Gotham: Viper
October 21, 2014 10:57 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

A new drug giving euphoria, great strength, and a swift, painful death appears among Gotham's street population. Cobblepot and Gordon go deeper in Sal Maroni's organization. Bruce investigates Wayne Enterprises' involvement in the Arkham project. Fish puts her plan to usurp Carmine Falcone in motion.
posted by Small Dollar (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been waiting all day for this thread, just so I can call out the frankly gawdawful "stealth" choreography they've been handing Tween Catwoman. Case in point: Her one appearance in this week's episode consisted of her jumping ON TOP of a parked car, doing a sideways butt-slide down the windshield (apparently, leather doesn't squeak in this universe), and then casually sidling up to her would-be pick-pocketing victim (standing by himself, I should add), all in FULL VIEW of Gordon and Bullock. Even if the point is to show that even a master cat-burglar needed to hone her craft, it just looks bad.

Apparently, the young actress they have playing Selina has a dance background, which makes sense I suppose. But whenever they show her trying to be inconspicuous, it looks ridiculous. Surely if Brooklyn Nine-Nine (full disclosure: My own FF thread) can have an expert theatrical pickpocket on for a throwaway guest spot, Gotham can hire some special-ops ninja advisor to give Kittygirl some stealth pointers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:25 PM on October 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ah, another week, another bizarre, inefficient, overly-theatrical criminal scheme that nobody really bats an eye at. At least this guy can hide behind "oh the whole point was to draw attention" but I think the Crimemouth theory is gaining strength.

To me this episode was the least annoying Bruce Wayne has been so far, but that's not exactly a high bar to clear and they didn't clear it by much.

I have to agree about Kittygirl, though - jump on a car, slide down, grab wallet (unsuccessfully?), get noticed, run away - pretty much could've just had her wander through the background of a scene holding a picket sign that says "I, TOO, AM IN THIS EPISODE" and it would've been less obtrusive.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:51 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

the least annoying Bruce Wayne has been so far

The episode as a whole felt to me less bad than the others, but I can't tell whether that's actually the case or whether I've just lowered my expectations so far that it seems so. Given that the scene of a guy running gleefully down a street with an ATM on his back struck me as the best thing I've yet seen in the series, I'm leaning toward the latter.

Donal Logue remains enjoyable (despite some of the bad writing he's working with), though at this point he's mostly just reminding me how much I enjoyed Life.
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:15 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like Maroni, especially the suit. But didn't Cobblepot already tell him he used to work for Fish Mooney?
Venom, hunh? I see where that's going.
A/C doesn't work that way.

And finally, so far I can't help but think of Archer:
Mallory: "Blood? My god, what year is this?"
Archer: "I know, right?"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:30 PM on October 21, 2014

I think young Catwoman did jazz hands when she did that slide, too. I thought she actually wanted to do something very blatant in front of Gordon and Bullock. It made no sense either way, but that's a kid for you.

I too thought that the young Bruce Wayne scenes were a tiny bit better, though I still wish they weren't in the show at all. (I'm more interested in Sean Pertwee being in them, but he's looking bored with what he has to work with.)

Maybe this show will get it's legs in a few more episodes. Or it will be forgotten in 3 or 4 years after a poor first and only season. I hope it continues, but so far there really aren't any sympathetic characters. And wtf was that last scene? How did that happen?
posted by Catblack at 4:25 PM on October 21, 2014

So far young Bruce has been annoying because he and Alfred have been having an ongoing catfight. Their last scene this time will be pivotal though -- Alfred now takes Bruce's quest seriously, and will be helping him. Bruce will find he needs this help, being still a child even if the nominal owner of Wayne Industries. Presumably over the next few years Bruce will be cleaning up, or at least learning the deep secrets of, his parents' company. That process will have a big hand in making him Batman.
posted by localroger at 5:24 PM on October 21, 2014

I also thought it was dramatic, and would probably make an impression on young Bruce, that when there was danger the normally deferential Alfred took over, swept Bruce up, and hustled to protect him and get him out of harm's way without regard to his own safety. It's very likely that up to this point Bruce has regarded Alfred as an annoying fellow hired by his parents and somewhat useful, but this might be his first realization of the intensity of Alfred's loyalty to the Wayne family and, by extension, to him personally.
posted by localroger at 5:43 PM on October 21, 2014

I think the AV Club review has it - they could tell great stories about Gotham without Batman, but for that we need to care about the characters. And since everyone is a one-dimensional sketch at this point, it's hard to care.

