When I heard that the episode was called ‘the Spirit of the Goat’ I was a little dubious. I mean the goat? Seemed to me like the writers had taken out their long list of no-go animals (bat, cat, penguin, crocodile) and said, “Hey what about the goat?” This came at a time when Gordon seems to be having no impact whatsoever on the endless tide of Gotham corruption. Come on, wasn’t this whole series about how Gordon rises in the ranks and establishes his own morally respectable status? No wait, it was just an opportunity to make more Nolan-esque stories without the big budget and big names.
Gotham isn’t meant to be a happy place, but is there a conspiracy looking to push the viewing public into worldwide depression by presenting endlessly miserable TV? Did I miss the boat or aren’t Batman and Gordon characters who resist the almost inevitable hopelessness and provide us with a sense of almost inhuman determination?
Anyway, back to the goat. This was a good episode. There was always the problem with this series that the established Batman plot would work against the new storylines. The Spirit of the Goat suggests that the two can work in tandem. We were offered a little more insight into Bullock and the sense that despite his current involvement in the corruption of Gotham, he has the potential to join the light of Gordon’s character and avoid becoming Detective Flass (Gordon’s corrupt partner in Batman Begins). And a good, albeit basic, serial killer back from the dead to kill again storyline (Bullock’s reaction to having to solve a case he had already solved was honest and human).
We were also offered part of the mythology and psychological reasoning that informs the creation of Batman. While Bruce had little contact with the Goat, the audience gets the idea of the sense of threat offered by a seemingly undying symbol. The need people have for an idea that encourages them, with a little negative reinforcement, to make good decisions. Not only did the goat set up the concept, it also highlighted the crucial different of Batman, the decision not to kill, which then brought us, with superb precision, to the end of the episode. Maybe a little heavy handed, but the connection with Gordon not killing Copplepot brings the Batman story we all know into line with Gordon’s Gotham.
Oh yes, and the mention of the Liberty Penny. Can’t forget the Liberty Penny, the massive trophy in the Batcave. A little macabre in the instance, but hey, you can’t have everything.