Episode 105 “Viper”
[Photos: Jessica Miglio/FOX]
Bruce Wayne finally gets out of the den! More on that in a moment…
This hour centers around a new drug that’s hitting the streets of Gotham. Somebody’s giving out free samples of “Viper”, a compound that gives the user tremendous strength along with a god complex (Sound familiar? It should.) Viper also has the terrible side effect of leaving you dead after burning through all the calcium in your bones. Which makes it tough for Bennie the Street Guitarist to lift that heavy ATM machine he just lifted from the convenience store — bare-handed.
That robbery is what sets the story in motion, and is the entry point for Gordon and Bullock, who just happen to be at a nearby hamburger stand at lunch when the alarm goes off. Bullock makes a very emphatic point that they’re at lunch. Which means he really doesn’t want to follow Gordon when he goes haring off every time an alarm rings. Gordon, however, has this notion that cops should be cops all the time, you see.
Bennie the Street Guitarist got his stash from Stan Potolsky, the Man with the Mangled Ear, a chemist who worked for WellZyn Laboratories, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. According to WellZyn’s attorney (and yes, that’s Margaret Colin from Independence Day), Stan went off the reservation when he wanted to work on more than just shampoo and toothpaste. Only that’s not what he was actually working on, we come to find out.
No, indeed. It turns out Stan was working on a biological agent called “Viper” — something designed to give subjects superhuman strength for battlefield conditions. Only it didn’t quite work right, which is why they went back to the lab to work on it some more, finally developing Viper 2.0…
…otherwise known as Venom.
A completely sensible way to introduce such a fantastic element of the Batman mythos, really. Make the Venom drug something military, something with practical applications in combat, something that makes sense from a story logic standpoint. Because having a Mexican wrestler with tubes feeding into his neck is still a bit of a stretch, even for this show.
It also provides the moral quandary for the episode as well, as Stan is putting Viper on the streets to protest the development of the drug in the first place, something he’s been discussing at length with his Gotham University professor. Dr. Steiner is Stan’s co-conspirator in the attempt to discredit the altruism of WellZyn and its parent company, and it seems the only way to get the proper media attention on the problem is to attack its source, which comes in the form of a Wayne Foundation soiree.
While the board of directors doesn’t make it to lunch, Bruce Wayne does — and he’s very concerned about irregularities he’s uncovered in the Arkham deal. Bringing it to the attention to Molly Mathis, Bruce requests that she set up a meeting so he can ask the board some very pointed questions. Mathis, also, is up to her neck in the WellZyn affair, watching over the warehouse where Stan made the stuff. Now standing empty, it leaves little clue as to who really was at the bottom of the whole thing, leaving two very frustrated detectives and one conniving corporate lackey who answers to some mysterious someone we’ve not met yet.
Mathis is also mentioned in a document that’s part of the file dump covering the den at Stately Wayne Manor, something Bruce comes across in his search for details about the Arkham land grab. It’s an investigation Alfred would dearly love to toss, at first, but after nearly losing Bruce in the Viper attack at the luncheon, is ready to roll up his sleeves and dive in.
Making it frustrating for Bullock is Gordon’s sudden unavailability in the midst of the investigation. Gordon gets “invited” to Maroni’s restaurant after Oswald reveals his story in an attempt to become part of Maroni’s inner circle and help him plan a robbery at Falcone’s casino. David Zayas continues to channel Robert De Niro’s Al Capone from The Untouchables, to great effect. When Gordon pretty much confirms Oswald’s story, “The Penguin” is now Maroni’s new friend.
And while all of this craziness is going on, Fish Mooney is conspiring with Falcone lieutenant Nikolai the Russian — with whom she butts heads in front of the don, you know, for cover — to make over the Falcone organization in her image. And she’s seducing and manipulating Nikolai in the same way she’s teaching Liza to do. It’s an interesting counterpoint to the Viper story thread, this tutorial in manipulation that goes on while all of this chaos is in the streets of Gotham.
Is Liza going to be Falcone’s undoing? She cleans up pretty well, with her blonde hair and her state-of-the-art Walkman. She catches his eye in the park, humming the same aria his mother used to sing to him. Is it a little creepy that he’s attracted to women who remind him of his mother? Will Liza be able to play the part Fish has written for her?
Tune it next week! Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!