Gotham Recap: Episode 1.03, The Balloonman

Roland Danzer is on bail, awaiting trial for running a massive Ponzi scheme. He sneaks out of his house, trying to avoid the press, but is followed by a masked street vendor. He handcuffs him and releases his inventory of balloons. Danzer is attached to a massive weather balloon, which hoists him into the air, presumably never to be seen again. (Of course, what goes up must come down, and the balloon eventually pops, sending his corpse to the ground.)

Naturally, Bullock thinks that Danzer had it coming and doesn’t feel it is worth their time to investigate. Jim doesn’t have time to argue, because the juvenile services man, Davis Lamond, brings Selena to see him. Jim takes her out to the site of the Wayne murders, and she tells him what she knows. Last week, Jim was caring and seemed to really want to help Selina; this week, he is short with her–almost angry–and doesn’t believe a word she says. To prove that she was in the alley, Selina tells him she dropped the wallet she stole into the sewer. Jim cuffs her to a railing (which she escapes from easily) and sure enough finds the wallet. By this time, Selina is gone.

Another balloon kidnapping takes place – this time to a cop, lieutenant Bill Cranston. So that means it is all hands on deck to find the culprit. It didn’t matter that Cranston was a dirty cop who beat confessions out of nearly everyone he arrested. Now the Balloonman hit close to home. A local weather balloon manufacturer admits that a former employee stole four of the balloons, with a street value of around $1000 each. Bullock assumes this kid is the Balloonman, but he just sold the balloons to pay back a loan shark.

At the scene of the Cranston abduction, a crumpled piece of paper with Jim’s name on it leads him to realize who the Balloonman is: Davis Lamond. The scrap of paper was paperwork that Jim signed when he took custody of Selena. He remembers Selena mentioning that juvie is a “new building” so Jim goes straight to the old juvie building, and sure enough, Lamond is there. Ironically enough, his base of operations is a molester-van. You know, those vans with no windows, save for a tiny porthole window in the back. Anyway, a fight ensues, and Bullock manages to send Lamond up in one of his own balloons (“hoisted by his own petard,” Bullock proclaims gleefully). In an effort to save Lamond, Jim grabs hold and flies up with him. Bullock, feeling loyalty to his partner, has no choice but to shoot the balloon, dropping both of them to the hood of the van. When he asks Lamond who his final target was going to be, he responds: “It doesn’t matter,” which Jim took to mean was anyone in a position of power: the mayor, judges, etc.

Meanwhile, Oswald has returned to Gotham, and leaves a bloody trail of bodies in his wake. He takes a job at a restaurant frequented by Maroni. Oswald endears himself to the mobster before showing up at Jim Gordon’s door. His intentions are not made clear by episode’s end, but I think it is safe to say he’s not there to take Jim out for dinner.

Also: We learn more about Barbara and Montoya’s relationship. She uses an old key to let herself in to Barbara’s apartment, which infuriates Barbara, especially since she is smoking a joint at the time. Montoya herself has been sober for a year, admits she lied to Barbara a lot, and still cares about Barbara. None of these things help her convince Barbara that Jim is working for Falcone. Montoya tries to steal a kiss; Barbara forces her to leave.

And finally, Fish and Falcone are engaged in a truly dull passive-aggressive crusade against one another.

I found tonight’s episode to be rather boring. The majority of it was a straight-ahead procedural story, chasing this elusive vigilante Balloonman. I understand where they are going with it (it’s not complicated): they are implanting the seeds of vigilantism in young Bruce Wayne’s head. But it could have been done better. As far as I can tell, the Balloonman was not based on an existing villain. I wasn’t exactly sure why he was ballooning these people to their deaths. It is a complicated method of execution that has no real meaning to the villain. And frankly, I feel like it could have been more visually exciting.