Gotham Ep. 5: “Viper” Review
By Rob Jefchak
There are a lot of young and rising characters on “Gotham” who we all known will become grand heroes and villains one day, yet oddly enough the very individual who made all these references valid has shared very little screen time and relevance on this show: Bruce Wayne. Bruce’s involvement being minimal seems logical considering even a child Batman is not the same thing as Batman himself, however; the latest episode “Viper” puts Bruce in a position where he shows he is not just a throw away character in wake of Gordon and Bullock.
A new drug known as “Viper” (a very interesting precursor to “Venom”, better known as the drug of choice of future Bat-breaker Bane) being distributed on the streets for free. Viper gives you temporary super human strength and reflexes…until it eats your bones from inside out and turns you into a lifeless sack of skin. While Bullock and Gordon investigate, Bruce gathers more info about the mob’s connection to Arkham. Penguin plays a dangerous game revealing to Maroni he’s an ex-thug for Falcon and Fish, forcing Gordon to match up their stories so Penguin can work his way up the corporate crime ladder.
Seeing “Venom” 1.0 was definitely a nice little treat. The drug’s use offered a mixture of bizarre science fiction and realistic horror as people became pumped up before becoming horrified puddles of skin and melted bones. Gordon is a fantastic character and I always enjoy watching him struggle in a city of perpetual sinning, but this episode utilized more of the cast into an ensemble with multiple stories running at the same time. You got Penguin and the mob, Fish preparing a singer to be a “weapon”, Maroni and Falcon brewing feuds, the “Viper” peddler and then you got Bruce earning his detective duds as he investigates his family’s ties to Arkham and the mob.
This is the best use of Bruce since the show started; his passion for knowledge making him a driving force that even the reluctant Alfred slowly begins to understand. This is excellent transition for Bruce; going from victim to vigilant as he stunned a Wayne enterprises representative in a highly rewarding scene with his expertise and knowledge of his family’s inner business workings. The mob deals running around remain satisfactory; Penguin still steals every scene he’s in even if he’s doing the same thing each time (cowering/collaborating with the mob’s higher ups). The mystery with the viper drug was also handled nicely, though it was almost ruined by an absurdly silly scene of an old man taking Viper and going “Hulk” with his walker on Bullock and Gordon.
By far the biggest problems here are the sad forced insertions of Edward Nygma and Selena Kyle, as if the writers have nothing for them to do but they have to keep putting them in somewhere because “it’s a Batman show.” Hell, we’ve seen and learned more about Gordon’s ex-girlfriend Barbra than we have the future Cat woman and Riddler and they were HEAVILY advertised on posters and previews (don’t even get me started on the non-existent Poison ivy). Still, majority of the cast is given plenty of story material to work with and the structure is slowly learning to balance these interweaving characters by making good use of a good cast.
The next preview shows more of Riddler and possibly even Bane? With Venom’s reference, it may not be far enough to assume though I can only hope to assume we see more of Bruce’s brains and his future foes more prominently instead of just passively.