Barbara Kean's self respect & moral strength
Salvatore Maroni's positive intro
Too many hints of Batman
Corruption, corruption, corruption..
Gotham is slowly hitting its stride in creating an identity apart from the Caped Crusader.
“Viper” entails many basic elements from Gotham’s series so far, whether it‘s a new crook on the streets out to cause chaos or a new drug that’s hot on the market, and this week we received a dose of both. An anxious man with a deformed ear slips a vile filled with green liquid into a street teen named Benny’s guitar case, and when the kid inhales it his skin turns white and he rushes to a convenience store to chug down gallons of milk. Who would allow someone to just simply walk into their shop and use their products? Well, no one. The owner threatened the kid with a baseball bat, which he snapped in half with ease, and even made off with the ATM machine using his own hands! Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) arrive on the scene during what is Bullock’s precious lunch time. While this new threat has emerged, young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has been digging into information on his own company and its files, but it’s not exactly treasure that he finds. Is there something bigger than everything we’ve come to know brewing deep within Wayne Enterprises? What other affects are there from the usage of this new drug? Let’s discuss, as we know the city of Gotham waits for no one.
With special performance enhancement, there’s always a downfall.
Gordon and Bullock begin talking to all kinds of people on the streets, giving them a lead on Benny’s possible whereabouts sending the two to an old warehouse where he’s hiding with the ATM machine and tons of milk cartons. He doesn’t make an immediate attempt to run away, and instead asks “for more” but becomes startled when the detectives try to calm him down. Through this sudden twist of emotions, he picks up the ATM machine with his mighty strength, only to have his face compress and become weak, resulting in the machine crushing him.
It’s discovered and explained to the detectives by none other than the intriguing Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) that this new drug is called Viper. It causes unused DNA to become active and create extra strength and feeds on calcium in the bones, being the reason Benny was drinking so much milk. The consumer can’t contain the added calcium long enough, causing the bones to disintegrate which in turn, makes them suffocate and die. The great enthusiasm Nygma always shows in his work, especially towards the science behind Viper, provides a much needed giggle in Gotham, and his portrayal by Cory Michael Smith is always excellent. Writer Rebecca Perry Cutter utilized Nygma’s character and dialogue in a smooth manner that continues a nice yet small consistent development, which will hopefully lead to more screen time and larger scenes throughout the season and series overall.
“Fascinating… FASCINATING.” – Edward Nygma
The man with the bulk of Viper begins openly handing it out on the streets, creating tons of problems for the GCPD. Since this drug can only be manufactured in a high end lab, the detectives are lead to an attorney of Wellzyn, which is a subsidiary of, coincidentally – Wayne Enterprises. In turn, detectives Gordon and Bullock are lead to Stan Potolsky (Daniel London), a former Wellzyn employee who wanted to do more important work than what he was involved with (working on shampoo) which eventually made him unstable, and he even attempted to cut off his own ear.
Gordon and Bullock visit philosophy professor Steiner at Gotham University, who explains that Stan never actually worked on shampoo; In fact, he was developing the viper serum to give super strength to the troops of the military. There was also a perfected version known as Venom, but the project was shut down by the Waynes. In a quick turn of events, the professor admits he was a part of this conspiracy surrounding the venom project, and after taking a dosage attempts to kill Gordon, resulting in him having to shoot the old professor. Before he dies, he says:
“They must pay for their altruism.”
Gotham’s power struggle between rival gangs gives a fresh take on the power of a mafia.
Salvatore Maroni (David Zayas) has big plans and loves the taste of vengeance, and in “Viper” he wants to go after a prized possession of Carmine Falcone (John Doman), his casino. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) points out that he may know someone who can help get his crew inside through the tunnels, and also lets it slip that he used to work for Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). This totally pisses Maroni off, resulting in him beating up Cobblepot and kidnapping Jim, bringing him to his lovely restaurant. After Jim tells Maroni the exact same version of the docks story Cobblepot told him, he decides the little “Penguin” is speaking the truth, and after a successful robbery, moves Cobblepot further into Maroni’s inner circle. Executive Producer and Creator Bruno Heller does an outstanding job displaying the strength behind “real power,” with Maroni’s man easily walking into the police station to draw Gordon out and kidnap him without a whisper. This display is true to the mythology of Gotham, with all the corrupt cops and officials, it’s always been a city for the powerful mafia to have real control over any scenario, and Maroni definitely shows what he’s capable of.
