“Spirit of the Goat” follows up Gotham’s turning point episode, “The Viper” and proves my belief in the fact that this is not a procedural crime drama. It’s a serialized whodunit, full of red herrings, murky intentions, and a growing sense of foreboding. I think “Spirit of the Goat” is my favorite episode yet, which is probably due in part to my love of Ben Edlund’s writing (he and I share a love of all things oddball).
We’re given a smorgasbord of treats in “Spirit of the Goat,” including fantastic moments with Edward Nygma, Penguin, and Harvey Bullock. This is the point in the story where we realize that not only are the villains evolving, but our antiheroes have evolved to such a state and were perhaps not always quite so callous to the suffering of Gotham’s innocent.
There were several points in “Spirit of the Goat” that made me emotional. Donal Logue’s portrayal of a young, idealistic Harvey Bullock turned middle-aged, cynical and somewhat corrupt detective made me want to weep. Gotham truly corrupts everything good, bringing to mind a quote from Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” It’s easy to see now where Jim Gordon is headed. If he isn’t careful, he’ll end up like his partner.
This is also interesting considering Bruce Wayne’s character arc. In a city like Gotham, is it any wonder he becomes a Dark Knight, a hero to be feared rather than loved? Penguin’s arc mirrors this idea as well. He returns home to his mother, brooding about his ill treatment at the hands of Maroni, and gloating at his alliance with Detective Jim Gordon. Cobblepot’s assurance to himself that he will be someone, after years of being looked over, ignored, or mistreated brought a tear to my eye.
Edward Nygma suffers from a similar problem. His awkward attempts at conversation with his colleagues and his persistent attempts at flirtation with Kristin Kringle are only pushing him further and further away from people, and his loneliness and need for approval will most likely lead him down the same dark path Penguin is treading.
Ben Edlund managed to put in all these beautiful character moments, while also keeping the wacky Batman stuff I’ve come to expect from the older Adam West show and the older comics. My particular favorite was Bullock putting together the pieces about the villain and shouting, “HOLY GHOST ON A BICYCLE!” I wonder if Robin is somehow related to Bullock.
“Spirit of the Goat” also managed to crystallize the story line for at least the first season. While some might complain about the appearance of a monster-of-the-week serial, I think what Gotham is really doing is showing that the citizens of Gotham want a change, and that the perfect villain does not happen overnight. There are dozens of people in positions to make their unhappiness known. However, there aren’t that many people with singular purpose and vision.
That’s why these villains are taken down by Gordon and Bullock. They are short-sighted, they have limited means, and they don’t have the connections to realize their goal to eradicate the corruption in Gotham. Of course, there is one person that has all of these things. They are poised to deal a lot of damage, whether it’s to exact revenge, correct injustice, or to put themselves in a position of power. They have a connection to the most powerful mob bosses in Gotham, and they possess a drive to better himself. Penguin is evolving into a supervillain.
While the other would-be villains flounder in their plans and end up getting caught, Penguin has ensured that he has the upper hand. With his connections to both crime and punishment in Gotham, he is superbly placed to wreak some havoc. I’m interested in seeing how his plans turn out, and who he ends up inspiring. Maybe he’ll gain some followers, i.e. Nygma?
“Spirit of the Goat” is Gotham’s strongest story yet, and I’m thrilled to see this first season come together so well. With a total of 22 episodes, and after only 6 of them being broadcast, this show is shaping up to be one of FOX’s most brilliant offerings in a long time. I only hope this doesn’t mean its untimely demise. Gotham is getting generally positive reviews, so I trust that with this and FOX’s decision to order a full season, we’ll be able to see Penguin’s rise to power and perhaps Bruce’s transformation into Gotham’s Dark Knight.
Next week’s episode title is most intriguing — “Penguin’s Umbrella”. Who or what can protect Penguin from Fish Mooney, Maroni, Falcone, and Gotham PD?