tell her the truth (everything he can, dun dun daaa) before storming out of their posh apartment to do his job.

He meets Bullock at the scene where we get another few playful glimpses at Ed Nigma, Bullock shows how freaked out he is by being nervous and standoffish (read: no different than usual). They leave the scene for the old, uber-rich parents of the murdered woman and the father claims he’s been having “strange dreams” while exhibiting either mild Parkinsons or alien hand syndrome. Bullock hides his fear behind dickishness when the family psychiatrist starts getting inquisitive.

Meanwhile, Nygma is investigating the old files. We prove that he’s a total creeper as he sniffs at the young female file clerk as she walks by then dissects her name (Kristen Kringle) and criticizes her filing system while attempting to hit on her in the most ineffective manner possible. I notice that they both have the same type of glasses which, in the Gotham universe, must be a flag for “really smart people”. Also, the file clerk dresses like a 50’s librarian so you know she has to be bookish. The stereotypes in this show just keep on coming.

Back to our intrepid team of dicks who are trying to figure out how the killer absconded with his victim from her locked home (another mansion bigger and better than what we’ve seen of the interior of Wayne Manor, by the way). Bullock remarks some more freaked-out history about the case and continues to hide behind his dick-shield. They figure that, like with the previous Goat, the killer may have some sort of janitorial or maintenance type access, granting him keys (as there was no sign of a forced break-in).

Oswald finally goes home to his crazy foreign mother. Mrs. Kapelput was worried that her son “was tangled up in some hussie’s demon purse” in what is clearly the best line of this show’s run to date. He explains to her that he’s been through hell and back. She blindly encourages him. The scene is hilarious.

Cut to the autopsy table with the dicks watching. Bullock suggests that they look under the scalp to find an incision at the base of the neck. It’s there, stitched shut, with a foreign object inside. Bullock calls that it will be a penny, and it is! He’s now committed to the idea that the original Goat is back from the dead! WOO SPOOKY!

Bullock explains, back at the main office, that it’s a specific kind of penny that was used by the original. They intentionally left this detail out of the file and the media so as not to inspire copycats. Chief Sarah Essen (God, that still bothers me…) forces Bullock to go talk to his old partner, Dix, as he was the only one besides Harvey who knew this detail and is still alive.

Cut to stately Wayne study where Bruce is watching coverage of the Goat murder. Alfred suggests that Bruce, as a first-born son of Gotham’s most powerful family, get out of town until the whole Goat thing blows over. Bruce, predictably, refuses siting that he “has work to do” and gets back to digging into his parents’ murder.

Back to Nygma, who is now rearranging Ms. Kringle’s entire file room. She’s predictably freaked out. You get that he likes her, she kinda likes him, he did what he did to try to help/impress her… blah blah, awkward flirting.

The dicks go to visit Dix in what looks like he shoddiest nursing home ever. Dix is in a wheelchair playing solitaire in a dimly lit room in case you thought he wasn’t lonely and sad enough. He lectures the dicks about Gotham’s “Golden Rule”: NO HEROES. Dix suggests a conspiracy of people rather than the one guy they killed so many years ago. Harvey doesn’t believe it and storms out. Dix tells Jim to watch out for Harvey because he’s a “real white-knight” type. Jim is obviously taken aback by this statement. We find out that Bullock has been paying Dix’s nursing home bill and ordering him dirty magazine subscriptions because, maybe, Bullock isn’t such a bad guy after all.

We then go to yet another place statelier than Wayne Manor and see a young woman preparing to go out and be The Goat’s next victim because she is stereotypically young, rich, and blonde. We’re shown that she leaves her cell phone on a table because why put it in your pocket, right? Her Latina maid gets taken down by the Goat right before the girl (SURPRISE!) gets snatched herself! We saw this exact scene on the horizon from about five-hundred miles away.

The dicks are still chasing people who would “have keys”. Bullock suggest bringing Nygma in on the case because he’s “freaky good with puzzles”.

Barb and Renee have an ex-girlfriend fight over Jim and Barb’s safety with him. Renee says she’s putting out a warrant for Gordon tonight and suggests that Babs leave town until shit goes down. Blah blah Barbara takes Jim’s side like a good little Stepford wife with a bisexual past.

