Gotham City is a weird, weird place — and sometimes, weird can be wonderful.
The city at the heart of the new FOX series already has its fair share of villains, of all shapes and sizes, from criminal masterminds Carmine Falcone and Fish Mooney to future Batman bad guys Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot and Selina "Catwoman" Kyle. But then there are the rogues that only James Gordon will have the "pleasure" of facing — and he just faced the weirdest one of them all…
…The Balloonman, a pig-masked vigilante who runs around strapping the city's worst scum to weather balloons, sending them up, up and away — until they come plummeting back to Earth, coating the streets of Gotham in guts and gore. It doesn't matter if you're a mobster or a corrupt cop; if you're dirty, you're on the Balloonman's radar.
In their eventual showdown, Gordon learns that the Balloonman is a social services worker attempting to clean up Gotham because no one else can or will. He gives Gordon a unique vantage point over the city of Gotham (not literally), leaving the good cop to wonder just how far ordinary civilians are willing to go to rid their city of cancerous crime.
It's a valid point, albeit one that's made under the ridiculous guise of strapping people to weather balloons and sending them off to space. The fact that the victims eventually fall back to the ground doesn't make it any less absurd when they're last seen floating off into the night sky, as the show cuts to commercial.
As a villain and an episode, "The Balloonman" represents the kind of hokey weirdness that doesn't quite gel with the über-serious tone "Gotham" sometimes strives for; the crusading cop working his way through a gritty criminal underbelly. Nevertheless, there's irresistible joy in watching a guy wearing a pig mask strapping people to balloons, bidding them a miles-high bon voyage.
Elsewhere in "The Balloonman," Oswald Cobblepot returned to Gotham City with only a handful of change, a pocket knife, and his killer instinct…
The so-called "Penguin" secures a job working at a restaurant frequented by Sal Maroni, the crime boss who poses the biggest threat to Carmine Falcone.
With his voice in Maroni's ear, Penguin's plans are lining up. His next step: meeting up with Jim Gordon at the cop's penthouse apartment, ready to discuss business with his old "friend."
As for Gordon himself, he made use of another new "friend," in the form of Selina Kyle, who clearly knows something about the Wayne murders that Gordon (and we) don't know just yet.
What did you think of the latest "Gotham" episode?