On the D/L – Gotham
Season 1 Episode 2 – “Selina Kyle”
Time for the second episode already; this week Gordon and Bullock investigate reports of child snatchers in Gotham city who have kidnapped future Catwoman Selina Kyle.
This episode feels more procedural than the pilot episode in that it starts with Bullock and Gordon coming across the case then moves onto them investigating it before solving it by the end of the episode. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing but it definitely feels a lot safer than the structure that was used in the pilot.
It does allow us to see how Bullock and Gordon work together on a “case of the week” scenario. As with the previous episode it’s clear that Gordon has a strong moral code that directly contrasts with Bullock’s hardened years of experience as a detective in Gotham. Bullock is used to ignoring murders and certain crimes because they are so common and can’t really be solved according to him. Gordon believes that justice should be sought in all cases but the murder at the beginning of the episode strikes a particular chord with him considering the victim is a homeless war veteran.
The scene where the crime scene is being investigated is really good, I liked how Gordon chewed out the jaded cop who would rather go running to the restaurant who pays him protection money than cordon off an area because of a murder that nobody cares about. Bullock acknowledges both sides of the argument in a short yet clever moment that shows how practically he sees everything and given that the man has survived many years on the job it’s clear that his methods work.
Sadly the rest of the investigation seems somewhat pedestrian with Frank Whaley and Lili Taylor’s creepy child snatching villains seeming somewhat over the top. The way they act is somewhat at odds with the rest of the episode considering how grounded everything else seems, if this series had a more comic bookesque tone then they would have fit right in but as it sits it doesn’t quite work. Interestingly they are mentioned to work for someone known as The Dollmaker -fans of Arrow will know that this character appeared on that show but I doubt this version is the same- which brings in yet another known comic character into the mythology of the show. Unlike the heavy handed introductions last week this tease of the character is far more effective and it was an interesting choice not to have him appear on screen at this point.
There are plenty of other good points in the episode. I really like that everyone except Gordon seems to have accepted the corruption that exists everywhere in this city so much so that Gordon’s boss is unofficially ordering Gordon to just get on with it so that he can get results and stay alive. It seems that this city has been defeated into a sense of acceptance and apathy where the crime rate is concerned. The best example of this is that the police do nothing despite the fact that Fish Mooney admits to their faces that she tried to have them killed. It seems accepted that it’s just how things work here and nobody except Gordon is in any rush to have that change. I find this plot thread to be really interesting and I look forward to seeing what kind of challenges Gordon will face in trying to retain his morality.
Naturally there are subplots that build on the overall arc of the season. Fish Mooney’s slow burning plan to topple Falcone and take his place hits a snag when he seems to be aware of it but there’s definite determination in her plan after their well written exchange. I do really like this character as she seems impressively duplicitous and very smart as well as intimidating. Being an original character created for the show she arguably has more room to surprise the audience than many of the others and surprise she does.
Oswald Cobblepot’s subplot is a good one as he slinks away to lick his wounds so to speak. It isn’t long before he attacks people who are trying to help him and holds one of them for ransom. There’s something about this character that just seems very unsettling and there’s a definite movement towards The Penguin persona that everyone knows and loves. It’s clear that he’s intelligent and devious as well as meticulous and patient in how he constructs his plans. I wonder how long he’ll be away for before returning to Gotham.
Bruce Wayne is featured pretty briefly but what we have here is great. The episode opens with him burning his hand on a candle to test his tolerance for physical anguish. Sean Pertwee’s Alfred is great in these scenes as he transitions from anger to concern in the blink of an eye. Clearly Alfred knows what to do to raise Bruce on paper but in practice he has difficulty. I wish there was more of the Bruce Wayne and Alfred relationship because that stuff is gold. Gordon’s relationship with Bruce is nicely developed here as Gordon imparts the lesson that money isn’t everything and isn’t all that’s needed to truly help people.
For an episode called Selina Kyle it’s surprising that she doesn’t take center stage in the way I would have accepted. We see that she’s independent and streetwise but the Catwoman references become a bit tiresome after a while. She is basically Catwoman already but isn’t old enough so I’m not sure where there is to go with this character. I do like much of what they do with her though by her understanding of what is actually happening to her and knowing what she needs to do to get out of it.
A strong second episode that carries the many subplots really well. Jim Gordon’s character is a very likeable presence in this show and the way he interacts with Harvey Bullock is great, I like how they’re opposite but still have a lot of respect for one another. The villains of the week seem a little over the top considering the tone of the rest of the show and Selina Kyle is a little underused in an episode named after her. So far Gotham is a very intriguing show with lots of elements to be considered.