Gotham (2013) season 1, episode 5
WRITER: REBECCA PERRY CUTTER
DIRECTOR: TIM HUNTER
AIR DATE: October 20 2014
There’s a new drug making waves in the streets of Gotham City in the new episode ‘Viper’. We first see its effects on a street musician, powered up when he tries the narcotic, and mysteriously drinking a lot of milk before going ballistic on a convenience store clerk. Conveniently Gordon and Bullock (Ben Mckenzie and Donal Logue) are in the area having a bite to eat, and when Gordon hears the alarms going off, his curiousity draws him in. It might not be a homicide - something Bullock points out - but the store’s surveillance footage definitely marks the case for the two detectives as something that is completely out of the ordinary. And when use of the drug spreads, not to mention an understanding of what it ends up doing to the body of a user, a crisis is underway in Gotham City.
You don’t really pay too much attention to special effects in a television show - it’s not going to have the budget of a movie - but the way Viper plays itself in a user is interesting. We see skin distortions initially, and in its final moments does something catastrophic to the body, which comes across fleetingly but effectively. It would rate as a horrible way to die.
Maroni and Gordon
The motivation of the man behind it is a different take than you might expect, and it ties into Wayne Enterprises. Bruce (David Mazouz) is showing more interest in his family’s legacy, asking questions, and for the first time we’re seeing that not all is well in the house of Wayne. Someone at the company has shadowy motives, and that seems to be a plotline yet to play out as the season goes on. What we also see this time out is Alfred both as the fierce protector - his first thought in a crisis is to safeguard the boy whose upbringing he is charged with - and as the quiet partner the Dark Knight will one day rely on. Sean Pertwee gives the character a hint of resigned acceptance as instead of trying to coax Bruce away from asking questions and examining issues, he decides to help sort through it all.
Alfred and Bruce
We have other plotlines to deal with even as the investigation continues. Sal Maroni (David Zayas) is back, and he has both Gordon and Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) in a tight spot, trying to clarify where Oswald’s loyalties lie. One might feel sorry for Oswald, considering how he’s treated until Sal gets the answers he wants, but on the other hand, given Oswald’s streak of killing people, it’s hard to feel sympathy for him. Still what Taylor does with the character is interesting. He’s started out as something of a weasel, a petty underling, but we’re quickly seeing his devious side. And does Sal now consider Gordon as a cop who happens to be one of his, with all that includes?
Thus far in the series Cory Michael Smith has been an understated presence as Edward Nygma, the man who will one day be the Riddler. As a coroner and forensics specialist working for the police, it’s a different touch for the character’s early years. This time out he gets something of a darkly comic moment or two while bringing the detectives up to speed on what Viper actually does. I’d like to see more of the character, but at the same time, it’s wise for now to restrain use of him.