This week’s episode starts with a flashback to 10 years ago, when a slightly less slobbish and cynical Bullock puts an end to the murderous career of a masked loon who calls himself The Spirit of the Goat. Despite being warned that Gotham is no city for heroes, Bullock goes ahead and perforates the murderer, losing his partner in the process. But we kind of suspect that the Goat’s vow to return is going to spell trouble for the future Jim Gordon.
Flash forward to the present day, (except, remember, we’re still in the undefined past, as Gotham takes place before the rise of Batman) and Jim is still struggling to throw off the malign influence of rising crook Penguin and gang boss Maroni. ‘I came here to be a cop – this city needs something else’ he tells the vapid Barbara. Internal Affairs cop Montoya is convinced she has evidence against Jim, despite Barbara’s pleas to the contrary, and it looks like Jim will end up in chokey for killing Oswald Cobblepot before the end of the ep.
Meanwhile Bullock is angry because bodies have started turning up bearing the tell-tale marks of the Goat, a case he thought he’d already solved. He’s convinced that it isn’t a copycat, but can’t explain how the original perp could still be in action. Creepy Edward Nygma, clutching his tell-tale question mark coffee-cup, helps to go through the ten-year-old evidence, with the assistance of an uptight file clerk, Kristine Kringle (destined to become a Harley Quinn to Ed Nygma’s Riddler, we wonder?). It soon becomes obvious that the Goat’s targets are the first-born of Gotham’s rich, and this, of course, puts pugnacious little Bruce Wayne in harm’s way.
It looks like the Cobblepot killing sub-plot must be drawing to a conclusion here, and the absence of mobsters Maroni, Falcone and Mooney suggests that they may have a lot more to do next week.
This episode features a couple of new faces including old-timer Dan Hedaya as Bullock’s former partner, and winsome Chelsea Spack (where do they get these names?) as Kristine, who we suspect we will see again. Catwoman-in-waiting Selina Kyle makes a brief and fairly pointless appearance, and Carol Kane gets a few choice lines as Oswald’s loopy old Mum.
The police procedural elements feature little of the unlikely coincidence which has marred some previous episodes, though it doesn’t pay to over-analyse the conclusion – never explained, for instance, are why there were 10 years between the two killing sprees, or what is the significance of the perp’s MO. But there are plenty of chilling moments including a grim autopsy, as well as creepy sets and sudden scares, which suggest that the director TJ Scott has got a handle on the Gothic elements of Gotham.
For fans of Donal Logue, Bullock gets all the action and most of the best lines in this episode, so we’re spared some of Gordon’s boy-scout sentiments, and for Bat-fans, it’s telling that the masked Goat is the most Bat-like character we’ve seen so far. If, like Bruce, you’re asking yourself why the villain chooses an ungulate alter-ego – well, Gotham can be translated as ‘Home of the Goats’, see?
It’s good to see in this episode the supposed co-star getting a big piece of the action and a solid shot at character development. Back on its feet after a couple of wobbly episodes, Gotham is shaping up to be a long-running treat.