If there’s one universal truth in crime dramas, it’s that the past always catches up with you. The unsolved case, the unrequited love affair, the covered up murder. Nothing stays buried for long. This week, for the rough-edged Harvey Bullock it’s a serial killer who can’t seem to stay dead. For Gordon, a villain who’s (unfortunately) very much alive. But from the pulse thumping action seen from past episodes, “Spirit of the Goat” feels like Gotham catching its breath.
The episode takes a reprieve from the Carmine Falcone/Salvatore Maroni gang feud and focuses on some much-needed character development. First up, is Harvey Bullock—a decade in the past. Tracking down a murderer, prone to killing the firstborn of Gotham’s most influential families, Bullock along with his then partner, Detective Dix (Dan Hadaya), corner their guilty prey. Dix and Bullock exchange words. Bullock is eager to get in there and stop another murder from happening; Dix thinks backup is the better strategy and reiterates Gotham’s supposed golden rule—”No Heroes.”
Even though this is the first time seeing this cop duo in action, it’s already a familiar conversation, one frequently shared by Gordon and Bullock. This mirrors the opening episode, with a fresh-faced and eternally optimistic Gordon resisting Bullock’s cynicism. “This isn’t a job for nice guys,” Bullock says. But this feels like a different Bullock, one uncorrupted or at the very least less so. He disregards his partner’s dour “No Heroes” mantra and rushes into the dilapidated building to stop a murder.
Unfortunately, the killer has already done his work. Like Ann Darrow before the altar of King Kong, a body is strung up like an occult sacrifice, only listless and cold. After a brief tussle, with commentary provided by the ravings of a lunatic self-described as the Spirit of the Goat, Bullock shoots and kills.
Jump forward 10 years, and Bullock faces the same horrific crime scene. “We have a copycat,” Bullock says, but even he doesn’t believe those words. Something else is going on.
At the time, Gordon is MIA because he’s busy hashing out relationship deets with his beau, or his ex beau, or whatever they are right now. Who knows. Barbara says she wants to shoulder half of what Jim carries just like he does for her. This is all a nice sentiment, but what is Barbara talking about? This far into the season, and we still don’t know very much about her. We know that she used to have a fling with Renee Montoya, the MCU detective determined on throwing Gordon in prison, and that she’s an emotional changeling, switching up her persona to match whomever she’s with, but that’s pretty much it. What is Jim shouldering exactly? What happened to you guys breaking up?
If Gordon devolved into an emotional wreck after Barbara’s ultimatum, their relationship would at least have some dimension showing that Barbara is, in fact, an important person to Jim. But she wasn’t even mentioned last episode, let alone in any emotional capacity. Their relationship continues to feel hollow and confused, and at this point, possibly unsalvageable.
NEXT: Bullock’s partner, past and present