Gotham, Ep. 2: "Selina Kyle" Review

Gotham, Ep. 2: "Selina Kyle" Review

Season 1, Episode 2
“Selina Kyle”
Grade: C+

So here we go, delving into Gotham’s seedy underbelly, beyond a single re-hashed story. The second episode of a fledgling series is rarely that big of a worry. If they proved themselves in the pilot, they have a minute of respite, and I’m worried that this respite was ill-advised.

We begin with a very strange scene set in Wayne manor, showcasing the first vestiges of Bruce Wayne’s fearlessness. I say this is a strange scene because of Alfred Pennyworth, the Wayne family butler and the man that raises bruce after his parents die. After Alfred sees what Bruce has been doing (holding his hand over the flame of a candle just to feel the pain), he roughly grabs Bruce and calls him a stupid little boy before holding him close and apologizing. It may be my own childhood influencing what I see here, but that’s a slight over-reaction for a non-parent to have, isn’t it? This isn’t the loving Alfred I have come to know, and in many ways, Gotham will act as his origin story as well, as in comic-book-terms he wasn’t with the Wayne family all that long before they were killed, but even so…

On to happier (welllll…) things, this episode acts as our introduction to the strange girl we saw crawling along the rooftops and being witness to the biggest murder in Gotham’s history last week, Selina Kyle. Fans, and anybody with common sense, know that this girl grows up to be Catwoman, but for now she’s just a young girl, trying to make her way on the rough-and-tumble streets of Gotham. To the credit of the creative team, they did a very good job of showing how apathetic the people of Gotham were to the tragedy around them.

When Selina is preparing to bunk down for the night with a crowd of other homeless teens, a van pulls up, and a pleasantly dressed woman and man come out and offer hot food, warm beds, and most importantly, chocolate, only to then inject the kids and load them into the truck. It was only through her natural distrust that Selina avoided being taken herself, and then she begins to prowl the streets, following Gordon as he investigates yet another murder, seemingly related to the show at large.

The Penguin is stil intact, waddling his way out of town after Gordon, in what is no way a decision that is going to come back and bite him in the ass—letting him live at the end of the pilot. The poor frat boys that pick him up had no idea what they were doing, and honestly, why does a penguin comment mean a stab to the neck? It’s not that Cobblepot is the most balanced of Batman villains, but he is significantly more sane and calculating than Joker or Scarecrow, and doesn’t get thrown in Arkham Asylum when he gets arrested (well, sometimes he does, depends on the writer, but by and large it’s Blackgate Prison for ol’ Oswald) and he has no markable mental illness driving his crimelord personality, so I’m not sure why they are making him this sick of a person this soon, because he clearly has some major issues.

Nygma again makes a very slight impression, mostly rattling off riddles and not being nearly as clever as the first time that routine happened. I’ll be sorely disappointed if the only use we get out of The Riddler are random trivial tidbits interspersed with an M.E. report. Again, I have to keep reminding myself that Bruce Wayne is only 10 years old at most at this point, and there has never been a teenage Batman, so it’s going to be a good minute before these villains become who they are meant to be.

Gotham seems like it’s going to have a lot of difficulty finding that balance. After a spot-on and awesome first outing with the Pilot, the second episode falters. I mentioned before how it’s often a time for writers to take a moment of respite, but I should have been more specific; it’s okay to take respite, if you are not making a show about the freakin’ Batman! As I mentioned last week, it’s finding the balance between these characters whose entire being hinges on Batman’s existence with characters that existed before hand. I have no doubt that Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepott, Selina Kyle and Harvey Dent all existed before Batman came into being. Their lives have been fairly well documented at varying points in the last 75 years. It’s finding where they fit in the pre-Batman, organized-crime-era Gotham that we are seeing unfold, and making everyone obsessed with the Wayne murder isn’t the way to puzzle it together.

Jada Pinkett-Smith is doing a bang-up job as Fish Mooney, one of the many crime bosses in Gotham that met their fall when Batman cleaned up the streets, pre the rise in costumed crime. Carmine Falcone also gets a lot more screen time here, and brings about just how menacing he’s going to be.