Dive into the past - how did Gotham get to the current state, and then show us how the Penguin and the Joker and the Riddler and all the rest got their start. Maybe it's possible to feel some sympathy for these up and coming villains if we know the circumstances they are forged in. Forgot the goddamn Batman - unless unravelling the mystery of his parents' murder somehow ties into understanding the state of affairs in the city. Maybe the Waynes were part of the existing power structure - not just in their role as giant capitalists and pillars of the community, but in keeping things in check, keeping the power structure intact, preventing the lid from coming off. Maybe we could find out that his parents - and hence the Batman's motivations - aren't so pure...

And since we all know the future of these characters, it's hard to find the tension. So give us some other characters, ones who don't play in the Batman lore. Make us care about them, and have their lives go horribly wrong - show us the consequences of what's happening in the city as the mob war heats up and the Wayne family isn't there to counter-balance it. And maybe play with viewer expectations a bit - give us a comedian with some dark tendencies who looks like he might be the Joker...and then kill that character, keep us guessing rather than lathering on the knowing winks and nudges to the audience.
posted by nubs at 5:57 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know it's been said before, but most of what I what I came away from this episode with was jarring tonal dissonance.

On the one hand, we have scenes from a b-grade mob movie: the threatening dinner, the maneuvering by Moonie, none of which is great, but it all sort of works. On the other, we have stuff like "Don't vex me, mortal!" and the cheesy bone slushing deaths... which could also work, if they weren't played with such grimdark sincerity.

The show really, really needs to pick a genre and stick with it. The only way I can handle the comic book stuff much longer is if it forces the mobsters to actually change tactics and expectations.

And since we all know the future of these characters, it's hard to find the tension. So give us some other characters, ones who don't play in the Batman lore.

This is a good point, and part of why the only character I've enjoyed much so far is Fish Mooney. (Seems like an opportunity for them anyway: popular characters can become Canon Immigrants, netting them more money down the road. Happens plenty with DC television properties.)
posted by mordax at 6:29 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anyone think malicious elements within Wayne Enterprises might have been involved in the murders?
posted by Small Dollar at 6:56 PM on October 21, 2014

I think maybe the reason I'm not experiencing these cognitive dissonance issues at all is that this is exactly how superhero comics work: They're fantasy, horror, science fiction, police procedural, social commentary and punch 'em up all at once, and you either roll with it or you don't. Comic book Batman is a total hodgepodge of genres. Not to harp on this, but the bland deadpan "realism" of the Nolan Batman films is a bit of an outlier in terms of how this character has been treated. You couldn't have a TV show that depicted a world like that every week because, frankly, it would be extremely depressing and boring.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:03 PM on October 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

What is Altruism?!?
posted by Mick at 10:19 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think maybe the reason I'm not experiencing these cognitive dissonance issues at all is that this is exactly how superhero comics work: They're fantasy, horror, science fiction, police procedural, social commentary and punch 'em up all at once.

The thing is, Gotham *isn't* how they work. In a comic book, you don't have fantasy, sci fi, procedural and whatnot taking turns on the screen: they're all interacting with each other.

To give an example: on Superman: TAS, you had Bruno Manheim, who was a two-bit petty thug with delusions of grandeur. You also had Darkseid, Lord of Apokalypse, dark messiah of some very goofy looking and awesome Jack Kirby madness. They do not fit together. At all. So naturally, Manheim ended up working for, (and subsequently screwed over), by Darkseid.

That was fun. Superman: TAS sold me on it being possible to tell stories about Superman that I would want to hear.

