(NOTE: Gotham Central is a summary of the Fox drama ‘Gotham’ as well as anecdotes, ties from the comics, general notes, and fan rant. This will contain some spoilers from the listed episode.)
The Recap Page:
The Penguin is back and now working his way up in Maroni’s organization. Fish Mooney is training and having a creepy relationship with a young lady that she wants to eventually seduce Carmine Falcone. Jim Gordon breaks it off with his now ex-girlfriend Barbara Kean. Bruce Wayne starts employing his detective skills to investigate some chicanery between Wayne Industries and some other figures in Gotham.
A young, ostensibly homeless, guitar player plucks some notes in Gotham while an unknown man drops a vial of something into his guitar case which says “Breathe me”. Not one to disobey printed instructions, the guitar player does so and is filled with adrenaline, strength, and apparently philosophical prose to wit he goes to a corner store, drinks as much milk as he can stomach and then makes off with the ATM.
Nearby, Bullock and Gordon are enjoying lunch together. While Bullock insists Gordon eat the sandwich exactly how Bullock tells the cook to prepare it, Gordon spots Selina Kyle and makes haste towards her but it’s all for naught as she immediately disappears. Just then the alarm goes off at the corner store and Bullock + Gordon investigate finding out from the clerk about the Viper-induced rage fest that just happened (but we don’t know it’s called Viper yet, I’m getting ahead of myself).
Fish Mooney has a creepy session with her young protege in which the young girl refers to her as ‘Mommy’ and Fish scolds her. Because she is not her mommy, yet.
Bullock + Gordon are able, with the help of a lady of the night (but during the day) to corner the guitar player. With Viper still pulsing through his veins he easily manhandles the two cops and then while lifting the ATM machine he previously stole over his head, his body collapses on itself and he is crushed. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
At Wayne Manor, Alfred is adamant that young master Bruce get over all of the snooping he is doing in the Wayne files about the Arkham project. Bruce is adamant that there is some underhandedness going on at Wayne Industries and pushes forward with his burgeoning detective work while Alfred remains unconvinced that it is of any worth.
Sal Maroni talks things over with the Penguin, and Maroni believes in Penguin, that he is more than just a simply dishwasher. Penguin, being his obsequious self, confesses that he previously worked for Falcone under Fish Mooney and boy does that piss off Maroni! Maroni needs to know that this is the truth and not some flim-flam that Penguin made up just to earn his favor.
At GCPD, Edward Nigma reports his analysis of the drug they found from the young guitar player and informs that it is a steroid that depletes the body of calcium, hence the need for dairy. He gives them a big clue in that to synthesize the drug would require some pretty hefty means, which then points Bullock + Gordon to the big player in chemical engineering in Gotham, WellZyn. Maroni’s guy then tells Gordon that he is wanted by Maroni and their mutual friend, Oswald Cobblepot.
Fish Mooney and the rest of the Falcone underlings meet to talk things over about their little coup they plan to eventually hatch and take the place of Falcone. She and another understudy, Nikolai, butt heads about their mob philosophy.
At Maroni’s Gordon tells him the whole story which vindicates what Penguin told him and Maroni is now thrilled to have him on his side. Later Maroni’s men make a hit on Falcone and get away with some loot which makes Maroni feel much, much better about having Penguin in his corner.
Bullock + Gordon have a word with WellZyn and learn that the spurned chemist was Stan Potolsky. After tracking down some evidence and a photo of Potolsky, along with a former professor of his, they go and meet with aforementioned professor. Turns out Potolsky was making Viper to create super soldiers (not the Super Soldier Serum, just super soldiers) and that this was eventually perfected into a drug called Venom. The Waynes eventually shut this whole production down but after their death WellZyn resumed. The old professor takes Viper but is shot and killed by Bullock + Gordon.
Bruce Wayne demands that Alfred take him to a Wayne shareholder party to talk things over with the big wigs at Wayne Industries because he doesn’t care for how they are doing business. While there, Bruce seems to stick his nose too far into things and the higher ups are now getting suspicious. At the party is also Potolsky and fills the room with Viper because he feels that to make a statement against Wayne Industries and what they made him do that he needs to infect the privileged. Alfred is able to shoo away Bruce to safety and Bullock herds out the rest. Gordon confronts Potolsky on the roof who takes a large does of Viper when Gordon shoots off the valve to the canister. Potolsky seems to jump to his death off of the roof but only after telling Gordon to investigate a warehouse that he did all of his chemical synthesizing for Viper.