Selina Kyle certainly has the attitude Catwoman needs. A busload of kids are about to get napped and her only thoughts are self-preservation. Her mad cat skills come in when Evil-Lady is searching under the seats to find her, and boy does she already have that mad-ninja quietness to help. Oh, and she definitely has claws already, hoo boy. Her inner heroine also comes out with her need to get in touch Gordon and let him know what is happening. It’s thanks to Selina Kyle that 30 kids are saved.

With such a rich history to pull from, and some of it’s richest points being written by veteran television player Jeph Loeb (seriously, if you haven’t read he and Tim Sale’s seminal runs on Batman The Haunted Knight, The Long Halloween, and Dark Victory, go to Rock Bottom yesterday and pick them up, they are worth every single penny) Gotham has so many places to go, I just hope they can decide, because at this point I have no idea who is going to end up being who. I am totally baffled as to how they are going to build a Batman show without Batman, especially since they are putting so much stock in Batman’s villains and his supporting characters.

Once again, I have to complain about Harvey Bullock. While Donal Logue is one of my favorite players on television in general, Bullock proved himself to be too far to one side of the line, and I’m very worried that’s not something they’ll rectify. I’m sure this is just silly fandom worrying, but even so, I love Harvey and don’t want to see him diminished to nothing more than a dirty cop, because even when he was a little dirty, he was still a good member of the GCPD. In this episode, he did seem to be more like the Bullock I know, but after his admission of being a puppet to the Falcone crime family in the Pilot, I am very nervous on the prospect of things to come

The last bit I have to say is about the burgeoning relationship between Gordon and Bruce. It seems a mistake to me to form something like this. There’s the obvious bit here, that Gordon shouldn’t in any way know Bruce, because knowing Bruce would make those long rooftop conversations with Batman pretty awkward on the whole ‘secret-identity’ thing. Then there’s the less obvious, the bit I touched on earlier, that this is Alfred’s job. Alfred is such a seminally important figure in Bruce’s life, I don’t understand why anyone writing a Batman story would have him go to the childless Jim Gordon for help with a 10 year old boy.

Well that concludes my second week of Gotham. I enjoyed my time in the city, but it was more like the second time one visits New York City for me this time around. I saw all the sights the first time, this time I noticed all the not-awesome of it. I have faith that they can pull themselves out of their rut, but I hope they do it quicker than the mid-season finale.


Stuff And Things

  • Awwww, it’s Lisa from Six Feet Under, being super creepy o.o
  • I’m going to go ahead and assume every single mention of a clown is a Joker reference. This is Batman afterall.
  • Ha. The march of the Penguin.
  • For non fans, that woman Barbara told the newspeople to talk to, Sarah Essen? That’s Gordon’s second wife. In the comics, Barbara leaves Jim and he marries Sarah, who is later murdered by the Joker. 75 years of history, remember?
  • Harvey Bullock: Relationship whisperer
  • Heavy name-drops with Arkham this week. are the Flying Graysons coming to town next week too?
  • There’s an interesting visual aesthetic Gotham is doing to compensate from Batman’s decades of history. You kind of can’t tell what decade we are in based on anyones clothes. The villains of the week this week are straight out of the 50s, as is Bullock, Jim is very straight-laced, new-millenium-detective in his pressed black suits, the street kids we saw here could have come from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and the list goes on. Kudos.
  • Sal Maroni was also name-dropped this week, so Gotham’s underworld seems to be arranged in the right fashion. What of the Sionis family though? Roman Sionis definitely makes a name for himself as Black Mask in later days
  • Harvey Bullock beating a perp with a phonebook. Maybe this partnership is going to play out the right way.
  • “Haven’t I told you to stop creeping up on people like that before!? It’s bloody rude!” -Alfred, to Bruce, no truer words ever spoken.
  • Hopes For Future References: Julian Day (the Calandar Man), a Victor Zzasz plotline (totally doable without the Bat, as Zzasz has been carving talley marks into his victims for a while), Tommy Elliot, Silver St. Cloud, and Harleen Quinzel.
  • That was… quite an unexpected cliffhanger, I figured they’d save that plot point for episode 19.
Categories: Entertainment
Tags: Gotham, review