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Original Supporting Roles Are Making ‘Gotham’ a Richer World

Taking a Look at Episode "Spirit of the Goat"

Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish-Mooney

Gotham LogoGotham episode, “Spirit of the Goat,” follows Bullock (Donal Logue) as he tracks the reincarnation of a serial killer, he executed 10 years prior. It turns out, the unseen link between the Spirit of the Goat killings is a hypnotherapist who is implanting lethal impulses in borderline personalities. The killings are “an act of therapy” according to Dr. Marks (Susan Misner), who insists that “Gotham wanted” the negative reinforcement she was providing, “no matter how painful it was.” Murder as a means of attacking Gotham’s corruption seems to be a cottage industry for the city. It’s no wonder that Bruce becomes Batman; Gotham’s practically made vigilantism a Little League sport. More interesting than that, though, are the original supporting characters — including those played by veterans Carol Kane and Dan Hedaya — the show has been introducing to help flesh out the main cast.

Bullock’s guilt

The episode begins with a flashback to the first of the Spirit of the Goat killers, 10 years earlier. We get a glimpse at the young firebrand Bullock. Detective Dix, as played by one of the all-time great character actors, Dan Hedaya (Cheers, Clueless), plays an important role in defining Bullock’s character. His aggressively apathetic outlook, as summed up by his 10-year-old admonition, “Gotham’s number one rule, Harvey: no heroes,” sounds like it could have come from modern-day Bullock’s own mouth.

Det. Bullock (Donal Logue) examines a crime scene in 'Gotham'

Det. Bullock (Donal Logue) examines a crime scene in ‘Gotham’

It’s a great way to explain Bullock’s current lackadaisical attitude, but it also deepens the relationship between him and Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and clues us in as to why he tries so hard to get Gordon to chill out. Bullock’s guilt about putting his former partner in a wheelchair is a powerful motivator.

Cobblepot’s mommy issues

Penguin’s mom, another great character actor, Carol Kane (Taxi, The Princess Bride), likewise shows us that maybe Oswald Cobblepot’s (Robin Lord Taylor) creepiness isn’t entirely his fault. Parenting tip: If you’re still bathing your son as a full-grown adult, there’s a good chance he is also a murdering sociopath.

Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) returns home to his mother (guest star Carol Kane) in 'Gotham'

Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) returns home to his mother (guest star Carol Kane) in ‘Gotham’

Kane has played plenty of near-cartoonish roles in her career, but they are all still grounded in reality, which is what makes her the ideal choice for Gertrude Kapelput. “I don’t think of Gertrude as a comic,” she said in an interview with TV Guide. “I was nominated for an Academy Award for a dramatic role [in Hester Street] in which I barely spoke English. So, this is a nice kind of throwback and return to that kind of work, which I really adore.”

It’s the specificity of the character that keeps it from spiraling into Batman Forever-type silliness. “She’s European, and I think she lived a much more genteel life when she was young and in Europe. Now, money is obviously a problem,” Kane said of her character, Gertrude. It makes sense that the unfortunate combination of Old-World sensibility, the danger of Gotham, and an unhealthily close mother/son relationship all would result in Cobblepot’s pathology.

Nygma’s romantic impulses

The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) also gets a new person to bounce his weirdness off of, which is something the character desperately needed. There is a lot of eye-rolling among comic fans since so far, the only thing he’s done onscreen is to spout lame riddles that seem forced and inorganic.

Now, with Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack), we get to see Edward Nygma in all his awkward glory, attempting to romance a woman by creating a “rhizomatic” file system for her — naturally, destroying the system she already had in place. It’s much easier to see how this brilliant but socially maladjusted guy becomes a villain than the one-dimensional quizmaster we’ve seen to date.

Fish-eye view on the criminal underworld

And, of course, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) — even though she’s a main character — performs the same function for the canonical comic book character of Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Her plotting to take out the mob boss with her weaponized call girl tells us more about the institutionalized nature of organized crime in Gotham than a dozen exposition-filled monologues to her underlings.

Gotham airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Source: Robert Chan, Yahoo TV