Gotham / Screen

Gotham gets its first vigilante in “The Balloonman”

Gotham‘s likely never going to see Batman, but that doesn’t mean the city isn’t likely to see a vigilante before then.  The Balloonman is this week’s problem, making a corrupt financier his first victim, to be carried up into the sky by a weather balloon. And no one really cares. He was a widely known terrible person (even by Gotham’s standards), and it’s only once a dirty cop is killed suddenly the GCPD is very interested in stopping him, even as Gotham’s citizens are thirsting for someone to start making Gotham’s crappier people disappear.

But the Balloonman only has four balloons to work with, which means he has to choose his victims carefully, and even Bullock isn’t all that concerned about finding the person responsible. Still Gotham remains weird about Bullock’s intentions since he’s inclined to let the guy go for doing a public service but later tries to send him on a balloon trip himself only stopped by Gordon’s intervention. The Balloonman is Gotham’s first experience with a vigilante, and its first acknowledgment of its need for someone to protect it.  While Gordon muses on how the police and everyone else in authority have failed the city, Bruce Wayne stares intently at a news broadcast and calls the Balloonman a criminal.

I wonder how the Balloonman chose which cop to go after, with all of them being so awful. Even Gordon could have been a victim with his “murder” of the Penguin coming out. Fish tells Major Crimes, including about Falcone ordering the hit, in the hopes of derailing Falcone’s operation. The Penguin being alive and well will likely make sure things end up relatively well for Gordon though well in Gotham is a complicated term. He’ll get trouble from Falcone for not going through with the hit, but Major Crimes will be off his back. But then there’s the tricky matter of the Penguin turning up on his doorstep which will, of course, culminate in some kind of moral crisis regarding the Penguin’s obsession with becoming Gotham’s future and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

The thing about Gotham is that all the big villains (like the Penguin) aren’t going anywhere. The Penguin’s wreaking havoc, which apparently just falls under Gotham’s usual category of shenanigans and therefore goes unnoticed, but even as he’s shaping up to be a major season problem, we know nothing’s ever really going to happen to him. He’s going to be just fine because he has to be so he can be not fine once Bruce Wayne grows up and decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s yet to be seen if this is going to be a problem or not, but as the Penguin’s storyline progresses, I can only question how it’s going to end.

Bruce is more fun to check in on, despite Gotham‘s forays into metal music to display his grief. His and Alfred’s fencing match was both well-choreographed and entertaining, and his relationship to this harder, sterner Alfred is even more fun to see. It’s one of the show’s first attempts at showing anything resembling happiness on the show, while still hinting at Bruce’s future as Batman with his aptitude for fencing and his casual perusal of his parents’ case file. Like the Penguin, Bruce’s future is set even if the path isn’t so easily apparent. But unlike the Penguin, there’s going to end up being some form of satisfaction at the end of all this.

As far as satisfaction goes, there aren’t many storylines that are actually getting there. Fish is the most fun to watch, but she doesn’t do much this time around beside causing issues for Gordon and getting rid of her adorable lover because he’s lost his nerve after his beating. And Barbara and Renee’s relationship is interesting, but Gotham‘s still trying to keep it mysterious, tied to whatever suspicious activity Gordon may or may not be involved in. Then there’s Selina and her information about the Waynes’ murder, information that Gordon doesn’t even get in a sloppy narrative machination to drag out the identity of the Waynes’ killer. The show didn’t need to go so hard and so fast on Selina knowing the truth last week if it had no plans to follow through this time, and leaving it hanging only makes it look like a gaping hole in the show’s planning.

Bullock still is a sore spot, since he’s apparently never interested in doing his job so one wonders how he got it in the first place. He’s uninterested in finding the Waynes’ killer and just as uninterested in finding the Balloonman because he thinks he did a public service but he gets worried once the Balloonman proves that he’s not above killing dirty cops. Whatever promise there was for depth in Bullock’s character seems long ago and far away, and now he’s just as much of a caricature as Gotham‘s storylines are becoming. Though as far as the storylines go, it works much better and I’m a fan of the whole Saturday-morning cartoon feel to everything even if I’m unclear as to why Bullock and Gordon assumed that balloons simply remained inflated forever.

Stray Observations

  • Barbara used to have a drug problem? Montoya used to have a truth telling problem? I want to know more about this.
  • Selina Kyle was hardly here. Gordon didn’t even get a description of who killed the Waynes because he was busy poking around in a sewer. I await the day when he becomes less stupid. And less boring.
  • You know what would have been interesting? If Gordon had been the Balloonman’s next victim, with everyone suddenly wondering if he killed the Penguin. I could have dug it. It would have been explained why he suddenly forgot about finding Selina and finding out who killed the Waynes.

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