Gotham Series Premiere: Five Questions Raised

Gotham 

is a city full of secrets, and tonight's pilot episode of a TV series set there? Well, it raised some questions of its own.

We'll dispense with the introduction and jump right in, since the show is just starting on the West Coast as we ready this thing to go...!

When is this show set?

Clearly it's not set "now," since nobody seems to have smart phones and computers aren't omnipresent. But even there -- the flip-style cell phone that Gordon has could have been in use anytime from the late '90s up through about three to five years ago, while the cars everyone drives seem to be '80s and earlier.

And, yes, I know, I know...it's supposed to be a kind of undefined "not too distant past" kind of thing and they'll just use whatever suits the look and the plot. I actually don't mind that and I think it makes the show kind of stylish and cool.

Still, my BRAIN wants to know.

Who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, and why?

As a post-Crisis on Infinite Earths comics fan, I actually always liked the idea that the Waynes' killer was a random thug who didn't have any special relevance to Batman down the road. It allowed EVERY criminal to be the Wayne killer and helped drive Batman's compulsion to do what he does.

It also expressed the nature of the real world, in the same way Steve Ditko wanted to do when he thought the Green Goblin should have been unmasked to be...just some guy! Debate whether it was appropriate for that specific character all you want -- it was a cool concept and when DC applied it to Batman in the '80s and '90s, I always preferred it to Joe Chill. Somehow I disliked the idea of the guy who created Batman being just another guy you could punch.

Anyway, all that rambling aside, it seems we're going to have somebody to blame this time. Neither Twin Peaks nor The Killing were able to get away with making a murder mystery the central conceit of their show and then delay the murder's solution indefinitely. And THOSE shows didn't have a central mystery where so many people believe they know the answer.

And, yeah. It's surprising to me as a comics reader, and as somebody who enjoyed the Christopher Nolan Batman films more than the Tim Burton ones, how many of our readers still fervently believe that The Joker is, per the source material, the guy who killed Batman's parents.

So we have the Joe Chill camp, the Joker camp...who wants to bet we'll create a third camp with whatever this show ends up doing?

How dirty is Harvey Bullock?

Donal Logue makes Harvey a fairly likable, very pragmatic character. He may even be the lead in a different cop show, although coming right at this moment his brutal, shoot-first approach to threats may not be tenable in a post-Ferguson world if he didn't have a more idealistic counterpoint on the show.

All of that, though, is kind of aside from the fact that he isn't a straightforward good guy. He's clearly, at an absolute bare minimum, willing to play ball with the bad guys and in all likelihood willing to frame and/or murder an innocent man in order to do what he sees as right, and/or save his own bacon.

Not that Pepper was that innocent, obviously, but you get the point.

Anyway, in the comics, there's always been this kind of question about just how dirty Harvey can be, or is, and how far he would go in the right circumstances. Seems we're  getting the TV version of that, one way or another...

Is the Penguin's murder victim Gordon's fault?

Gordon was stuck in a bad position on that pier. What was he going to do -- kill Penguin? Kill Bullock? He did what he thought he had to, and sent Cobblepot into the drink but spared his life, while leading his partner to believe Oswald took a bullet.

And that's all well and good, but...when Penguin got out of the water, the first thing he did was murder a totally innocent bystander.

And, yeah, one would think that Gordon will feel a little guilt about this as time goes on, especially since there was a failry obvious way out of the situation with Cobblepot, which is that when Bullock told him, "Here's what has to happen, and if it doesn't, I'll shoot you," Gordon could have PLACED BULLOCK UNDER ARREST. With Cobblepot to testify, Bullock's attempt to murder Penguin and his threat to kill Gordon could have been taken seriously and there would have been no need to toss somebody into frigid water.

The decision he made is an understandable one, and it probably serves the long-term story better than it would have to turn on his partner just at that moment -- but it wasn't really The Right Thing, and as a result of his failure to do the right thing, somebody died.

Where's...everybody else?

One of the things that will be interesting on this show is to see who gets introduced, who gets forgotten, etc.

It would make sense to leave certain characters off so that they can be used down the line, in case of a flash-forward or what have you. You don't want to introduce everyone and have all of the key characters be ten years older than Batman.

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That said, the introduction of so many of the Gotham Central cast raises questions about where Jim Corrigan is. References to Renee Montoya's love life beg the question: Where's Kate Kane, or Maggie Sawyer?

And, of course, there will always be the question of where any given major player like The Joker or Two-Face is until they appear onscreen.