Back at the station, Nygma comes up with another lead for the dicks (while showcasing the fact that he has a question mark coffee mug OMG FORESHADOWING) and the guys wind up at the giant empty house (still bigger than what we’ve seen of Wayne Manor) in which Dix was crippled during Bullock’s first encounter with the Goat ten years ago. The goat is prepping his victim when the dicks arrive, preparing her for the “sacrifice”. The Goat reveals himself in a very Batman way. Bullock goes to chase him down while Jim tends to the victim. Bullock and the Goat fight it out on a large sweeping stairway. The Goat keeps on about how he can’t be stopped and will always come back. Harvey gets his ass beat and Jim jumps in with the fists to take the Goat down, placing him under arrest.

After commercial, Selena breaks into Wayne Manor (through the window of the SAME STUDY! Does this house have ANY other rooms?) while Bruce sleeps on the couch (IN THE STUDY). She swipes something from Bruce’s desk, noting the massive conspiracy wall that Bruce has been accumulating. She beats it out of there as we hear Alfred tromping down the hall.

Oswald, at home, is being bathed by his mother which is NOT CREEPY AT ALL. She tells him that he can trust no one but his mother. He says he’s found someone else to trust. A policeman. A real friend.

At the station, we get some background on the Goat. He’s a maintenance man, with keys, something something criminal of the week behind bars but probably not really. Bullock thinks that, due to the similar circumstances, something “changed” the people who became the Goat. He’s noticeably shaken again and lets Gordon go home before the criminal seemingly wakes up from being The Goat, clenching his fist, to which Bullock responds “holy ghost on a bicycle”.

Barb warns Jim about Renee’s warrant claiming MCU now has a witness to the Cobblepot murder. Barb implores Jim to run (“Barb, I can’t run…”) just as there’s a knock on the door and Montoya and partner lead Jim away in cuffs.

Bullock goes back to the first victim’s house, interrupting a hypno-therapy session with the psychiatrist. He comes to the conclusion, in a roundabout way, that this hypno-therapist is initiating the Goat problem through her “public outreach” to the less-fortunate. She, as the real bad guy, claims to be doing Gotham a service by killing the children of it’s richest and most greedy. She pretty much confesses everything to Bullock for no good reason, apparently thinking she can get away with it. Bullock attempts to arrest her before using a hypnotic cue to send the old rich guy after Bullock as she calmly walks out. Bullock breaks free and shoots her in the leg and brings her in.

He’s explaining himself to the Captain when Montoya and partner bring in a very loudly protesting Jim Gordon who now openly admits to not killing Cobblepot. When Bullock rises to his defense, MCU takes him into custody as an accomplice. There is a bunch of fighting between GCPD and the MCU when suddenly… OSWALD WALkS IN! DUN DUN DAAAAAAAH! Cut to black.

I have to say, this week’s episode was the best so far. Only slightly cheesy, not too inaccurate, and much more of what I really want to see from this show.

The main good point: NO FISH MOONEY IN THIS EPISODE! Probably why it was the best one yet.

I’m not going to complain this time. This one was solid. Still not great, but MUCH improved over past weeks.

I continue to LOVE Oswald’s character. Nygma isn’t so bad either.

The only big problem I still have is that every structure in Gotham is more posh and expansive than Wayne Manor and that Jim Gordon lives in an impossible apartment.

Bidula’s Last Word: 5/10

Watchable this week. Hoping the show stays in this direction and, as long as it stays away from Fish Mooney, I have a feeling it’ll keep getting better. It probably won’t, because Jada Pinkett-Smith was already talking about the filming of future episodes in interviews. Maybe the writers will wise up by the end of the season and kill her off.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Gotham S1:E5 – Viper (another f***ing night in Gotham…)

The main problem of the week is the titular Viper; a drug which gives the user super strength and “delusions of ultimate power” with the sad side-effect of rapidly depleting the body’s calcium resulting in not-so-subtle fast-acting brittle bone disease. When it wears off, the user goes all Stretch Armstrong in the most ridiculous way before collapsing into a heap of human jello and suffocating.

The creator of the drug passes out tons of free samples to Gotham’s lower class (read: MOST of Gotham) and chaos ensues. Most notable uses are a drug-addled guitarist who uses it to single-handedly rip an ATM out of a wall and an old walker-using philosophy professor, a good friend of the drug’s creator who while being questioned by our favorite pair of dicks, inhales a vial of Viper and bends his walker into a mess before throwing Jim into the hallway through a wooden door and nearly choking him out.

