The second episode of the soon-to-be classic Batman origin show, Gotham, was aired last night on Fox. And though I loved the pilot, there was still something missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until around ten minutes into last night’s new episode. Then it hit me: “When is Selina Kyle going to actually talk?” Well, the title of the second episode of the first season should be spoiler alert enough, but not only is she the main focus of the show for the most recent hour-long plunge into the depths of Gotham City before Batman arrives on the scene, but she’s a very welcome tone shift from the Wayne family murder case (which is still in full swing, by the way). And speaking of spoilers… Yeah. Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
Before we get too carried away, let’s focus on Carol (When a Stranger Calls, Scrooged) Kane’s guest appearance as the Penguin’s mom. She’s bat shit crazy, awkwardly foreign, and absolutely terrifying in a creepy not-sure-she’s-not-from-the-set-of-Sunset Boulevard kind of way. I look forward to more of her as the series progresses. And I know that there’s something far more sinister going on inside that crow’s nest of a head of hair than she is letting on when Detectives Montoya and Allen question her about the disappearance of her son, following directly from the events of last week’s premiere. But as the story progresses, the two main cops of the show (Gordon and Bullock) come to blows (literally) over police brutality and the state of affairs in all things G. C. P. D. The Mayor learns that Jim’s not going to play ball with blatant law-breaking activities, and Gotham’s homeless children population is being, well, possibly eaten by a group of people working for a psycho calling himself the Dollmaker. Unfortunately, we don’t see the Dollmaker himself. But fortunately, his head lackey is expertly played by Lili (Ransom, Hemlock Grove) Taylor, who is just the perfect amount of disturbing for a villain of the week. I hope the show keeps the simple premise of “procedural cop drama with Batman-type stories going on to spice things up” going. Especially if they involve more of Selina Kyle.
Speaking of young Ms. Kyle, she’s perfectly cast. It was great to not only see her sneaking around, but actually speaking and playing the role with the style, grace, and complete and utter sass. The fact that she’s a kid doesn’t really seem to stop her from using her femininity as a weapon against a world dominated by men of power, and it also forces her to make a tough call and actually trust Jim Gordon, forming an alliance (unofficially) as they work together to find the murderer of the Waynes. We see a little behind-the-scenes love/hate violence between Fish Mooney and her boss, Carmine Falcone, as well as another wacky cameo by Edward Nygma, the man destined to become the Riddler. It is also worth noting that Alfred and Bruce’s relationship is a lot more complex than most viewers will be used to, showing a streak of humanity at every turn, and highlighting that Mr. Pennyworth really is in over his head with this whole guardianship thing. I think it’s great that they are down-playing the importance that Bruce is going to have on the rest of the city (and even the world) while they build the world of Gotham, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the showrunners decide to have him less and less as the episodes progress. Put him in boarding school, checking in with Alfred every now and then, but mostly forgotten, the way he wants it.
I would be remiss to leave out the highlight of the episode, which is, far and wide, the Penguin. He’s disturbing. He’s evolving (or devolving?) into something far more wicked than previous hinted at possible. And Robin Lord Taylor’s continued commitment to stealing the stage is a cinematic masterpiece on par with the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. If you’re not watching this show yet, stop what you’re doing, go online, and catch up. Things are just starting to heat up, and we’re only two episodes in!
My Rating: 5/5
(Feel free to check out my regular Baturday column for all of the other Batman news of each and every week!) Leave your comments about this week’s episode below!