Engaging Gotham (S1E16)


As an exercise in discernment, continuing what we started in the Engaging Culture class in 2014, I decided to check out an episode of Gotham and see what its worldview is and what it espouses either on purpose or by accident. I’m going to write as the show happens:

It’s not a great surprise that the Penguin kills someone who heckled his mother. And since he is evil that seems appropriate. As a Christian I’m not against violence in a story. I just want to be careful about what the violence tells us and how it’s handled. This act of violence confirms Penguin’s character.

Aside: we meet Robin’s parents, the Graysons! Woot!

Fish Mooney offers to lead a rebellion of slaves against organ harvesters. Yeah that sounds crazy. She is evil so there is undoubtedly some plan to save herself rather than anyone else.


The murdered snake handler’s son says, “sex is a healthy human activity” when asked about his mother’s numerous no-commitment sex partners. After all, he continues, without her sex life he wouldn’t be there. What does this tell us about sex? Gordon seems surprised by how blase the teenager is about sex but Gordon has no problem with sex outside of marriage himself. He does have a sort of rule where commitment is required for him. He slept and lived with Barbara. He’s almost gone over for sex with Lee after a date. He doesn’t sleep around. But the morality of sexual relationships on Gotham is definitely more open than a Biblical paradigm.

Mooney kills one of her fellow prisoners instead of giving him up. Knowing that the captors need them alive she uses the threat of violence against themselves to negotiate better living conditions. This confirms again her evil pragmatism. In that situation it’s hard not to see how this new negotiation may work. It was surprisingly selfless of the man to volunteer to die for everyone.

A psychic! Lila sent him a message from the “other side.” It’s a rhyme, of course. Gordon says, “if you were gonna send a message from beyond the grave wouldn’t priority one be a name?” Exactly. This episode is named after the Blind Fortune Teller so the idea that he may have a power is acceptable in this mythology. But the idea that psychics are real or that the dead communicate with the living is myth.

Is Bruce Wayne the rudest, most entitled kid ever? Yeah, very disrespectful to Alfred. But Batman is kinda a Jerk.

Barbara, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman (the two future bad girls are still kids) are eating and drinking and living it up. Barbara is trying to get Gordon back by wearing very short shorts.

Gordon has no issue with saying, “Oh my God” about how good the food is without concern for blasphemy. That used to matter but maybe not so much anymore. I think the Oscars beeped out one of these last week.

They find the murder weapon – a hatchet. It’s tied to a Satanist cult. So God and Satan exist in this world. The questions are where is God and where is/are the church/believers? He doesn’t have to be there, of course. But if he is then how he is depicted matters.

Gordon tells Lee that he wanted to have sex with her instead of pursuing the case that night. This is acceptable in the show but not in life.


Gerome killed his own mother? His father is the fortune teller? Ouch. “Your mother was a cruel person…” Nope. “A cold hearted whore.” Red hair, crazy, joking about his parents. Joker? Yeah, this kid is crazy and evil. The logical consequences of the mother’s sin is not murder but the relationship issues with her son did start and end with her sin. In that way her sin did find her out. But did anyone learn the lesson of free sex equaling trouble? Nope. Gordon and Lee go home to sleep with each other.

PS: the psychic is found out to be a fraud. I foresaw that.

Barbara walked in while they were kissing and storms out. She is so clueless. She left him for a woman (!) and is a drug addict but she expected Jim would just jump back into her arms. Again a lack of learning from mistakes and clear expectations of consequences.

Butch shows up with Zzaz at Penguin’s club. He’s gonna help Penguin make money with the club.

Bruce finally gets his shot at speaking to the board of Wayne Enterprises. Surprise! He’s figured out their secrets.

The carnival kids are getting married. Mr. and Mrs. Grayson!

Gordon got laid. Everyone blushes. Fist bump. Nothing unethical about it according to the show.

Bruce would make sure that the company was run ethically. Good for him!

Fish has a deal. Thomas stays with the prisoners while she is escorted out. Double cross all the prisoners? Probably.

What did we learn? Here’s what I think we learn:

-There are clear good and bad guys based on actions. Bad guys act bad. Good guys do good or at least struggle with trying to do good.

-Origin stories of bad guys have messed up family relations at the root. Could be they are insane as well, but the way the snake handler ignored her son for her own sexual gratification played a big part in his act of murder.

-Open sexuality without committed marriage relationships insidiously depicted as not just acceptable but as a worthy goal. We could have learned a lesson from the snake handler but we didn’t. What we learned was that the uncommitted sex wasn’t the issue, it was who had the sex.

What do you think?


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