|01 "Pilot"||09 "Harvey Dent"||17 "Red Hood"|
|02 "Selina Kyle"||10 "Lovecraft"||18 "Everyone Has a Cobblepot"|
|03 "The Balloonman"||11 "Rogues' Gallery"||19 "Beasts of Prey"|
|04 "Arkham"||12 "What The Little Bird Told Him"||20 "Under the Knife"|
|05 "Viper"||13 "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon"||21 "The Anvil or the Hammer"|
|06 "Spirit of the Goat"||14 "The Fearsome Dr. Crane"||22 "All Happy Families Are Alike"|
|07 "Penguin's Umbrella"||15 "The Scarecrow"|
|08 "The Mask"||16 "The Blind Fortune Teller"|
- "There will be more like me, detective. You know that, don't you?"
- —The Balloonman to Detective Gordon
Detectives Gordon and Bullock track down a vigilante who is killing corrupt Gotham citizens by attaching them to weather balloons. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot returns to Gotham and gets a new job close to an influential figure in the underworld.
Oswald Cobblepot gets off a city bus, back in Gotham and happy to see corruption and crime still afoot. A breaking news report on a nearby TV reports that a businessman, Ronald Danzer, is out on bail awaiting trial for a Ponzi scheme that bilked Gotham's citizens out of half a billion dollars.
At his penthouse, Danzer tells his lawyer to bribe or intimidate whoever is necessary to get him off. He leaves the building in disguise and is accosted by a man in a pig mask selling balloons from a cart. The man confirms Danzer's identity, then handcuffs him to a weather balloon and Danzer rises into the sky, screaming for help. The news crew camped outside Danzer's home notice his plight and excitedly film it for a live report.
At GCPD headquarters, Gordon meets Lieutenant Bill Cranston, and the two discuss their different methods, with Cranston showing Gordon his weapon for interrogating suspects, "O'Brian", an award from the Gotham City Chamber of Commerce for his years of service.
Gordon then joins Bullock to discuss the clues concerning the death of Danzer. Bullock says that, as far as he's concerned, the killer did Gotham City a favor, and he will not be breaking a sweat to catch him. The discussion goes back to the Wayne Case until they are they are interrupted by Davis Lamond of Gotham Juvenile Services. He asks Gordon to sign a form granting him temporary custody of Selina Kyle, as a witness to a murder. Recognizing Selina as one of the children they rescued, Bullock angrily asks why Gordon is still looking into the Wayne case, which is closed, and Gordon tells him to focus on their current case, and find the source of the weather balloon, which the killer could not have just picked up in a store. Gordon then leaves with Selina.
In the alley where the Wayne murder took place, Selina tells Gordon what she saw. He is skeptical at first, saying the details she is reciting were all over the news, but she says she can prove that she was in the alley, since she had just robbed a man of his wallet. Gordon admits that the man reported the theft, by a person matching Selina's description, but says that still doesn't prove she was in the alley when the murder occurred. Selina counters that she dropped the wallet into a sewer opening in the alley. He handcuffs her to a nearby railing, before going down the manhole to check. He finds the wallet, confirming her story, but she escapes the handcuffs, drops them down the manhole at Gordon's feet, and waves a jaunty goodbye, before taking off.
At her nightclub, Fish Mooney tells Lazlo to take a rest, when Detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen enter the establishment. The two Major Crimes Unit detectives question Mooney about Cobblepot, and Mooney repeats the rumor on the street that Gordon executed him, on Don Falcone's orders.
In an alley, Cobblepot is recognized by one of Mooney's underlings, who tries to drag him back to her. The man says Mooney will pay generously for his hide, and wonders aloud at Cobblepot's stupidity at coming back to Gotham at all. Cobblepot defiantly replies that Gotham is his home, and he is its future, before producing a hidden knife and stabbing the man to death. He drags the man out of sight, then lifts his wallet and proceeds to buy himself a tuna sandwich from a nearby food truck.
At Wayne Manor, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne fence with canes after Alfred has been pestering Bruce to loosen up and get some exercise. During their swordplay, the file pertaining to the investigation of the Wayne murder falls open and Alfred asks why Bruce would want to see such terrible images. Bruce says he is looking for clues to his parents' murder. Alfred reminds him that Gordon is looking into the case, and Bruce asks whether Alfred really thinks Gordon will find the killer. Alfred is silent.
