Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Review of Gotham's 1x01: "Pilot"

Written by Bruno Heller
Directed by Danny Cannon

Gordon: “I know how you feel right now and I promise you, however dark or scary the world feels right now, there will be light. There will be light, Bruce.”

I’ve been anticipating this show for nearly a year and have certainly been discussing it just as much and now that it’s finally here, I watched the opening episode as early as I could and I have to say that a few niggles aside, this was a pretty on point way of opening the series up.

Starting with the murder of Martha and Thomas Wayne as a helpless Bruce looked on and Selina Kyle observed from afar set a great tone as their deaths generated the right amount of consequences and tone that Gotham is truly a city on the brink of disaster – from both sides it seems too.

On the good guy side, you’ve got both the newly recruited detective James Gordon and the lackadaisical Harvey Bullock both at odds with each other throughout the pilot episode as well as coming to realise that the other has a valid point in dealing with the criminals of Gotham City. Already there’s a strong chemistry with Benjamin McKenzie and Donal Logue and it’ll be interesting to see how their different methods affect their partnership throughout the series.

Gordon himself spent most of the episode vowing to catch the killer of the Waynes and when he realised that Mario Pepper had been used as a fall guy, the only thing he managed to accomplish was Fish Mooney’s wrath and Tom Falcone forcing his hand into bumping off Oswald Cobblepot for good measure.

Except that Oswald didn’t die and Gordon later wasted no time in informing Bruce that the wrong person went down/died for his parents murder. I do like that Gordon is trying not to be a corrupt cop in a city that seems to be scattered with them but he’s going to have tread very carefully if he really wants to achieve anything in his career.

As for Bullock – the show’s seems to have gotten to a good balancing act with him as well. He’s got no problem with flirting with Fish Mooney, looking the other way at some of her gang’s less savoury activities but at the same time in spite of his conflict with Gordon, he stuck his neck out for him and nearly got killed as a result. That already did a lot to portray him as more than a generic corrupt cop, which was good for me.

Keeping with the other cops of the episode – we got to see Gotham’s Police Captain, Sarah Essen for a scene as well as both Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen from the MCU, both of whom managed to rub both Gordon and Bullock up the wrong way. However aside from taking some information from Oswald, the most interesting thing was the brief scene shared between Renee and Barbara, implying a previous romantic history between the two.

As for the baddies of the piece – Butch seemed like a regular enforcer but could become more interesting as the show goes along. I didn’t much care for Mario Pepper, other than who his daughter turned out to be (hello, future Poison Ivy) but Oswald was a delight from start to finish with Robin Lord Taylor well and truly shining in all of his scenes while Falcone proved to be far more interesting in one brief scene with Gordon than he was in Batman Begins if I’m being candid.

As for Fish Mooney – I think we’ve got a winner here. Jada Pinkett-Smith managed to successfully bring the character to life, giving her the right amounts of flirtation, charm, campiness and menace all in an effortless swoop. Her scenes with Gordon, Bullock and Oswald all proved that as an up and comer, Fish is a force to be reckoned with but at the same time, there’s also a chance that her hotheadedness might get her in trouble with Falcone in later episodes. Either way, I’m intrigued by her.

Also in “Gotham”

Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) popped up in one scene and Bullock made it clear that he didn’t tolerate his riddles. He's a forensic scientist with the GCPD.

Renee: “Come on, Bullock, you know you’re scared of this case.”
Bullock: “You’re damn right I’m scared.”

Bullock implied that Renee might have a drug problem. Given what he was glugging at the cafe, he might have some problems too. I also get the impression that he and Fish have a lingering history as well.

Bullock: “Jim, you seem like a nice guy but this is not a city or a job for nice guys. Do you understand?”
Gordon: “No.”

Edward: “What’s nowhere but everywhere, except when something is?”
Gordon: “Nothing.”

Barbara has an art gallery and Falcone has history with Gordon’s father as well. We also saw the Mayor showing more enthusiasm for catching Thomas and Martha’s killer than GCPD themselves. Having Selina intertwined with Bruce so early is an interesting move too.

Oswald: “Sorry.”
Fish: “If you let my hair go frizzy you will be.”

Ivy: “You don’t want to talk to daddy.”
Gordon: “Why’s that?”
Ivy: “He’s mean.”

I don’t think I saw a single computer in this whole episode and more to the point, everyone seems to be using flip phones as well.

Renee: “Why snitch on your own boss?”
Oswald: “I confess that poor orphan boy prickled my conscience.”

Barbara: “I know him.”
Renee: “Does he know you like I know you?”

Kudos to Sean Pertwee’s gruffer version of Alfred for this show and the child actors playing Bruce, Selina and Ivy are all extremely well cast too.

Fish: “You have a little danger in your eye. I wonder what you plan to do with that.”
Gordon: “You’ll have to wait and see.”
Fish: “I hate surprises.”

Gordon: “Thanks for trying to help.”
Bullock: “Wish I hadn’t.”

I wonder what happened to the poor stand up who had to witness Fish beating the shit out of Oswald. He may also be a future Joker but also may not.

Fish: “Prove it. Prove your loyalty my little Penguin.”

Oswald (to Gordon): “Listen to me, there is a war coming. A terrible war. Falcone is losing his grip and his rivals are hungry. There will be chaos. Rivers of blood in the streets. I know it, I can see it coming. I’m clever that way.”

Chronology: I guess 2014 but it certainly doesn’t feel it like, though I did read that Heller and company were trying to create a timeless feel to the series.

For an opening episode the pilot did everything it needed to do. It set up the right characters, introduced a great partnership with Gordon and Bullock, hinted at a certain future for the orphaned Bruce Wayne as well as the future rogues that he will end up squaring off to and had some gorgeous cinematography to boot, especially during the opening sequence. It wasn’t by any means completely perfect or without it’s flaws (some characters less utilised than others, music being distracting in certain parts) and while I certainly hope this doesn’t become a series that outstays it’s welcome, it’s already a show that I want a good number of years getting to know the residents of. Fox, I think you definitely have a hit on your hands here.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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