Mooney’s girl finally pays dividends when she ‘runs into’ Falcone at the park and the two share earbuds to a song that Falcone’s mother always sang to him. Plans within plans start to come to fruition for Mooney and she shares a weird and intimate moment with Nikolai, who she is really in bed with (literally and figuratively).
I managed to see a short synopsis for this episode a few hours before air time and the title alone piqued my interest. I figured they might change the name of the steroid drug but I still kept waiting for them to say it. And then when they did I couldn’t contain myself. The “Venom” arc is such a great a story, from an underappreciated title, and is one of my favorite Batman stories. Even though the story in Gotham doesn’t feature Batman locking himself in the Batcave to get through withdrawal of a drug he injected himself with (happens in the book!) it still was a major callout to a classic Batman story and earned major points with me. Plus the story wasn’t actually bad, so there’s that. Venom was later tossed into continuity when it was made Bane’s drug du jour that turned him into a hulked out baddie.
There were some notable lines in this episode, some of which were actually good, and some of which were unintentionally funny.
– “Then, without exception, they die a horrible death.”
– “I hope you die fast, you terrorist!”
– “That’s what ‘personal business’ means.”
I also noticed that T.J. Scott didn’t direct this episode, he directed last week’s poor showing. I could have guessed that while watching the episode as the scene framing was much more typical and not as out of the box as last time. Though Bruno Heller gets writing credit on last week and this week, last week’s also credits Ken Woodruff under the writing staff. I’m hoping Heller wasn’t largely responsible for the misfire in episode four.
Once again we get a main antagonist that is completely inconsequential. When Potolsky was handing out the vials in the beginning of the episode and they said “Breathe me”, I was hoping that maybe this was a nod to the Mad Hatter, as this seemed like a reference to Alice in Wonderland, of which the Hatter (Jervis Tetch) is very enamored with. However, from the strong start Gotham once again fails to convert on lofty expectations that they will make this as ripe with Batman characters and references as possible. Come on, give me anyone! I’ll take Crazy Quilt, Egghead, Flamingo, anyone! Just give me that sweet, sweet Viper Batman reference I need!
Before this episode, I really hated Alfred. Not so much the performance, but I think the whole point from the showrunners is that you’re supposed to hate him until this episode. This is the first time that he and Bruce seem to be on the same page about all of the shady business going on in Gotham. Perhaps he always felt that it was nothing he need concern himself with, but after seeing Bruce become obsessed and start to apply himself, he eventually figures he should just help the young detective instead of antagonize him. A great character moment for two characters who hadn’t really blossomed yet.
Fish Mooney’s scenes are SO bizarre! Between her channeling Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman and acting out a weird sex fetish with an apathetic young lady, I don’t know how much I want Mooney to factor in to the larger storylines. David Zayas’s Maroni is not bad and Falcone is great, but Mooney is such a scene chewer and the erotic tension between her and her protege is just weird. They should just put in more Edward Nigma!
‘Viper’ makes some much needed improvements over last week’s episode. Naturally I’m pretty generous on this episode because of the tie-in to one of my favorite Batman stories ever, but the main plot took center stage in this episode instead of a weird jumble within the longer threads like last week. The season long arcs provide a better foundation and are building to something more worthwhile than they did last episode.
This episode really earns my praise with the chemistry and character development. The duo of Bullock and Gordon seems to find a much better fit and much better banter this time around, with Donal Logue fitting a much better mold as what I would expect a Harvey Bullock interpretation to be. The show is also pushing forward the characters that are actually interesting as well, giving zero screen time to Barbara Kean, some much desired and juicy scene chewing to Edward Nigma as well as lots of time devoted to the Penguin/Maroni duo.
The show still suffers from so few easter eggs for Batman fans. I’m sure there are big characters yet to be revealed this season, but we are already five episodes in and the antagonists have been extremely obscure, with the most well known being the Dollmaker and two in a row that aren’t even Batman characters. While the show gets a thumbs up for name dropping Venom and tying in one of the best Legends of the Dark Knight, if not one of the most entertaining Batman stories ever, there needs to be more substance to the call outs to ANYTHING in the Batman universe. I always say it, but a show that will never feature the titular character and probably won’t feature any of the main villains, this needs to be as ripe with other source material as possible to keep as many people engaged.
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