(Editor’s Note: For the duration of the Gotham season, our guest contributor will be Micah Russell; who will be providing reviews of each episode while simultaneously scarfing burritos and drinking surge. We are excited for him to help contribute to our site, as well as help him live out his dreams of one day riding a unicorn naked. Enjoy.)
The second episode of Gotham, “Selina Kyle”, has a fairly misleading name. Cat, as we learn she likes to be called (how suttle…), finds herself at the scene of another crime in progress. Two “good Samaritans”, a middle-aged man and woman that look like 1950’s “holy rollers”, arrive with a food truck in a back alley occupied by homeless teenagers. Luring the kids over with the promise of free food and warm beds the couple quickly show their true intentions as the woman pulls a large needle out of a bag and begins injecting the children in the back of the neck, knocking them unconscious. Of course Cat gets away before they can get to her and one of the larger teens escapes before being fully injected. The male then shoots a defenseless, homeless, war veteran in cold blood before chasing the kid down and throwing him through a restaurant window. Already the first ten minutes of this episode were so much more intriguing than the first, mostly due to the fact that this episode was able to break away from the classic Wayne murder story and develop its own storylines while showing the true direction of the show overall.
We begin to see a lot more of the corruption and power struggles in this episode than the last, though it could seem overblown and exaggerated at times, its great to see how the show-runners are attempting to paint Gotham as a much more corrupt city before Jim Gordon is able to clean things up with the help of the Batman. The corruption shows on every level too, from low level beat cops who would rather check in on the restaurant that pays them a little extra on the side instead of secure a crime scene, all the way of to Gotham’s mayor, Aubrey James (more on that later). We even a get a small glimpse at Bullock’s past, as Barbara goes to the paper’s about the kidnappings when the GCPD tries to cover it up, the police captain Sarah Essen exposing that Bullock has done something like this before. Maybe at one point he was a good guy like James, trying to do the right thing, but he had to “bend or get broke” as the captain put it. James is also starting to see instant ramifications of pretending to kill Oswald Cobblepot. When he tries to enforce that his partner and he should do the right thing, it becomes easy to rub in Gordon’s face that he has sinned just like the rest of him. This is actually a great dynamic because it doesn’t allow the ultra-righteous detective to get too preachy, keeping him humbled at times in order keep everyone on his good side. Though once everyone finds out that Penguin is still alive, there should be a lot more trouble to ensue, especially since Penguin prophesied of a war with rivers of blood in the streets. This will be an interesting development to keep an eye on.
The other way this episode begins to separate itself from the pilot, showing it’s true potential, is by revealing some of the major players to come. It turns out the crazy kidnapping couple works for the Dollmaker. This got me super excited. The Dollmaker is a more recent villain in the Batman universe created in the past few years. He creates masks out of the facial skin of his victims, attaching separate pieces together to create a new face, and lobotomizing them, controlling them as dolls to do his bidding. Turns out that’s what the children were being kidnapped for. In the New 52 comics, Dollmaker’s father was a cannibal who was gunned down by a young James Gordon, so whether this will be his father or not has yet to be revealed. The show is attempting to create a very dark world that you normally wouldn’t see on network television, which I think will help in its success, giving viewers a style of TV that they are not used to seeing with shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective airing on cable.
Though we haven’t seen the Dollmaker yet, we do watch Fish Mooney show some more of her true self, as we find out that Falcone discovered she was trying to take him out, possibly by using the Wayne murder as a way to start toppling the tower from both sides, Good and Evil. Of course the Penguin was the one who revealed this information, who seems to being playing all sides of the game to weasel his way to the top. Since it’s hard for Falcone to trust the words of the Penguin, He instead has Mooney’s lover, Lazlo (potentially Professor Pyg, Lazlo Valentine, another villain who worked for the Dollmaker) brutally beaten behind the scenes as a warning for her to stay loyal. As expected, she doesn’t take this well as he leaves, screaming in a rage for everyone to get out of her bar. This just shows exactly how on edge everyone in this show seems to be, changing emotions at the drop of a hat.