At the GCPD, Gordon cleans his shoes and reluctantly phones juvenile services to report Selina's escape. As he hangs up, he is accosted by Montoya and Allen, who accuse him of Cobblepot's murder. Gordon denies it and leaves.
At Bamonte's Restaurant, Cobblepot tries to get a job but is rejected because he does not have the right shoes. Cobblepot solves this by following an employee from Bamonte's out of the restaurant after work, and asking him his shoe size.
At police headquarters, Bullock and Gordon talk about Montoya and Allen's accusations. Bullock, who still believes Gordon really did kill Cobblepot, assures Gordon that there is no evidence to be found. They then go in to question Jimmy, the owner of the balloon that was used to kill Danzer. He tells them that he suspected one of his former employees, a high-school dropout named Carl Smikers, of stealing the balloons. Noticing that Jimmy said "balloons", plural, Gordon asks how many were taken, and Jimmy replies, four. Gordon and Bullock trade a look, realizing the "Balloonman" plans to kill at least three other people.
In an alley, Bill Cranston beats on Frankie, for not having enough money to give him. Leaving the drug dealer in the street, Cranston is approached by a masked vendor who confronts him, and snaps a handcuff onto the detective's wrist. Cranston defends himself and manages to subdue the masked man, going through his pockets for identification. But the masked man manages to attach a second cuff to Cranston's ankle and inflate the second weather balloon, and Cranston rises into the air, screaming for help.
At Wayne Manor, Alfred rebukes Bruce for leaving the meals Alfred prepares for him untouched, arguing that in "times like these", Bruce needs to keep his strength up. Bruce switches the topic of the conversation to the Balloonman, showing Alfred the most recent issue of the Gotham Gazette.
At Barbara Kean's penthouse Jim and Barbara discuss the recent activities of the Balloonman. Barbara mentions the murder of the previous day, and Jim admits that he can understand the appeal of vigilantism in a city as corrupt as Gotham, where the police honestly can't be relied upon to do their jobs.
In her office, Captain Essen demands a resolution to the Balloonman murders. Gordon and Bullock reveal their information about the additional balloons, and Essen asks who the next likely targets are. Gordon replies that if they fit the profile of the two previous victims (Danzer and Cranston), then they will be prominent public figures who are outwardly respectable but known to be corrupt. Essen replies that in Gotham City, that doesn't exactly narrow things down.
At Bamonte's, Cobblepot is working as a dishwasher in the kitchen, and watches as the manager enthusiastically welcomes Don Salvatore Maroni, the leader of Gotham's second-most powerful crime family and Falcone's chief competitor.
Bullock checks with some contacts of his among Gotham prostitutes, who mention that Smikers has a secret weakness for being dominated by big, strong women. This leads them to discover Smikers at one such dominatrix's apartment. Gordon apprehends Smikers quickly, while the woman throws Bullock around the room and is about to kill him before Gordon points his gun and she freezes.
At her club, Fish Mooney consoles her boy-toy, Lazlo, who is worried about her (not, he assures her, about himself, even if Falcone had him beaten up as a lesson to her). Afterwards, Fish tells one of her henchmen to get rid of Lazlo, as he's "lost his spine", and also to make Falcone's latest lover, Natalia, undergo an unfortunate accident.
At Barbara's penthouse, Montoya enters and confronts her, urging her to stay away from Gordon, who killed Cobblepot. Barbara refuses to believe her, thinking Montoya is just jealous. Montoya admits she still has feelings for Barbara and attempts to kiss her, but Barbara asks her to leave.
At the GCPD, Smikers is questioned by Gordon and Bullock. He swears he had nothing to do with the murders and just sold the balloons to make money. Bullock sarcastically describes Smikers as a "secret" criminal mastermind, since the Balloonman has come up with the perfect crime, a way of murdering someone that disposes of the weapon and the victim at the same time. Smikers, surprised, says the bodies will come back - he may be a dunce, but he learned enough working for Jimmy to understand how weather balloons work - as they rise higher into the atmosphere, the helium inside expands and the material turns brittle from the colder temperature, and eventually the balloon pops.
Sure enough, a middle-aged woman is walking her dog and looks up just in time to see Cranston's body plummet onto her head, killing her.
Bullock is at the crime scene, examining the squashed remains of Cranston and the dog walker, when Gordon arrives and tells him the Balloonman has struck again. His third victim is Cardinal Quinn, a prominent member of the church who was facing charges for sexually abusing children. One of the crime techs shows them an evidence bag with the contents of Cranston's pockets, and Bullock asks why Gordon's name would be on a piece of paper in Cranston's pocket. Gordon looks closer, and says he knows who the Balloonman is.
