Gotham Season 1 Episode 6 Review – ‘Spirit of the Goat’

Martin Carr reviews episode 6 of Gotham…

Something from the past comes back to haunt Gotham’s police department, while things come to a head for one of their newest recruits…

 

Character development for the sake of it within the confines of a burgeoning series is dicey. If done badly then the episode is left forever blowing in the wind, segregated and awkward alongside its more mainstream compatriots. However when done well and tied into a story worth the telling, this rarefied breed broadens and benefits everything else. Thankfully this example falls into the latter category.

 

 

Essentially a two hander between Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue who appear to be finding their feet within the Gotham perimeters, there is less painful dialogue and more entertainment on display this week. An absence of back catalogue Batman characters and the expectation that comes with them is refreshing, while a lack of pantomime villainy from Jada Pinkett Smith streamlines things further. As I mentioned last week Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin is coming to rule the roost impact wise. Besides the inherently creepy demeanour and Emo overtones Taylor breathes life into a unique version of classic villainy. In terms of dynamics the one between himself and his mother played by Carol Kane is also interesting. Playing full on eccentric, Kane reminds me of those American career mothers who dress their eight years olds up for inappropriate beauty pageants. All maternal devotion and cast iron resolve. In terms of character it’s a shame Ben McKenzie has far less to get his teeth in. If his backstory had more bite, then Gotham might be able to rise above the unruly drubbing being metered out. Something that I suspect will not be happening any time soon.

For the moment however McKenzie is doing stoic very well. Whatever the situation he remains stern, focused and earnest. Running, walking, arguing or eating a hotdog armed only with his regulation grade one buzz cut and jaw line of defiance, McKenzie embraces the ‘everyman’ persona perfected by Hanks and exploited by Hugh Grant. His opposite number is fine tuning the hang dog, rough and ready, cantankerous devil may care persona which is Bullock. Unshaven, disheveled and more likely to punch a suspect than shake his hand, Logue remains an archetype. Part comic relief Bud White to Gordon’s Ed Exley wannabe without the glasses, it is this dynamic which needs to hold the attention. Whether this tried and tested formula can give us enough to keep the interest remains to be seen. One thing is certain Gotham has developed into a strange beast.

 

 

Neither truly comic book nor totally committed to the police procedural premise it needs to embrace, Gotham remains on the fence whilst criticism from both sides continues unabated. This caution will either make or break it. Either way there are sixteen more weeks for Gotham to pull off this trick, emerging phoenix-like from the ashes to prove this disingenuous mob wrong. I use that word because if they do pull it off, there will be a multitude of people standing with their hand out demanding a share in the victory.