Of course the best moments of this episode were similar to the last. Every time the Penguin is on screen it’s a tense moment. He is a loose cannon at this point in time. Being picked up on the side of the road by a couple of “bros”, he stabs one in the throat with a beer bottle the second he mentions how he walks like a penguin. It was great to see him planning his masterful return to take over Gotham in a dilapidated trailer in the middle of nowhere, holding his recent victims friend as a hostage. They are really going all out with this character, making him somewhat lovable and insanely brutal all at the same time. This has been a fantastic and unique interpretation of the Penguin so far and I truly hope it continues on this way.
The story eventually has to get back on course, but before it does, we see a troubled Bruce Wayne burning himself at candle light while continuing to test Alfred’s patience. They even had him listening to heavy metal while drawing disturbing pictures, which at a first glance seems like overkill, but at the same time I kind of like the idea of this punk Bruce Wayne. It’s an interesting way to help us see what he is going through mentally. The only bothersome moment of this is when Alfred wants James to help talk some sense into the boy. He mentions how he won’t get Bruce therapy because it was in his father’s will to do so. Seems like an obvious cop-out shut that door, but the excuse of him needing to choose his own path, because he is a Wayne, kind of works too. Of course Gordon points out the obvious of how this is a, “recipe for disaster”. Nonetheless, Bruce shortly proves how he is of a sane mind, explaining his desire to overcome fear and pain. For now these signs of the Bruce we have come to know are working, but his meetings with Gordon cannot continue to become forced, even if Gordon did promise to find his parents killer in the first episode.
A big highlight of this episode, outside of the Penguin, came at the end, helping bring light to why this episode is titled, “Selina Kyle”. After Gordon and Bullock find and save the kids from earlier and pull a great good-cop/bad-cop routine that we will hopefully see more of, the mayor decides to send all of the homeless kids in the city upstate to juvenile detention where they can be “cared-for”. But as Gordon points out, the mayor is basically putting kids in prison without a trial, showing that even the ones in power who are preaching good intentions don’t mind getting their hands dirty. While transporting the children, the creepy couple that works for the Dollmaker abducts an entire busload of kids that Selina gets grouped with.
This couple is actually kind of your typical dumb bad guys because they constantly get one-upped by teenage kids, but I will get this show a break since they are just the lackeys, lackeys aren’t supposed to be that smart anyways. Anyways, Selina sneaks off of the bus and escapes. At the moment the kidnappers realize their count of kids that they are locking in a shipping container is off, you hear a scream further out in the warehouse. A guy runs out screaming how she scratched his eyes, and he is holding his hands over his bloody face. I was surprised by how brutal this part was because when he moved his hands, his eyeballs had been ripped out of his head!!! Now most people would probably think this was a little much, especially since she immediately has to be saved by Gordon, but I like how the show is attempting to push the boundary while adding glimpses of the villains some of these characters will eventually become. We even more so get a better idea of who Selina will be when she attempts to speak to Gordon at the station to reveal that she saw who killed the Waynes, telling another officer she will scream that he “touched her” if she doesn’t get her way.
This episode of Gotham was worlds better than the first. Though the show still has room for improvement in order to reach its full potential that they have shown glimmers of, it is attempting to push the boundary of what we have come to expect from a show that is airing on network television. The ceiling for this show is honestly as high as the creators want it to be and I hope that they continue to build on the momentum of this episode. I gladly give this episode an 8.2 out of 10.
Just to end this two-part review in a more singular manner, I thought I would add some thoughts. First, please go check out the show, I haven’t included or touched on nearly everything that the two episodes pack into an hour each. Second, please come back next week for a review of the third episode, which will hopefully not feel as long since it will only be one episode instead of two. Thanks for everyone who was willing to read until the end, see you next week!
Also, Check out the new trailer for the whole season they just released! Shows some better direction as to where the show is going , as well as a couple of new villains! Professor Pyg and Victor Zsasz!