GOTHAM Gets Spirited

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Episode 106 “Spirit of the Goat”

[Photos: Jessica Miglio/FOX]

Apologies for the delay on delivery, folks. It’s been one of those weeks. You know the kind. That “everything happens at once” kind of weeks. So let’s dive right in, shall we? This week, we get some history with Harvey Bullock, the Major Crimes Unit gets their man, and Oswald Cobblepot takes a bath!

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The main thread of this hour gives us an insight into the character of Harvey Bullock, and it really works to help us understand just where he is at the point Jim Gordon meets him. The interesting item of note is that according to Bullock’s former partner, Harvey was once the crusading “white knight” cop just like Gordon is now. Bullock once charged in where angels fear to tread, and not only did that get his partner crippled, but it also probably put Harvey on the radar for a beat down. Because as they say in Gotham, “No heroes.”

The dark corruption on display in present-day Gotham is a thing of the city’s past, too, and it serves to underscore just how rotten things have been and always will be. Which is why the serial killer known only as the Goat crops up to kill the first-born of the Gotham elite. These rich power families have allowed Gotham to descend into a cesspool of violence, crime, and poverty. So they need to be punished. The Goat strings up his victims by the wrists, sewing antique pennies into their necks as a calling card.

Bullock and Dix manage to stop the Goat in an abandoned theater, at the cost of Dix’s legs when Bullock charged in without waiting for backup. And that, as they say, is that.

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Only it isn’t, as first-born children of Gotham socialites start to disappear again. The first one, found strung up on a bridge, is a painful reminder to Bullock of his past, and he recognizes the methodology straightaway, figuring it for a copycat. Only the autopsy turns up the penny in the neck, something only three people knew because they kept it out of the press. So it’s not a copycat, something Dix helps Bullock realize when they go visit the retired cop at a care facility.

Dix’s care, by the way, is being funded by one Harvey Bullock.

The hour belongs to Donal Logue, as he gives us both the idealistic Harvey and the beaten down Bullock who’s been beaten down by the system. It’s interesting to see him work his way through the clues to figure out what’s actually behind these killings, and who’s really pulling the strings — Dr. Marks, the hypnotherapist treating the men who become “the Goat” as a way of acting out Marks’ twisted idea of providing therapy for Gotham’s sickness. When Bullock puts it all together, we get a flash of the old crusader Bullock. And this case serves to cement the partnership between Bullock and Gordon, with the banter reaching almost Starsky & Hutch levels. Almost.

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Of course, it all falls apart at the end of the episode, as Gordon gets arrested by the Major Crimes Unit. Allen and Montoya finally find a witness to the murder of Oswald Cobblepot. A homeless wino with binoculars just happens to be able to clearly identify James Gordon as the man what done the shooting, so they bring Gordon in and move to arrest Bullock as an accessory. But then Oswald Cobblepot shows up at the GCPD, very much alive, which only serves to damage the trust between Bullock and Gordon. Because now Bullock’s neck is on the chopping block. Who knows what the Falcone organization will do to the both of them?

Oh, Oswald, you clever cuss with a great sense of dramatic timing…

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Oswald’s appearance is clearly calculated, a fact reinforced by the conversation with his mother. And that relationship is getting creepier. Kind of a Stephen King version of Howard Wolowitz and his mother, maybe? His reassurances to his mother that “it’s just business” serves to also point up the fact that the criminals in Gotham see things through a different prism than most. Like the gangsters and mob families of old, crime is just a business proposition. Profit and loss. And Cobblepot didn’t sign any non-compete contract with Fish Mooney, so he’s perfectly capable of playing for the other team. Or even forming one of his own, which is probably what’s being set up here. Oswald thinks he has an ally in Jim Gordon. An honest cop in a town full of dishonesty.

Personally, I’m glad the “Who Shot Oswald?” plot thread is resolved. It was getting more difficult by the week to accept that anyone in Gotham still thought Oswald was dead, given that he’d told Maroni his real name, given that he has such recognizable physical features, given that he’s walking around in broad daylight… There were just too many places where this was starting to fray.

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The weakest piece of Gotham, still, is the whole bit between Barbara and Montoya. Sure, OK, we get it. They have a past. Something between them that allows for smoldering looks and the feels. But Barbara has no business knowing anything about Montoya’s cases, or Gordon’s cases, or anything else going on at the Gotham Police Department. Because she’s not a cop. She runs an art gallery, for pity’s sake. Police work is usually on a “need to know” basis, and she doesn’t need to know. Ever. This is weaker even than the bit with Selina Kyle just showing up at Stately Wayne Manor to have a looksee in the one room where everything happens.

[Note: we’ve decided that Stately Wayne Manor is in the process of being renovated, which is why we’ve seen none of the rest of the mansion yet…]

Speaking of Bruce Wayne, it’s interesting to see pieces of information and experiences now that feed into what he’s to become in the future. This week, he makes note of the use of a totem to instill fear. Every week, there’s a small bit of character building, little facts and happenings that foreshadow the development of the Batman figure as a dark, masked vigilante who also happens to be the World’s Greatest Detective.

But the bit between Nygma and records clerk Kristen Kringle? What the wha? It’s obviously a setup for something to come down the line, but why even bother with this now? Nygma is, at best, a third tier character at this point. And despite Cory Michael Smith’s very good performance, Nygma is just not that important to the overall story arc that’s played out so far. And with Victor Zsasz showing up next episode, it’s not likely we’re going to get too much time in any follow-up scenes for this. So why do it now?

Also, remember a few episodes back, I called out Barbara’s wardrobe? This ep: blue, black, gold… she’s still in Batgirl colors all the time. Credit Costume Designer Lisa Padovani. This has to be deliberate.

OK. Next recap, hopefully on time. Or closer to it, anyway.

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[Show Web Site at FOX]     [Previous Recap: 105 “Viper”]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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