From the rooftops, Selina Kyle traverses the grimy streets of Gotham, doing what she does best. She ends up in an alley where she bears witness to one of the most iconic events in comic book history. She watches aghast and with the same helplessness as Bruce Wayne does when a “random” robbery transforms into the cold-blooded murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.“I promise you, however dark and scary the world might be right now; there will be light. There will be light, Bruce.”
The crime throws rookie Detective Jim Gordon and his gruff, cynical partner, Harvey Bullock, into the limelight. After Gordon makes a connection with the traumatized Bruce, he and Bullock start hiding the streets in search of clues to bring the murder to an expedient and satisfactory conclusion. Ballistics show high end bullets were used in the shooting. Coupled with the pressure from on high and Gordon’s thoughts that it may have been a hit leads the detective duo to Fish Mooney, a crime boss that plays second fiddle to the man who runs the city; Carmine Falcone. As coincidence would have it, soon after the meeting, Bullock gets a tip leading him and Gordon to Mario Pepper. A criminal whose record begs the question on why he’s out on the streets, Pepper flees his home with Gordon hot on his heels. He catches up with the bad man but Pepper gets the upper hand. Bullock puts a bullet in the baddie and, after forensics discovers Martha Wayne’s necklace, it’s case closed.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy.
Major Crimes partners Montoya and Allen, earlier rejected by Bullock when they try to take over the case, are given the 411 by one Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin) of the Pepper frame job. Montoya visits Barbara Kean, Gordon’s fiancée, and lets her know that Jim’s not the man she thinks he is. Once Gordon finds out about the frame, he takes it upon himself to do some digging. He takes a trip back to the Pepper home before returning to Mooney’s. Things don’t end well for him and Gordon finds himself strung up by Mooney’s boys, ready to be gutted. That is, until Bullock shows up, dishes the news about Major Crimes to Mooney in order to free his partner from a most gruesome death. Instead, Bullock finds himself strung up next to Gordon and the two are saved by the unlikeliest of characters…Carmine Falcone.“There will be chaos. Rivers of blood in the street!”
After freeing Gordon and Bullock, Falcone has a little chat with the rookie detective. Turns out Falcone and Jim’s DA dad had an understanding, a friendship of sorts. Their discussion eliminates Falcone as the orchestrator of the murder in Jim’s eyes though the detective knows he doesn’t have the whole story just yet. Things get even more complicated when Bullock drives him to the pier and gives him the bad news. Cobblepot’s in the trunk and Gordon needs to put a bullet in the baddie’s head lest he and Barbara are killed. It’s an impossible choice, one Gordon’s able to maneuver through by walking Cobblepot to the pier before whispering that he “never come back to Gotham”. To Bullock, it seems as if Jim has crossed the line, just like Falcone wanted.
But Jim Gordon is not compromised. After the events on the pier, he ventures to Wayne Manor and tells Bruce the truth; the killer’s still out there but he’s determined to find the man responsible. Bruce offers his blessing and as Jim Gordon rides away from the Manor, Selina Kyle watches in the background.
This original pilot delivers a host of characters that could sustain its own multipage article. With that in mind, here are some of the drivers present in the series premiere. Someone not mentioned this week? Have no fear. Each week, we’ll be highlighting different characters in order to provide you, the reader, with a dossier of the wonderful Gotham cast.
Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie)
We’ve known from the start that Jim Gordon was going to be the driving force behind ‘Gotham’ and, thanks to a strong performance by Ben McKenzie (‘Ryan Atwood’ for The O.C. and Southland fans) brings a strength and integrity to the role of the man who wants nothing more than justice to be served. More than that, he believes it can be done without compromising one’s self. He has a long road ahead of him.
Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue)
What an interesting character. Harvey Bullock is a veteran detective who knows the ins and outs of the Gotham world His cynicism is a by-product of years on the streets, seeing the bad guys get away with things and the good being cut down. And despite his relationship with Fish Mooney, we are never truly given a yea or nay on whether or not Bullock’s a dirty cop.
Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith)
Though she’s not the Queen of Crime in Gotham, Fish Mooney plays second fiddle to Carmine Falcone. She’s smart, sensual, and extremely dangerous. JPS portrayal creates a character who’s all bad but so good to watch on screen. She has ambition and, though she’s taking orders from Falcone, how long before things between the two of them hit a boiling point leaving a single recourse?
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor)
Mooney’s henchman that’s “like a son” to her, Cobblepot, who will one day become The Penguin, is a shady character whose viciousness hides behind an umbrella and gangly smile. He nearly bought the big one at finale’s end but, thanks to Jim Gordon, lives to fight on another day.
Barbara Kean (Erin Richards)
Fiancée of Detective Gordon and mother to the future Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Ms. Kean is not given much screen time but already her past with Detective Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) adds some spiciness to the her place in Jim’s life.
Carmine Falcone (John Doman)
King of Crime in Gotham, Mr. Falcone is the man that makes the city run. Though ruthless and cruel, there’s another side to him. After rescuing Gordon from being boned like a fish, he tells the young detective that he had once been friends with DA Gordon, Jim’s father. “I’m a businessman,” he says at one point. “You can’t have organized crime without law and order.” Despite his position as crime boss, Falcone loves Gotham and promises that it will not fall on his watch, “not without a fight.”
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)
The Boy who would become the Bat. Along with Selina Kyle, the audience witnesses the callous and senseless murder of Bruce’s parents, an act that would forever drive him to rid the city of crime, to conquer his fears, to be a symbol for his beloved city. Soon after his parents’ deaths, Master Bruce starts on his path that ultimately leads him to becoming the caped crusader. He wants to conquer his fear, a fear that held him in its clutches as his parents were gunned down. But, as Gordon tells him, “Fear doesn’t need conquering. Fear tells you where the edge is.” It’s apropos because, as Batman, Bruce Wayne is continually balancing himself along that razor edge between hero and vigilante, delivering justice and fulfilling his own thirst for vengeance. We all know where Bruce Wayne journey ends, but we’ve never really gotten a taste (at least in movies and television) how his time as an adolescent, dealing with the pain of loss, molded him. We may get that chance in Gotham.
Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova)
The woman who would be Cat…Kyle’s character is relegated to prowling the background. She’s there for the traumatic events that will forever shape Bruce Wayne and seems to connect to that pain as she’s also present at the funeral and his estate at the episode’s end. How she will be utilized throughout this first arc will be interesting to watch.
This is where things get dicey. Overall, Gotham was a pretty decent pilot that, while introducing quite a few threads for season one to explore, has to watch out from falling into the trap of becoming ‘The adolescent years of Bruce Wayne’. There are enough stories to relegate the Young Mr. Wayne to the background and not have him become a show regular. As to the crime underworld of Gotham, we’ve already been introduced to the power struggle brewing between Fish and Falcone, one that will most likely come to a head by season’s end.
Another factor ‘Gotham’ needs to be aware of is not to inundate us too quickly with every villain that has graced the pages of Batman and the rest of the DC world. Create characters and situations unique to the television show so that, while it may use many of the established characters we’ve come to know, formulate others whose lore is developed on the small screen right before our eyes.
While far from perfect, the ‘Gotham’ pilot brings intrigue and a heap of potential plot points that will drive the series going forward. McKenzie and Logue have been masterfully cast as they will be the driving force behind this season’s ride. Let’s hope it’s as much fun as the advertisements have promised.