On Gotham, these disparate elements are not coming together. Instead, one scene is crime families acting like this is some variant of the real world, and the next scene is "Don't vex me" guy. Not once has a crime family tried to harness this weirdness, or be harnessed as cheap muscle for an aspiring supervillain or something. Like... Falcone could get bumped and replaced by Killer Croc. Or Fish could hire Clock King to steal something for her, or... dunno, anything that has one side of their narrative work with the other.

But the peanut butter and the chocolate aren't meeting. Hence, constant dissonance. I also get the distinct impression that they like it this way, and don't really plan to mash those things together.

It's cool if you don't see it that way, but I wanted to clarify my position. I love comic book stories, but it is my contention that Gotham is trying very hard to *not* be one.
posted by mordax at 12:03 PM on October 22, 2014

On Gotham, these disparate elements are not coming together. Instead, one scene is crime families acting like this is some variant of the real world, and the next scene is "Don't vex me" guy. Not once has a crime family tried to harness this weirdness, or be harnessed as cheap muscle for an aspiring supervillain or something.

This. The problem with Gotham is that aside from maybe the Penguin, there's absolutely zero indication that the mundane underworld is being challenged by the gradual emergence of what we could call "weirdcrime". The child kidnappers were acting on behalf of offscreen human traffickers with zero connection to Falcone or Maroni; Balloonman was a lone nut with a helium tank and a dream; last week's telescoping-tube assassin was a directionless poseur who got himself shot; the Viper serum was the pet project of a philosophy prof and a chemist, acting alone. Basically the garden-variety mafiosos aren't involved, and aren't affected.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:38 PM on October 22, 2014

I'm actually enjoying this show, flaws and all. But, then, I am not invested in any way in the movies or comic books. I accept the world in Gotham on its own terms and sit back and have some fun.

It doesn't hurt that it's the lead-in to Sleepy Hollow, either.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:25 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have yet to see a weird crime plot really make it through an episode as a success. Interestingly though, we see these kids, Poison Ivy, CatWoman, Bruce Wayne. We have hints of origin stories.

This is weird crime stuff happening... but not working out well, because it's so new, people don't know how to make it work. I mean balloon man gets brought down because he has stuff in his pockets. It takes until the kids of this time grow up to see the possibilities, to learn from their elder's mistakes.

The Exception is Penguin... He is smart enough to see what's coming, the crime wave, and the weirdness both.
posted by gryftir at 9:43 PM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think it's in the same odd reality as Hannibal. I like that reality! Maybe the whole Mafia/SciFi/Weirdcrime thing will come together later on.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:05 AM on October 23, 2014

I was just thinking last night that Gotham and the serial-killer infested Baltimore of Hannibal must somehow be related, one being the future of the other or something.
posted by localroger at 4:55 AM on October 23, 2014

I'm trusting that this series is working out like SHIELD's first season. Since they basically know they're going to get a full year's pass, they can set up a lot of stuff in the first half and then start paying it off in the second. Having disparate elements is OK as long as it somehow ties together eventually.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:43 AM on October 23, 2014

Lil' Brucie has largely been an annoyance up until this episode, detracting from the fun stuff -- but in this episode, we began to see how he eventually became "the world's greatest detective" -- which is how Batman was originally presented.

And re: era/style -- I'm OK with the mish-mash -- remember in the first Burton Batman, the opening scene, with the tourist couple and kid getting lost and taking an alley? When I first saw that, I thought that it was set in the 1940s, and that perhaps we were seeing Mr & Mrs Wayne with young Bruce. But no, it was "modern" -- just that everybody was wearing hats.

Remember, this is set in an alternate universe -- they can have different styles and eras represented.

And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I was VERY skeptical about this show -- hadn't even planned on watching, figuring it would be something like "Gotham 90210" -- but my wife wanted to check it out, and I tagged along -- and have enjoyed each episode more than the previous one. I'm hooked.
posted by davidmsc at 3:57 PM on October 23, 2014

GhostintheMachine, I really hope you're right. I felt the same way about SHIELD, but am glad I stayed with it. The plus side with SHIELD is that even the episodes that were bo-ring didn't ever feature CatTeen sneakily prancing around ready to break into song.
posted by lyssabee at 8:05 PM on October 24, 2014

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