‘Gotham’ Takes Off With ‘Balloonman’

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) sees his problems multiply in tonight’s episode of “Gotham.” Detectives Montoya and Allen are tipped off by Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) about his role in “killing” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). Speaking of the dearly departed, the future Penguin couldn’t stay away from Gotham for too long. He takes a job at a restaurant and is on track to become friends with Maroni, who is aiming for Falcone’s (John Doman) spot. This new development would derail Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones), but it would set Falcone on Jim’s tail.

A second set of problems concerns Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), future Catwoman from last week. Jim doesn’t believe that she was at the scene of the Wayne murder until he finds the wallet she ditched from a robbery. Unfortunately, she escapes his supervision and her impending transfer to Upstate.

To add to Jim’s troubles, there is a new vigilante in Gotham, who targets (stereotypically) corrupt people including an investor, a cop, and a priest. (Are the references to investors and masked men intended to evoke comparisons to Wall Street and the Occupy Movement?) The victims are sent up into the sky via weather balloons. The perpetrator is dubbed “Balloonman” by the press and hailed as a hero. Gotham residents even ask Balloonman to help them take out their oppressors, like landlords.

Jim and Harvey trace the balloons to Davis Lamond (Dan Bakkedahl), who was spurred into action by the events concerning last week’s episode, even so far as to use the old juvie center as his base. The final encounter is gasp-worthy, momentarily leaving you breathless as Jim and Davis are pulled up by the balloon. As usual, Harvey is forced to correct his mistake (he strung up Davis) and save the pair. It remains to be seen whether “Gotham” will bring the two men towards friendship, but it’s certainly a small step in that direction.

It’s obvious that Jim is starting to feel worn down by his work. He loves Barbara (Erin Richards), but he seems guarded in how much he wants to share with her. It’s impossible to shield her from the darkness, because Cobblepot arrives at his doorstep. As I’ve said before, Cobblepot’s reappearance has come quickly, which will do much to keep the show interesting. Also, Barbara is keeping her own secrets from Jim: a previous (romantic) connection with Montoya, which definitely throws a new twist into the Batman lore. Usually the strain between Barbara and Jim emerges from something solely on Jim’s part like an affair or his work. Here, their relationship could go downhill because of things both of them are doing.

There’s a small segment on the future Dark Knight, as Alfred (Sean Pertwee) engages Bruce (David Mazouz) in sword stick fighting. Bruce is reluctant to fight, but he’s determined to find the truth about the death of his parents. Alfred insists that he leave it to Jim Gordon. Bruce’s interest in vigilantism is piqued by the movements of Balloonman and the question on the news, “Who will defend the people of Gotham?” Thankfully, Batman doesn’t model his methods (and costume) after Balloonman; he does far better.

“Gotham” airs Monday evenings on FOX at 8|7c.

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