Episode two of Gotham follows a pretty traditional path, as far as follow-ups to pilot episodes go. Grander theatrics are dialed down a bit, but a lot of information is repeated, to catch new viewers up on how things work, while the show does what it can to show off what it plans to be like on a weekly basis. “Selina Kyle” works at showing itself off as a more comic book-based series than anything else. I am sure those that found issues with the premiere will likely find more issues with this second episode, but at the same time, perhaps this episode will seem more tonally consistent as a whole. I more or less saw a lot linking this episode to Batman: The Animated Series more than anything, which is not a bad thing at all.
In terms of this episode serving as a series rooted much more in comic books than gritty crime procedurals, look no further than Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley as Patti and Doug. Tasked with cleaning the streets of the homeless kids, while creepy, this twosome could have been a much scarier threat, were it not for the over-the-top delivery of these performances. While I do not need Gotham to go as broad as it did with Patti and Doug with every week’s new threat, it did at least show me a decent understanding of what types of threats it will be dealing with in the future. Given that James Gordon is gruff, but does not exist outside the realm of pulpy authority figures, I do not even see it as a clash of ideas, when the cop world mixes it up with the polite but deadly criminals.
Getting into this Patti and Doug storyline more, though, the idea of an initiative to rid the streets of teenage street urchins is not only a decent way to open up a continual thread about how corrupt Gotham’s governing body just may be, but finds a way to bring Selina Kyle into this story. She does lend her name to this week’s episode, but regardless, it is nice to see her more towards the center of this week’s action, rather than randomly checking in on Bruce Wayne (we’ll get to that little scamp in a bit). Here we get a bit of backstory on Lil’ Catwoman, played pretty decently by Camren Bicondova.
Basically an orphan whom the other kids know as Cat: the girl who is okay at thieving, but quite talented in the ways of stealth, Selina Kyle makes it clear that she knows how to handle herself both in explaining how to take care of those coming after her and by exhibiting those talents by scratching a man’s eyes out. She is certainly feisty as well, given her ploy to speak to Gordon at the end of this episode by threatening to falsely accuse an officer of something if she does not get her way. While Gotham is a series that is attempting to sit in a world not defined by the year, it is a scene like that one, which certainly stems from our modern culture. Regardless, Selina at least keeps things moving with this Wayne Family murder plotline, after having gone through a tense scenario on the school bus and into a warehouse.
We also get a look at the fallout stemming from Fish Mooney’s storyline from last week, as Falcone makes another appearance, making sure that Fish knows her place. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character is not at the center of things this week, and I was not expecting her to be, but she continues to be one of the best things about this show, with John Doman adding some strong work as Carmine Falcone as well. I say this, acknowledging the fact that dialogue does not appear to be Gotham’s selling point at this time, so relying on the actors involved is about all I can really do, and I’ll give credit to where I see it being due.
With Fish in mind, catching up with Cobblepot only led to so many new developments, but that is clearly where we are at – developing the future of this character. Here we find him wet, crippled, and broken, but not without a level of menace that surfaces even more this week, now that he is away from the crime family he tried to climb up the ranks through. By the end of this episode, he has killed again, with a kidnapped victim in his clutches, but still an amateur at actually accomplishing his goals. One of the greater takeaways may be in wondering how much Gordon could have prevented, were he to have actually gone through with killing this man.
Bringing it all back to the side of good, our detective heroes, Jimmy & The Bulls (as I would like to now call them), are investigating the child trafficking case. Of course, they only initially see it as a murder, but are soon connecting the dots. The details of this storyline matter little, as it matters more to see how Gordon wants to do his job. Keeping his partner in check, dealing with the mayor, dealing with what his fiancée thinks is right, Gordon re-emphasizes that he is a straight arrow cop working in a sordid city this week. It is not too much of a stretch, but Ben McKenzie is making the best of the scenario. At least he gets to show some layers when dealing with young master Bruce.
Starting this episode off with Bruce Wayne burning his hand on purpose, obviously the kid is dealing with some issues. Alfred going out of his way to bring Gordon back to Wayne Manor is a lot to take in, but it works for now as a way to keep these characters in the loop. All of that in mind, if Gordon and Bruce keep having little therapy sessions, it will be a little hard to stomach a future where Wayne disappears and eventually reappears at the same time as a new vigilante, without Gordon wondering if the kid he used to mentor may be connected to this coincidence. It is something that has me understanding how the nature of this show just means I need to table that though, but I do wonder how much involvement Bruce and Alfred will have in this show, if the Wayne murders are presumably solved by the end of the season, if not sooner.
So there we have it. “Selina Kyle” will likely not be the strongest episode of this season of Gotham, but I think it does a fine job of re-establishing what this world is going to look like and feel like. Our lead characters are steadily growing into their roles and we got a bit more action both in the form of gunplay and suspense involving our Lil’ Catwoman. Having really enjoyed the pilot, these are just the baby steps needed to bring this show to a status quo that is hopefully quite good and consistent, but we will have to wait and see. Still, unlike the actual city, I hope Gotham has progress in its future.
From Det. Jim Gordon’s Police Files:
- So unless my screeners are different, I guess we’re not getting the Hill Street Blues-style opening credits that I was hoping for on a weekly basis for Gotham.
- Without going too far into this, there are lots of articles out there explaining the ‘inherent problem with a series like Gotham.’ While I see the point, to me, the fact is that we have this show, and regardless of how there may be a bigger picture, with the nature of Batman looming over the future timeline of this series, I am fine reviewing it as is, not the implications that develop because of it.
- Hey! Fish’s club had a full house this week… only to have everyone heading for the doors after Fish asked for it. She just doesn’t want to pack this place…
- I assume the GCPD motto is, “Just See How Corrupt We Mostly Are…”
- Ed Nygma shows up just long enough to make sure you did not forget about him in the pilot episode last week, while also making reference to Arkham Asylum, which is currently closed.
- Carol Kane popping up as Cobblepot’s mother is a fine choice, but Diane Salinger would have been a fun geeky casting bit for the Batman Returns super-fans out there.
- I am curious about where this Dollmaker thing will go, given various comic forms of the character.
- Who is behind Trident Shipping?
- Last week Barbara showed up at GCPD Station. This week it’s Alfred. No one has time for phones?
- “I got you one, but I dropped it.” – Bullock works on his friendship with Gordon.
- “You must be quite the scamp” – Any guesses about who Cobblepot has kidnapped?
- This week’s Classic Gordon Clip