We find out during the pre-old-man-Bane sequence that Viper was the first version of Venom – the drug used by Bane (that is, the REAL COMIC BOOK Bane, not the Tom Hardy born-in-the-darkness Bane) to give him the backbreaking strength he uses to take Bruce Wayne out of commission in the comics. I have to admit, I called the Venom thing at the beginning of the episode. I was pleasantly surprised to know they didn’t rename the actual drug for the sake of a television audience.

Needless to say, this was a horribly acted interrogation scene. I really want to blame the directors of these episodes for the horror. I feel I need to start blaming the actors just as much.

We also glean from the philosophy professor (again, in the most poorly acted way possible) that the creator of the drug, working for a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, blames his employers for the lives he took and is using the exposure of the drug to gain what he thinks is justice. He infiltrates a Wayne charity function (attended by Bruce and Alfred just for that extra “oh shit” angle that NONE OF US COULD EVER SEE COMING, AMIRITE?) and pulls a “somebody poisoned the waterhole” by letting his inhalant into the ventilation system.

This plan fails miserably after he delivers his missive to the assembled “middle management” and child-billionaire-in-chief. Bullock clears the ballroom quickly and Jim corners the perp on the roof, shooting the gas canister and giving him a huge dose of his own medicine before the perp turns and leaps to his death (body not seen, but the detectives don’t seem to care to investigate any further or clear that one up themselves). Just before he jumps, he tells our dicks to check out warehouse 39. Again, all of this using the poorest acting skills available.

They check this warehouse and find it empty. A Wayne rep (seen in a scene with Bruce, which we’ll get to) ominously warns a person on the opposite end of a cell phone that “we’ll deal with them if they get close”. End to the main story.

This week in subplots:

OMG SELENA KYLE SHOWS UP FOR LIKE A SPLIT SECOND I ALMOST FORGOT SHE WAS THERE THANKS FOR REMINDING ME!

Fish, now the proud owner of some pouty-lipped Lorde wannabe, is “training” her girl to become the weapon she is supposed to be by forcing her to learn to sing and appreciate opera. This, after a few more scenes foreshadowing the rather transparent plans she has in store for Don Falcone, culminates in the last 30 seconds of the episode where Lorde-girl shows up in a white dress with a new blonde doo humming an aria while Falcone sits on some park steps feeding the pigeons.

He goes to her in such a magnetic and insincere fashion that it almost looks like he’s faking it, like he knows what’s up. I kept waiting for him to shoot her while referencing Fish’s now-discovered and possibly thwarted takeover plans. Instead, fade to black. The acting was SO BAD by Falcone that for a minute I thought it was done on purpose!

Oswald comes clean with Maroni about his history. Jim gets called in to verify to Maroni that he, indeed, was told to kill Oswald for ratting but didn’t. Oswald helps Maroni rob Falcone’s casino. Boom done.

Bruce, from his one-room Wayne Manor, decides to continue investigating improprieties in the Arkham deal, wanting to talk to the board of directors regarding why the biggest crime families in Gotham got the biggest pieces of the deal. This leads to the aforementioned discussion with the Wayne rep who claims to be “just middle management”. Bruce, continuing to be made out as a child WELL beyond his years, gets continuously patronized by everyone including his own trusty butler because he’s just a kid. He freaks when the perp delivers his missive about the misdoings of Wayne Enterprises and is about to ask a few shocked questions aloud before Alfred covers his face with a suit jacket and ushers him out of the room to avoid the green smoke of Viper that infected no one.

This week in problems:

Stereotypical characters are stereotypical. This show leans heavily on this. Italian mobsters are overly Italian. Russian/Balkan mobsters are overly Eastern European. Old people are old people and like to feed pigeons. Young aspiring singers are really just sluts that will do whatever it takes to better themselves including luring known mafiosi into their ultimate demise with a display of tits and ass. Above all, EVERYONE IN GOTHAM IS BAD!!!

Stereotypes make this show horrible. They make it predictable. They make it look poorly acted. Wise up and throw us a curveball. I know the writers tried (TRIED) to do this with Fish, by making a “strong” black woman a capo of a major Italian crime family, but they just wound up giving us Eartha Kitt minus the purple spandex.

