Gotham has begun with a bang, my friends (quite literally, to a family of billionaires in Crime Alley) and it’s off to quite the good start. I’ll spare you a detailed episode recap– if you want to know what happened in the pilot, either watch it at Fox’s site or check out our gallery below for a quick rundown of the major events– and cut straight to the meat of S1E01: Pilot. Here’s what I thought:
1) Let’s Tackle the First Impressions.
In what I’m planning to be the standard progression for our site’s coverage of Gotham, lastnight I posted a series of “First Impressions” on the episode– you can check them out here. There may from time to time be a bit of spillover between the “First Impressions” and my general review, and when that’s the case, I’ll deal with those issues first. Unsurprisingly, tonight’s one of those nights.
The case in point for this week is the relationship between Barbara Kean and Renee Montoya. People have speculated that it’s a romantic connection (and to be honest, I thought that might be the case at first), but upon a second view, I just don’t see it. Their scene seems a little too tense to be just about former love, and particularly the almost-threatening “Does he know you? Like I know you?” felt more like blackmail than anything else. I feel like Barbara’s hiding something, and while I’m not discounting the possibility that there’s been some romance between her and Montoya, but I don’t think that’s the big secret here. Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on to…
2) Plot/Acting/General Thoughts
I feel that Gotham‘s off to a solid start, and shows a lot of promise. We’ve seen some excellent world building in the sets– have a look at the GCPD or the tunnels where Gordon talks to Falcone if you don’t believe me– and it feels like the city of Gotham herself is really going to serve as an extra character on this show. A living Gotham is definitely a plus for a Batman-verse story, and Gotham is doing its best to capture the vibe of a treacherous, but nonetheless breathing, city (not unlike some of my favorite Batman comics like No Man’s Land.)
The real scene-stealers are not the heroes, but the villains of Gotham (so far, at least.) Cory Michael Smith wows with literally less than a minute of screentime as Edward Nygma, the question-addled forensic investigator who will one day become the Riddler. (By the way, yes, I clocked it during my second watch of the pilot– Nygma’s only in the episode for about 45 seconds!) Jada Pinkett Smith delights as the new-for-this-show character Fish Mooney, with an air of casual superiority that helps her dominate every moment the camera’s on her. Still, the rising fan favorite (at least as we see it) is Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin, who ricochets from sniveling grunt to conniving snitch and back at breakneck speed throughout the episode, keeping his fellow Gothamites on their toes (and providing tons of fun for the audience as well!)
The episode feels a little cluttered with Bat-foreshadowing at times, but I suspect that’s mostly a pilot issue, and can be chalked up to nothing more than the fact that we do need to be introduced to all of these characters so we have a sense of who our players are in this world. Hopefully it’ll clear up in the net episode or two, and we’ll be free to follow Gordon and Bullock through the twisted and dangerous maze that is the city of Gotham.
3) References/Easter Eggs You May Have Missed
This is also going to be a part of my Full Reviews in the coming weeks– an area devoted to what I think are the Easter Eggs/Batman references you might not have caught (or, honestly, that I think are cool) in the weekly episode of Gotham. I’ll start with the obvious ones and move toward the more esoteric/speculative ones, and to be honest, I’ll probably include a few things that could very well be way off base. I wholeheartedly admit that I may be thinking too hard about some of this, but that’s what I’m here for. I’d rather catch something way ahead by overthinking than second guess myself and miss a lead. So, here’s this week’s haul:
The single most obvious catch in this episode is a struggling stand-up comedian who is seen performing his act for Fish Mooney. Most people are claiming that this could be the Joker, but frankly, I don’t buy it. First of all, the guy’s way too old– if Bruce is roughly 10, then the comedian has probably 15-20 years on him, which is a bit too big of a gap to make sense to me. Secondly showrunner Bruno Heller has already stated that there will be many references to the Joker peppered throughout Gotham, and that we won’t know for a while who the real Joker is going to be (if he even shows up at all.) Speaking of pepper…
Another easy-to-catch reference is Ivy Pepper, whom we’ll surely see grow into the villainous Poison Ivy. While the character’s name in the comics is Pamela Isley (and DC tried to lure fans into questioning whether that meant that this might not truly be Poison Ivy), I really do subscribe to the idea that they just changed her name to be more recognizable in the show. Case closed.
Here’s where it gets a little dicey. I’ve heard claims that the butcher who confronts Gordon and Bullock is supposed to represent Killer Croc, but it’s another one I don’t see much basis for. Yes, his apron sort of looks like crocodile skin, but unless they changed Croc’s name from Waylon Jones to Frankie, this one’s unlikely.
Could Bullock’s choice of a meeting location be a reference to undead Batman foe Solomon Grundy? Only time will tell.
Another far-reaching potential Easter Egg comes in the form of a graffiti’d “Smile” in red on a Gotham rooftop. Some think it’s a second Joker nod, and you can see it in this screenshot directly to the left of the white landing.
In another landscape hint, the name “Fox” appears on a tall tombstone diagonally to the upper left of the priest in white in this screenshot. While it could simply be a coincidence or a reference to the network that hosts Gotham, it could also refer to Batman’s eventual ally Lucius Fox.
Finally (and this one’s the most out on a limb) do the killer’s eyes look weird to anyone else? I noticed that it almost looks like he’s wearing some kind of heavy makeup in between his eyeballs and his eyebrows. It could just be the lighting (or the actual makeup on the actor) but it seemed a bit fishy to me, so I figured I’d pass it along to the rest of you Gotham fans and see if you had any ideas.
That’s all for this week– if there’s anything I missed (or that you disagree with) feel free to sound off in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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