Gotham S1.05 Viper Review

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Er… um… well… that was 45 minutes of Gotham. There’s not an awful lot more to say about it. At one point, Harvey says, “What do you expect, it's Gotham?” and he’s got a point. We expect Jim to be dull. We expect the Penguin to make more progress but having to suffer for his ambition along the way. We expect Fish to wiggle her fingers, look disdainfully at men and do something a bit pervy. We expect a slightly silly villain-of-the-week plot that seems slightly at odds with the rest of he show. We expect Harvey to say something morally dubious at least five times. We expect Bruce to look stern and mention to anybody that cares to hear how he really wants to INVESTIGATE STUFF. We expect Alfred to be annoyed with this attitude but prove his loyalty eventually. We expect Maroni and Falcone to bluster.

We get all that. And we get it all in a competent but utterly unexciting package.

There’s no spark this week. No scene or storyline that grabs you. The script just takes various characters from A to B via the most predicable routes imaginable. The “disgruntled, neurotic employee threatens nasty rich bosses” plot is the single most overused plots on US TV, and Gotham barely even tried adding a new twist, unless you count an old guy mangling his own walking frame.

Gotham Trivia

Isaac Steiner (the old guy who mangles his own walking frame) gives the drug Viper an alternative name: “They worked out the kinks in the second batch… called it Venom.” Venom is the drug that Bane uses in the comics to give him his strength.

Even the Penguin plot, usually the one element you bank on in this show, plods along unenthusiastically like a couch potato forced to do cross country.

The only moments when the episode shows some signs of life are Ed Nygma’s glee at the deadly effects of the drug, Bruce confronting Molly at the fundraiser and the final, wonderfully chilling scene with Falcone and Fish’s “weaponised” girl – it’s so well filmed, and beautifully acted it’s like it’s from another show entirely.

It’s a shame to have to be so lukewarm about a show this well made, but this is almost unforgivably dull. Luckily, things start picking up over the next couple of weeks, so if you’re wavering, don’t give up yet…

Gotham airs on Monday nights on Channel 5 in the UK, and on Fox in the US.

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WriterTim Hunter
DirectorRebecca Perry Cutter
The one whereA disgruntled ex-Wayne Enterprises employee takes revenge by distributing a drug that makes people super strong before killing them

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Available platformsTV
Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.