Gotham Review: “Viper” (Season 1, Episode 5)

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After four weeks of blindly walking through the Batman mythos and struggling to find a strong foothold, Gotham came into its own in episode five and finally feels like it has something new – and interesting – to contribute to the 75-year history of the Dark Knight.

“Viper” is a bit saddled by the run-of-the-mill “new drug on the street” story trope found in most police procedurals, but by basing the drug on what will eventually be known as Venom, which gives Bane the strength he needs to one day break the Bat, Gotham managed to effectively pique our interest and draw some nice inspiration from the source material. Add the fact that the episode employed better pacing, character development and cohesiveness than past episodes, and “Viper” provided the most enjoyable and well-rounded hour of Gotham yet.

In fact, all of the elements of this week’s episode felt like they truly belonged in the Batman mythos, unlike the pesky and rather ridiculous “Balloonman” that plagued Gotham City a few weeks ago. Gone are the more cartoony elements, replaced instead by new developments that help tie all of the episode’s events together and contribute to a larger theme: corruption.

Bruce Wayne will soon be given more to do (and more of a reason for being in the series) now that we’ve discovered that Wayne Enterprises has fallen to corruption in the wake of the murders of Thomas and Martha. I’m actually enjoying his part in the show more than I ever thought I would, and I’m actually interested in seeing his investigative drive develop.

Then, of course, there’s the burgeoning gang war between Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni, which began with the “Arkham” power struggle last week. Each mob boss got a piece of the proverbial Asylum pie, but are nonetheless refusing to back down and are instead engaging in a series of one-ups. Falcone targeted Maroni’s men, so Maroni launches a robbery of one of Falcone’s casinos (aided, of course, by our Penguin-suited friend Mr. Oswald Cobblepot).

Their battle – right now expressed only through shadowed, guerilla warfare – feels organic and is something you could expect to see come from the pages of Batman: The Long Halloween, and is a great way to explore the darker corners of Gotham City without having to resort to mining all of Batman’s iconic rogues gallery.