In a welcome change of pace, Gotham shifts its focus from Jim Gordon to his rough-around-the-edges partner, Harvey Bullock, and the episode is better for it. “Spirit of the Goat” is, ultimately, a bit of a step down from last week’s “Viper,” but it does show signs that the series is improving as it goes along.
Gotham is known for falling into typical prequel pitfalls and beating its audience over the head with the future of its iconic characters (the Riddler is, once again, the worst part of the episode), but that was remedied this week by introducing a case that helps flesh out the history of a character, instead of his future.
As I mentioned before, the character in question is none other than Harvey Bullock, who’s been used as nothing but comic relief and as an obstacle for Jim Gordon up until now. The episode opens with a flashback to ten years in the past, when Bullock and his old partner, Dix (guest star Dan Hedaya) tracked down and stopped a serial killer who believed he’d been possessed by a goat spirit. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds (especially when everyone keeps referring to him as The Goat), but it works in the way that it lights a fire under Bullock’s ass and gets him to take some initiative and do some actual police work.
We learn that Bullock was once an idealistic detective much like Jim Gordon, but learned his golden rule of “No Heroes” from his partner, who was paralyzed while trying to stop The Goat ten years ago. Bullock slowly became more bitter and slovenly over the years, but does have a softer side, as evidenced by the way he pays Dix’s medical bills and makes sure he gets a steady stream of dirty magazines. Now that’s a friend if I’ve ever seen one!