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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews Gotham Season 1 Episode 3: The Balloonman

October 7th, 2014 by Todd Black Comments


If Gotham has been one thing in its first two episodes, it’s consistent. In fact, I gave each episode a 4/5. With episode three, titled “The Balloonman”, we really get to see the plots advance on multiple points. We also got to see numerous great characters moments as well. But truly, the real defining moment for this episode was continuing to show just how dark Gotham is.

Now true, I’ve already noted in my previous reviews that this show is going to great lengths to show the darkness within the city. But the opening scene alone, with Cobblepot returning and seeing one crime after another showed that this is a very dark city. Crooked bankers, judges, cops, it seems to be everywhere. And sometimes to battle darkness…you need a dark figure to fight back…

No, not THAT dark figure, but one even darker in some ways. As “The Balloonman” happily showed, Batman wasn’t the first vigilante trying to clean up Gotham’s streets.

The Balloonman case really brought to light the personalities of both Bullock and Gordon. As Bullock only truly got involved when a fellow (crooked) cop got murdered as well. And even then, it wasn’t out of loyalty, it was out of “job security”. It was fun though to see that Bullock did indeed have some detective skills. Using his “sources” to find one of the suspects. Still though, it was pretty dirty how he did it.

Gordon on the other hand continued to want justice for all. One of my favorite lines of the episode was when Gordon relayed the situation to Barbara, and said that “Everyone has to matter, else no one matters.” It really showed the fact that Gordon really does care for everyone, guilty or innocent. Many people have said that Gordon isn’t what many expected him to be. They wanted him to be the commissioner we already knew, but that’s not how life works. And this episode showed that the path he’s setting before himself is one to truly change the city. To save it from being “sick”.

Speaking of sick, how about that Balloonman? Some thought when he was first shown in the Gotham season trailer that he might be Professor Pyg. Instead, he was a villain a bit more twisted. As he literally tied people to balloons and lifted them into the air. It was cool for them to go this dark that early, and the scene featuring one of the “victims” “descending” back to Earth was equal parts hilarious and horrifying.

Adding to the “darkness” theme was the fact that everyone The Balloonman targeted was both a public figure, and very corrupt. Which as Bullock said, was about every public figure in the city. Another great story moment was the end scene where Gordon couldn’t find out who the fourth victim was, as the The Balloonman noted “it didn’t matter”.

Sticking to the dark side of Gotham, Fish Mooney continued to plot her ascension to the throne. Getting some revenge on Falcone, and getting rid of some dead weight in the process. We also met Maroni (who has a VERY relevant connection to the future of Gotham), who no doubt will play a big part in the stories to come. All of them continued to drop the name “Arkham”, and it’s clear that this key piece of Gotham is coming to life very soon.

Finally, there’s Cobblepot and Montoya. Cobblepot (as mentioned earlier) returned to Gotham in a big way. And inserted himself into a position to steer things…and remain anonymous. How about that ending huh?

Montoya on the other hand had her backstory fleshed out a little. A story that truly intertwines with Barbara’s. Comic fans who know Montoya will be happy that a certain part of her personality is still in tact. But I personally like that she honestly is a good cop, and I hope that her and Allen will realize that about Gordon and make strides to become the unit we know they can be.

But wait! What about Bruce and Alfred? Oh yes, they finally got some much need growing time on their own, and I believe it was the best interactions between the two yet. From fencing with canes, to discuss being detectives, to glimpses of Bruce becoming Batman, it was all spot on. Some may say it’s a little on the nose, but I believe it’s something that needed to be shown. After all, he didn’t just get the idea of being Batman on his own, he needed inspiration, and on many levels.

In the end, “The Balloonman” was a great episode dealing with a topic that Gotham will no doubt be burdened with in the future. The darkness in Gotham is growing, but so is the resolve of one Jim Gordon, and that’s important going forward. This is going to be an interesting ride!

Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians ( He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!