Gotham: The Balloonman review S1, Ep. 3

Gotham has its first appearance of a vigilante, but this one has a unique way of dealing with the city’s corruption.

We open with a crooked businessman looking to escape a mob of reporters. He leaves out a side door only to get cornered by a mysterious masked man who cuffs him to a weather balloon, which sends him flying in the air.

Gordon and Bullock are debating the incident, but for some odd reason, Bullock is taking the moral high ground this time insisting that a shady businessman got what he deserved. This is from the same character who’s in bed with the mob?? Terrific, so now Bullock is going to be written inconsistent from week to week.

gotham-balloonman-selina and gordonBefore they can investigate this week’s case, it’s time for “Gordon and his Weekly Chat with The Kids.” Selina gets the spotlight as Gordon takes her to the scene of the Waynes’ murder so she can sorta tell him she saw who killed Thomas and Martha without saying anything that would wrap up the season’s big mystery. Gordon has a completely different attitude with Selina this week fully disregarding her credibility even though she helped him nab The Dollmaker’s goons last week. The writers really needed to get together as the characters are not lining up with their actions from week to week.

Continuing our weekly check-in with all the principal cast, Fish is greeted by Montoya and Allen. They’re curious about what happened to Oswald and Fish tips them off that Gordon killed Oswald. Allen and Montoya are the worst detectives ever. They get one tip and run with it simply off of hearsay, no substantial evidence necessary. So of course they promptly confront Gordon asking if he killed Oswald. Montoya and Allen scenes are quickly becoming fast-forward bait.

Oswald has made his way back to Gotham, but he gets made by one of Fish’s goons who is happy to report the news to his boss. This leads us to our obligatory Penguin is a psycho murderer scene. The show feels like it’s written with certain episode benchmarks that must be clicked off (Gordon and Bruce/Selina, a riff with Gordon/Bullock, Fish preening, Gordon/Barbara and clueless Montoya/Allen and Penguin murder scene) and there’s only so much time for an actual story to develop each episode.

gotham-balloonman-montoya and allenAt Wayne Manor, Alfred is teaching Bruce how to fence, but they knock over the police files on the Wayne murder case. Bruce is searching for clues because (spoiler) he’s gonna be Batman. These weekly foreshadowing of Bruce becoming Batman are becoming redundant and frustrating because there won’t be any real payoff on “Gotham.” I know the writers feel he’s essential, but Gordon has to be the show’s focal point and Bruce at this stage, doesn’t have to appear on every episode.

Bullock and Gordon are clashing on Lt. Cranston, another crooked GCPD cop. This time the tension seems forced and it’s probably because it’s been a weekly staple. An episode with them on the same page would help freshen the dynamic between the two.

Gotham-The-BalloonmanCranston is shaking down a drug dealer when he’s confronted by The Balloonman and he goes for a flight. I was confused though. Did Cranston not have his gun on him? Bullock and Gordon track down the balloon supplier and learn there’s more balloons out there.

Meanwhile, Montoya used her old key to get into Barbara’s apartment. To give her an edge and some semblance of a subplot, Barbara is getting high. Montoya warns Barbara that Gordon is shady and killed Oswald and she doesn’t want Gordon to hurt her. Montoya kisses Barbara, but she wants none of it and tells her ex-girlfriend to get out. This subplot is really contrived and is such a weak way to tie Montoya into the Gordon/Barbara storyline.

The Ballonman has struck again. This time, against a pedophile and his latest actions are rallying Gotham’s citizens eager to see who he’ll take down next. Gordon and Bullock track down the balloon supplier’s teen employee. He’s not The Balloonman, but tells them the balloons and the victims will eventually come plummeting back to Earth. Cue Cranston’s falling body landing on a woman in an absurd scene. We don’t see the collision, but we hear the squish. That was a near horror movie scene and the show keeps flirting with these unnecessarily semi-gory scenes.

gotham-balloonman-ben-mckenzie-as gordonGordon and Bullock find the real Balloonman, but not before he pulls a gun on Bullock. Balloonman has a pointed conversation with Gordon about how the corruption in Gotham has overrun the city and it needs people to stand against it. This was a rare case where the writers subtly worked in the need for someone to do what Gordon can’t without just making us wait until Batman arrives and not surprisingly, it was one of the series’ best moments. Balloonman tries to snare Bullock, but gets caught in his own trap. Gordon jumps after him and Bullock wants Gordon to jump and let Balloonman fly off to his ironic death, but Gordon convinces him to shoot the balloon so BM can be brought to justice. While being carted off, BM promises there will be more vigilantes. Yeah, in another 15 years or so, but who’s counting?

Bruce watches the news report on a The Balloonman and the newscaster utters this embarrassingly bad bit of dialogue: ‘Now The Balloonman is gone, who will defend the people of Gotham??’ Ugh.

Gordon and Barbara are having some quiet time. Barbara is hinting that Gordon can tell her anything, including killing Oswald, but she’s satisfied with his answer for now. Before they get to enjoy their quiet time, there’s a knock on the door and surprise, surprise, it’s Oswald.[irp]

Next week could prove interesting, especially once Bullock or Fish learn Oswald is back.

What this episode did right: No needless Edward Nygma scene. It’ll mean more when he shows up again instead of a random cameo.
What this episode did wrong: Still too much young Bruce, focus on too many subplots when Gordon should just be able to carry an episode.