At Bamonte's, Cobblepot overhears Maroni talking with one of his men about "Arkham" and Falcone. Noticing Cobblepot listening, Maroni walks over to him and asks his name. Cobblepot says it's Paolo, and Maroni notes that he doesn't look Italian. Cobblepot replies that he's Italian on his mother's side, and that's the side of his heritage he's decided to claim. Maroni approves of a man who cares for his mother, and gives Cobblepot some money and confides that once he was a lot like "Paolo" - poor, unknown, but he worked hard and now look at him. In a more dangerous tone, Maroni asks whether the names that he heard, "Arkham" and "Falcone" mean anything to him, and Cobblepot denies hearing anything at all. Both of them are distracted by the latest news report on the Balloonman, featuring footage of Cardinal Quinn being lifted into the sky by the weather balloon. Maroni comments that this kind of vigilante activity is bad for business in the city, and some things just aren't done, such as murdering priests – "at least not in public." The two share a laugh, before Maroni tells Cobblepot to go home and take care of his mother.
At the GCPD, Detective Gordon identifies the Balloonman as Davis Lamond, who has worked for Gotham Juvenile Services for over fifteen years. The paper in Cranston's pocket was the form that Gordon signed when Lamond turned Selina Kyle over to his temporary custody. Gordon guesses that Cranston managed to search Lamond's pockets before he was attached to the weather balloon. Gordon also reports that Lamond's co-workers described him as sweet, dedicated and motivated; Essen asks what could cause that kind of man to snap and begin killing people, and Gordon says he doesn't know.
Gordon and Bullock discuss where Lamond could be storing the balloons, and Gordon figures out that it's Juvenile Services' old headquarters, which has been abandoned and condemned for several months. Upon arriving, Gordon and Bullock find another balloon in the back of a van, but get ambushed by Lamond, who holds Bullock at gunpoint. He asks Gordon what crime he is guilty of, killing three men such as Danzer, Cranston and Quinn. Gordon replies that the law is supposed to punish those men's crimes, and Lamond scoffs that the law shielded these men from justice, instead of punishing them. He admits that he has seen this corruption fester in Gotham for years, but he finally snapped when Mayor James corruptly used the recent abductions of homeless children as an excuse to lock up street children in juvenile prison without trial.
Bullock gets free and manages to attach the final weather balloon to Lamond, but as he rises into the sky, Gordon grabs onto him, ordering Bullock to shoot the balloon. Bullock yells at Gordon to just let go and let Lamond die, but when it is clear that Gordon won't let go, Bullock shoots the balloon and both of them plummet to the ground.
At Mooney's Nightclub, Falcone visits Mooney, making sure there were no hard feelings from the previous night, and Fish replies "never". Falcone mentions that his mistress Natalia was mugged, with ugly results, and Fish responds sympathetically, hoping that the mugger paid with his life. Falcone replies that the mugger will, as soon as he is found - along with anyone who helped him.
As Lamond is loaded into an ambulance wearing a neck brace, he warns Gordon that more vigilantes will follow in his path. Gordon leans over him and asks him who his last intended victim was.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred watch the news about the capture of the Balloonman. Alfred remarks that the criminals of Gotham will be sleeping better, knowing the vigilante has been caught. Bruce notes that killing people made the Balloonman a criminal as well. After Alfred leaves the room, Bruce picks up a fork and starts to eat the meal prepared for him.
At Barbara's penthouse, a bruised Gordon comes in, with Barbara relieved that he's okay. Asking him what's wrong, he tells her the city is sick in a way that he didn't realize. When he asked Lamond who his final target was, Lamond's response was, "doesn't matter." As far as Lamond was concerned, the whole city is corrupt. Barbara tells him it isn't true, but Gordon says that what matters is that too many other people believe it to be true. If people take the law into their own hands, then there will be no law, and everything will be lost. As Barbara comforts Jim, there is a knock at the door. Opening the door, Barbara alerts Jim to their visitor, Gordon looks up, and to his surprise sees Oswald Cobblepot, who greets him as an old friend.
- The Balloonman's first disguise is a reference to Professor Pyg.
- Bullock quotes William Shakespeare's phrase, "hoist with [your] own petard," meaning to be undone by a plot or scheme that you have prepared yourself (literally, being blown into the air by a land mine that you planted yourself).