The "Spirit of the Goat" reminds Bullock of the cop he used to be.
Advertised as Gotham's frightening, Halloween episode, "Spirit of the Goat" will likely disappoint viewers hoping for a scare. However, it still serves as a great episode compared to the rest of the new series.
Removing itself largely from the criminal underworld of Gotham City, "Spirit of the Goat" focuses instead on a copycat killer inspired by a serial murderer killed by Harvey Bulllock, Jim Gordon's partner, ten years earlier. By not focusing as much on the global narrative of the series, this episode is able to tell a story that actually works. "Spirit" also works to illustrate that Bullock was not always the "slovenly, lackadaisical cynic" Gordon sees him as.
The shift is quality is likely thanks to writer Ben Edlund. It's his first script for Gotham, but along with creating The Tick character and writing a couple episodes of Firefly, Edlund spent seven years as a staff writer for Supernatural. Granted, "Spirit of the Goat" doesn't exactly have the humor of "Jaynestown" or "The French Mistake" but it's still more functional than the previous episodes of Gotham.
The show hasn't completely abandoned the supporting cast and seasonal arcs in favor of Harvey Bullock's narrative. There are scenes in which Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot do things, but they're compact don't interrupt the flow too much. Edward Nygma, however, has a pair of scenes which do nothing to serve the plot and otherwise just waste time trying to characterize the man who would be Riddler.
Gotham City's Major Crimes Unit is still pursuing the murder of Cobblepot (even though he isn't dead), and Gordon's fiancée is still mucking about. Her and Renee Montoya are rather inconsistent in their attitudes compared to earlier episodes. In fact, they're inconsistent just in "Spirit" alone. By the end of this episode though, MCU's investigation gets to a point that will have some unavoidable consequences, and it will be interesting to see where things go next week. Are we already building up to a mid-season finale?
Still far from perfect, Gotham is at least providing the occasional acceptable episode, and "Spirit of the Goat" is definitely one of them. Gotham is on Fox, Monday nights at 8/7c. It's also available to view on Fox's website and Hulu.