Gotham Recap “Spirit of the Goat”: The Golden Rule – No Heroes

On the latest Gotham recap, Harvey Bullock shows that he wasn’t always a cop on the take and once upon a time he was the boy scout go getter that his partner is today until tragedy robbed him of ambition in the midst of catching a serial killer possessed with the spirit of the goat…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

10 years ago before a city full corruption eroded his heart into nothing, Harvey Bullock was the spitting image of his current partner Jim Gordon. Ambitious, honest and thirsty to seek out Gotham’s worst criminal element.

In those days it was a serial killer who went after the richest rich kids in town, strung them up and murdered them but not before sewing a 1813 Liberty penny behind their ears. The killer was said to have the ‘Spirit of the Goat’ possessing him and this was the crime he had to commit. Bullock was the ultimate bloodhound in those days and along with his grizzled partner Dix, he tracked down the killer and found his final hiding spot where his victim was about to be the latest casualty in his murder spree.

Bullock was ever ready to rush into the fray to solve the crime and save the day. Dix would rather wait for backup and save his own ass.

“Gotham’s golden rule, Harvey — no heroes”
~ Dix

Ironic considering who this show is supposed to be about eventually. Anyways, Bullock doesn’t give a damn about backup (in those days) and he races in with a reluctant partner packing him up. Once inside, Dix falls victim to a trap and Bullock has to shoot and kill the perpetrator or risk serious injury himself. This case appears to be the one that started to turn Bullock into the rigid curmudgeon we know him as today because he survived, but his partner Dix was paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a tremendous fall.

This week’s episode titled “The Spirit of the Goat” kicks off with Bullock discovering a crime scene similar to those committed 10 years ago. He believes it’s a copycat killer trying to relive the spirit of the goat. He’d love to have his go getter partner on the case with him, but the boy scout is nowhere to be found. He’s got another case that’s more important for now anyways.

Affairs of the Heart

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While Bullock is being a cop, Gordon is out trying to save his failing relationship. Considering the only things Gordon and Barbara have talked about this season have been his secrets at work and her secret lesbian history, I’m not really sure what it is they’re fighting to save? Regardless, Barbara opts to forgive and take Jim back (ugghhhh) so long as he shares at least half of the mess he’s dealing with at any given time with her. So she wanted to know everything, he balked, she left, he returned, she caved. Did I get all that?

To make this relationship that much worse, before Gordon could unburden his soul to Barbara, he gets a frantic call from his partner that he needs to come into work. Now. Barbara, you’ll have to wait in your fabulously luxurious apartment that we have no idea how you pay for while your man goes out and does manly things. When he returns home, you best have his hot bath and slippers waiting for him or he’s going to be angry!

Everything is only compounded when we find Allen and Montoya back on the case trying to put Gordon away from Oswald Cobblepot’s murder and when they find a witness down at the docks, the two Major Crimes Unit cops think they have everything they need for a conviction. Montoya secures a warrant for Gordon’s arrest, but not before Barbara confronts her and stands by her man. Listen, I get that in comic book land, Gordon and Barbara are supposed to be a couple. It’s like Clark and Lois. Simply put, if there’s no spark and no substance to the relationship, why are they together in the first place. Look to Smallville and the subtle building episode after episode where Clark and Lois started out very much at odds before finally being drawn together. Everybody knew they’d end up together, so why not have some fun getting them there? We know Gordon and Barbara are supposed to be together but right now I’m not sure there’s another couple on television currently I want apart more than these two.

Riddle Me This

To help get to the bottom of the goat killer case, Bullock gets Edward Nygma to do some research and put his forensic expertise to use. Unfortunately instead of getting to see how Nygma developed his devilishly devious mind, he instead drinks from cups decorated with a question mark and tells riddles. Why? Because he’s the fucking Riddler and we have to get clubbed over the head with that fact numerous times!

His lovesick scene with a fellow nerdy office worker type at the Gotham Police Department was tolerable and by no means is this a knock on Corey Smith, who has done a wonderfully quirky job portraying Edward Nygma. No, the blame belongs to the writers and directors who believe the only way we know he’s one day going to become the Riddler is to force feed us the most obvious references known to mankind that he’s the fucking Riddler.

The Clues of the Case

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The killer/criminal of the week act may already be old, but I will say this week’s dark twist on a serial killer was a nice change of pace. At least he didn’t carry any balloons with him.

When the coroner does an autopsy on the victim, Bullock looks for a signature calling card of the goat killer from a decade ago — a 1813 penny sewn into the skin of the victim. When the coroner finds this piece of evidence, Bullock knows this is more than just a copycat. 10 years ago when Bullock solved this case with his partner Dix, they kept the 1813 Liberty penny out of the report out of fear that one day there might be a copycat killer because this whack job was clearly doing weird stuff and who doesn’t love weird stuff? Bullock knows he didn’t tell anybody and the coroner from those days is dead so the only thread left is his former partner Dix.

