Netflix UK TV review: Gotham Episode 5
Bullock and Gordon9
Selina "Cat" Kyle’s pickpocketing skills2
Amon Warmann | On 10, Nov 2014
It’s official, ladies and gentlemen: Selina Kyle is the world’s worst pickpocket. We’ve mentioned in previous reviews that Gotham needs to do a better job of managing its ensemble, and this week saw perhaps its most extraneous scene yet, in which Cat attempts to rob a man of his wallet in broad daylight. It’s the only time we see her in the episode – and it’s completely unnecessary.
Otherwise, Viper is another solid hour for Gotham, and the show continues to show signs of steady improvement. The episode title refers to a drug being peddled by a peeved scientist on Gotham’s streets, which gives its users super strength for a short time before killing them. In what is a cool nod to the Batman mythos, viper is actually the precursor to venom, the drug used by popular villain Bane to give him his super strength.
The case of the week plays out in familiar find-clue-and-follow-clue fashion, but it has a few things going for it. For one thing, the enhanced strength and painful deaths of the drug users are creatively visualised (a scene involving an ATM machine is especially wince-worthy). For another, Gordon and Bullock’s bonding sessions are really fun. Though we could do with less of Bullock’s ‘let the criminals fight each other with super-strength until they die’ attitude, Donal Logue’s comedic timing is particularly sublime, with a couple of zingers – “What’s altruism?” – bringing out the belly laughs.
The case of the week also benefits from being smartly and organically tied in to the overarching conspiracy thread at Wayne enterprises. This gives Master Bruce a chance to do something meaningful and, just like last week, the scenes between him and Alfred are strong; the silent moment between them in Viper’s closing minutes is a highlight.
Elsewhere, both Penguin and Fish Mooney make their latest moves to increase power, and each one comes with risks and rewards. If you’ve been following our reviews, then you’ll know by now of our love for Robin Lord Taylor, but David Zayas is arguably the standout this week as Sal Maroni. The mob boss’ unpredictability makes him all the more threatening and the Dexter alumni is clearly revelling in the role. This is most evident in a scene featuring Maroni, Penguin and Gordon, which, even though the outcome is never in too much doubt, does well to build up a sense of immediate danger.
While Viper moves a few storylines forward in interesting directions, the question of why certain characters are motivated to act in the way they do still remains. The sooner Gotham learns this, the sooner it becomes more than just shallow, if enjoyable, entertainment.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.