Most people know Batman’s origin story. They know that his parents were shot to death in an alley, commonly known as Crime Alley, in front of him and that he was a young boy when the murders occurred. As the original origin story goes on to tell, young Bruce Wayne vows to train his body, mind and spirit to keep others from experiencing the tragedy that befell his parents and feeling the pain and anguish he carries.
The story usually fast-forwards and we see Bruce Wayne become the superhero known as Batman.
But, FOX’s new fall show, “Gotham”, decides to tell the story of what happened immediately following the murders of Dr. Thomas (played by Grayson McCouch) and Martha (played by Brette Taylor) Wayne.
We are first introduced to Selina Kyle (played by Carmen Bicondova), who appears to already be a master thief and training to one day become the cat-burglar known as “Catwoman”.
It’s after one of Selina’s successful scores that she stumbles upon the Waynes, who have just left what Thomas and Bruce (played by David Mazouz, famous for playing Jake Bohm in FOX’s “Touch”) called a “totally lame” movie. She scurries up a fire-escape ladder, just in time to witness Thomas and Martha’s gruesome and bloody murders.
The scene of Bruce kneeling between his deceased parents is both iconic and heartbreaking.
Next, we are introduced to Detective James “Jim” Gordon (masterfully played by Ben McKenzie, famously known as Ryan Atwood of “The O.C.” and Ben Sherman on “Southland”), who is a war hero and whose father was a district attorney in Gotham years ago. It should be noted how cool it is that McKenzie is playing Gordon, especially since he voiced Bruce Wayne and Batman in the 2011 animated movie, “Batman: Year One”.
When a hostage situation occurs inside the Gotham Police Department, most of the officers are ready to shoot first and ask questions never. But Gordon, a rookie, shouts for everyone to hold their fire. Using his brains and quick reflexes, he is able to diffuse the situation, with no fatalities. He quickly remembers his place and apologizes to his fellow officers for barking orders at them, which was clearly a wink at the fact that someday, Gordon becomes police commissioner and barks orders at them.
We see an exchange of policing philosophies between Gordon and Det. Harvey Bullock (played by the awesome Donal Logue, who I loved in the comedy series, “Grounded For Life”.) The two are sent to the scene of the Wayne murders and once Bullock realizes who the victims are, he’s ready to bail.
But, Gordon introduces himself to Bruce and begins forming a trusting relationship with the traumatized young boy. Bruce is upset with himself because he wasn’t able to stop his parents from being murdered because he was too scared. Gordon assures Bruce that there was nothing he could do.
“I promise you, however dark and scary the world might be right now, there will be light,” Gordon tells Bruce.
And, of course Gordon is right. Bruce will become the Dark Knight, the “light” of Gotham City and Gordon will operate the Bat-Signal, calling on Batman and shining a light into the sky to let the citizens know they are being protected.
Gordon goes on to tell Bruce to be strong and vows to Bruce that he will find his parents’ killer. Alfred Pennyworth (played by Sean Pertwee, who has been in shows like “Luther”, “Elementary” and “Camelot”), shows up and Bruce runs to him. Gordon shares his vow with Alfred, whose response is, “New boy, are ya? Good luck, mate.” Alfred and Bruce turn away and as they walk away, Alfred tells Bruce to “tighten up”, “head up” and “don’t let them see you cry.”
All of that happens in the first nine minutes of the show.
We are then introduced to Det. Renee Montoya (portrayed by Victoria Cartagena) and Det. Crispus Allen (portrayed by Andrew Stewart-Jones), of GPD’s Major Crimes Unit. The two know Harvey is crooked and scared of handling the case of the Wayne murders. It’s also important to note that in the comics, Montoya and Allen become superheroes. Montoya becomes The Question and Allen becomes The Spectre. Also, I think is very cool that the actor who plays Allen has the hyphenated last names of two of DC Comics famous superheroes, John Stewart (a Green Lantern) and John Jones/J’onn J’onzz (The Martian Manhunter).
Gordon and Bullock continue to butt heads and set off to find the mugger who killed the Waynes. We are also briefly introduced to Edward Nygma (played by Cory Michael Smith), who appears to work in the evidence room. Nygma can’t help but ask riddles, clearly foreshadowing that Nygma will one day become the villain known as “The Riddler”.
Jada Pinkett Smith plays crime boss Fish Mooney with sass and class and seems to enjoy playing the wicked vixen. She reminded me of the late, great Eartha Kitt, who played one of the three Catwomen on the 1960s “Batman”.
Mooney doesn’t seem to known that she is slowly warping Oswald Cobblepot (played by Robin Taylor) into a sadistic, power-hungry criminal who will one day be known as “The Penguin”.
Taylor, with a twinkle in his eye, seems to really revel in his character’s scenes and puts his all into each one he’s in.
The introduction of Mario Pepper (played by Daniel Stewart Sherman, who has played law enforcement officers several times in his acting career) threw me off for a few minutes, especially after he was setup to be the fall guy in the Wayne murders.
In the comics, it was the unsolved murders of his parents that continued to push Bruce to fight as Batman. So, I was relieved when it was revealed that Mooney had set Mario up.
Other things I was intrigued by in the pilot were the hints that Gordon’s fiancée, Barbara Kean (played by Erin Richards), and Montoya probably had a romantic relationship with each other in the past and that Montoya seems to still be harboring feelings for her. In the comics, Barbara marries Gordon and she gives birth to a baby girl named Barbara, who grows up to become the superhero Batgirl.
Also in the comics, Montoya is a lesbian, so it is not too far-fetched to believe that she was in a relationship with Gordon’s fiancée.
While I’m mentioning relationships, it’s important to note that Gordon and Bullock’s captain, Sarah Essen (played by Zabryna Guevara), is the same woman that Gordon has an affair with in the comic books and later marries. The character was killed off by the Joker in one comic book storyline. So far, this being the pilot, there are no signs of sparks between Gordon and Essen.
I also liked watching Cobblepot play both sides and realizing that he was getting too big for his britches when he is caught and beaten by Mooney.
Carmine ” The Roman” Falcone’s view on crime and corruption is just the twisted thing I would expect to hear from a crime boss. John Doman (who is probably best known for his role in HBO’s “The Wire” as Deputy Police Commissioner/ Major William Rawls, Colonel Edward Galson in “Oz” and Dr. Carl Deraad on NBC’s “ER”) plays Falcone as a confident, no-nonsense guy who isn’t about to be muscled out of his city or empire by anyone.
The only gripe I had about this episode is the fact that the little girl (played by Clare Foley, best know for her role in the 2012 horror movie, “Sinister”) was named “Ivy Pepper” instead of “Pamela Isley”. This character is based on the Batman villain known as Poison Ivy. But, it’s a small grip and I’m cool with waiting to see how the character is developed later in the series.
I also loved how the episode ended with Bruce working on conquering his fear and Gordon telling Bruce that his parents’ killer was still out there. Gordon vows to clean up GPD from the inside and find the real murderer, but tells Bruce that it is his call. Alfred tries to interject, but Bruce stops him. Bruce nods, hands Gordon his badge back and leaves the room.
And the pilot ends as it began, with Selina Kyle, perched on a brick wall and now looking out towards Wayne Manor.
Boy, I can’t wait until next week. “Gotham” is going to be a great ride and it’s not too late to jump on.