I continue to be disappointed.

OH! And, news out of the Gotham camp is that they have cast an actress as Dr. Leslie Thompson – one of the most trusted friends of the Wayne family and one of the few who knows Bruce is Batman – for a recurring role starting in early 2015. I would say this is cool but it only means that Gotham will be around UNTIL EARLY 2015. This may become a shame.

Bidula’s Last Word – 3.5/10

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

Gotham S1:E4 – Arkham (Too Many Nights in Gotham)

When we last left intrepid Detective James Gordon, Oswald Cobblepot had shown up at his doorstep with a tuxedo and a smile.

Jim off-sets the presence of Oswald (introducing himself as Peter to Barbara) by saying that he’s a “work friend”. We get through the awkward stuff and Jim gets Oswald out of his posh clock-tower penthouse apartment (which we found out last week is actually Barb’s) and onto the street. In his best Christian Bale Batman voice, Jim interrogates Oswald asking why he came back to Gotham when Jim told him not to making us painfully aware that Jim has never seen any movies ever because telling someone never to come back usually assures that they will be sooner rather than later. Jim threatens, saying he should have killed Oswald, Oswald knows Jim would never do it even offering Jima free shot with a broken bottle. Oswald offers to be Gordon’s inside man with the crime world (citing Jim as the “last good man in Gotham” to no surprise) and pulls the old ninja disappearance (with a terrible limp) in the middle of a city street.

We then get a scene with a city councilman and his assistant in a dark parking lot. A random man shows up and wants to show the councilman something. Rather than just walk away, the moron assistant takes a device from the man and holds it up to his eye when he is instructed to do so. SURPRISE!!! Knife to the eye! Are there no movies in this universe? Does no one see these tricks coming?

The councilman runs, is pursued, and gets murdered by the stranger. Cue titles.

Captain (not) Sarah Essen gives the double homicide case to Jim and Harvey as Bullock predictably bitches about it. Turns out the councilman had something to do with the Arkham plan.

Cut to the Mayor giving a speech about the redevelopment plan for “Arkham City”, the shanty-town district in the exact middle of the city (comprising most of its volume, actually) and the revitalization of its aging mental asylum. According to the Mayor, the Wayne plan called for demo-ing the entire area and putting up new, affordable housing for the city’s less fortunate as well as building a state-of-the-art mental health facility (otherwise known as another ASYLUM) and the opposing plan which would involve putting a giant waste treatment facility in A CENTRAL PARK SIZED AREA IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GOD DAMNED CITY. Is this real or just a bad game of SimCity?

We cut to the same killer now taking out another councilman who is for the waste treatment facility plan. We find out through some gallows exposition that the Falcone family supports the Wayne plan while the Maroni family is backing the waste treatment bit. The killer burns the councilman alive.

Jim and Bullock show up at the scene in the morning (inside the gates of the old Arkham Asylum) and we’re treated to a bit of Ed Nygma who explains to our favorite dicks that the hit man killed both a Falcone supporter and a Maroni supporter (and that’s called a paradox!). The boys are stumped. They get a bit of info from a current inmate and freelance hitter that the guy they’re looking for has a reputation for using a metal spike to do his killing.

The clue leads the pair to an office where the killer purportedly works, he disappears from his desk and Jim goes to investigate the back. Hitter is hiding behind a shelf, holding his tube of spiky death, waiting to ice the cops hot on his trail, when Harvey calls Jim back to the main office area to let him know that he found news clippings about both deaths in the hitter’s desk because that was much more important than actually tracking the guy down.

Cut to Oswald who, earlier in the episode, witnesses a large bag full of what we assume is money come into the Maroni run restaurant where he washes dishes. A bunch of masked men come in to rob the backroom of the payroll, plugging the restaurant manager in the gut with a shotgun blast prompting Oswald to go on the move. Maroni’s men get to the scene, find all their fellow gangsters dead, and follow a bunch of bloody footprints to the freezer where Oswald is currently hiding with half of the payroll. Boss Maroni appreciates Oswald’s efforts enough to promote him to restaurant manager.

