Gotham Season 1 Episode 5 Review – ‘Viper’

Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Gotham season one…

Gordon gets an unwelcome summons while sales of milk go through the roof in Gotham…


Corruption in big business has been the backbone of many a good police drama. Whether that was Cagney and Lacey, Hillstreet Blues, NYPD Blue or any other variation you care to name. In a funny way there is a certain comfort to be had from it, as the collapse of financial corporations such as Barings Bank and bonus scandals inherent within gold handshakes makes it somehow familiar. Unfortunately such storylines are commonplace and some might even say old hat these days, meaning that surprises are few and far between. Something the creators of Gotham would have done well to heed before penning episode five.



‘Viper’ is little more than an excuse to cast doubt on the reputation of the Wayne family. This episode harks back to the sinister playfulness of Carrey’s Riddler, whilst incorporating a blatant homage to Lewis Carroll within the plot device. However this plays second fiddle to the scheming which takes place on the periphery. Tonally Gotham is still lost, going comedic rather than blackly comic, transparent rather than cold and calculating. People do get beaten up while others collapse and die without any sense of real concern. Once more there seems to be a show here at odds with itself. Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) play detective while Gordon and Bullock veer between arguing and male bonding in a heartbeat. Ultimately there remains one defining issue with Gotham; there are no villains.

Not because there are no criminals, but due to the fact that everyone is corrupt. David Zayas as Sal Maroni and John Doman’s Carmine Falcone may represent organised crime, but remain unthreatening even when people are hanging on meat hooks. This takes nothing away from the performances of either man or a majority of Gotham’s cast however, as each one does an exceptional job with the material provided. There is talk of ‘The Joker’ being introduced something which would require someone special to say the least. If adherence to Batman mythology were in any way important then he will doubtless turn up in Fish Mooney’s club, or be singled out as a disgruntled employee for some minor Wayne subsidiary company. Whichever way they choose to play it Gotham is in for the long haul whether people like it or not.



You see people have tried to dislike this show and some have succeeded. Tonal inconsistencies, average to abysmal dialogue exchanges, classic character issues not to mention Jada Pinkett Smith have all contributed. However the fact remains that Gotham is a not a bad show. It is consistent in providing solid performances from most cast members, has higher than expected production values and is entertaining, even if you can’t remember why five minutes after the credits have rolled. With any luck an expansion of the series will mean a broadening of perspective. I for one think Gotham has legs, now if everyone stops trying to kneecap it we might get somewhere.