Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 "The Balloonman" - Recap and Review

Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon in Fox Gotham TV Show Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

A vigilante is killing off rich and powerful wrongdoers, whom the law refuses to touch. He is nicknamed “The Balloonman because of his modus operandi of killing: the victim is tied to a Weather balloon and is lifted off. When the person inevitably drops back to Earth, he/she is killed.

The first victim is a businessman, Arnold Danzer (Clark Middleton) who has conned many people through a Ponzi scheme. Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is reluctant to take up the case, since he perceives that the victim deserved what he got. Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), as can be expected, wants to solve the case and capture the killer.

As was seen in the last episode, gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), was warned by mafia kingpin Don Carmine Falcone (John Doman) by having her boy toy, Lazlo (Michelangelo Milano) beaten up. Fish can't wait to take her revenge on the aging don.

Victoria Cartagena and Andrew Stewart-Jones as Major Crimes Unit detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen in Fox Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

Major Crime Unit detectives Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) question Mooney about her involvement in the killing of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). Seizing this opportunity, she indirectly points the finger at Falcone.

In the meantime, the Ballonman has acquired his second victim, a corrupt Police Lieutenant Bill Cranston (James Colby). The public support for the vigilante killer swells. Jim and Harvey come under pressure from Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) to catch the serial killer, before he strikes again.

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As a result of their investigation, Jim and Harvey zero in on one Carl Smikers (Jonesy), who has stolen some balloons from his ex- employer. Carl reveals that he sold four of them to an unknown buyer.

Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot The Penquin working in a restaurant in Fox Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

Following his return to Gotham, Oswald is desperate for cash and applies for a job in a restaurant. He is turned down. Always cunning and resourceful, Oswald kills a worker and takes his position.

The Balloonman's next victim is Cardinal Quinn. The body of the second victim, Cranston crashes back to Earth on top of an elderly woman. Jim deduces the identity of the killer.

Lazlo is losing his confidence and this causes Fish to order his execution. She also asks her henchman to ensure that  Falcone's sweetheart Natalia meets with an accident. To ensure that she does not come under suspicion, she casually asks the Don about Natalia and he casts his suspicion on rival gangster Maroni (David Zayas) as the person responsible.

Jada Pinkett Smith as gang boss Fish Mooney in Fox Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

I liked this episode better than the second episode “Selina Kyle. The acting shows a significant improvement. There is far more humor and levity.

I especially liked Jada Pinkett Smith's Fish Mooney. Her taunting of Renee Montoya was amusing and hilarious. Robin Lord Taylor is good as always, but this episode belonged to Jada.

While the bad guys continue to steal the show, the good guys also are coming into their own. This is specifically true of Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz as Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne respectively. After being all serious for the past couple of episodes, the actors finally lighten up as Bruce practices his stick fighting skills with Alfred at the Wayne Manor.

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Detectives James Gordon and Harvey Bullock at the Gotham Police Department building in Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

The episode showcased the positive effect Jim's idealistic attitude can have on even a cynical person like Harvey Bullock. Initially he refuses to show any sympathy for the Balloonman's victims or Mario Pepper. When Jim and Harvey go to arrest the Balloonman, Davis Lamond (Dan Bakkedahl), Davis holds Harvey at gunpoint. Harvey overpowers him and Davis inadvertently gets tied to a Weather balloon.

Harvey refuses to save Davis. But Jim risks his own life and holds on to Davis in a desperate attempt to save his life. This forces Harvey to shoot down the balloon and save the lives of his partner and the criminal.

The Balloonman also has a significant effect on the young and impressionable Bruce Wayne. David takes to vigilantism as a result of his frustration with what he perceives as widespread corruption and apathy on the part of the concerned authorities to set things right in Gotham.

We can see the youngster taking notes as he observes the vigilante's story in the press. Bruce is also working on clues to solve the murder of his parents.

Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot The Penquin in Fox Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 The Balloonman

The show also indicates a physical intimacy in the past between Jim's fiancee, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Renee Montoya. Renee is still convinced of Jim's wrongful involvement in the murder of Oswald Cobblepot. She warns Barbara about Jim.

Whatever doubts, Barbara might have harbored are put to rest when Oswald himself appears before her as he pays a visit to Jim in the closing scene.

The show is improving with each episode and I hope that this trend will continue.

Recommended watch for fans of the Dark Knight/DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Warner Bros. Television, Fox Network

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