Gotham 1.05: “Viper” Review

The Evil Enterprises

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

Whew. Gotham is improving with every episode and Viper is certainly the strongest chapter yet. The storyline that holds more promise than anything so far is the potential corruption within Wayne Enterprises. There was a logical understanding that Mr. and Mrs. Wayne were killed by the gangster elements of Gotham who found their philanthropic habit to be a threat to their continued existence and legitimacy. But to spin the narrative towards the idea that it is Wayne Enterprises itself that knocked off its founders for their own nefarious purposes is an incredibly intriguing one. The storyline gets an extra boost from actually giving Bruce something logical to do besides saying “I’m Batman!” Just kidding. But it does provide him with a logical narrative that’s been missing since the pilot. What isn’t working is the continued focus on Gordon and Bullock’s “Crime of the Week” solving, which frankly feels more forced than anything else. It’s an inherently problematic continuance, considering that this series is built around Gordon as the primary protagonist.

I would hazard around to the reality that it’s quite difficult to give a damn about any of these characters to be perfectly honest. Outside of a couple moments here and there, only Bruce is a character to whom we can truly have any empathy and perhaps by some extension Selina Kyle. But one character’s parents were murdered before his eyes and the other is a street orphan who, as it’s been implied, has been severely abused. For no one else is there an active emotional connection. And everyone suffers for it, not just Gordon. But to begin with Gordon himself, what drives him? What is his true self? How does he feel about the constant battle against the corruption that is so ubiquitous in Gotham? Are there times when he himself wants to just dip into the corruption and make his life easier? We. Don’t Know. And that’s a problem. Same thing for villains like Fish Mooney. She has to be more than a underworld gangster with proclivities for stripping dance contests. There has to be some complexity there, somewhere. Screw the monsters and gangsters of the week and give me a couple episodes just about these characters, how they think, the contradictions with themselves. And then come back and give me all of the villainous plots. The place might slow down, but Gotham as a whole will be all the better for it.

So, “Viper”. It’s a new, hip drug that’s hitting the youngsters and it’s basically steroid on steroids. But it has consequences, considering you have to eat milk and cheese to replace calcium, which the drug eats up. (Really?) Outside of that eyeroll-worthy threat of side effects, if you use Viper and are also lactose-intolerant, apparently you’re ****ed unless you can grab some Lactaid milk or something. Anyhow, Gordon and Bullock actually do their jobs and begin to look for the supplier of the moronic drug named Stan Topolski. In that search, they discover that the the drug is going to dispersed cannon style (that would have been fun, actually) at a Wayne Enterprises event. The chase is basically dull after that because Stan is such an idiot and we all know we really don’t need more idiots in this world. Nevertheless, there is an incredible improvement in the show with the introduction of the drug Viper. It’s a precursor to the drug Venom that Bane takes before he becomes as big as we all remember him to be. This is exactly what Gotham really needs a lot more of. Bring in plot points and characters that are relevant to the overall narrative of Batman but that feel germane to the story that Gotham is specially trying to tell. Viper has so many different connections to the Batman lore, but its specific usage here feels like Gotham is becoming more and more comfortable in its own skin.

The underground war between Mooney and Maroni for now feels like an extremely long quiet before the storm and unfortunately for now it’s hinging on the character of Lisa. No offense to actress Mackenzie Leigh, but Lisa is so dull it feels like the show is just stretching that story way past where it needs to be. And if Maroni is dumb enough to fall for her opera music trick, well then, his name is close enough. Outside of the new potential of the corruption within Wayne Enterprises itself, Cobblepot remains the show’s saving grace. He is utterly fantastic and his character’s shady trajectory is immensely enjoyable. For a minute there, it even seemed like he was in true danger. Then you realize that of course they’re not going to kill off the Penguin, but the tension created within that sequence is an improvement and hopefully a positive sign of things to come.

Good

7.4/10

Title: Viper

Written By: Rebecca Perry Cutter

Directed By: Tim Hunter

Image Courtesy: IGN

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