Gotham RECAP: Showing up for the party 14 years too soon (S1:E1)
EXT. GOTHAM CITY
On a rooftop, gazing down at the deadly urban jungle below, is a silhouetted figure… Not even five seconds in, and we already have our first hackneyed Bat-cliché.
But this isn’t Batman. There’ll be no Dark Knight to save us. Instead, we have a sleek, feminine, almost feline form… Yes, it’s Selina Kyle… not yet Catwoman—at least not by name. And yet, she’s already displaying every single trait associated with the character. Good to know they’re leaving her a lot of room for development over the coming seasons.
And she just jumped off the roof to her death.
Wait, she apparently has superpowers or something because she bounces right back up and is walking down the street. Ten seconds in, and we’ve already abandoned the laws of physics? Okay, no, don’t be so quick to judge. There’s no more cartoonish physics for the rest of the episode, so let’s just call it a fluke.
Selina swipes a quart of milk from a passerby’s grocery bag because what else would Kitten-woman do? Then she slips down an alley and serves the milk to an actual cat. But people are coming! A well-to-do family… father, mother, son… I’ve seen enough Batman original stories to know where this is going.
Right on cue, out steps a giant thug. BAM! BAM! Bodies fall. The thug flees. Young Bruce is left alone, staring into his father’s eyes as he dies. It’s an amazingly powerful moment…
…right up until Bruce goes the full Anakin Skywalker.
INT. POLICE STATION/CITY JAIL/LAUNDROMAT
Detective Jim Gordon is at work in the world’s only police station where the holding cells line the walls of the homicide department. Wow, that’s so gritty you could throw a pat of butter on it and serve it with biscuits & gravy.
The call comes in for the Wayne murders…
Det. Gordon and his partner, Det. Harvey Bullock, show up at the murder scene.
Holy shit, that’s Thomas and Martha Wayne! They’re billionaire industrialist philanthropists. Oh, and he’s also a heart surgeon. And an astronaut. Believe it or not, only one of these things is not true.
Gordon goes to console/interview Bruce.
Listen, Bruce. Some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle. This’ll help things turn out for the best. Always look on the bright side of life.
The killer was wearing shiny shoes and a mask. I can’t tell you much else.
That’s good, because I don’t have any other questions. Really, not a single damn one. Apparently I really suck at this job. In fact, I think I’ll just send you home with whatever random adult happens to walk up next—without asking them a single question either.
Fortunately, that adult happens to be Alfred.
Wait… How did the butler show up only seconds after homicide did? And Alfred is the sole trustee of the entire Wayne fortune while Bruce is still a minor, right? And isn’t it weird that he didn’t show the slightest reaction to the murder… or to the bodies still lying right there on the ground less than ten feet away? HOW IS THIS GUY NOT OUR FIRST SUSPECT?!
INT. COFFEE SHOP
Gordon and Bullock are whining about their lack of leads in the Wayne murders. Two other detectives approach…
It’s our rivals from the Major Crimes Unit! She’s a Scorpio who likes long walks on the beach, and he’s a Capricorn who always wanted to learn to play the piano but never had the chance.
Do you always have to shout out a character description of every person who walks into the room?
Literally, yes. Now let’s do you—You’re a war hero and your dad was a big shot district attorney!
Yeah, well, two can play at that game! You’re a slovenly lackadaisical cynic!
Okay, good scene.
INT. POLICE STATION/CITY JAIL/BOWLING ALLEY
Edward Nigma—yeah, they’re stuck with that name—shows up with a ballistics report for Gordon and Bullock.
When is a character not a character?
When he’s entirely one dimensional. They’re not leaving the Riddler any room to develop as a character into your future supervillain self either, huh?
Sadly no. Anyway, the bullet used to kill Thomas Wayne is a super expensive fancy-pants bullet from a super expensive fancy-pant gun. Feel free to ignore this one and only piece of evidence you have going forward.
Consider it done.
Gordon and Bullock go to visit mafia boss Fish Mooney to ask her if she’s heard anything about the Wayne murders.
Fish is a high level lieutenant under mafia kingpin Carmine Falcone. She sometimes hiccups when she laughs and her favorite Beatle is Ringo.
Did I just hear screaming coming from out back?
Some of my goons are beating the shit out of an employee who got caught stealing from me. Why don’t you go see if anyone wants to press charges?
He does. Out back, Oswald Cobblepot—a.k.a. the Penguin—is beating a dude with a baseball bat while others stand around and watch.
So it looks like you’re already your fully developed criminal psychopath self, too.
Yep, they even already call me Penguin.
What’s the point in a prequel if every character except Batman is already at their end state already?
