Gotham, Episode 1: “Pilot” Aired September 22, 2014
Written by Bruno Heller
Directed by Danny Cannon
Young Selina Kyle runs on the rooftops of downtown Gotham. Once on the street, she steals milk from a woman’s grocery bag and steals a man’s wallet, who chases her with no success, as the girl easy ascends a fire escape. Some distance away, Selina empties the wallet of its cash and gently pours the milk into a receptacle in a back alley for a cat. The sound of a woman cause her to climb another fire escape and hide. The Wayne family has a date with destiny, and Selina sees it all happen. With Bruce Wayne screaming over the bodies of his parents, the scene changes to the police station where a raving criminal repeats he wants his pills as a smaller officer tries to put him in with all the other night’s felons. He knocks the woman down, steals her gun, and fires in the air. All the officers draw their weapons, but only James Gordon steps forward to outsmart the hulking man, and knock him down. His glory at subduing the junkie is taken down quickly by his partner Harvey Bullock who tells him he should have let the force shoot the man. Before their heated exchange can grow, they are assigned to the Wayne killing. On the scene, James speaks with distraught Bruce, telling him, “No matter how dark and scary the world may be right now, there will be light.” As they speak, Bullock is mortified to learn the identities of the dead, asking an officer to pretend he never saw him. But it’s too late, Gordon is talking to the, seemingly, only witness. Alfred arrives to take young Bruce and the opening credits kick in.
This was a very enjoyable episode. I was really taken by the settings. It’s a gothic urban sprawl, but it’s so overwhelming, one would hope no city has been built in such a fashion. The look of this series is great not just in the exteriors, but also in the interiors, with Fish Mooney’s club being the perfect threatening dive. The actors are all aces. Ben McKenzie is terrific as the driven James Gordon, who is obviously the only honest cop in the city. The scene stealer was Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, who is the perfect dirty cop. He will do anything wrong to protect himself. Jada Pinkett Smith was sensational as Fish Mooney. She works under the big mob boss, Carmine Falcone, but you can tell she has bigger plans. An absolute revelation was Robin Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, the future Penguin. Wow! He is shown to be a sniveling conniver who enjoys giving others pain and has big plans as well. His ending sequence is a defining moment, and a complete reinvention of the character. This is no longer a villain to laugh at. There are quick cameos by two other future villains, with the best being Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma. His reaction to Gordon’s reply made me shiver. Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. There’s much more of Bruce Wayne in this than I had expected, and David Mazouz gives a solid performance. Also terrific is Sean Pertwee as Alfred, whose response to Bruce on the roof is priceless.
The good: The story, the characters, the acting, the setting. It’s working unbelievably well.
The bad: My only nit is the go-pro camera sequences of James Gordon running. They were incredibly out of style with the rest of the episode and were unintentionally silly. Director Cannon should avoid this shot, as should all directors for future episodes.
The final line: If this opening episode is any indication, this series is must see watching. DC Comics and Fox have a hit. 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.