A review of tonight's “Gotham” coming up just as soon as I get tangled in some hussy's demon purse…
In the weekly juggling act that is “Gotham,” “Spirit of The Goat” was probably the most effective episode yet at keeping enough balls in the air in interesting ways. One of the show's bigger issues to date has been generating Cases of the Week for Gordon and Bullock that fit the strange world of Gotham City while also not feeling like a pointless distraction from whatever Oswald or Lil Wayne is up to. The chase for the Goat – revealed not to be a supernatural force, but underclass revenge dreamed up by a talented shrink(*) – hit both of those requirements. It tackled the class warfare that's been a key theme of the series to date, gave us a villain with a codename and costume, but one that didn't seem too big for this world at this point, and – most importantly – it gave us some much-needed backstory and shading for Harvey Bullock.
(*) Law of Economy of Guest Actors told me that Susan Misner (Stan's wife on “The Americans,” among many other recent roles) either had to be the real Goat, or the woman behind the Goat, so to speak.
Until now, Harvey's been a bundle of jaded veteran cop cliches coasting on Donal Logue's charisma (ditto Gordn and Ben McKenzie). Seeing that he was once the eager beaver Gordon type in his partnership with Dix(**) is a familiar twist, but still one that adds good shading to the character and the current partnership – especially since that partnership is about to get very ugly with the arrival of the decidedly not-dead Penguin at GCPD headquarters.
(**) Played by Dan Hedaya, who once upon a time played a classic Disapproving Police Captain – opposite Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal as tough cops! – in the underrated “Running Scared.” This episode may have gotten bonus points if Dix had told Harvey and Jim, “You are detectives. Go out and detect.”
I'm assuming both Bruno Heller and Cobblepot have a plan for what's going on here, given the danger he's putting himself and his good “friend” Gordon into by appearing there – or even by returning to Gotham in the first place and letting Sal Maroni know his true identity. He is either woefully naive or a genius, and given where we know the character is eventually going, he had better have something damn clever up his sleeve for next week. But his arrival just as things were getting very uncomfortable for Jim – and which made things even more uncomfortable with Harvey – was a good capper to the episode.
With Lil Wayne and Selina reduced to cameos and Fish absent altogether, “Spirit of The Goat” also got to finally let us know Nygma as more than just the guy who loves riddles(***) and hates that no one else cares about them. We're obviously heading down a path where he turns to crime as a way to get people to notice him, but in the meantime we're seeing that his social awkwardness isn't just confined to his dealings with the cops, but to his inept wooing of records clerk Kristen Kringle (played by Chelsea Spack, who's styled more retro than any other “Gotham” person we've met to date). With Cobblepot clearly foregrounded, the show's probably going to take its time with Nygma, but allowing him to appear for more than 30-second cameos that wink to his future was a necessary and welcome move.
(***) Though perhaps the show should have looked for another goat-related riddle or parable, given how prominently “Fargo” used a slightly different version of the cabbage one only a few months ago.
What did everybody else think?