Week to week, Gotham is still trying to figure out its true calling. Is it a hard-boiled detective show about a decent cop trying to survive in a city run by corruption and sin? Is it a dark-but-colorful yarn populated with wacky villains, a program that's in on the joke, a la American Horror Story? Can it possibly pull off being something in between?
Five weeks in, Fox's Batman prequel is a lot of fun to watch and very slickly produced, but part of the fun has been watching its wildly disparate tones crash around; it's harder to figure out if Gotham is built for the long haul. Monday night's episode was a perfect example of the show's inherent problem, as the city was overrun by a drug that gave crazy homeless people super-strength, which the show tried to frame as a shadowy conspiracy engineered by big pharma.
You can't hold Gotham's inherent quandary against it—this show wouldn't exist without the Batman hook, but that's the hardest thing for it to reconcile. We need to check in with Baby Bruce Wayne, and Baby Penguin, and Baby Catwoman, because otherwise why would Fox pay to make the show look this good? And beyond that, how else would we buy into the premise of Gotham City itself? It's a massive, New York-like place run by ruthless mobsters, but also plagued by gimmicky weirdoes. That tension exists in every Batman property, but is unified by the hero himself, both gritty detective and gimmicky uber-weirdo. Gotham's biggest problem, of course, is that it's not allowed to have a Batman.
So instead we have Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), one a pretty straightforward hero, the other a pretty straightforward anti-hero (although Bullock's low-level corruption often doesn't extend beyond his desire to eat a cart burger rather than do his job). Their love-hate dynamic is beginning to develop but still feels very basic, and is one thing the show could easily fix to make everything more compelling. If the partners got beyond general distrust of each other, their story arcs each week wouldn't begin with the same old setup: Jim wants to investigate a crime, Bullock would rather not.