Be careful, Gotham; you might just start living up to your potential with more episodes like this. Don’t get me wrong, the show still has plenty of growing pains to suffer through, but tonight’s episode “Spirit of the Goat” revealed just a hint of the neo-noir storytelling it’s hopefully aiming for. You’ve got your hard-boiled detectives and their dynamic partnerships, a spooky serial killer and his copycat cohort, and even a femme fatale (or two) for good measure. All that’s well and good, but do Bullock and Gordon get their goat?
Hit the jump for our Gotham recap to find out.
Well, if you missed this episode’s title, you clearly weren’t paying attention to the first thirty seconds. The Goatman Cometh! And he wears a weird leather mask with stunted horns and effects a deep, gravelly voice that both resemble the eventual Batman. Not only do we get to see Bullock front and center for the first time, we get to see him in the recent past when he was just as driven and optimistic as Gordon is today. As an added bonus, this brief peak into their investigation shows off the strongest noir feel of the show thus far, from the dialogue, to the characterization, to the lighting, and the case itself.
In the present day, Bullock is being irritated by Nygma’s riddles as the bitter detective is investigating a copycat crime scene, dredging up the hurtful past. In a twist out of Biblical/Batman lore, the copycat killer is offing the first-born children of the city’s 1%. While interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Hastings, the parents of the murdered young woman, the detectives meet their therapist, Dr. Marks (Susan Misner).
Back at the medical examiner’s, Bullock shares details of the first case that only the original killer could have known, such as a penny sewn into the base of the skull of his victims. Surprise, surprise, this killer somehow knows that peculiar detail. He goes to talk to his former partner about it, while his current partner has to remind him that they’re working the case together. It’s revealed that Milky had an accomplice, one who’s now part of a conspiracy to take down Gotham’s elite. The old detective also warns Gordon about Bullock’s tendency to play the hero, which obviously comes as a surprise. (We also get a nice sidenote about Bullock’s character when we see him paying the old man’s nursing home bills – and keeping him stocked with nudie mags.)
Nygma gets an assist on the case and points the duo to the same scene of the Spirit of the Goat’s last crime ten years earlier. Not a very smart criminal, though perhaps the urge to stage a parallel crime was too strong to resist. While Gordon rescues the girl, Bullock goes after the Goat, and gets ambushed for his trouble, though Gordon shows up in the nick of time to give the Goat a beatdown. They get their man, but it happens a little too quickly. Bullock’s questioning the logic behind the collar, and wants to keep digging to find a connection.
As the lights begin to flicker, and Earle begins clenching his fists, Bullock channels Gordon’s excellent-bordering-on-prophetic powers of intuition, which lead him back to therapist (and hypnotist) Dr. Marks, who just so happens to treat Raymond Earle as a pro bono case. Bullock makes the connection like a classic noir detective, but the femme fatale seems to be equal to the task. She developed the Spirit of the Goat to take down the greedy, rich, and powerful, though she’s pretty well off herself since she treats the said-same rich and powerful. Dr. Marks is a puppet master of sorts, and she sends her latest patient, Dr. Hastings, after Bullock. He not only dispatches the hypnotized old man, but shoots the good doctor in the leg as she flees.
Well we finally get to see the reconciliation between Gordon and Barbara; Gordon seems ready to throw in the towel, but Barbara is offering to carry half his burden for him. He promises to tell her everything he can as he heads off to meet up with Bullock.
Unbeknownst to Gordon and Bullock, Montoya and Allen continue to investigate Oswald Cobblepot’s reported death, and appear to get an eye-witness placing Gordon behind the murder weapon. Worlds continue to collide as Barbara talks to Montoya out on the street about the truth behind Gordon. Montoya warns her that they’re coming for him and have a bench-issued warrant for his arrest. It takes Barbara a good long time to let Gordon know about the warrant (and it takes even longer for the IA team to come after him). Maybe it’s just poor editing in this hour, but either way, Gordon was going to face the music. Montoya and Allen take him away in cuffs, leaving Barbara behind and Bullock to face the Goat on his own.
It’s not long before Montoya and Allen walk Gordon right through the middle of the station, where a fight nearly breaks out. Before things can come to a head, the Penguin walks right into the police station and introduces himself.
Penguin’s Rise to Power:
Other than his excellent final scene in this episode, Penguin doesn’t have a whole lot to do. Earlier on, Penguin arrives home to visit his mother, who’s less concerned about his apparent death than she is about the possibility of him running away with another woman. She serves to soothe his bruised ego and encourage his megalomaniacal dreams. Oh, and to bathe him, apparently. (She’s offering up strong competition to Fish Mooney as the strangest mother figure on the show.)
Wayne’s Coming of Age:
While the first-born sons of Gotham’s rich and powerful seem to be fleeing the city in fear, their most famous son sits at home with Alfred, seemingly unafraid and tasked with continuing to investigate his parents’ death. I just wonder how long it will take for Gordon to remember that, “Oh yeah! That Wayne kid might be in danger!” Security at Wayne Manor leaves a lot to be desired as Selina Kyle manages to sneak her way in in the middle of the night; good thing she’s not as dangerous as Goatman.
Right up until the last moment where Gordon and Bullock literally come chest to chest in conflict, this was a strong episode of Gotham. It had a great noir story with all the classical elements that makes the sub-genre so much fun, and each of those elements was executed quite well. It’s still got a long way to go in the way of ratcheting up dramatic tension, tightening up plots, and rising to the potential of what it could eventually be, but “Spirit of the Goat” was a step in the right direction.
- Randall Milky: “I will always come back!” Bullock: “Come back from this!”
- Gordon: “Are we still fighting?” Barbara: “We’re negotiating terms.”
- Nygma gets his own scene awkwardly flirting with the clerk, Ms. Kristen Kringle. Not sure if that name pops up in Batman lore at all, but the fact that Nygma is starting to share a larger piece of the spotlight means that we’ll likely get to see him develop into her alter ego before too awful long.
- Penguin: “I don’t know why you always think I’ve run off with some painted lady … I don’t even date.”
- LOL I love that Logue/Bullock says they “Easter egg’d” the fact about the penny sewn into his victims. Not sure if that’s how to use that term but okay!
- “Goat Watch” is definitely something that would show up on cable news programs today.
- Kringle: “I had this entire room organized…” Nygma: “Yes, but now it will be rhizomatic! Laterally!”
- Bullock: “Holy ghost on a bicycle…” Okay.
- Dr. Marks: “Deep down, we all want to eat the rich, don’t we?” Bullock: “You are nuthouse crazy, lady.”