'Gotham' Central: Five Questions About 'Viper'

This week: Drugs, it turns out, can be very bad for your health
Jessica Miglio/FOX

If there’s one thing that became obvious from this week’s episode of Gotham, it’s that Oswald Cobblepot might have been correct with his apocalyptic visions of the city’s future back in the series pilot, and we might be headed towards chaos far earlier than anyone thought.

While the A-plot of “Viper” was about the wonder drug that transformed regular people into super humans before, quickly, killing them by exhausting the calcium in their bodies, the larger theme of the episode was about control: not only who was controlling the release of Viper, but who is in control of the Gotham City crime syndicates and, more mysteriously, who is in control of Wayne Enterprises? It seems that there’s more going on in Gotham City than we’d previously suspected, but the real question that we have no answer for yet is (of course) who’s in control?

While we’re puzzling through that, here are five other questions about the fifth episode of Gotham.

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How Much Does Falcone Actually Know?

Watching Falcone boast to his “family” that Maroni thinks what he (Falcone) wants him to think was an interesting moment — the most obvious reading is that it’s a sign that Falcone is very much unaware of what’s happening around him, in that he didn’t know that Maroni was planning to hit one of his casinos, but there’s another way of looking at the scene: What if Falcone really is playing Maroni, and everyone else as well? How likely is it that he already knows that Oswald is back in town, and is keeping his cards close to his chest for some reason?

How Deep is the Wayne Enterprises Corruption?

This has been teased in earlier episodes, but has now become very obvious: Something is not right in Wayne Enterprises. We know that Bruce’s parents weren’t to blame, but that the board members are… Those same board members who weren’t at the charity event because they were “very busy” for some mysterious reason. It’d be too obvious, surely, that the board members are the heads of the crime families (and also, it doesn’t necessarily make any sense that Thomas and Martha would have been okay with that), but if that’s the case, then who are the board members, and just what are they up to?

What Was in Warehouse 39?

Along similar lines, one of the two biggest unresolved mysteries of this episode was the one that wasn’t just implied, but outright stated: What did Patulski expect Gordon and Bullock to find in the warehouse? That it was entirely emptied out — and that Mathis was watching the cops as they went inside — was no surprise whatsoever, but were they just looking for the Venom, or something else?

What is Viper?

While Viper was a construct for the TV show, Venom — the “safer” second generation version of the drug — has an important place in Batman’s comic book mythology. Namely, it’s the drug that is used by Bane that gives him the strength and endurance to “break” the Batman in the Knightfall storyline of the 1990s, which means that this episode didn’t just feature the first steps Bruce Wayne took towards becoming the Batman that we know today (I’ll get to that in a minute), but also the origins of the man who will, one day, defeat him. Synchronicity! Also, the second of the episode’s biggest unresolved mysteries: If Venom existed and was safer/not lethal to use, then why didn’t Patulski’s accomplice use that instead of the deadly Viper?

”What If All This Was A Complete and Utter Waste of Time?”

While I’m strongly in the “We could leave Bruce out of most of these episodes and that’d be fine” camp, I have to admit that I very much enjoyed his exchange with Alfred at the start of the episode, where he said that he wasn’t out for revenge on who killed his parents, but instead he just wanted to understand. It’s a small thing, but an important one — especially considering that, in many versions of the Batman mythology, Bruce never catches his parents’ murderer. The heart of Batman is that his crusade is far larger than that one crime, and instead an obsession with all crime — and if that appears as Bruce’s curiosity right now, then that’s a good place to start.

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