Gotham: “The Balloonman” Review

Gotham review

Things kick off this week with Oswald Cobblepot’s return to Gotham. Stepping off a bus to scenes of corruption and crime on every street corner, the future crime boss simply utters a single word:

“Home.”

This opening quickly segues into the introduction of a breaking news story on Ronald Danzer, a Bernie Madoff-type financier accused of orchestrating a billion dollar Ponzi scheme that has left thousands without their pensions. Danzer, who’s out on bail, is about to make a getaway when he’s approached by a strange man in a pig mask selling balloons. Before Danzer can react, the masked man has him handcuffed to a weather balloon and up he goes!

What's this... Professor Pyg is in this episode? Nah, it's just the Balloonman.
Professor Pyg is in this episode? Nah, it’s just the Balloonman.

Now, there just so happens to be a character in Batman’s rogues gallery who wears a similar mask, Lazlo Valentin (aks Professor Pyg). You might also recall Fish Mooney’s boy toy from last week was also named Lazlo. So naturally I was excited for a big character reveal this episode. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, but it’s good to see the writers taking advantage of these cues to keep us Bat-fans guessing what’s going to happen next.

Meanwhile, Gordon has taken Selina into his custody in exchange for her cooperation in finding the true killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents. She leads Gordon to the alleyway where it happened and into the sewer to retrieve proof (a stolen wallet) that the Selina’s telling the truth. Shortly after this, Selina successfully escapes Gordon’s cuffs and is back on the “prowl.”

002-gotham-the-balloonmanMontoya and her partner pay a visit to Mooney who plants some (partial) misinformation that Gordon is responsible for killing Oswald and that Falcone is the one who ordered the hit. This only deepens Montoya’s mistrust of Gordon, which she’s all too happy to share with Gordon’s girlfriend Barbara (who was Montoya’s former lover). Montoya is one of the few good cops in Gotham, it’s just a shame that her bitterness and jealousy is blinding her from seeing Jim as one of the good guys too.

Later that night, The Balloonman strikes again. This time his target is a corrupt cop named Lieutenant Cranston. Cranston appears to overpower the villain (this time looking like the pulp vigilante The Shadow), but gets distracted by a list he pulls off the Balloonman and is handcuffed by the ankle to another weather balloon—up he goes in the same fashion Danzer. Naturally, a cop killer puts a fire under the GCPD’s butt and before long, Gordon and Bullock are busy kicking down doors looking for the culprit.

Oh yeah, all those weather balloons from before? Ever wonder what happened to those? Well, they eventually pop and bodies start falling from the sky. In one cruel twist, a body happens to fall on an old lady out walking her dog: kersplat! Pretty gruesome stuff when you really think about it. Anyway, this unfortunate set of circumstances provides Gordon and Bullock with the lead they need to nail the Balloonman aka Davis Lamont. Remember that Shadow reference I mentioned? Oddly enough, The Shadow’s real name was Lamont Cranston. Coincidence? Maybe. More like a clever Easter Egg if you ask me.

Is that The Shadow? Nope, just the Balloonman again.
Is that… The Shadow? Nope, just the Balloonman again.

Anyway, Gordon and Bullock track Lamont down, but Lamont gets the jump on Bullock and holds him at gun point. The Balloonman goes on a rant about how the police have failed and why what he’s doing is making a difference. He proceeds to fire on Gordon and misses. Yes, he’s a horrible shot… I see why weather balloons are his weapon of choice. Harvey kicks the crap out of Lamont and cuffs him to this own balloon for a little helium ride.

Of course, Gordon can’t just stand by and watch Lamont rise to his death so he latches on for the ride, forcing Harvey to shoot the balloon to save his partner. And once again the unlikely duo save the day again. Gordon later asks Lamont who is next victim would’ve been, to which he responds “does it matter?” Does it? I mean, everyone is Gotham is virtually corrupt, a criminal or indifferent.

Poor psychotic Balloonman.
Poor psychotic Balloonman.

Fish Mooney and Falcone have another moment in towards the end of the episode, exchanging some faux pleasantries (earlier in the episode Mooney arranges an “accident” for Falcone’s latest squeeze). Interestingly, they mention “big plans” on the horizon as it relates to Arkham. They don’t reveal much more detail than that, but one can speculate that the currently defunct Arkham Asylum will have a big role to play sometime soon.

The episode ends with Bruce and Alfred watching the the news of Balloonman’s capture. Alfred makes a comment that the criminals of Gotham can sleep better tonight and Bruce brings up the fact that Balloonman killed people himself, which makes him a criminal too. I still say they’re to push Bruce’s transformation into Batman a little too soon. Honestly, I think the show would benefit from fewer scenes like this. They just feel way too forced.

Overall, this week was really well done and I’m looking forward to the episodes coming in the following weeks. I caught a trailer recently that revealed Zsasz and another character in some sort of Leatherface-like mask. Most people seem to think it’s Scarecrow, but I’m leaning towards the Dollmaker. For one, that character has already been (partially) introduced and at least one version of the villain has a mask made of skin.

See you guys next week! Same Bat Time, same Bat… ummm, clubhouse.

Written by Rondal

Rondal is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club and a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and a mind for adventure. Rondal has written for other sites including Rue Morgue, Fuel Your Illustration and Bloodsprayer. His obsession with horror movies, 80s animation and action figures is considered unhealthy by medical professionals.

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