Skip to main content


TV Review: Gotham “Viper”

TV Review: Gotham “Viper”
By: Brandon Wolfe

Gotham’ is still a show very much in the throes of trying to figure out just what it is that it wants to be. Up until this point, the series has seemed to exclusively take Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy as its inspiration, with its grounded reality and poker-faced seriousness. But “Viper” throws a wrench in that paradigm by introducing a drug, called Viper, that is surreptitiously distributed on the streets of Gotham and turns anyone who ingests it into a superhuman rage monster. All of a sudden, we are unexpectedly thrown into the deep end of superpowered villainy. It’s not necessarily unwelcome, as Nolan’s insistence on excising the more fantastical elements of the ‘Batman’ universe was often maddening, but it’s something that ‘Gotham’ could have eased us into to make the shift less jarring.

The first instance of Viper-related crime happens at a convenience store just around the corner from where Gordon and Bullock are having lunch (Selina Kyle also attempts to pickpocket a man right across the street from this lunch site, which serves to remind us all that she exists and has the effect of making Gotham City feel like it encompasses about three city blocks in total). The assailant is a street musician who rips an ATM out of the wall with his bare hands and hauls it away. Gordon and Bullock locate the man, who is guzzling milk like there’s no tomorrow and finds that his super-strength has a lifespan of just a few hours, as the ATM machine he now attempts to throw at the cops crushes him in the process. Soon the drug’s distributor, a man with a mangled ear, has spread it all throughout the riffraff of Gotham’s streets, causing violent crime and criminal death to skyrocket, something Bullock wonders aloud if it’s such a bad thing.

Meanwhile, Sal Maroni is still planning to stick it to Carmine Falcone over the fallout from the Arkham deal last week. As Maroni is plotting to hit a local Falcone hotspot to send a message, Cobblepot steps away from his dishes with another overture to curry favor with his new boss. He says that he can assist with this job due to certain connections, which gets Maroni’s attention until Cobblepot decides to come clean about his previous employment under Fish Mooney in the Falcone organization. This is not received well by Maroni, who slams the Penguin’s head on the table. Cobblepot then finds his life hanging by a thread as Maroni sends his men to nab Gordon so that he can independently corroborate Cobblepot’s story, including Gordon’s role in the man’s faux-assassination. Gordon does uneasily back Cobblepot’s claims, essentially recapping the entire series up to this point for new viewers and putting himself in a position to be blackmailed by Maroni in the future. Cobblepot is spared, but told that if his connections can’t come through with the robbery, it’s his head.

Fortunately for Cobblepot, it all works out, but the series isn’t doing a bang-up job at explicating who this character is. For a time, it seemed as though Cobblepot were a shrewd operator, working Maroni and expertly plotting a scheme to rise through the ranks and have vengeance against his enemies. But “Viper” doesn’t make it clear if Cobblepot blew it with Maroni by oversharing moronically and having it blow up in his face or if the way everything transpired was all part of his plan and he’s a Benjamin Linus-esque schemer and manipulator. I suppose we’ll find out eventually, but the fact that the character’s essential nature remains so up in the air doesn’t speak to the skills of those running this show.

Speaking of those skills, or lack thereof, Bruce Wayne continues to be a problem character. He’s still fully in detective mode, parsing out the details and players of the recent Arkham deal and attending a charity event to interrogate high-ranking employees of his family’s company to gain a better understanding of the scrupulousness of their dealings. Perhaps if the show had flashed forward a few years and allowed Bruce to be portrayed as a teen, much of this could have flown better, but a child grilling executives on “irregularities in the Arkham project” just feels absurd. ‘Gotham’ is far too eager to Batman-up this kid entirely too early in the proceedings rather than show some confidence in Gordon to shoulder the show on his own.

On the subject of Gordon, he actually seems to be cultivating a bond with Bullock in spite of their odd-couple disparities. What Gordon isn’t doing is emerging as anything other than a bland, cardboard hero. There is no fire or personality to this character. He’s just an archetype of a good cop, the way that everyone on this show is an archetype of their assigned role. Donal Logue as Bullock isn’t faring any better. Logue is a proven talented actor, but you would never know it from this. He can’t do much to redeem the lousy lines handed to him, as when he bellows “Talk fast, bub!” at a suspect (he does, however, get one fairly funny line, when Gordon is yelling pertinent questions at a suspect and Bullock adds “What’s ‘altruism’?” to the list). And no passage about the acting on this show can go without mention of Jada Pinkett-Smith as Fish Mooney, who this week is found sleeping with a Russian lieutenant in Falcone’s organization and training girls as sleeper agents to send after Falcone. It’s tempting to give Pinkett-Smith a pass, as at least she looks like she’s having a good time attacking every line with over-enunciated gusto, but the character continues to feel like it was beamed in from a completely different show.

“Viper” seems to nod to the ‘Batman’ film franchise a bit more than usual, which is certainly welcome. The Viper drugs effects on people, immediately turning them into ultra-strong, veiny brutes, reminds one of the Bane interpretation found in ‘Batman & Robin,’ and when the drug is piped into the charity event in green gaseous form, it’s hard not to think of the Joker assailing that museum in the 1989 film. But ‘Gotham’ has a host of problems it desperately needs to sort out, and all the fan-baiting nods in the world aren’t enough to paper over them in the meantime.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe on Twitter at @BrandonTheWolfe

Please Leave A Comment-


Popular posts from this blog

Morbius: The Living Vampire Film In The Works

The Spider spin-offs keep on coming! With Venom now shooting, an even more obscure character from the web-slinger's extensive comicbook past has now been unearthed, with plans for a movie. Power Rangers writing duo Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are in talks to craft the script for Morbius: The Living Vampire.

Sony is pushing ahead with another potential Spider-movie, which, like Venom, is unlikely to be linked to the MCU. What it will boast, however, is the story of Michael Morbius, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who tries to cure a rare blood disease using an experimental treatment that combines electroshock therapy and vampire bats. The results are predictably catastrophic, and he's transformed into... well, the title should be a clue. He has some of the traditional vampiric qualities – he ingests blood to live, and conversely is not fond of bright light. He can fly, has superhuman strength and healing capabilities. When he bites victims and drinks their blood, his attac…

Enter For A Chance To Win A Family Four Pack To See COCO In Minnesota

© 2017 Disney/Pixar Enter for your chance to win a family four pack to see COCO in Minnesota on November 15th at 7:30PM.

In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.

In theatres November 22!


Facebook: /PixarCoco
Twitter: @pixarcoco
Hashtag: #PixarCoco

While supplies last. Once all allotted passes are redeemed, the code will no longer be valid. Supplies are limited.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Limit one (1) admit-two pass per person. This film is rated PG. Must be 13 years of age or older to win passes. Employees of all promotional partners and their agencies are not eligible. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by [12:00PM], [11-19-2017] to be eligible to receive pass. Winners will be contacted via e-mail to receive their pass. Sponsors not responsible for…

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DARKEST HOUR In Dallas

Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See DARKEST HOUR on December 5th at 7:00 PM in Dallas

During the early days of World War II, with the fall of France imminent, Britain faces its darkest hour as the threat of invasion looms. As the seemingly unstoppable Nazi forces advance, and with the Allied army cornered on the beaches of Dunkirk, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the leadership of the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman). While maneuvering around his political rivals, he must confront the ultimate choice: negotiate with Hitler and save the British people at a terrible cost or rally the nation and fight on against incredible odds. Directed by Joe Wright, DARKEST HOUR is the dramatic and inspiring story of four weeks in 1940 during which Churchill’s courage to lead changed the course of world history.