Gotham, Episode 3 “The Balloonman” Broadcast October 6, 2014
Written by John Stephens
Directed by Dermott-Downs
The Penguin arrives back in Gotham and witnesses several acts of corruption while disembarking a bus. He smiles at the sin and says, “Home.” On a street vendor’s cart a portable television relays breaking news, of an embezzler who stole four and a half billion dollars from investors, recently released. The man is inside his apartment telling his lawyer on the other end of a phone to payoff whoever it takes to fix his situation. He sneaks out to the streets to be accosted by a man selling balloons. Identifying this high end theif, the balloonman handcuffs him to a large balloon which takes the swindler up. The press see his ascent and film it as he screams above the city. Cue title.
Gordon and Bullock are at the scene shortly, with the latter saying the guy got what he deserved. Back at headquarters, Lt. Phil Cranston introduces himself to Gordon and shows the “boy scout” an award he got from the Gotham Chamber of Commerce, “O’Brien”–a large, metal trophy which is the best interrogator on the force. James leaves the sounds of screams coming from Cranston’s private room to see if Bullock has done his share of the work on the Balloonman case. He hasn’t. Their spat about procedure is interrupted by the arrival of Selina Kyle being escorted by juvenile services. Gordon and Kyle revisit the alley where the Waynes’ murders occurred. She offers the detective proof she was there, but he doubts her. He handcuffs her to a fire escape while he crawls into the sewer to retrieve a wallet she said she tossed before witnessing the killings. As soon as goes down, she pulls out a pen she lifted from Bullock’s desk and you can imagine what happens next. At Mooney’s two detectives hear a rumor and then viewers get to see the Penguin get a free lunch. Cue first commercial break.
This episode was much better than last week. The antagonist wasn’t as comical as last week’s pair, though his name might make one think he’s going to be silly. Watching his victims fly into the sky is a gruesome affair, and provides good tension in the final act. There are some nice scenes with Gordon having to suffer through Bullock’s investigative methods, and the conflict in an apartment was a nice affirmation of each man’s character. Getting some nice background and conflict were James’s fiancé Barbara and Montoya. It’s already been established that the pair share a history, but I was not expecting what’s revealed to have been in their past. There were also some nice dialogue involving Jim and what he and others say about vigilantism. “The city is sick” speech was especially apt.
The good: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor (who continues to dominate this show), Erin Richards, and Victoria Cartagena. There is also a fantastic cliffhanger.
The bad: The Bruce Wayne/Alfred scenes could be entirely deleted from this episode and nothing lost. They are only included to remind viewers of who Bruce will become one day. I don’t blame the actors for these scenes, but they are wholly unnecessary. Fish and Falcone are starting to get tiresome. I see no reason why Falcone wouldn’t have killed her long ago and replaced her with someone more trustworthy. It needs to be established that she has something to hold over him to continue her survival, especially after the insinuations made in this episode.
The final line: An improvement over last week, with the Penguin’s return and the arrival of vigilantes. Overall grade: A-
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.