When Bullock and Gordon go to see him, Dix is now living in an around the clock care home where he plays checkers and reads inappropriate magazines all day. He promises his former partner that he didn’t tell a soul about the penny, but warns Bullock that this is more than just a copycat killer. This is related to the original crime, but not the original criminal. Before they leave, Gordon can’t help but hear Dix warn his ex-partner about being a white knight, always leaping before he looks. Gordon isn’t sure he’s talking about the same haggard, worn down and bought off cop he’s been partnered up with for the past couple of months.

A little bit of Bullock’s humanity shows through before Gordon meets him in the hallway as he settles up the bill for Dix’s nursing care. It seems Bullock has been paying for his ex-partner’s home ever since he got injured and now maybe we can understand why taking money from the bad guys was easier than depending on the good ones to take care of their own.

Donal Logue chews up scene after scene in this episode and steals the show. He’s been one of two really standout performers on this show (the other being Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald) and it’s good to see him take the lead this week. Logue is fantastic when he’s being quippy and quick witted. He’s in a league of his own when he sneers, bites down and delivers some of the best drama in all of television. He should have a mantle full of awards. It’s a shame he doesn’t already.

When Nygma unravels the work records of the employees who have been servicing the same homes of the rich people around town with kids, Bullock and Gordon have their man and wouldn’t you know it, he’s returned to the scene of the crime and the same abandoned building where the first goat killer committed his final sacrifice. The difference this time is Bullock and Gordon are both willing to race in and they foil his plans and save the day. The goat killer is captured instead of killed and now maybe they’ll find some answers.

Except when they chain up the man possessed by the spirit of the goat, he doesn’t remember anything and acts out of sorts when he realizes he’s got handcuffs on. He’s also committing a certain mannerism that involved clinching his fists whenever he looks confounded or frustrated. A light flips on in Harvey’s head.

Earlier in the episode when the detectives visited the parents of the first victim, Bullock and Gordon noticed that the father was making the same clinched fist. A little digging reveals that his psychiatrist was also a hypnotherapist and she’s done pro-bono work for a local mental hospital treating ill patients for the past 12 years. Through the power of suggestion, she trained the original spirit of the goat killer and 10 years later she did the same thing over again. Good twist, but ultimately bad plot because her reason behind it all was to stop the powerful and wealthy from stomping their elite feet down on the heads of everyone else in Gotham. So far about half the plots on this show have to do with the weak punishing the powerful for wrong doing. Not to say it can’t be an effective story telling machine, but it’s been the only real story outside of the battle for mob control that we’ve seen on Gotham so far.

Bullock fights off the deranged doctor’s last hypnotized victim and eventually wings her in the leg with a bullet to stop her getaway. Case solved.

Interesting killer this week. Not so interesting finish.

Bath Anyone?

Oswald’s appearance this week was all for a trip home to see his compulsively obsessive mother. She’s been worried sick about him, but it doesn’t take long before she’s eating out of his proverbial flipper again. She warns Oswald not to trust anyone except his mother. But Oswald has found a true friend and he’s a policeman. He’s somebody Oswald has faith in to deliver whenever he needs him and he’ll do the same for Jim Gordon.

Did I mention this entire conversation is happening while Oswald’s mother gives him a sponge bath? Oh yeah because she totally was.

A few scenes later following the end of the goat killer case despite Barbara’s pleas to run, Gordon gets taken into custody by Allen and Montoya and brought to the station to get booked. Montoya boisterously proclaims that Gordon shot and killed Oswald Cobblepot and they have a witness to prove it. Gordon tries to tell them that he didn’t ACTUALLY shoot anybody, but before you know it, Bullock is in handcuffs as well right alongside his partner because he’s been identified at the scene as well.

Just when things are about to get really messy, in walks Oswald Cobblepot. Dressed in his freshly steamed suit (thanks mother) and there to save the day for his good friend, Jim. How could he be under arrest for a murder when Oswald is alive and well and standing right in front of everybody?

Gordon and just about everybody gasps as if they’ve seen a ghost.

The flip-flopping of good weeks and bad weeks on Gotham continues with the latest episode. ‘The Spirit of the Goat’ was another strong offering despite the weak ending on the killer case and the over the top antics to push the Riddler’s agenda on us. Bruce was almost an afterthought this week until Selina Kyle showed up randomly and slipped in while he was sleeping to steal something from his desk. One can only assume it’s something Bruce will cherish and he’ll now get distracted from his normal 12-year old detective job so he can track down whatever it is she stole. Donal Logue leading the charge with Ben McKenzie playing his backup is a dynamic that really works better in terms of story telling although I have a feeling this won’t be used nearly enough throughout the first season.

Next week on Gotham, Fish Mooney and the rest of the criminal underworld find out that Oswald Cobblepot is very much alive! Tune in next Monday night at 8pm ET on FOX

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