Maroni: “Just so that we, uh, understand each other, keep all this hush-hush, between us pals… And if I need you again, I’ll call you.”
Gordon: “You do that.”
On the other hand, Fish is conspiring with another man in Falcones crew, Nikolai (Jeremy Davidson), to overthrow him, and has also turned Liza into a formidable weapon against Falcone, to make him fall in love with her. We didn’t see as much of Fish this week but she definitely has a master plan that she’s put in motion with ease and without suspicion, but when it enters full effect she’ll find that it’s going to be a roller coaster ride unlike any she’s ever experienced.
Mysteries and conspiracy theories are all over Wayne Enterprises.
Bruce is very upset and utterly surprised that the board members of his parents beloved company enabled a split of the Arkham district between the Falcones and Maronis. He attends the Wayne Foundation Charity Luncheon in a search for answers, only to speak to a mid level employee by the name of Molly Mathis (Sharon Washington). She appears to be very offended when Bruce says he wants to discuss “irregularities in the Arkham project” with the board members. Another shady employee amongst a group of power in the city of Gotham… She claims Wayne Enterprises would never do business with criminals. What exactly is going on here!?
“I think we should leave them be. There’s nothing here for them… We’ll review that if they get close.” – Molly Mathis
This conversation is interrupted by Stan, who hacks the luncheons video feed, where he states that he believes the usage of Viper on street people didn’t mean anything, so he would instead use it on people of wealth and importance. He releases the Viper through the ventilation system, only to be thwarted by Bullock who evacuates the room in a hurry. He later joins Gordon on the roof with Stan up against the ledge. Gordon shoots a canister Stan’s holding full of viper which sprays him in the face and tells the detectives to check out warehouse 39, then jumps off the roof to his death. When Gordon and Bullock investigate the warehouse, they realize it’s empty. They don’t spot Mathis down the road in her car speaking to someone on the other line and assuring them there’s nothing the detectives can find.
Gotham’s fifth episode “Viper” has, without a doubt, been the strongest since the pilot. The show’s creator Bruno Heller seems to have a set vision for his show moving on from this episode and has done a good job of creating a unique setting and storyline that has classic elements from the Batman universe, while beginning to keep a safe distance from getting too deep.
The chemistry between actors Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue (along with their characters James Gordon and Harvey Bullock) has increased a lot since the pilot. Logue’s Bullock has been pleasant from the beginning but McKenzie’s Gordon has steadily improved throughout the season and should continue to do so. “Viper” displayed the comfort zone between the two expanding more than ever, and even though they still argue, they’ve come to learn from and understand each other. At the beginning of the season, Bullock would give Gordon lectures over any small idea or lead he had, but the more success Gordon earns as a true cop does nothing but benefit Bullock as his partner. Writer Rebecca Perry Cutter used the right dialogue to showcase the faint beginning of a bond between the two, which will be crucial in the future when they encounter people of power rather than street thugs.
Another standout through limited screen time was definitely Edward Nygma. Cory Michael Smith is paying his dues with less screen time to create a solid pace of development for his character. What this does is give the viewers just enough of his appearances with the perfect dialogue to lay a solid foundation around his personality to create a picture of what we think his lifestyle, interests and hobbies are. In turn, this leaves us wanting a lot more of him, which gives the executive producers (Bruno Heller, Danny Cannon, & John Stephens) an advantage to provide any unique storyline for Smith’s character they wish, and it’s going to be amazing. When Edward Nygma is presented more on screen, it will add an entirely new element to the show’s tone; Especially when we hear him speak in riddles and enthusiastic tones, he’s a delight to see on screen, thanks to all of the writers!
Overall, Gotham is still finding its legs but “Viper” was a nice stepping stone for the success of this series. The “villain of the week” theme is something that can create a bore when looking at the big picture, but there’s been improvement from previous episodes, so hopefully there are more connections to the main plots of the series ahead of us. The gang war is very entertaining, especially on Maroni’s side with his more constant appearances. With hope, the series will have confidence to take a step to the side from individual stories and develop more of the larger schemes taking place in Gotham.
Gotham (1×05) Review – “Viper”