Stefani Sloma

Gotham Season 1, Episode 3 “The Balloonman” – Vigilantes, Fencing, and a Questionable Moral Compass

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Now that Gotham’s got most of its characters established and has set the stage for what’s to come, “The Balloonman” shows us what Gotham really is: a cop show. And a pretty good one at that.


In comparison to the first two episodes of the season, which were chock full of character cameos, action, more characters, some dirt, some murder, and a few more characters, “The Balloonman” settles into what Gotham will continue to be: a cop show set in a dark city that just happens to have some supervillains. This episode takes us into the day-to-day life of Detectives James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue, have continued to settle into their roles more comfortably with each episode. “The Balloonman” shows us what it’s like for these two morally different men to be forced to work together.

This week, we meet our first vigilante. Someone has taken to stringing up the city’s corrupt politicians on weather balloons. As you can probably guess, Gordon wants to find him, but Bullock is happy to let him go as these people deserved what came to them.

This isn’t just a cop show though. Selina Kyle shows up to assist Gordon with the investigation into the Wayne murder, but she slips his watch and slinks back into the city. Allen and Montoya find out that Gordon possibly killed Oswald Cobblepot, who, at the same time, returns to Gotham and is still incredible. All of his actions, which seem spontaneous and crazed, are calculated, controlled, purposeful. He’s the number one thing I look forward to each episode. Bruce Wayne and Alfred have some fencing practice, and Bruce is learning that his city needs help and you can see the spark in his eyes that will eventually lead him to become Batman.

Gotham 1.3 Oswald at work

David Mazouz is incredible as Bruce, by the way. His acting skills shine during the scene that he and Alfred are fencing. His emotions bounce from playfulness to sadness to anger to irritation to happiness flawlessly. They’ve chosen the best kid to play young Batman. Bruce begins to delve into the death of his parents too: he’s obtained the case file on their murder, and he wants to find a clue. Any clue.

Gordon struggles to continue to do what’s right in a police department that definitely doesn’t fit his moral code. It seems that he’s even questioning what he believes is right. Now that Allen and Montoya are on his case about the murder of Cobblepot, he will be forced to question himself even more. Especially since Cobblepot has just shown up on his doorstep. Will Gordon tell Barbara, who seems to be Gordon’s moral compass of sorts but might be losing herself to the city’s dark side, who Cobblepot is?

Let’s find out together. Gotham’s fourth episode, “Arkham”, airs Monday at 8/7c on Fox!

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