The last thing Gotham needed, at least this early during its run, was a serial killer. I’ve been entreating the show to embrace its comic-book origins and get wacky. Instead, last night’s episode “Spirit of the Goat” embraced Gotham’s cop-show dressing and gave viewers a thinly sketched yarn about a leather-sack-wearing murderer of women called the Spirit of The Goat. It was particularly unfortunate that this was the episode the show decided to devote to Harvey Bullock’s crime-fighting skills, giving him a personal stake by flashing back to The Goat’s earlier crimes, which included crippling Bullock’s partner.
I love Donal Logue and thought he was perfect casting for Bullock, who in the comics is drawn as a burly, surly fella with a buried heart of gold; Logue struck that exact balance in FX’s canceled-too-soon Terriers. But so far he’s been given disappointingly little to do on this show except growl at Jim Gordon for being such a good, eager cop. I imagine Gotham is building to a deeper understanding between Bullock and Gordon, and character development beyond “corrupt lazy cop” for one of our two leads, but so far, there’s been little on that front.
Instead Bullock has been saddled with every cop-show cliché imaginable. He lost his partner (a cantankerous coot) at the hands of the demented Goat, a rambling psychotic who would ritualistically string up young women after killing them. He still visits said partner (who is not dead, but in a wheelchair) in his retirement home, keeping hold of one last shred of humanity. And he still has deductive skills, though he rarely uses them, cracking open the case of Goat copycat killer who turns out to be under the hypnotic control of a society lady who led the first crime spree years before as some metaphorical punishment for the elite’s sins.