(Minor season 1 spoilers ahead) I can barely believe I am writing this.
I have never been a fan of Batman. I am super-surprised that I’m devouring every episode of Gotham. That’s why I titled my first season teaser review:
Gotham: We don’t have to love Batman to love this Garden of Evil
Hmmm… so what’s it all about? Let’s go. Come with me. We have to walk down this wet, gooey, slippery, mess of a pathway. Don’t stand right behind me because we may have to turn and run. If I have to run, I will be moving so fast there will be tire treads across your entire body. Ok? Take a deep breath. There’s the entrance. They keep it unlocked. We slowly open the massively creepy gate. Watch out, for it not only creaks, it’s most likely booby trapped with spikes tipped with the blood of those who tried to pass before us, or perhaps poison. Yes, it is scary. Aw…c’mon in. Just for a quick visit, I promise.
Ah, we made it. We’re on the inside now. The cinematography here is dark. It is a CGI-enhanced New York City (where the show is filmed), with deep contrasts and sharp edges… quite dirty looking. The mist rises from the sewers. You swear you can hear screams from far off. The sky is a yellowish nightmare of streaking clouds. We are in the world of pre-Batman Gotham. This is a city that just feels like it wants to cultivate evil.
And so it does.
In the opening scene of the first episode, we follow a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) as she prowls the streets. She pounces from building to scaffolding, whooshing through crowds, smiling–stealing some milk for her kitty. Later, in the darkness, she catches sight of an adolescent Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and his super rich and powerful parents, as they stroll into the alley below.
They are stopped by a masked man, who at gunpoint demands Mrs. Wayne’s pearls. Even though they hurriedly give the thief what he asks for, Bruce’s parents are mercilessly shot dead. The murderer brushes past him and runs away. Bruce sinks to his knees with a horrific, ear-shattering scream that sets the tone for his story.
Violent. Horrific. Life-changing.
Selina disappears up a fire-escape. They will meet soon.
It is here that Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) meets Bruce Wayne for the first time. Gordon is new to Gotham. He is idealistic: ready to right every wrong and save this city. Jim tries to comfort him, but it is only Alfred (Sean Pertwee), who can encourage Bruce to leave the scene with his head held high. What beautiful fortitude. We can see that still waters run deep in Alfred. We want to see more of Alfred – now.
Quickly we are introduced to more players:
Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), who is one of Gotham’s most powerful and flamboyantly vicious crime bosses. Fish is at the top of the pile and walks in steely spiked heels over anyone who gives even a mere hint of rebellion or disloyalty. She holds court in a posh club that is ornate and over-decorated in flashy reds and blacks. Fish screams and tears and rips at the screen. Love her.
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) is a favorite flunky of Fish’s until Oswald gets himself into trouble (yes, he is one of those trying to unseat Fish). Oswald gets beaten up badly by Fish’s goons. So badly, that he starts to walk funny—kinda like—a penguin. He gets his nickname, which he abhors. Undeterred, Oswald is determined to try again and again. When he is plotting, his face writhes and twists. His eyes flash with untamed anger and passion. His actions are swift, with a conviction that leaves me breathless. This is a man with deep seated issues—reams of them. Robin Lord Taylor is magnificent as Penguin (excuse me: Cobblepot). He will become a super-villain. And we get to see the how and why of it all.
Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is Jim Gordan’s partner. He is a veteran of the force and a wise-cracking good-guy. Or is he? After all, “It’s Gotham”, he says with a grin. He supports his partner and friend, yet he has obligations on both sides of the coin. His struggle has a ring of truth. Don’t we all struggle with good and evil?
Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) starts out a Jim’s girlfriend, and huge supporter of all that is good. Her apartment speaks of money and secrets. They are very close to marriage. But, as the story moves on, she has taken a flight off the deep end. Her eyes now speak lunacy and she flits in and around the most questionable characters. Will Barbara find her way back to sanity, and possibly to Jim Gordon? Or will she continue to be “bat-sh%#” crazy?
Carmine Falcone (John Domane) is the Boss of Bosses. A surly, practical, feared boss. He rules. Yet, there are RULES. This is a man of honor. Falcone! And, yes, you must speak his name with your arms outstretched to the sky. Falcone!
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith)– Forensic expert in Gotham’s police department. Edward is odd. Edward is brilliant. Edward is painfully shy, unloved and desperately wanting the attentions of co-worker, Miss Kringle. His most unfortunate selection of her as his true love leads him down his path, strewn with riddles and madness.
Ah yes, the swirling madness of Gotham.
Is it gory? Hmmm… okay. Yes. It is different kind of gory. I have only had to divert my eyes half a dozen times so far. I will add one word here: fisheye.
Gotham also holds its own humor and spits it out at you in the most unexpected ways.
We watch Jim Gordon tangle with his emotions while trying to do the right things in a city where he constantly has to watch his back—even from the good guys.
We watch as Bruce, desperate to find the killer of his parents, makes so many dreadful mistakes along the way. Each mistake carving away just a bit of the excess- –carving away distractions. Each a learning step, forging him to become more focused and stronger. David Mazouz is growing up right before our eyes–physically and in his role as he careens toward becoming the Dark Knight.
We watch as super villains are created. Where did they all come from? What makes a villain- super?
Yes, Gotham is dark, and crazy and quirky. It is a garden of evil, nourished with the compost pile of anyone who dares to try and stop its cancerous growth. Already, the garden of Gotham is beginning to bear the ripe fruit of evil. Of… Oh, no!
Cobblepot has spotted us, and he doesn’t like strangers. Here he comes! The villains in this city take no prisoners. Oh wait, they do. And what they do to them is pure comic book, pure dark magnificent mayhem. Let’s get outta here!!
Eventually a hero will rise, but until then…. enjoy it all, safe outside those creepy gates, as we peek in. Same ‘bat-sh%#’ time, same ‘bat-sh%#’ channel!
Note from the Editors: Marcia29 is a member of the FoCC forum.
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