Jim stays at the police station while Harvey goes to ask our favorite Eartha Kitt clone, Fish, about the word on the street, which is really just an expositional jaunt into Fish’s subplot (which we’ll get to later) rather than any clear lead in the investigation. Jim, meanwhile, gets a call from Oswald who, in his new position but not yet out of his dishwasher clothes, has another clue which connects to a previous clue leading Jim to realize the next hit is the Mayor.

Jim runs to the Mayor after leaving a message for Bullock, the hitter shows up at the mayor’s mansion, and we immediately see that the Mayor’s mansion is much larger than the one-room study of stately Wayne Manor including a concert hall with chairs where Jim and the hitter have a prolonged showdown. Just when the hitter gets the upper hand, Bullock shows and the two wind up taking the hitman down.

After the day is saved, the Mayor announces that he’s merging the Wayne/Falcone plan and the Maroni plan for Arkham by doing low-cost housing, a new asylum, and a waste disposal site. Bruce, who was consulted earlier by Gordon on the whole Arkham thing, is shown in his “mansion” (read: only room they ever show) disgusted as the mayor says the Waynes would be proud of this idea.

This week in sideplots:

Fish Mooney is auditioning vampy/gothy singers for a job that isn’t, apparently, being a vampy/gothy singer for her club. After the first audition, with a girl who has some decent pipes and looks like Eva Green, she asks the girl to try to seduce her. Fish is unimpressed with the girl’s skills (she gives her a shoulder rub. 1.5/10.) and sends her away revealing that she’s not looking for a singer, she’s looking for “a weapon”. When Bullock mosies in during the main plot, Fish is auditioning a girl who looks kinda like Lorde (not the Stan Marsh version, ya ya ya) but sings like Lana Del Ray got stabbed in the throat. When asked to seduce, there’s a girl-girl kiss. Fish then brings the two prospective “singers” to a seedy river dock area and makes them fight it out. Lorde girl wins after bashing Eva Green’s head on the pavement a few times. At the end of the episode, Fish is icing down Lorde’s bruises while saying that she got her “just in time”.

Barb starts asking Jim “who is Oswald Cobblepot” after Detective Montoya spilled the beans to her about Jim’s supposed killing of the Penguin in last week’s episode. Barb finally comes clean to Jim about the romantic nature of her and Renee’s relationship, much to Jim’s dismay. Before the end of the episode, Barb comes to the police station with a lot of relationship angst and I’m sorrys but still presses Jim on the Cobblepot issue. Jim says “it’s work and I don’t want to talk about it” which Barb whines about. Jim justifies himself by referencing the fact that the last time he told Barb about work, she called the newspaper to give an anonymous tip on the child snatchers in ep. 2. She walks away in the most dramatic fashion possible after telling Jim to make a choice about honesty blah blah romantic tension blah.

Bruce wants to start trying to connect the murder of his parents to the Arkham deal and the councilman slayings, proving yet again that he’s going to be Batman eventually even if his mansion is only one room.

Oswald, as it turns out, orchestrated the robbery and the murder of his boss. We get a scene where the thieves are counting the loot from that job in an empty apartment and are joined by Oswald. It’s all smiles and laughs and, hey, Oswald even brought them a nice pink box of cannoli from the restaurant! Do I need to go on after mentioning that Oswald didn’t eat a cannoli after his friends scarfed theirs down? Yep. Poison. Room full of dead robbers and Oswald walks out as the end title card hits.

This week in anger:

Arkham Asylum, though placed in the inner city by Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins, was never in Gotham proper. It was always outside of Gotham. In the comics, it’s depicted as a large facility in the middle of the woods, up on a hill, much like Wayne Manor. Arkham City was not a thing unless you count the recent video games but, even then, Arkham City was Mayor Sharpe’s idea to put a giant prison in a more run-down district of Gotham. In that universe, Arkham is on an island. Arkham is not and was not ever a district in Gotham City proper.

They didn’t really get much more into the mythos this week and Fish’s parts were mostly tolerable. I would have to say that this is the best episode of Gotham yet and is honestly more of what I was looking for from the start. The writing is still crap and plays out the cops to be bumbling idiots. Most of the acting is still shit and any time Gordon is with a perp he launches into the Christian-Bale-Needs-A-Cough-Drop voice but, other than that, this is more of what the show should be – a crime drama that just happens to be set in Batman’s future city.

A shinier turd than the rest, still not very good. I remain confident that they will give

Bidula’s Last Word – 5/10

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

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—