And he’s the only one we won’t ever actually get to see become himself. Anyway, this guy I’m beating is going to give you the thumbs up that he doesn’t want any police assistance, and you should in no way worry that he’s only doing it because I’m still holding the baseball bat.
Don’t worry, we’ve already established that I’m terrible at my job.
Gordon returns inside where Bullock and Fish are just finishing up a super secret conversation. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
INT. GORDON’S FIANCEE’S HOUSE
INT. SLUM APARTMENT BUILDING
Bullock got a tip from Fish that the dude who lives in this apartment was trying to pawn Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace. They knock on the door, and a young Poison Ivy answers.
My dad is very mean to me. There, is that enough origin for my character yet?
For this episode, anyway. Where is your dad? We need to question him.
You’ll never catch me alive, copper!
He flees—firing his gun MANY, MANY TIMES at Gordon, who is in pursuit. At last, he turns on Gordon and tries to BEAT HIM TO DEATH with a crowbar. Bullock catches up just in time and shoots Ivy’s Dad to death. It is clearly one of the MOST JUSTIFIED police shootings in television history.
EXT. STREETS OF GOTHAM CITY
Oswald Cobblepot rats on Fish Mooney to the Major Crimes Unit detectives—telling them that Fish framed Ivy’s Dad for the Wayne murders.
The Waynes are buried. Selena Kyle watches from the roof of a mausoleum in the graveyard, like you do.
Thank you for my parents’ killer to justice.
If only he could have stood trial for his crimes.
(continues to be a silent, emotionless dick)
INT. GORDON’S FIANCEE’S APARTMENT
One of the Major Crime Unit cops—Det. Montoya—shows up.
We’re old friends! I know a dark secret about you!
Sorry, Det. Bullock’s not here so someone had to announce that. Anyway, I just wanted to warn you that I think your fiancé and his partner conspired with Fish Mooney to frame Ivy’s Dad.
INT. POLICE STATION/CITY JAIL/ADULT THEATER
Gordon and Bullock are arguing.
They think we’re in on it! If Ivy’s Dad really was framed, we’ve got to find the real killer to clear our names!
That’s the last thing we need to do! If they found out we shot an innocent man, they’ll take away our badges!
You mean the guy who shot at me repeatedly and then tried to kill me with a crowbar? That was one of the most justified police shootings in television history. Do you not read the stage directions?
No one does. They just skip right to the dialogue. But that’s not the point—let’s just need to let Fish take care of it.
INT. FISH’S NIGHTCLUB
Gordon confronts Fish alone while she’s surrounded by her henchmen.
I did not think this plan through.
No, you did not.
Fish’s henchmen jump Gordon, drag him to a cattle slaughterhouse, and hang him upside down. Just when they’re about to kill him—Bullock comes running in!
Hey, whoa, that’s my partner! Let me call Fish and work this out!
So you’re alone and surrounded by my henchmen, you say?
I did not think this plan through.
No, you did not.
Now both Gordon and Bullock are hanging upside down in the slaughterhouse. Just when they’re about to kill them—random other people coming running in!
Oh, and they’re FIRING A SHITLOAD OF GUNS!
That was a much better plan.
The new gunmen turn out to work for Fish’s boss, Carmine Falcone.
Det. Gordon. I knew your father. For his sake, I’ll let you live.
INT. FISH’S NIGHTCLUB
Fish is watching a very nervous, very awful standup comedian audition.
So is this guy supposed to be the Joker, or what?
Oh, Oswald. You disappoint me.
Yeah, it’s too obvious. He’s probably not the Joker.
I was talking about ratting me out to the police.
But I had to!! You’re the most interesting character in the show, and you’re not even from the comic book!!
That’s not coincidence. Now I have to beat you with this chair.
EXT. GOTHAM HARBOR
Gordon and Bullock get out of their car and open the trunk. To Gordon’s surprise, there’s Oswald.
Falcone has a job for you. Take Oswald to the edge of the pier and shoot him in the head. If you don’t, Falcone will kill you, your fiancée, and everyone in your Google Plus circle.
But I’m not on Google Plus.
Damn it, I keep telling him to stop using that threat. Anyway, do it or die.
Gordon walks Oswald to the end of the pier.
Don’t come back to Gotham.
Gordon pulls the trigger… but deliberately misses. Oswald falls into the harbor as if dead, fooling Bullock.
INT. WAYNE MANOR
Det. Gordon visits Bruce and Alfred.
Even though you’re like 12, I thought it was probably a good idea to drop by and let you know that the guy we killed wasn’t your parents’ real killer. Also, if you tell anyone this, lots more people will die and it’ll be your fault. That’s totally an appropriate thing to burden a recently orphaned child with, right? Besides, I’m sure Alfred is getting you the best psychological counseling money can buy.
Actually, I’m a Scientologist.
This kid is FUCKED.